Wondering what and where to eat in Athens Greece? We spent a month eating our way through the sprawling Greek capital city and returned to do it again. Read on to discover our favorite Athens restaurants, cafes, markets and bars.
We spent a month eating our way through Athens Greece. Yes, you read that right. For 30 days, we woke up and slept in a city where many travelers typically spend a day or two before jetting or cruising away to islands like Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini.
Curious about Athens and its food scene, we gave ourselves that full month to fully explore the city and its cuisine. By renting an apartment as an affordable base for the month, we were able to slowly explore the city and discover a variety of places to eat in Athens both on and off the Athens map.
Staying in Athens gave us time to slowly explore the city’s different neighborhoods. We quickly tired of tourist-filled Monastiraki and the Plaka; however, we never bored of hipper areas like Exarchia and Metaxourgeio where we found some of the city’s best cafes and street art.
We must also mention Pagrati where we lived during the month. A hidden gem for tourists, residential Pagrati is a short walk from the city center but feels like a million miles away from the souvenir shops and hawkers.
Athens is a walkable city despite its slippery sidewalks and many hills. We walked as much as we ate, often combining the two activities. As we gave our Fitbit a daily workout, we discovered millennia-old relics hiding in plain sight as well as exciting new establishments.
Athens is a vibrant, world-class city. Give Athens tourism some time when you visit Greece. You won’t be disappointed and you definitely won’t go hungry.
A month wasn’t enough time for us to eat it all. Returning a few years later, we discovered even more great places to eat in Athens.
Athens Food Guide | Where To Eat In Athens
As it turns out, we never tired of Greek cuisine. As we peeled away the city’s tourist layers, we discovered fantastic food and drink options at every price point.
This Athens guide includes our best Athens food finds that run the gamut from cheap eats to fine dining. We’ve even included some great shops where you can hunt for local food products to eat on the spot or enjoy later.
Since we like to drink when we travel, we also highlight great spots for cocktails, wine and beer.
Top Restaurants In Athens
Despite the quantity and quality of casual restaurants and tavernas in Athens, the city also has quite a few fine dining options. In fact, Michelin has recognized 20 restaurants in the city, awarding two stars to Delta and one star to eight others (Botrini’s, CTC Urban Gastonomy, Hytra, Pelagos, Soil, Spondi, Varoulko Seaside and the Zillers).
Visitors could hypothetically splurge on six starred restaurants in Athens in a food-focused week. Up-and-coming restaurants Cerdo Negro 1985, Nolan and Oikeîo are great options as well – each currently has a Bib Gourmand rating.
After researching our options, we decided to dine at two Michelin starred restaurants during our visit. Though more expensive than other top restaurants in Athens, these restaurants are competitively priced compared to similar restaurants in other European capitals.
We were excited to dine at Varoulko Seaside, a one-star Michelin restaurant in Pireas with a seafood-focused menu and a location right on the water. After scoring a reservation, we took two metros and a bus there for a weekday lunch. Once we arrived, we knew that we were in for a special experience.
Quite honestly, though, Varoulko Seaside had some service issues that we didn’t expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. The restaurant didn’t offer us a window-side seat despite a half-empty dining room that never filled during our mid-afternoon meal.
Adding insult to injury, a runner served our clams so clumsily that she splashed clam juice all over our table and failed to offer us bread to sop up the savory clam juice that remained in the bowl. Plus, we never received a wine list despite asking for it twice. (We ultimately ordered glasses of wine without seeing the full menu.)
That being said, all the food was great and some of the items that we ordered were extraordinary. Highlights included dolmades imaginatively stuffed with squid ink risotto served along with calamari grilled to a slight but pleasing char and slightly toothsome al dente chew; swankily plated, ultra-creamy, slightly salty taramosalata with roe and chives; and salty, briny orzo (served with prawns) that transported our taste buds deep into the nearby Aegean Sea.
Varoulko is a worthy splurge. However, the Pireas marina area has a number of fun seaside restaurants if your budget can’t afford a relatively pricey meal.
Varoulko Seaside is located at Akti Koumoundourou 52, Pireas 104 35, Greece.
Located at the top of the ultra-sleek, ultra-chic Onassis Cultural Centre, Hytra is an upscale Athens restaurant that celebrates Greek cuisine. After earning a one-star Michelin rating for its ‘Gourmet’ menu’ while in its original Psyri location, Hytra moved to its modern, swanky space replete with prices that pay for the real estate. Wine prices aren’t cheap either – a glass will cost you as much as an inexpensive bottle in many Athens eateries.
Don’t skip Hytra if you’re traveling in Athens on a budget. The trendy restaurant offers a less gastronomic and lower priced ‘Apla’ menu option with basic items like smoked pork loin and traditional pasta with beef and tomatoes. The same kitchen prepares both menus, so basic is a relative term.
Chef Tassos Mantis produces tasty food and keeps his steady culinary eye on everything that leaves the open galley kitchen. Whichever menu you order, you really can’t go wrong. The restaurant’s ‘Apla’ menu also offers a street food section featuring mini burgers, nigiri, steamed buns and raclette.
The restaurant moves to the Onassis Center’s expansive rooftop terrace during the summer season. Once there, you’ll enjoy an unadulterated 360° view of the Acropolis and beyond during your meal.
