Athena Restaurant in La Paz



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Athena

La Fulana is speechless! It is not a commonly occurring condition.

We now have second Greek restaurant in town!

A short while ago I was kindly invited to go sample the fare at Athena’s. It was opening night. We met a man bigger than life. Cludo Georgiadis the owner. Born in Khartoum, Sudan from a Greek family from Athens. They left in 1970 for Johannesburg, South Africa. Good move, I was told. Once in Johannesburg they lived in a motel, 5 in one room. Dad worked 2 jobs at bakeries. Mom worked in a supermarket 6 days a week. Scrimping and saving and working hard, they eventually they bought a house. Cludo was schooled there until age 23. The family by then had opened a restaurant in Johannesburg.

Cludo’s biggest influence with food was his Mom’s. He went to the cooking school of Mom! In Africa, he remembers that Sunday was a day with a huge spread of food. He looked forward to this all week long. During the week Cludo went on to learn plumbing and started his own company. Ultimately he wanted to go to America. (I suspect Gypsy blood somewhere…) He eventually did it. He left the business with his brother and went to the States. From New York to LA. (classic route) NY was too cold and stressful. A motel in Hollywood was an actual upgrade! Except for the mutants who live there, it is like a zombie movie. Anyone who has been there will surely laugh at the images invoked by this. Bad vibe! Quentin Tarantino, Bela Lugosi where are you?

As a stepping stone from the Motel Hell 6 months later, Cludo moved to an apartment and worked as a plumber with felons on work programs. Half way house types. Nothing scares this man! Then came a couple of restaurant jobs, bus boy, everything along the restaurant ladder. He learned to cook on the line. He did everything from the bottom up. He decided to start a plumbing business again, while entertaining friends and clients with his family recipes. Cooking always was his true passion. Plumbing paid the bills. He used to cater events on the side. I have never met such a hard worker in my existence! He is quite a polyglot too; Cludo speaks Greek, Spanish, English and Afrikaans.

He came to Mexico and we all know how the story goes…Fell in love with the beaches, the friendly people, the slower pace of life. The climate (except for times like this long summer when Satan himself left the building…)

He bought some property and opened a place in Los Barriles called Don Crudo’s. But the small market and short season was not enough to support the business. Nothing too daunting for Sr. Crudo, after a course correction, he set his compass on La Paz. It seemed like a better option. After all, he has been coming to La Paz for 20 years now with his wife who is from Monterrey.

OK, now that you know the guy, the restaurant! It is in one of those historic old buildings that we love so much in La Paz, next door to the defunct Otra Vez which used to be the “Aramburo” mansion on Madero between 5 de Mayo and Constitution. There are 2 front rooms, a full bar with stools and tables on a large back patio. A lot of attention to detail. The place is ultra clean. Nice lighting, good ambiance. A great place for a date or a get together with friends. I have been back since for birthday parties.

For the opening event Cludo pulled all the stops! It was impressive. Like a Big Fat Greek wedding! The food “on the house” was of very high quality and generously served by attentive staff. No girlies texting in the corner here. Don’t get me started with the girlies. PLEASE restaurateurs, train your staff! Watch out! At Athena’s the serving staff is impressive! Example: in most restaurants, you will ask, “What white wine do you serve by the glass”? The girlie smiles and says “hi, hi, hi, white wine,” while you say, “can you check what kind please?” While you are thinking, “Can you walk 20 feet and see what bloody wine is served for God’s sake? Is that asking too much? Really?”

Turns out there is ONE white wine by the glass and it has been the same for months and the girlie never bothered to memorize it!

OK, I got myself started…I feel that it does not matter where you live in the world, or what you do, but you should always do your absolute best and give more than expected. That little extra goes a long way. For restaurant owners – train your staff, teach them initiative, buy the best ingredients, offer a cup of coffee on the house, make your customer feel special! Go the extra mile, it is worth it.

5% extra effort will give you back 10 fold with loyal customers.

I really like the dolmas stuffed with beef and rice, they are so fluffy that I had to ask what meat they use. I could have put money on the table on veal. Answer: beef and rice ground together and steamed in their own juices. The result is amazing.

I tried a tuna sashimi on a crisp, delightful heavenly things. There is a dribble of a purple sauce that dresses the plate that I was very fond of. Upon asking I was told some vague answer about purple cauliflower and other things…I will pester them for answers, it is really good. Top secret sauce. Industrial spying is mandated here…My kind of challenge! I once worked in a French restaurant in Montreal where they served a divine chocolate mousse. The chef would not give me the time of day since I was a woman not typically allowed to work in high end French restaurants, so I spied on him for 3 months and eventually got the recipe figured out…I still serve that diabolical mousse. The bastard never knew. Misogynous pig. May he rot at McDonald’s. But I digress…

Cludo’s hummus is fabulous and authentic of course. I had some very tender grilled shish kabobs of chicken and beef with Tzatziki sauce (they should sell that stuff in a bottle) $150 pesos. The absolute best thing was the seared tuna. You have to come here and eat the tuna at $220 pesos.

They also use real Kalamatas. I have a serious pet peeve with black olives. We all have had the tasteless, rubber gaskets from a can they call “California black olives”. Turns out they are green olives treated chemically to turn black. A cheap cop out for the real thing. Prison grub. Disgusting rubbish. Instead, try brined ripe, Greek black olives. Another animal all together. I categorically refuse to eat rubber gaskets. I’ll have a fit if you put that even on my pizza! No kidding.

Athena’s menu is quite elaborate and varies in prices from starters under $100 pesos, salads at great prices all under $150 pesos, pastas as well. Hamburgers $135 pesos (WITH HOME MADE FIRES!) and Gyros at $180. Generous portions! You will also find high quality meat and seafood in the low to mid $200 peso range. There is weekend specials and a kids menu. Keep an eye on the $260 peso MONSTER alien shrimp !!! Alive, they would eat a small dog. I mean big shrimp!

The wine list is “No Fixed List”. I love that. He gets good stuff and we drink it. It will change weekly depending on what he finds. No inventory sitting on the shelf for long. American, Mexican, South American, Greek. It is fun to see what you find from each time you come.

As you all start to arrive in our little paradise of La Paz with the winter season, go and give Athena a try. We always try to support the family owned eateries where the owner is involved. They deserve success for their incredible hard work! They support their families. They care about you!

In a world of daily criticism (deserved or not) that these people have to endure I want to give a special thank you to all owners/operators of restaurants in La Paz, please keep doing what you do out of passion and determination. We appreciate and enjoy the fruit of your labor. You are an important part of this economy and we will do our best to support you.

This is why La Fulana likes to write about you in a positive way. It is so easy to ridicule and dwell in the negative even if intensely deserved. If a place is truly bad and inconsistent and the people working there do not care, I just don’t go there and certainly won’t write about them while there are so many great places to talk about. Let my silence roar!

*At the opening, free food and all, that cheap bastard 4 Buck Chuck was nowhere to be seen. Too nice for the likes of him I suppose. Ha, ha, ha! He missed the best party!

Athena

Francisco Madero 1243

La Paz, Baja California Sur

612 122 5787

Open daily Tuesday to Sunday. 1:00pm to 10:00PM

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