If you ask anyone from Athens, they’ll likely agree that food is one of the most important aspects of cultural history. From growing the raw materials to the preparation of ingredients to cooking methods, recipes, and family secrets, food is an incredibly important aspect of Athenian culture and history (which spans over the last few thousand years).
It’s also, simply put, one of the most delectable places to eat around the world, offering everything from great, cheap street food to fine dining on the highest regard. You’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for different places to eat, or different kinds of food and drink to try. Since there is so much food, and so many restaurants in Athens, Greece, we’ve put together a list of ten of our favorite places to eat along with some essential foodie activities to help you along your way.
Where to Eat in Athens
Whether you’re looking into what to do as a foodie, or traveling and looking for the best restaurants in Athens, you’re going to be met with some hard decisions about what to eat in Greece. We’ve grouped together some restaurants, activities, bars, and popular street food spots you just have to try while you’re there. Try a little bit of everything, and there’s simply no way you could be disappointed!
Best Bars & Restaurants in Athens, Greece
Firstly, you’ve got to go to a nice restaurant or a bar. Best visited when you first arrive, simply taxi to one of the lovely spots we suggest, and enjoy being served authentic Greek food by those who know it best. Wash your meal down with some local wine or Ouzo, and enjoy your first night in Athens without the need for a map or a guide.
Orizontes is a restaurant offering both old and new forms of Greek Cuisine, from a stunning location atop Mount Lycabettus of Athens. Sporting a selection of Mediterranean delicacies, such as tsigareli, traditional salads, and fresh seafood; Orizontes (meaning ‘horizons’) is one of your best options for dining out in Athens.
With items and ingredients such as fantastic cheeses, olive oils and wines from all corners of Greece, you’ll leave impressed and satisfied.
Be sure to call ahead to reserve a table (ask for one on the terrace for the best views) and remember that you will need to take the funicular to access the restaurant – a cliff railway carriage that runs up and down the mountain every thirty minutes.
Aristippou 1, Athina 106 76, Greece
Zorba’s Taverna, Plaka
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, homely and with less of a modern twist, Zorba’s Taverna is the one for you. Situated in the ancient town of Plaka in Athens, Zorba’s may look like your average European corner cafe/restaurant, but it’s a true gem.
Their menu sports a great selection of appetizers you’re likely familiar with, from tzatziki to saganaki, as well as some lovely Greek mains which are to die for, like moussaka, various preparations of lamb, and of course a number of choices of fresh seafood. This, of course, is accompanied by the famous retsina – a type of resinated Greek wine.
If you’re looking for high-class dining, this might not be the spot for you, but you’d be unwise to miss out on their amazing menu of must-try Greek dishes and treats, made with love and care in a homely environment.
Lissiou Str 15, Athina 105 57, Greece
Whether you’re visiting Greece for the first time or the hundredth, you simply must go for a drink of Ouzo. Where better than a bar established over 100 years ago?
Bretto’s Bar opened its doors in 1909, and remains a historic lounge in the Plaka neighborhood. They make and serve their own liqueurs such as the sweet mastiha, and licorice-esque Ouzo – two of Greece’s most prized alcoholic creations.
It’s a great place to end the night, or even just pop out for a quick drink around twilight. The bar is beautifully lit, full of multi-colored bottles and has a lovely warm atmosphere where you’ll feel welcome all the time.
Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
Not far from the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic games were held, lies Marathonitis Taverna, a humble and friendly classic Athenian taverna. You’re not going to find anything particularly extravagant here, but you will come across some of the best lamb and salads in the nation, not to mention a vibrant atmosphere.
This is a real authentic taverna, complete with live music all through the week, wine barrels running alongside the restaurant wall offering homemade wine ready to serve, and no rules around smoking indoors (take this as a warning).
Vinkelman 3, Athina 116 32, Greece
Get more inspiration for your Greek food odyssey with these mouthwatering Instagram accounts!
Our Favourite Street Food in Athens Greece
Once you’re a little more on your feet and looking to explore, it’s time to hit the road for some street food. Most of us who live outside of Greece know their food best through street food and takeaway-style Greek restaurants around the world – where better to try it than at the source?
One of our favorite ways to explore the local food scene in any city is by taking a food tour, like this one from Withlocals. It’s private and customizable with a number of stops around Athens throughout the day. You’re led around by a local bilingual guide, which means you’ll be able to ask the vendors anything you want about their produce, recipes, and how to prepare things, as well as get some guidance on how to go about exploring the area.
Kostas has been around for 65 years and is widely regarded simply as the best souvlaki in Athens. It’s now run by Kostas Jr. and churns out simple, delicious souvlaki made with the freshest local ingredients all morning until the supplies run out.
This souvlaki spot offers takeaway or outdoor seating options, and sells cold beer and wine too, making it the perfect spot to stop off for a midday snack during your exploration of the city. Be sure to try the pork Souvlaki from Kostas, it’s the winner for sure.
Pl. Agias Irinis 2, Athina 105 60, Greece
The Central Market in Athens
The Central Market in Athens is a fresh fish, meat and produce market in central Athens, and is a must-see for foodies.
It’s a great place to pick up some ingredients and try your hand at making a few local dishes, should you feel adventurous.
Athinas 42, Athens 999-20, Greece
More of the Best Food Activities & Places to Eat in Athens
Now that you’ve developed an insatiable appetite for genuine Greek cuisine, we can get a little adventurous. Here are some fun things to do to really get immersed in the food culture in Athens, like food tours, cooking classes or pub crawls.
Founded over 100 years ago, Ariston is one of the most important bakeries in modern Athens. Here, you can find freshly baked goods of the highest quality at a very reasonable price, great for snacking or use as part of meals if you’re cooking yourself some Mediterranean treats.
They’re best known for their traditional Greek pies such as spanakopita, loukanikopita, and decadent Kourou phyllo.
Cooking Classes at the Greek Kitchen
The Greek Kitchen is one of the best of many restaurants offering cooking classes in Athens, and a great spot to visit before heading to the central market to go shopping for your own ingredients. You’ll have a blast learning about Greek cooking and trying new things, and they have the option of both morning and evening classes, in both cooking and baking.
These classes also make for a great gift for anyone you know traveling to Athens with a love for food.
Athens, Athinas 36, Athina 105 51, Greece
Food Tours in Athens
There are food tours aplenty in Athens, such as the Withlocals tour we mentioned earlier. If you’re this far into this guide and still aren’t quite sure where you’d like to go or what you’re getting yourself into, then a food tour is probably best for you.
Let a local foodie lead you around for the day to the best spots in the city, with the added bonus of your guide being able to act as a translator for any of your questions, or advisor for your suggestions. This is a great way to view the food culture in Athens in a deeper manner, with a local who knows it in and out and was raised with it.
An Athens Bar Crawl
Lastly, if you’re feeling courageous after a few days or weeks in the city, why not try a pub crawl? As you’ve probably noticed in reading this guide, the Greeks have perfected a number of wines, brandies, liqueurs and spirits over the years.
If you fancy yourself a drinker with a taste for meeting some locals and leaving your mark on every bar in the city, then this is totally the right choice for you.
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As a foodie, you’ll simply never run out of stuff to do in Athens. There’s a new flavor at every turn, a new recipe behind every door, and a smooth drink at whatever time you need one. You really can’t go wrong traveling to Athens with their amazing fresh seafood, and produce from around the country.
Let us know what you thought of the spots we mentioned here, and if there are any you feel we missed!