Hytra is located on the top floor of the Onassis Cultural Centre at Leof. Andrea Siggrou 107, Athina 117 45, Greece.
Additional Top Athens Restaurants
Check out the following restaurants if you have the time and budget to dine at more than two top restaurants in Athens:
The stars represent the current number of Michelin stars awarded to each restaurant.
Casual Athens Restaurants
Dining in Athens is normally a laid-back affair, with meals starting late and lingering well into the afternoon or evening. In fact, many restaurants in Athens start dinner service at 8 pm and don’t get busy for another hour or two.
If you ask Athenians for a list of the best Athens restaurants, they will likely include several tavernas and other moderately priced eateries. We ate many of our favorite meals at casual tavernas where the prices were low and the food plentiful. Much of the food at these restaurant skews traditional and the wine typically flows freely.
Though not fancy or sporting Michelin stars, these restaurants serve the kind of food that satisfies our souls and makes us wish we grew up with Greek grandmothers. These are our favorite casual restaurants in Athens:
We hate eating in tourist traps, but sometimes the best Athens restaurants and cafes can be found in the heart of the action. That’s the case with Diporto which loosely translates to two doors. The restaurant is literally in a cellar just a block from Athens’ central food market (Varvakeios), and if you don’t look hard you may not see it at first glance.
We actually missed Diporto on our first try since we just knew its vague location and didn’t have an address. When we returned with proper directions, we walked downstairs to the barest of dining spaces with about 20 seats.
Before long, we were seated at a table with a paper tablecloth and drinking wine tapped from a barrel. Soon after that, an older man named Mitsos, DiPorto’s owner, dished out our food from an array of pots and pans where he prepares four dishes each day. All this happened with us barely saying a word.
Diporto is a great taverna for dishes like soups, stews and grilled whole fish. This Athens restaurant menu changes daily based on market availability, making each meal a bit of a surprise.
During our lunch, we enjoyed generous bowls of orzo and gigante beans cooked in old style broths whose recipes probably haven’t changed for hundreds of years. We especially loved Mitsos’ grilled sardines which were generously sized, extraordinarily fresh and charred to tasty crispiness.
While at Diporto, we drank house retsina, a special age-old Greek wine distinctly flavored with pine resin. We can’t say we would drink retsina every day, but at Diporto the piney wine completes the special experience. Plus we didn’t order it – a carafe just magically appeared at our table. Who were we to say no during what may have been our best lunch in Athens?
Shop at the Varvakios Central Market before you eat lunch at Diporto. Many of the market stalls and surrounding shops close around 3 pm.
Diporto is located at Sokratous 9, Athina 105 52, Greece.
Don’t go to Seychelles expecting food from the Indian Ocean island nation. Do go to eat some of the best shareable plates in Athens.
This large, rustic Metaxourgeio space overflowing with diners offers outdoor sidewalk seating along with a range of tables on the other side of Keramikou Street. Inside Seychelles, the open kitchen hums while its chefs produce dishes cooked from the finest local ingredients and executed to remarkable precision.
We shared several plates at Seychelles including elevated standards like homemade dolmades and a hearty rusk salad. When we returned three years, the food was just as good as we remembered.
The octopus, served over an imaginative pairing of black lentils and quinoa, may have been the best octo we’ve ever tasted with a crunchy charred exterior yielding to a tender, juicy center. Equally impressive, the tomato fritters were clouds of loveliness with sophisticated spicy flavors that never overwhelmed the powerfully sweet local tomatoes found only in Greece.
Take a stroll around funky Metaxourgeio before or after your meal. Just a short distance from Kerameikos and Gazi, the hipster neighborhood is filled with some cool bars and taverns along with underrated (occasionally decaying) architecture.
Seychelles is located at Keramikou 49, Athina 104 36, Greece.
Ouzeri Lesvos (Ουζερί Λέσβος)
Located on the fringe of the edgy Exarchia neighborhood, Ouzeri Lesvos offers a traditional taverna experience with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood. Don’t be deterred by the restaurant’s shabby chic decor – food and service at Ouzeri Lesvos are among the best in Athens. Plus, most of the action happens on the well-lit sidewalk once the crowds arrive and the ouzo starts flowing.
Going with the nautical theme, we ordered crispy red mullets (pictured at the top of this article) and cheesy saganaki with mussels. Both dishes showcased Greece’s rich seafood bounty, but it was the meatball starter that blew us away. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these meatballs were the best we ate in all of Athens and reason enough for a repeat visit
Although Ouzrei Lesvos’s menu has reasonably priced Greek wine, don’t skip the ouzo. The restaurant has a vast ouzo selection which you can enjoy before, during or after your meal.
Ouzeri Lesvos is located at Emmanouil Mpenaki 38, Athina 106 78, Greece.
The Black Sheep (Το Μαύρο Πρόβατο)
Open since 2012, The Black Sheep is a delightful mezedopoleio (meze restaurant) situated on a leafy street in the Pagrati neighborhood. We couldn’t miss the crowds that fill the inside every night and spill out to the long row of sidewalk tables just blocks from our apartment.
As we found out, these crowds gather for two reasons – great food and reasonable prices.
Standout dishes during our meals included Graviera cheese saganaki with honey and black onion seeds, sarikopita with Xinomizithra cheese also with honey and sesame seeds and kaisaria patties filled with pastrami, Gouda cheese and tomatoes.
