Café Palermo

Along the old waterfront – the promenade closer to the docks – there is a line-up of cafés, eateries and bars, all of them evidently full all of the time, even more so (if that’s possible) with the first warm rays of sunshine that make sitting-in-a-comfy-armchair-on-the-terrace-sipping-coffee-all-day, an idleness most delicious.

I know this sounds exaggerated but Thessalonikians do love their coffee. It is no coincidence that café frappé – instant coffee, shaken in cold water to create a thick foam and drank in a tall glass on the rocks – was invented only a few hundred metres away, at the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki.

It happened in 1957, when a fellow called Dimitris Vakondios, desperate for a coffee but unable to get hold of hot water, mixed coffee powder with cold water and ice in a shaker and created one of the most popular Greek beverages, the now ”traditional” café frappé – Greek: φραπές.

But to be honest, I love my warm caffè latte, or the occasional iced cappuccino when the temperatures are soaring. And, going against the flow, my favourite spot isn’t among the waterfront cafés, but on the main city square, Plateia Aristotelous – Πλατεία Αριστοτέλους. There, under the arcades and through a wrought iron gate, one leaves the city bustle and heat outside and enters into a quite, shady and cool courtyard with plant pots and wooden and marble tables that belong to Ouzeri Aristotelous, a convivial restaurant in operation since the mid ’80s, with mouth-watering meze and cooked dishes.

And right before the courtyard, through the left or the right door (they are identical twins) and one flight up the twin staircases that meet on the first floor, you will find the jazzy, art-nouveau influenced, stylish cafe Palermo with its rather amazing antiques and vintage items collection. The barista told me that at some point the owner, a dedicated antiques collector, had run out of space and instead of stacking everything in a warehouse, came up with the idea of a café-cum-showroom.

A marvelous idea, wouldn’t you agree?

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Café Palermo
Aristotelous 8, 1st floor
inside the magnificent ”Bosporion Megaron” – Βοσπόριον Μέγαρο, built in 1922 by Jacques Moshé, notable Greek-Jewish Architect of the time.

Shared photo credits (Konstantinos & Lia)

Thessaloniki, 8 – 15 September 2014