Varvakios Agora, the central market on Athinas Street, is the city’s store cupboard. The traditional covered market has operated here since 1886 and excavations have unearthed Roman ruins, suggesting it was a trading spot even earlier. You can buy every ingredient for supper as well as Greek sweets and spices. It’s very much a working market arranged like a perfectly ordered larder: meat, fish, vegetables. Flip-flops are inadvisable – the floor can be wet. Many of the stall holders have been in the business for generations. The Miran and Arapian stalls are recommended for preserved meats, and Zafolias for feta cheese.
You can also eat in the market in a low-key “ouzerie”. Try local dishes, such as patsas (soup made from pigs’ trotters or lambs’ feet) prepared with ingredients straight from the market in Diporto on Sokratous Street. The name means two entrances and the basement tavern does indeed have two doors.
The surrounding streets are culinarily themed. Evripidou Street specialises in spices, and here Elixir (No 41) and Bachar (No 31) are both well worth a visit.
What to buy
Olives, spices, feta cheese, cured meats
The Central Market is open Mon-Sat, 7am to 6pm
Hunt down the celebrated “poet sandal-maker to the stars” Stavros Melissinos on Aghias Theklas Street
Monastiraki flea market, next to Monastiraki metro station, on Sunday mornings