However, our favorite dish had to be the kleftiko, a creative dish involving pork, feta, herbs and bell peppers in parchment. Unique yet familiar, the pork in this dish was cooked to melty goodness and served with roasted peppers and flavors that tasted like Greece.
Go to The Black Sheep with a friend and order the roasted lamb with potatoes and gamopilafo rice. Slow cooked for six hours, this lamb is the house specialty and is big enough to share.
The Black Sheep is located at Arrianou 31, Athina 116 35, Greece.
If you’re like us, walking through a neighborhood like Psyrri can be a turnoff. It’s filled with a bunch of tourist bars and loads of mediocre restaurants. OINOPOLEION looks like it could be any one of those establishments. But, when you walk into this particular restaurant and onto a back patio that feels like it should be on a Greek isle like Mykonos, you know that you’re in for fun Greek taverna experience
Strangely when you look up this restaurant on the internet, images of Napoleon pop up in the search. Yes. the word OINOPOLEION does sound like Napoleon but in Greek it actually means wine shop. The name makes more sense once you realize that the family who owns OINOPOLEION also owns a vineyard just outside the city.
We ate at OINOPOLEION on the first night of our most recent trip to Athens and didn’t know what to expect. What we got was an outdoor taverna experience replete with solid food, tasty wine and live music.
We started our meal with one of our favorite Greek dishes – Cretan Dako Salad. The taste of the crunchy barley rusks in the warm Athens evening let our tastebuds know that we were back in one of our favorite cities.
Other meal highlights included tangy, salty shrimp Saganaki and lamb ribs grilled to a Greek-style crisp with the prerequisite sprinkling of oregano.
Order wine produced at OINOPOLEION’s family-owned Markou Vineyards located just outside of the city.
OINOPOLEION is located at ΑΙΣΧΥΛΟΥ 12Α, Eschilou 12a, Athina 105 54, Greece.
A Little Taste Of Home
Located in a pleasant Gazi space, A Little Taste of Home serves an Athens menu that knows no bounds, from slow-roasted Greek lamb shank and Belgian waterzooi to Chinese rice noodles. The restaurant also serves guacamole, not a common food in Greece.
Owned by Syrian and Palmyra native Ahmad Alssaleh, the restaurant has been open since 2016. Unsurprisingly, the highlight of the menu is the kioufta bil karaz which features rustic, caramelized, savory Syrian meatballs glazed in cherry sauce.
Alssaleh also serves a fantastic starter of Talagani cheese (think halloumi but locally sourced and creamier) garnished with surprisingly gastronomic accouterments like tiny spherified fruit balls.
Try the Sangria. A Little Taste of Home makes a unique version using pomegranate seeds.
A Little Taste of Home is located at Dekeleon 3, Athina 118 54, Greece.
Epirus Tavern (Οινομαγειρείο Η Ήπειρος)
Epirus Tavern is a great option if you’re in the Athens Central Market and you’re looking for a casual, cafeteria-style lunch. During our meal, we enjoyed sutzukaki, a tomato-based stew of large beef meatballs seasoned with cumin and cinnamon as well as bania, stewed okra in tomato sauce. Dishes change daily and the restaurant even serves soup in the morning.
Epirus is also a solid alternative for days when you’re more in the mood for grandma’s cooking over souvlaki. Not that there’s anything wrong with souvlaki.
After eating (either breakfast or lunch) at Epirus, you can take a quick walk to Krivos (see below) and have loukoumades for dessert.
Epirus Tavern is located at Filopimenos 4, Athina 105 51, Greece.
Some restaurants offer a wide range of options to satisfy all diners. Minotavros is not one of these restaurants.
Instead, Minotavros specializes in grilled pork chops and kafteri, a spicy sauce with tomatoes, feta cheese extra virgin olive oil and chili peppers. The restaurant isn’t fancy but who needs fancy when food is this good.
Portions are large at Minatavros. However, you can order a side of salad or tzatziki if you’re feeling extra hungry after a day of touring.
Minotavros is located at Evripidou 83, Athina 105 53, Greece.
ThaMa (Θα Μα)
If you happen to be in Athens on a Saturday night and you really want to eat like a local, hop on the M3 metro toward the Airport, get off at Holargos station and head over to ThaMa. Located in a strip mall, (yes, believe it or not, there are strip malls in one of the world’s most ancient cities) ThaMa serves classic Greek favorites like saganaki (fried cheese) and horiatiki (greek salad).
On Saturday nights ThaMa also serves gourounopoula – thick cut steaks of slow-grilled pork and french fries. Think of gourounopoula like a Greek variation on Rome‘s porchetta. The meltingly tender pork steak is served with it’s rendered, salty crispy skin crunching with every bite.
We also enjoyed a special Greek omelet stuffed with wild artichoke and feta during our meal at ThaMa. Greek cuisine may be the simplest in the world and this omelet, cooked in olive oil to a golden brown and lightly speckled with crunchy sea salt, epitomizes the kind of great, uncomplicated, food we love to eat in Greece.
Go to ThaMa on a Saturday night and order the gourounopoula.
ThaMa (Θα Μα) is located at Leof. Mesogeion 242 in Holargos and is accessible if you take the M3 Metro toward the Airport to Holargos Station.
