Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Street parking available. accessible by wheelchair, though upstairs dining areas involve outside steps. American Express, Amoco Torch Club, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Master Charge, Visa.
Though it sounds like something a Greek dentist looks for, Athenian Plaka happens to be a young restaurant downtown. And if you happen to remember the somewhat decayed old rental office that used to be on the corner of 19th and K Streets NW, you may be surprised by the surgery that's been done at this site.
Don't go by what you see from the sidewalk, for that's only one tier of a number held back inside. It is where they serve carry-out or eat-it-here food of all sorts, 24 hours a day.
Indeed, we later learned that there's a veritable wee-hour revelers' rush-hour for breadfast when the town's watering holes are shut off. This ground level is for pizzas (everything from a plain slice at 85 cents to large pepperoni, salami, green pepper, anchovy, sausage or hamburger pies for $4.65), cold plate salads for $2 to $3, submarines for $2.30 to $3.50, hot souvlaki, Greek meat ball or other sandwiches for $2.55 or one of those Greek-delight desserts such as baklava for $1.
But now back to our story, which was one flight up. That's where the fancier dining room - offers a fine atmosphere and a different dinner menu.
With white table cloth, red napkins and huge, green plants hanging about, the area we invaded - though unpeopled at the time - was quite inviting.
With sodas and beers and an anxious-to-please waiter, the first inning of our outing was promising enough too - while the menu was promising plenty: Each dinner offering is briefly described in print, which, if you're not up on your Greek, eases the workload considerably and allays any nervousness on the part of the kids about foreign-language names.
The appetizers, from Greek olives at $1.80 to, uh, octopus at $2.75 or eggplant salad at $2.85, may be swell, but the four of us concentrated on the main offerings. These were priced reasonably from $3.75 to $4.95 - which nowadays is not a bad spread for a good spread.
Moving clockwise around the table from my left, here's how the choices ran:
My wife chose Lamb Exohiko, better understood by most of us as "tender pieces of lamb with artichokes, mushrooms, kaseri cheese in wine and wrapped in filo," for $4.95. It's a rich and tasty combination, she reported.
It took some parental reassurances before our 8-year-old daughter would go along with the idea that Paidaikia Lamb, at $4.50, was a way of saying thick broiled lamb chops. Once into them, however, she found many ways to say how beautifully done they were.
Our 10-year-old son came up with the showstopper, under the title of Brizola Beef, at $4.50. It was the biggest rib of beef we'd seen in moons. We even took a quick, unofficial measurement when no one was looking: It was about an inch thick and nine inches wide.
Even the outsized appetite of our hungry young man couldn't measure up to this hefty portion, so well all assisted. For that matter, just the bare bone, after the writer wrapped it in aluminum foil for a lucky dog, looked like a silver boomerang.
My selection turned out to be the best of may things, the Mixed Grill Athenian, at $4.95: some of that beautiful lamb together with beef, meat balls, beef liver and a slice of bacon - every piece flavorfully prepared.
Each dinner came with rice, peas, string beans, fresh, warm bread and a salad perfect for children as well as adults: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, fetachesse, olive, hot pepper and an easily removable anchovy, with a light and spicy lemon-and-oil dressing.
One word that needs no translation for our blood is baklava, which the children ordered for $1.50; just right, they observed, as opposed to ickysweet. By means of some deft fork-lifts off our children's plates (for confirmation purposes only), we were able to concur.
After two coffees the bill arrived, at a digestible total of $29.59, plus tip. And in case you're wondering what "Plaka" really means, we forgot to ask before we left. Ah, but we did call back, and were told it's the word for plaza. In any event, on any level, the Athenian Plaka, though only months old, already stands tall on our list of pleasing places to revisit.