Athens – top 20 places to eat & drink

Here are my top 20 places to satisfy your hunger and thirst in the Greek capital.

Being one of the largest European cities, Athens has a wealth of dining options for you to dig your teeth into.

I’ve tried and tested the best to bring you my top recommendations. Keep an eye out for options with a star (⭐) next to them – these are not to be missed!

They’re organised in a rough meal order, from early morning breakfasts through to late night drinks with live music. The dollar signs ($) next to each name indicates a rough pricing.

Cardia cafe – $

This place is by far the cheapest in town for coffees, pastries, freshly squeezed juices and more – I’m so gutted that I only found it on my last day in Athens! The cafe opens at 6am but the more exquisite pies and pastries only start coming out of the oven from 7am onwards (not that that’s a problem for most people).

It’s also located just a 1 minute walk from Monastiraki square – perfect to grab a takeaway and then enjoy Acropolis views. With most of the menu items averaging around €1 (£0.88/US$1.2) each, Cardia Cafe is the perfect place to come for a cheap breakfast or lunch.

Breakfast to-go at Monastiraki square

 

Various street stalls – $

One of the most popular breakfast snacks in Greece is a Koulouri – a large bread ring covered in toasted sesame seeds. Although originating in Thessaloniki, Koulouria can be found all over Athens too; street vendors pop up in the early hours of the morning on virtually every street corner.

Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and a hint of nuttiness – that’s what makes a good Koulouri. Despite only being “a piece of bread with seeds on”, they actually taste pretty nice! Oh, and they’re incredibly cheap – often around €0.5 (£0.44/US$0.58).

A traditional bready breakfast

 

Montikau sandwich shop – $$

This hip modern cafe serves up freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and a wide range of coffee. They also have cakes, pies and a deli counter where you can take home some of your favourite hams and cheeses. Prices are reasonable too; the ‘Crete’ sandwich I tried – smoked chicken, sweet cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and spinach – cost me €4.2 (£3.7/US$4.9).

The cafe’s location – inside a small shopping centre – is close to central Athens, but also far enough away to provide some peace and serenity while you enjoy your brunch. Takeaway is available too; I took my sandwich up to the top of Lycabettus hill for the ultimate ‘food with a view’!

Not sure which was better – the food or the view!

 

Oinomageireio – $$

A traditional taverna that serves up hearty meals in large portions. They bulk cook everything fresh each morning, so although it won’t be immediately fresh when you order it won’t be more than a few hours old. Plus the Greeks say that some stuff tastes better the longer you leave it to “stew”.

Only come here if you’re wanting to experience a true Greek tavern and are pretty hungry; it’s situated next to the meat market so not for the faint hearted.

Not the most visually appetising…

 

⭐ Feyrouz – $

A great snack/lunch spot with truly delicious food. The owners are a Turkish family from a small town close to the Syrian border, so all their recipes originate from turkey and the Middle East.

The food includes traditional peynirlis and lahmacun – flatbreads of various shapes filled with succulent meats, roasted veggies, cheese and more. The friendly Savvas will explain what’s available and help you decide what to choose. All items average around €3 (£2.6/US$3.5) – for the quality you’re getting you really can’t beat the price!

A vegetarian peynirli

 

Kafti Patata – $$

Translated as ‘hot potato’, this centrally located fast food stall serves large jacket potatoes with a variety of meaty, saucy and veggie toppings. I love the concept as it’s the first place I’ve come across that focuses so much on making a potato taste great!

You can choose from a range of pre-determined topping combinations or simply make your own by mixing and matching your favourite ingredients. I opted for the personal touch and chose 7 toppings for €4.9 (£4.3/US$5.7); the more toppings you select, the more expensive it will be (obviously) – for me though, 7 toppings was plenty of variation.

That’s one loaded potato!

 

Kyra Popi Tavern – $$$

This taverna is a located a long way out of Athens city centre, in a small seaside area called Lagonisi. Far from being your go-to lunch spot, Kyra Popi is an ideal place to stop for food on your way to/from the archaeological site of Sounion.

It’s a family-run seafood tavern with garden seating and tasty food. I tried a plate of olives for starters – slightly too salty to finish the whole plate by myself – and a delicious fresh calamari stuffed with feta cheese and tomatoes.

My freshly stuffed calamari

 

To Neoklassiko – $

In the battle for the best gyros in town, To Neoklassiko comes out on top with flying colours. There’s just something about their pitas that taste extra delicious. The tzatziki is rich and thick, the tomatoes are fresh and juicy, the proportions of chips and meat are on point – just how it should be!

Priced at €2.4 dine-in or €2.2 takeaway, you really can’t go wrong! They also have plenty of other options on their reasonably priced menu.

The best gyros in town

 

⭐ Falafellas – $

As you might’ve guessed, the cleverly named Falafellas specialise in falafel. Their signature offering is a pita bread filled with falafel, roasted vegetables, hummus, salad, tahini, yoghurt and an optional spicy red sauce (ask for medium spicy to begin with, it’s quite hot!).

These delicious wraps come in two sizes; ‘Giant’ for €3.8 (£3.3/US$4.5) and the smaller ‘Pocket’ for €2.8 (£2.5/US$3.3). The size might be giant but the price certainly is not! Falafellas also do salads, hummus dishes and meat filled pitas. They’re open 11:00-23:00 (closed Sundays) and are nearly always busy – fear not, the queue moves quite quickly!