We had asked many locals for their favorite local pizza spot. The answer consistently was either ‘nowhere’ or a joint in Monasteraki that looked to be serving crackerlike pies to throngs of tourists. Since we like to try local pizza when we travel, this made us sad. Finding Tres Sorelle, located a few blocks from our apartment, made us happy.
Though we shared one pie as part two of our progressive lunch, we could have easily eaten one each for a meal. Tres Sorelle prepares their pizza using the traditional methods that we experienced in Naples, Italy, though its Greka pie, topped with yogurt, cucumber and feta, pays homage to Greece.
Dip your crust in Tres Sorelle’s spicy olive oil for extra flavor.
Tre Sorelle is located at Archelaou 19, Athina 116 35, Greece.
In our opinion, tavernas are the best restaurants in Athens Greece for those who want to eat local food with local people. We ate at several tavernas including Rozalia during our time in Athens.
Notable for its prime location in Exarchia, Rozalia has a big open-air dining room as well as several tables on a pedestrian street in front of the restaurant. We enjoyed sitting outside next to street art an with a front row view for people watching.
Though we enjoyed our saganaki at Rozalia, the grilled calamari was rubbery and had a fishy flavor. Perhaps we should have stuck to small plates for this meal. Rozalia has a large variety of starters including mezzes that servers walk around for show.
Rozalia is a fine option if you’re looking to eat traditional Greek food in the Exarchia neighborhood. However, a meal here isn’t worth a special trip.
Rozalia is located at Valtetsiou 59, Athina 106 81, Greece.
Athens Brunch Spots
These are our following Athens cafes for those times when we want to combine breakfast and lunch into one great meal:
When it comes to brunch, the Underdog is an over achiever.
Despite its location near the ancient Temple of Hephaestus, The Underdog is a modern cafe with a team of champion baristas and mixologists on staff. But don’t be confused by the Underdog’s strong drink program. Beyond its coffees and cocktails, this modern Athens cafe is a great spot to eat a wide selection of international brunch dishes every day of the week.
Our goals at the Underdog were twofold – drinking specialty coffee and eating brunch. We accomplished the first goal soon after securing a table on the cafe’s expansive terrace thanks to the quick arrival of a flat white for Daryl and an icy freddo cappuccino for Mindi. Ordering brunch took a bit longer due to the menu’s many food options.
Skipping a selection of global dishes like Shakshouka and Avocado Toast as well as two different burgers, we settled on two seemingly simple dishes – Greek Yogurt and Pancakes. However, the Underdog took both to the next level by topping the yogurt with granola, honey and cinnamon and the pancakes with lemon curd, dried blueberries and almond brittle.
Don’t fret if you oversleep. The Underdog serves brunch all day long.
The Underdog is located at Iraklidon 8, Athina 118 51, Greece.
Beauty Killed The Beast
We were skeptical about Beauty Killed the Beast but decided to give it a try since we wanted to check out the Karamikios cafe’s specialty coffee program. After all, brunch can go either way in European cities including Athens.
Popular for both brunch and its bar, Beauty and the Beast has a funky decor, a large outdoor dining area and a long inside bar. It’s a hip cafe that attracts an equally hip clientele.
Crafted with locally roasted Brazilian beans from Wisecup Coffee Roasters, our coffees were as good as we expected. And, providing a pleasant surprise, our decadent Monte Christo-like stuffed brioche french toast with ham, gruyere and honey syrup exceeded our expectations.
In fact, we enjoyed the dish so much that we splurged on a signature Beauty Killed the Zombie cocktail so that we could linger longer. Crafted with a blend of rums, homemade falernum syrup, spices, grapefruit, tonga, hibiscus and lime, the pink drink turned our brunch for two into a party for two.
Beauty Killed the Beast has a separate food menu if you wake up too late for the brunch menu.
Beauty Killed the Beast is located at Paramithias 14, Athina 104 35, Greece.
Philos, located in the ultra-chic Kolonaki neighborhood, serves generously sized brunch portions of Greek and American fare in a gorgeous space. The high-ceilinged building reminded us of some of our favorite interbellic buildings in Bucharest, but the decor and food at Philos are 100% Greek.
Hungry for some Greek yogurt? Philos serves special creamy cultures from Epirus in what they call the “Energy Bowl” along with oats, banana, chia seeds and pine tree honey from Agistro. This very well may be the best breakfast in Athens Greece. It’s a sweet bowl of Greek love that will sate your morning hunger pangs through lunch and beyond.
Philos also makes formidable pancakes which they serve American-style in a giant, buttery stack with a choice of toppings. We chose apple purée, cinnamon, rum honey and raisins. The pancakes were available in the “sweets” section of Philos’ menu. The highly sweet, buttery cakes live up to their billing.
Take a 12-minute walk to the Teleferik Cable Car Station and enjoy some of the best panoramic views of Athens from Mount Lycabettus. As a bonus, you’ll burn off some calories from your breakfast.
Philos is located at Solonos 32, Athina 106 73, Greece.
Athens Hotel Restaurants
Due to the vast number of visitors who stream through Athens on their way to the Greek isles, Athens has a lot of hotels ranging from small boutiques to large multi-national chains. Most of these hotels cater to guests with plentiful breakfast buffets and onsite restaurants.
Some Athens hotels take food to higher levels with rooftop restaurants and sophisticated menus. We ate at the following two Athens hotel restaurants worthy of mention in our guide.
