Food in Athens

by Ucman Scher
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food in Athens

Food In Athens

Athens has an amazing food scene and there is no shortage of great spots to eat and drink. With hundreds of great restaurants, cafes and an impressive array of rooftop spots overlooking the great Acropolis of Athens, there is something for everyone here. 

Check out my Greece Country Guide for more information about solo travel in Greece.

Food in Athens comes with a huge bonus though; it is ridiculously cheap compared to the islands. The difference is huge; a nice brunch at a rooftop with 2 dishes and a tea cost me €20 in Athens, a comparable breakfast in Mykonos was €63. Yup, food in Athens is THAT much cheaper compared to not only the islands but also other major capitals in Europe. 

Restaurants and cafes are open till late here most nights and like most Mediterranean cultures. Breakfasts are late, lunches around 2-3pm and dinner around 10 pm is common and normal. If you live in a Western or Northern European country, the good news is that you won’t have to wait at all for seats in restaurants and cafes.

While it is hard to define the dishes you should eat here, I’ll recommend a few basics. Anything on top will be great. Greek food is quite diverse and whether you love meat, seafood or just a vegetarian, food is Athens won’t disappoint you.

Want to know more about Athens? Check my city guide for Athens.

Traditional Food in Athens

Taramasalata & Tzatziki

Taramasalata is a creamy dip made with white or pink roe and very delicious with pita bread perfect with some olive oil or a few drops of lemon. Tzatziki is a general term for another creamy dip made with strained yoghurt, garlic and dill and depending on the chef, a few other things along with olive oil. Both these dips are perfect as cold starters with fresh bread, olive oil and olives. (I some times just have this for lunch and nothing else, it is amazing in summers).

Aubergine and Greek Salad (Choriatiki)

If it were up to me, I would forego all debt of Greece just because of their invention of feta cheese. Both these salads are really simple full of vegetable goodness. In summers, sometimes they add watermelons to Greek salad which is my absolute favourite.

Fresh Greek salad with Feta Cheese

Octopus Salad With Vinaigrette

Made with fresh octopus sliced with a bit of vinaigrette, it is a perfect salad for summers with a bit of bread and olive oil. If you are on the islands, you cannot afford to miss it.

Courgette Croquettes (Kolokithokeftedes)

These courgette croquettes are another perfect light starter and a perfect addition if you are going for the dips. It is made perfect crispy outside with a creamy interior with a tinge of feta and mint.

Souvlaki & Gyros

Souvlaki literally means meat on a grill and Gyros are cooked like giant meat cones with slow heat. It is then shaved off and served with tzatziki, wrapped in pita bread. It is world-famous and the most convenient dish ever. Both are delicious and cheap and make for perfect drunk food.

Moussaka

Do I even need to explain this? Moussaka is world-famous. It is minced meat layered with potatoes, aubergine and topped with cheese and baked to perfection. It should be a crime to go to Greece and not eat moussaka. These days vegetarian and vegan options are available everywhere so no one should have an excuse for not trying.

A modern take on Moussaka

Grilled Meat, Fresh Fish & Seafood

In general, there is a lot of grilled meat, freshly prepared fish and a wide variety of seafood.


Meatballs (Keftedes)

Meatballs slow-cooked in tomato sauce with rice is such a simple thing and prepared across the Mediterranean but the Greek version is different with a great taste profile. The meatballs are succulent and super soft and tomato sauce is perfect with rice.

Greek Coffee (Ellinikos)

I am not a coffee drinker so I remember the taste from my coffee days. It is quite strong and bitter. Based on my friend’s reviews, people either really like it or absolutely can’t stand it. Why not find out which club you belong to?

Mastika

This liquor is summer in a shot glass. It tastes and smells like a summer evening. The reason is that it comes from a  particular tree raisin on Chios Island only and it is brewed to suit summer tastes. I have never bought liquor EVER in my life at the airport (not even as a present), this is the only exception.

Halvas

Halvas are perfect desserts to finish the food, especially in winters. Most of these are puddings made of semolina with syrups and nuts and a great option for vegans since they are made without animal products. In summers they come with ice creams which is also great.

Portokalpita

Orange cake with syrup served with ice cream is my favourite option when it comes to desserts. It is so amazing that the cake just melts in your mouth and the syrup kicks in slightly later. I am drooling all over my keyboard now.

Favourite Restaurants & Eateries For Food In Athens

Some of my favourite pots in Athens are:

O Thanasis

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One of the most famous kebab spots in Athens. It is a great place to taste amazing kebab in a good setting with just a few items on the menu. The O Thanasis kebab and yoghurt kebab both were amazing. It is quite. A busy place in the evenings, I’d recommend it for an easy lunch during exploration of Athens as it is right next to Monastiraki square and metro station.

Thissio View Rooftop Bar & Restaurant

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A great spot for a drink or two with a great view of Acropolis and the temple of Athena. It is very close to Mars Hill and offers a great beautiful view. Sitting in the shade of acropolis sipping on Mustika with the sun going down on a late summer evening, what else do you want from life!

Klepsydra Restaurant

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Klepsydra is located in Plaka and offers a great setting sitting under the shadow of Acropolis. it is also located in a separate corner without all the overcrowded spots. The food is cheap and great I ordered Mediterranean salad and moussaka and my friend ordered meatballs. Both were delicious AF! I am not a big dessert person but my friend highly recommended the orange pie and he wasn’t wrong, I licked the spoon clean and I was looking at the plate but luckily they took it away. It was perfect orange soft syrupy goodness in a plate.

Auli Food House 

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Auli Food house is located in the area behind Athens academy. While it is a new kid on the block, the restaurant already has some fans including yours truly. The restaurant is beautifully set with a cute little courtyard at the back.

The pancake came with two separate layers of cheese, bacon and turkey added extra flavour and the eggs and mushrooms just brought everything together. Absolutely loved it. Their drinks are also delicious, not many places get green tea right and this one totally won me over.

The Old Tavern of Psara

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I stepped in thinking it is quite a touristy spot but their food proved me absolutely wrong. Beef of the day with delicate aubergine totally melted in my mouth with a tinge of feta without overpowering the taste of the dish. The rooftop offered great views of Athens especially Lycabettus Hill. Service was also great and the bill was very reasonable.

Yiasemi

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Yiasemi has gathered a bit of cult following in Athens and it is considered a great opportunity to be sat on the steps outside its door. The wait can be quite long but the entire street has turned into a bit of a fun spot in Plaka. I ventured in for some orange cake with ice cream and the rooftop and interior are equally amazing. My friend was all praises for the greek coffee. Another must-visit spot in Plaka especially for a great cafe experience.

Ciel 

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I stayed quite close to Ciel Hotel and my host recommended it for brunch. It is quite a happening place which offers all-day brunch on its rooftop restaurant. I arrived to a buzzing place with lots of younger generation and luckily got a seat rather quickly. The eggs benedict and pancakes both were absolutely divine.

The Tiramisu pancakes were especially great. I am not a fan of coffee or coffee flavours but this was the only ‘fruit’ option. These pancakes totally won me over. The coffee taste was subtle and the strawberries complimented it perfectly. I can’t wait to try them again.

There is a lot more Athens and Greece has to offer. Every time I visit my love for Greek food is revived. I am heading to Cyprus soon and can’t wait to see what they have to offer.

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