Every once in a while,  a new restaurant comes along that manages to find the right attributes in the nuanced calculus that determines success—location, timing, concept and price point. These rare occasions yield something special, something that both defines and grows organically from a particular context. As downtown Bradenton continues to forge its identity as the more affordable, younger, more casual neighbor of its more recognized sister city south of University Parkway, the aspiring foodie can look to Kefi Streetside Café as the embodiment of Bradenton’s aspirations.

The Greek salad is loaded and fresh.


The Greek café and coffee shop operates out of what used to be a bank-teller window on 6th Avenue West in downtown Bradenton. Opened, owned and operated by partners Jason Simpson and Eleni Sokos, the young 30-somethings represent the new wave of young entrepreneurs rising up in a city whose story has tread into a new and exciting chapter. Sokos also owns a marketing firm while Simpson comes from a successful career in beverage sales, and the two came together to create a café that celebrates Sokos’ Greek roots and offers the hustling downtown crowd something bright and healthy for breakfast and lunch.

Owners Eleni Sokos and Jason Simpson


For its coffee program, Kefi adopted the offerings from Buddy Brew, a Tampa-based third wave roaster that provided barista training for the Kefi crew. That means the Greek café’s caffeine game lives up to the standards of aficionados. An iced honey oat latte quickly became a big seller when the café opened in December. The oat milk brings down the heft of most lattes and helps make this a refreshing vehicle for a smooth pour of espresso. A matcha latte tastes textbook, with the slightly vegetal and bitter powder requiring the occasional stir to get it swirling through the cup, but that’s not to say that Kefi shies away from experimenting with other beverages. A seasonal caramel apple cold brew latte pits two seemingly dissonant flavors—apple and coffee—into a snazzy seasonal alternative to the guilty pleasure of the pumpkin spice latte (which Kefi still has on the menu).

The fancy-like avocado toast goes Greek with feta, sundried tomatoes and olives.


 Baked breakfast treats come courtesy of Sweets Bake House, who Sokos and Simpson collaborated with on some specialty items. Out of that collaboration came an oatmeal tsai cookie (“tsai” is “chai” in Greek). The buttery morsel comes refreshingly accented with chai spices, perfect for dipping in a warm cup of tea. Another standout pastry is the lemon blueberry goat cheese muffin. Whether or not the product description needs a comma between all of those delicious modifiers is beside the point—this muffin achieves a richness few muffins do. The goat cheese in particular is a nice (and Greek) touch that adds creaminess and a touch of salt.

An assortment of caffeinated beverages for discerning palates.


An assortment of avocado toast options work for both breakfast and lunch. The “basic” option comes with smashed avocado smeared onto pieces of multigrain toast, then topped with cucumber slices marinated in olive oil and spices. A microgreen garnish adds to the toast’s vibrant, healthy appeal. The “fancy like” toast gets the full Greek treatment, specifically the Peloponnese. Sokos’ family hails from the Kalamata region of the peninsula, where the selfsame olive also comes from. The “fancy like” features diced kalamata olives to go along with sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, a sprinkling of oregano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Briny, tangy and vegetal, the exciting flavor profile is all held together by the creamy base of smashed avocado, while the cheese helps make this a respectably filling lunch.

Spanakopita comes with a tzatziki sauce loaded with dill flavors.


In the absence of a fully-vented kitchen, Sokos and Simpson had to get creative for the delicious Greek salad on the menu that comes topped with chicken. Rather than deal with the permitting and construction nightmare of drilling a massive hole in the older structure, Kefi utilizes the sous vide method. But the use of carefully regulated hot water to cook vacuum-sealed food also has the added benefit of almost never overcooking its contents—the food can only cook to the temperature of the water. Once ready, the chicken gets tossed in a light lemon and herb sauce before coming to rest on a bed of greens. A generous pour of the accompanying extra virgin olive oil is advised.

As delicious as all the food is, its greatest strength is accessibility. Kefi never tries to tout itself as a chef-driven operation intent on wow-ing culinary adventure-seekers. Rather, it’s a community driven café meant for gathering, to enjoy a quick, healthy, fresh bite made from locally sourced goodies. An outgrowth of the friendly hustle in downtown Bradenton, the word Kefi itself could very well describe the city. Though no direct translation exists, “kefi” describes a feeling of joy from being alive.

Kefi Streetside Cafe Walk-up Window, 1201 6th Ave W, Bradenton, 941-896-2282, kefistreetsidecafe.com, @kefistreetsidecafe