Atrium Greek Bistrot At Herodion Hotel
We had the chance to eat lunch at Herodion Hotel’s Atrium Greek Bistrot during our stay at the centrally located hotel. Situated in the hotel lobby, the restaurant has an airy feeling, partially due to a large pistachio tree growing inside the restaurant’s atrium.
Beyond the decor, young chefs add modern twists to Mediterranean classics, turning simple salads into beautiful dishes. We especially enjoyed the restaurant’s fun take on loukoumades. Normally sweet and smothered in honey, these cheese-filled loukoumades served on a stick were a savory, luscious surprise.
Order wine with your meal. The bistro serves a thoughtful selection of Greek wines plus a few Italian varieties for good measure.
Herodion Hotel is located at Rovertou Galli 4, Athina 117 42, Greece.
Rooftop Lounge At The St. George Lycabettus Hotel
Mount Lycabettus offers some of the best views of Athens. Though these views are available to anybody who makes the climb or rides the funicular, those who want to linger can do so in comfort at the St. Geroge Lycabettus Hotel’s rooftop lounge.
After enjoying cocktails on the lounge’s outdoor deck, visitors can eat dinner inside with a window view and a nice bottle of Greek wine. The restaurant’s food options include creative salads, hamburgers, fresh fish and a modern take on traditional moussaka. Prices skew higher but the views and large serving sizes justify the expense.
Plan your dinner around the sunset. The restaurant’s view of the Acropolis as the sun sets is extraordinary.
St George Lycabettus Hotel is located at Kleomenous 2, Athina 106 75, Greece.
Athens Cheap Eats
Popular with both budget travelers and locals, foods like souvlaki and gyros fill the belly without breaking the bank. But these are just a couple of street food options you’ll find in Athens.
We found a lot of great cheap eats in Athens. These are our favorites:
We weren’t sure how much we liked Greek souvlaki so we ate at over ten different souvlaki restaurants to make sure. From super-popular Kosta to lesser-known souvlaki stands, we checked them all out and have the souvlaki bellies as proof.
Since souvlakis are cheap in Athens, this research endeavor did not break our bank. Winning!
Read our Athens souvlaki guide to discover the best places to eat souvlaki in Athens.
Cheap gyros priced at €2.5 are available all over Athens. We ate this one at a spot immediately across from the Athens central market. Two pork gyros and a shareable greek salad with more feta than we could handle plus a half liter of wine cost us €12 (including a modest 10% tip).
If you’re hungry in Athens and looking for cheap eats, gyros are the way to go. Without doubt, they’re the best fast food in Athens Greece.
Use your own discretion about tipping in Athens. We recommend tipping only about 5 to 10 percent based on service. In casual cheap restaurants, it’s not necessary to tip at all.
Open since 2014, Feyrouz specializes in Levantine street food typically served in parts of the Mediterranean like Eastern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. The family-owned restaurant is a great spot for those rare times when you need a break from eating souvlaki in Athens. It’s also a cheap eats magnet with plenty soups, salads and other meat-free options.
When we walked by the popular Monastiraki area eatery and noted the lack of a line, we did a double-take. Clearly, it was a sign that we needed to take a lahmatzun (i.e. pizza like wrap) break.
We mentioned that Feyrouz is has meat-free items but we didn’t go that route. Instead, we ordered the signature wrap – a house-baked flatbread with flavorful minced meat, fresh vegetables and yoghurt.
Feyrouz serves a beautiful product with flavors to match. Our neatly folded lahmatzun was crisp on the edges and its aromatic, spicy meat blend was divine. We loved it so much that we decided to peruse Feyrouz’s dessert counter across the street.
Feyrouz’s desserts are a treasure that were impossible for us to resist.
We shared a marvelous disc of künefe – essentially a kataifi topped with a scoop of goat cream. It was delicate yet crisp, with local honey that mixed well with the creamy scoop on top. If we lived in Athens, we’d visit Feyrouz for lunch often and do our best to save room for dessert every time.
Feyrouz is closed on Sundays. Plan your visit accordingly.
Feyrouz is located at Καρόρη 23 και, Agathonos 1, Athina 105 51, Greece.
Zisis attracted us with its novel takeaway menu of fried seafood in cones served over french fries. These cones come in eight choices including prawns, sardines, calamari and anchovy.
We paid €3.90 a cone during our visit – a pretty good deal considering the high cost of fresh seafood. Though diners can take away seafood nestled inside the cones, we ate ours at a high top table directly in front of the stand.
The restaurant also offers table service with higher priced menu items.
Zisis is located at Athinaidos 3, Athina 105 63, Greece.
Travel down any street in Athens, especially in the morning, and you’ll find sesame topped bread rounds piled high at street vending stands on every corner. We can’t say that we love Koulouri as much the locals do, but they’re good in a pinch if you’re hungry before hitting the museums or if you need some sustenance before drinking your morning coffee.
Don’t feel guilty about eating a Koulouri. Each circle-shaped pastry has just 80 calories.
Cheese Pie Shops
Cheese pies are the ideal Greek fast food for people on the go. Loaded with feta cheese, these pies fill you up and don’t require any utensils. The key in Athens is to know where to buy the best cheese pies.
