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f you took an early morning stroll through the area and did not look close enough to see the signs that advertise them as restaurants you might think they are abandonedor not even notice them.
But as the morning progresses and the owners arrive, cafes, restaurants, souvlaki shops, ouzeries and bars begin to open and by afternoon the neighborhood is buzzing with the sound of music and conversation.
Many got jobs and became respectable citizens but some stayed and made up the underworld of Athens. Hash-smokers, petty criminals and people discontent with society their ranks were constantly replenished by new immigrants.
One group called were known for their long mustaches, long sharp toed boots with high heels, tight pants, a broad sash which hid their weapons and their jackets worn with one arm out of the sleeve.
If you are coming from Athinas Street or Ermou and you are on Maoulis Street one of the first of these cafeneons you will come to is Arodou on the corner of Protogenous Street.
Nice salads and mezedes in more of a hip punk atmosphere than traditional Greek.
The Liosporos Bistro on Maoulis Street right at Iroon Square is a small sophisticated cafe-ouzeri, playing jazz and swing rather than the old Rembetika songs played in some of the other places in Psiri, and the mezedes (snacks) they serve with their ouzo and tsipuro are delicious. Some places in Psiri have a look that seems to say "If you are a tourist-please go away", but you will find the service very friendly and if they did not want you there they would not have printed the menus in English or have waiters who speak English in the places that don't have menus.
Right across the street, on the square is Beer-time, one of the few places in Athens where you can get Greek microbrew beers as well as beers from all over the world served in a variety of styles including mini-kegs that sit on your table.
Further into Psiri on tiny Ivi Street is the mezedopoulion Cafe Ivi (or what we call The Elvis Costello Place because the owner, Stratos, bears an amazing resemblance to Elvis Costello).
Several years ago a wealthy landlord (who happened to be a government minister) was able to pass a law that made Psiri, a working class neighborhood that was full of leather workshops and small factories, into an area designated for nightlife.
This of course would make real estate more valuable.
They would have 'stone wars' or what we as kids called 'rock fights'.
At a prearranged time men from Psiri would meet the men from Thission, Metaxourgio or Petralona and insult each other until the rocks began flying.