If you want to combine the best of all the sugar categories: with warm, doughy, doughnut holes, sticky honey, cinnamon and crushed nuts… you’ve got yourself a nice batch of traditional Greek loukoumades.
It’s one of these things, that if I wasn’t so unfortunately nice… I probably wouldn’t share with anyone.
Which is why I decided it would be a good idea to go on a loukoumades binge and try both the newer, trendier bakery “Loukoumades: Authentic Greek Delights”, and “Krinos” the oldest one in Athens, (open since 1923). Both conveniently down the street from each other.
Only for the sake of giving you the best recommendation… obviously.
So, starting with the new… you may have seen it advertised on Facebook by INSIDER, as the ultimate sugar overload.
What I liked about this place, is that they made a specific point to not overcomplicate the traditionally simple, Greek childhood sweet, “we have chosen to not alter their classic traditional form, keeping the core of the old recipe [with the dough itself] and simply adapting it with more healthy materials that are available today in the market”, ( http://www.lukumades.com/).
I don’t know about the “adapting it with more healthy materials” part. But who goes to a doughnut shop to be healthy??
Like most modern foodie joints, there’s always a nice twist on the traditional. Which, when it came down to it, I honestly prefer; because well… Nutella. And of course, (to name a few) the selection of pistachio, Twix, and cookies and cream ice cream. Toppings like Bueno, white chocolate, walnuts, and biscotti; and then the selection of fillings, injected into the delicious little balls of dough… like chocolate praline, banana, and lemon cream.
DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY. I really hope I didn’t catch you on a diet.
The location was enjoyable; being at the corner of a trendy, local hang out spot, off Aiolou street close to Monastiraki. The interior is warm and cozy, though maybe a teensy bit touristic looking. Finding a spot to sit is sometimes difficult, especially when it’s nice outside. But usually, when there are a ton of locals, it’s a good sign they’re there for a reason.
And now… for the original!
For those who prefer untampered with traditions… you really can’t get more classic than the first patisserie in Athens. First, for a lot of things, the building (around since the late eighteen-hundreds) was originally the first pharmacy before being renovated into the loukoumades center of the area. When I mentioned to the cashier that I was writing about the place, she immediately called for another gentleman who, after giving me a full historical crash course on the place, was nice enough to allow me back into the kitchen to watch him hand fry the loukoumades.
Dropping the little dough balls in one by one by hand, I asked if he burned himself often; to which he answered, “After thirty years here, you don’t notice it too much”.
Even the employees are original… including the classic interior, with cafeteria-style service. To stick to the theme, I ordered my loukoumades in their most traditional form with honey and cinnamon… (and ice cream, not necessarily traditional, but never a bad idea). When I brought home a few to Alex, a born and raised Athenian, his first comment was, “Now these are the real loukoumades! Not covered up with all that other stuff.” So, authenticity… checked.
So, what is my overall recommendation?
Overall, I would obviously recommend coming to Krinos for the sake of trying original loukoumades. But to be honest… though I can appreciate the fact that they have left the interior authentic to its original style; it did come off a bit cold and reminded me of a retirement home cafeteria. So, I personally, would rather go back to first Loukoumades shop. Simply because the environment was a bit cozier… and the quality of the loukoumades wasn’t too entirely different (and yes, you can order loukoumades traditional there as well, if Nutella and ice cream isn’t really your thing).
So there ya go! My experience with the two most popular loukoumades shops in Athens. Though I have heard of a few other loukoumades places, I have yet to make my way to them. So if anyone has some opinions on those places… please be the first to share! And if you haven’t completely spoiled your dinner by now… may I suggest Tzitzikas and Mermigas :).