We recommend you start your cheese pie exploration at Mam near the Varvakios central market. Mam sells a selection of cheese pies with fillings like feta cheese, spinach and sausage. Filling and tasty, these pies ranged in price from €1 to €2, a veritable bargain, during our visit. Mam also sells tiny Greek pizzas which we highly recommend.
Ariston, a popular local favorite open since 1910, is another cheese pie bakery to check out in Athens. Though the bakery sells a range of cheese pie options, the most popular is the simple kourou pie filled with feta. Ariston fills these oval buttery gems with a savory cheese that’s not too sweet with just the right bite. It’s no wonder the bakery sells 800 of these pies every day.
Po Boys BBQ
Originally opened as a food truck in 2016, Po’ Boys BBQ transitioned to permanent status a couple years later. Today, the restaurant has a stage for live music and a smoking station in the basement. It also has a beer menu with 40 Greek craft beers.
But what about the food?
Despite its name, Po’ Boys BBQ doesn’t limit itself to classic New Orleans dishes like po boys, gumbo and beignets. Instead, its menu features a mish-mash of American food favorites like burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, nachos and even hush puppies plus global items like tacos and bao buns.
Diving into the menu with gusto, we ordered a signature Po Boy filled with mutton porchetta. We also ordered a cheeseburger since it’s one of the American foods we miss most. European burgers tend to disappoint us and this one was no exception. And, to be honest, the lamb sandwich didn’t resemble any Po Boys we’ve eaten at New Orleans.
Overall, we give Po’ Boys BBQ an E for effort when it comes to serving authentic American food in Athens. However, our overall experience was positive thanks to the restaurant’s excellent beer list and good vibes.
Despite its name, Po’ Boys BBQ serves dishes suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners.
Po’ Boys BBQ is located at Agatharchou 12 &, Lepeniotou, Athina 105 54, Greece.
Athens Markets & Specialty Shops
Locals shop for food daily at Athens markets and specialty shops. Sure you can find supermarkets in Athens, but most local food is better and cheaper when you shop at markets and specialty shops instead. These are our favorites:
Market culture goes back centuries in Athens. As a tourist, you can learn about this culture when you visit the Ancient Agora of Athens near the equally ancient Acropolis. You can also visit modern markets where locals shop every day for all sorts of food products and non-edible items.
Varvakios Central Market
Athens’ Varvakios Central Market offers three sections for your food shopping (or browsing) pleasure. The center of the massive food emporium features one the largest seafood markets we’ve ever seen, not to mention some of the biggest prawns.
The market also has a produce section with all sorts of fruits and vegetables as well as a thriving meat market. We were impressed by three things we walked through the meat section. First, the market is remarkably clean. Second, the butchery work is immaculate and detailed. And, third, the meat prices are a great deal.
Get your weekend shopping done on Saturday. Varvakios Market is closed on Sundays.
Varvakios Central Market is located at Athinas 42, Athina 105 51, Greece.
Most Athens neighborhoods host weekly markets where farmers and vendors sell their wares to the locals. These wares include all of the ingredients needed to make a Greek salad plus fruits, fish, flowers and dry goods.
We shopped at the local market in Pagrati every Friday while we were in Athens. Our favorite purchases included strawberries, cherries, olives, peppers and eggs – the perfect ingredients for our Athens diet plan.
Bring a canvas bag when you shop at neighborhood markets in Athens.
Neighborhood markets are located throughout Athens.
Athens Specialty Shops
A stroll near the Varvakios Central Market will reveal a variety of specialty markets, many spanning generations and most selling just one type of food. Shoppers can buy food to eat later or on the spot. Here are some shops to check out when you make this stroll:
Ariana has been selling olives, the most ancient Greek product, since 1921. The shop sells a variety including world-popular Kalamata as well as green olives, cured olives and stuffed olives – all priced by the kilo. Beyond olives, Ariana sells Greek honey and pickled vegetables.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the large barrels. The staff at Ariana will let you sample olives before you decide which to buy.
Ariana Olives is located at Θεάτρου 3, 105 52 Athens, Greece.
Owned by Greek Armenians, Miran has been a haven for cold cut lovers since it opened in 1922. The shop cures its own meats and cheeses. Not only does Miran cure salamis 30 different ways, but they also prepare pastourma, a spicy meat product with a strong flavor derived from spices like cumin, garlic and paprika.
In addition to meat and cheese, Miran sells a variety of exotic spices including green garlic that sold for €200 per kilo at the time of our visit. This expensive powder doesn’t cause bad breath despite its strong flavor.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the large barrels. The staff at Ariana will let you sample olives before you decide which to buy.
Miran is located at Evripidou 45, Athina 105 54, Greece.
I Strouga Tou Moria
You will find cheese in many Greek dishes at restaurants and tavernas in Athens, but you can buy some of the best cheese at the city’s specialty shops like Strouga Tou Moria. One of Greece’s oldest cheese shops, Strouga Tou Moria sells feta, the most popular local cheese as well as local cheese favorites like graviera, anthotyros and kefalaki.
Greek people eat more cheese per capita than any other country including France.
Strouga Tou Moria is located at Evripidou 21, Athina 105 51, Greece.
Athens Coffee Shops
Despite the prevalence of cafes serving darkly roasted Greek coffee, Athens has numerous specialty coffee shops if you know where to find them. This is great news for sophisticated coffee drinkers who seek well-crafted cappuccinos, flat whites and cold brews during their travels.
