Snapshots from Greece: Loukoumades from Krinos in Athens
"Krinos kind of feels like the Greek version of Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, minus all the powdered sugar on the ground."
Cafeteria can mean mystery meat and hair nets, or it can mean landmark Athens doughnut hotspot. Since 1922, the good souls of Krinos have been frying loukoumades, or small doughnuts in ring or ball form (in this case, ring) drenched in a honey-citrus syrup. Even though it's on a shopping street near Omonoia Square, instead of being attached to a high school gym, it still gets the cafeteria classification because self-service cutlery and plastic trays are involved.
Though there was a pile of fried rings waiting when I approached the counter, they apparently weren't fresh enough. They were trashed. Doughnut carnage is an awful thing but so are stale doughnuts, and Krinos doesn't mess around.
No larger than a bracelet (for a slender wrist), these aren't like the dense beasts at Krispy Kreme. You could easily throw back a few without feeling extremely disgusting. Light and crispy, they are almost like honey-coated air. It's kind of funny when "light" can be associated with something deep-fried.
The doughnut counter is in the back room of Krinos. The drill: fetch your tray, place your order, and wait. The frying action doesn't take long, then whoever is on honey duty dips a big wooden wand into a vat of the sticky stuff and pours it all over the still-sizzling rings, topping it off with a cinnamon shake.
Krinos kind of feels like the Greek version of Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, minus all the powdered sugar on the ground. Other than the coffee (which you should order to combat the inevitable mini doughnut coma) and, in this case, the phyllo dough pies, you're probably just here for one thing: the small fried objects.
In an ancient city that's been alive and kicking for over 4,000 years, a cafe that opened in 1922 probably shouldn't be considered old. But the black-and-white images on the walls of the original loukomade-makers make you feel like you're surrounded by something historic. Lads in vests and black ties—and one on the left who vaguely resembles Colonel Sanders—stand before a tray of the fried-mabobs. It's nice to see how seriously these Greeks of yesteryear treated the doughnut trade, and still do today.
Aiolou 87, Athens Greece (map)
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