Read our Athens cafe guide to find out where to drink specialty coffee during your visit.
If you learn one Greek word when you visit Athens, that word should be Yamas. When you learn this word, you’ll be able to toast the health of your new friends and drinking buddies. Here are some great places to practice your new Greek vocabulary:
Inspired by its famous New York namesake, Chelsea Hotel is a popular Pagrati cafe that serves drinks to throngs of people during the day and night. Crowds literally spill from the cozy cafe into the street every evening.
If you think that there are no young people in Pagrati, a visit to Chelsea Hotel will prove you wrong in spades. The atmosphere is chill though you may not be able to find a spot to sit.
Wander over to Elvis for souvlaki when you get hungry. The popular Gazi souvlaki shop has location in Pagrati.
Chelsea Hotel is located at Archimidous ke Proklou, Athina 116 35, Greece.
Recommended to us by the owner of Peak a Bloom, The Clumsies is an ‘all day’ bar that’s open from 10 am to 2 am. Ranked as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars, the sprawling drinkery is a great place to hang in Athens. We chose to drink at the bar where we ironically met a couple from our hometown. Yes, it is a small world after all.
The Clumsies’ innovative menu is separated into three categories – the Basement, the Main Floor and the Playroom. We ordered a Mediterranean Gimlet from the Playroom, the experimental section of the menu. Made with Star of Bombay gin and Greek salad (tomato water with cucumber, red pepper, olives, oregano, salt and sugar), the sweet and savory drink tasted completely of place.
Check out the menu even if you know what you want to order. We won’t ruin the surprise but the menu has a unique twist that you don’t want to miss.
The Clumsies is located at Praxitelous 30, Athina 105 61, Greece.
To nobody’s surprise, rooftop bars are quite the rage in Athens. This popularity seems inevitable considering the city’s warm climate, relaxed atmosphere and epic views. Why wouldn’t people want to enjoy a drink while gazing at an amazing view, preferably at sunset?
Located on the top floor of the Herodion Hotel and popular with both locals and tourists, Point A provides the ultimate Athens rooftop bar experience. Thanks to its prime locations, guests have unobstructed views of both the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. We dare you to find a better rooftop view at an Athens bar.
Beyond its amazing view, Point A serves creative an array of drinks including ‘tapas cocktails’. Though not available during our visit, these creative cocktails combine cocktails and tapas all in one glass. We had to ‘settle’ for drinking wine from Santorini and drinks like the Greek Smash made with Ouzu 12, basil leaves, lemon and lavender syrup.
In addition to tasty drinks, we also enjoyed a range of innovative Mediterranean dishes like the cheese-filled loukoumades pictured above. Point A also offers a complete dinner menu.
Time your reservation so that you can enjoy the rooftop bar’s views as day turns to night. Weather permitting, you’ll see the sights in daylight, during sunset and when they’re lit up in the dark.
Herodion Hotel is located at Rovertou Galli 4, Athina 117 42, Greece.
You could take a wine course to learn about Greek wine or you can educate yourself by drinking your way through the wine list at Heteroclito. Start your education by drinking wines from Athens, Crete and Santorini before progressing to reds from Peloponnese and Macedonia. If you’re an over-achiever, you can graduate to dessert wine from Peloponnese.
Whether you sit inside the cute wine bar or outside on the pedestrian street, you can and should enjoy a dish or two with your wine We opted for the Montreal, a plate filled with ham from northern Greece, dry Anthotiro cheese and barley rusks.
Don’t skip Heteroclito if you’re not a wine drinker. The wine bar also serves Greek craft beer and ouzo.
Heteroclito is located at Petraki 30, Athina 105 63, Greece.
Kiki De Grèce
Inspired by Kiki de Montparnasse, a lover of bread, onions and red wine, Kiki de Grèce is a good wine bar to enjoy Greek wine and mezze convenient to Syntagma Square. The menu features a varied selection of well-priced wine options plus interesting snacks made with Greek ingredients. In other words, Kiki de Grèche is a great stop to make before or after dinner in central Athens.
Unless the weather is inclement, sit outside to enjoy a view of the quiet pedestrian street and, if you’re lucky, a cool breeze.
Kiki de Grèce is located at Ipitou 4, Athina 105 57, Greece.
When deciding between two craft beer bars in Athens, we initially chose the bar that wasn’t Barley Cargo. Big mistake! Despite the better name, the other bar completely turned us off. So, wanting to experience Greek beer, we headed to Barley Cargo and hoped for the best.
We got a good vibe as we approached the Syntagma Square bar. Then, when we went inside, we entered a happy place filled with great beer and a cool decor.
Our only issue at Barley Cargo was that there were too many beer options on draught – if there is such a thing. We narrowed our choices to the Chios Smoked Robust Porter (6.2%) and the Septum Sunday’s Honey Ale (6.5). Though we were tempted to try the Gulden Draak Strong Ale (10.5%), we narrowed that one out since it’s not from Greece.
Order a draught beer tasting if you want to try four different Greek beers. The tasting comes with four small glasses of draught beer.
Barley Cargo is located at Kolokotroni 6, Athina 105 61, Greece.
If you like dessert at the end of your meals, then Athens is your city. Most meals in Athens have a sweet ending even if you don’t order dessert, with restaurants often providing some sort of dessert or liqueur to end the meal.
During our month in Athens, we sometimes picked cafes or bakeries specifically for their desserts. These are our favorite places to eat dessert in Athens:
Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou (Αθηναϊκό Γαλακτομπούρεκο)
Desserts are plentiful in Athens, a city where it’s not uncommon to find multiple bakeries on one block. Many of these bakeries serve baklava, Greece’s signature dessert made with phyllo dough, ground nuts and honey. Though it’s difficult to find a bad baklava in Athens, no bakeries make them better than Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou in the Pagrati neighborhood.
Ironically, Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou specializes in galatompoureko, a Greek phyllo dough dessert filled with semolina custard. We tried Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou’s galatompoureko and found it too rich for our liking.
But the bakery’s baklava is a different story. The flaky dessert, steeped in honey, with infinite layers of filo pastry layered with nuts, hits all the right notes. Sized for one person but big enough to share, this baklava is worth a special trip.
Walk to Pagrati (which includes a climb up a hill) to buy baklava at Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou. The walk will burn off some of the calories.
Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou is located at Eftichidou 2, Athina 116 35, Greece.
A thoroughly modern cafe in Athens, Ohh Boy serves a selection of desserts as well as coffee and other beverages. Though we liked the cafe’s sidewalk tables, we were drawn inside thanks to the cute decor and electrical outlets. During our first visit, we enjoyed cheesecake with a side of internet. For our return visits, we opted for flat whites, also with internet on the side.
Bring your laptop to Ohh Boy. The cafe has some of the fastest internet upload speeds we encountered in Athens.
Ohh Boy is located at Archelaou 32, Athina 116 35, Greece.
Open since 1908, Chatzḗs is an Athens institution notable for its herd of buffalo, one of the last in Greece. The pastry shop makes a variety of items with buffalo milk, but the rice pudding is the dish to try. The generously sized rice pudding is big enough to share but don’t feel bad if you eat the whole thing.
Stop at Chatzḗs for a break during a day of touring. The pastry shop is located just off Syntagma Square.
Chatzḗs is located at 5 Mitropoleos, Athens 105 57, Greece.
Loukoumades are one of the most ancient desserts in all of Greece. Despite their age, these addictive sweet bites taste totally modern and are a must to try during a visit to Athens.
A relative baby dating back to 1923, Krinos is the place to eat loukoumades in Athens. The centrally located shop is nothing fancy and feels like a cafeteria. But at Krinos, it’s all about loukoumades.
Reminiscent of other donuts eaten around the world, these loukoumades are simple rounds of dough soaked in orange blossom honey and topped with cinnamon. Ironically, krinos translates to lily, but there are no lilies in Krinos’ loukoumades.
Don’t push yourself to get to Krinos too early. Although the shop opens at 7 am, the loukoumades aren’t available until 8:30.
Krinos is located at Aiolou 87, Athina 105 51, Greece.
Sorolop, located in edgy Exarcheia, ranks as our favorite ice cream shop in Athens. Let’s start with their Toureki Mastika ice cream with Greece’s famous liqueur mixed with mastika-infused tsoureki bread cubes. It’s creamy, intense and blatantly Greek.
Sorolop also offers a great mix of sorbets and ice cream options like Stevia Chocolate and Lime Sorbet with Basil. We also loved their deep caramel brown cones, our preferred vehicle for eating Sorolop’s amazing frozen concoctions.
After enjoying your ice cream at Sorolop take a stroll around Exarcheia and enjoy incredible street art and shopping – think Brooklyn meets Athens.
Sorolop is located at Andrea Metaxa 17, Athina 106 81, Greece.
Le Greche is an Italian style gelato shop similar to some of the gelaterias we’ve encountered in cities like Bologna and Zagreb. Le Greche makes its gelato from the finest local ingredients like lemons from Argos, pistachios from Sicily and ricotta from Crete.
During our visit, we enjoyed two scoops – Gelato a la Greche lightly flavored with lemon zest and Amarena Cherry. Yum!
Buy an ice cream sandwich to munch on as you tour nearby Athenian ruins.
Le Greche is located at Mitropoleos 16, Athina 105 63, Greece.
Athens Restaurant FAQs
Restaurants in Athens don’t just serve traditional Greek food. However, most visitors want to eat traditional dishes like Bougatsa, Mousaka and Saganaki at least once at restaurants in Athens.
No. Athens restaurants are relatively inexpensive compared to restaurants in other European capital cities.
No. Tipping is optional in Greece.
Although Anthony Bourdain visited Athens, he never filmed an episode of The Layover, No Reservations or Parts Unknown in Athens.
Phil Rosenthal has not yet filmed an episode of Somebody Feed Phil in Athens.
People typically eat dinner from 8pm to 10pm in Athens or even later.
Yes. Reservations are necessary at top Athens restaurants.
Athens currently has nine Michelin-starred restaurants including one two-star restaurant (Delta) and eight one-star restaurants (Botrini’s, CTC Urban Gastronomy, Hytra, Pelagos, Soil, Spondi, Varoulko Seaside and The Zillers).
Things To Do In Athens
As the birthplace of democracy, Athens has a lot of history to explore. When you’re not eating the city’s great food, we suggest you check out the sites. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Where To Stay In Athens
We’ve stayed at three hotels in Athens and recommend them all.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: May 28, 2018