Falafantastic!

 

Samaria – $$

Being the port of Athens, Piraeus is home to some of the best seafood in town. Along Akti Themistokleous – the main coastal road – there are a wealth of traditional seafood tavernas which overlook the Aegean Sea; perfect for a picturesque late lunch. I ate at one called Samaria; despite being pleasant I reckon you could find places that are either better or cheaper (see below).

To give you an idea of what was on offer, I had a smoked aubergine salad for €3 (£2.6/US$3.5) and a piece of grilled octopus (smaller than I was expecting) for €8 (£7/US$9.4).

Take note: in Greece ‘salad’ often means ‘dip’

 

Akté – $$

For marginally cheaper, you can enjoy larger portions of tastier food at Akté taverna. It’s located right at the beginning of Akti Themistokleous –  in an area called Piraiki – and has great views over the Aegean Sea.

I tried the ‘mussels saganaki’ – saganaki being the method of cooking that uses cheese and tomatoes to make the delicious, rich sauce. You have to try this dish at least once whilst in Greece and what better place than the port area of Athens?

Mmmmmussels saganaki

 

⭐ Estrella – $$

Eating here was one of my highlights of Athens! Estrella’s menu is simple yet clever, using lots of different ingredients to create heavenly flavour combinations – be that with eggs, bagels, burgers, salads, pancakes or waffles.

Estrella really is the definition of comfort food – you only need to take one look at their Instagram feed before you start drooling at the mouth! And oh my, how in-CRED-ible their Ottoman burger is!! A homemade lamb & beef patty with feta cream, sriracha sauce, onion chutney and fresh tomato all encased in a soft bagel bun – literally heaven on Earth!

Oh yeah, all Estrella’s burger patties are homemade individually so you’ll have to wait about 30mins for your order to be created (I don’t particularly mind if it tastes that good though)! To add to the amazing food is a great atmosphere, decent music and modern interior.

Their milkshakes aren’t bad either

 

5φ (5F) – $$

A typical family run tavern serving traditional Greek food to locals and tourists alike. Even though there are no menus in English the owner makes you feel welcome and explains (in English) what dishes are available. I took him up on his recommendation for “family style” dining and got to taste small portions of different dishes.

Prices are good too – come here for an affordable and authentic Greek meal. Despite being a little further out of ‘central’ Athens, the distance to 5F is walkable and there’s also a nearby clothes & food market (Oumplianis & Diocharous streets) to combine with your visit.

“Family style” dining

 

Lukumades – $$

Loukoumades are small balls of deep fried dough eaten all over Greece as a snack. The traditional recipe is to have them drizzled in honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, but with the rise of Instagram-worthy sweet treats, patisseries now offer loukoumades drenched in sauces, covered with toppings and served with a side of fancy flavoured ice cream!

The aptly named Lukumades is one such place to offer these extravagant additions. However, I felt like I had to test out the original recipe to see where this craze began; personally I wasn’t a fan [of the classic honey and cinnamon flavour] but Lukumades have so many other choices and combinations of toppings that there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy. They even have savoury options if you just can’t get enough of feta cheese whilst in Greece!

Side note: my favourite loukoumades in Greece were from Paradosiako in Paros.

The traditional honey syrup & cinnamon recipe

 

Thanasis – $$

These guys are famous for their mighty kebabs, and rightly so! They (the kebabs) exude just what you want – juicy, well-spiced meat with fresh salad and sauces, on a bed of silky soft pita bread.

Situated within a 1 minute walk of Monastiraki metro station, Thanasis is centrally located and easily reachable. Unfortunately service isn’t great and prices aren’t exactly cheap – €9 (£7.9/US$10.5) for their traditional kebab or gyros portion – but the portions are big and the taste even bigger! You can’t come to Athens and not try a Thanasis kebab!

Yoghurt topped kebab

 

Kalopsimeno – $

A no nonsense fast-food joint slash sports-bar; when the food is quick, tasty and cheap you really can’t complain! They had a heap of menu items in Greek that I couldn’t understand so I decided to go with something I knew – a gyros. If anything they skimped on the chips and loaded up on pork meat instead – definitely a good thing!

A loaded gyros

 

⭐ Tavern Klimateria – $$

Come here for an outstanding moussaka! It’s obvious that very fresh ingredients go into this food – you can taste each different flavour in the dish rather than it being overpowered by one particular ingredient. Portions are standard for Greece and prices extremely good for the quality of the food – main meals average €8 (£7/US$9.3).

The live music – Wed-Sat @ 9:30pm – is well worth coming for. I found it better than most other live Greek music I’ve seen; it was a tad more upbeat and included a double bass player when I was there. The general atmosphere and setting of the tavern is fantastic, with old barrels as a backdrop to the stage, vines growing from the ceiling and a dim mood lighting.

Marvellous moussaka

 

An Ouzeri in Gazi – $$

Drinking Ouzo (anise flavoured spirit) and snacking on mezedes (Greek tapas) with a group of friends is a popular part of Greek culture – so much so that many restaurants are dedicated to this style of dining. Such establishments are named Ouzeria (singular – Ouzeri).

Ouzeria are popular in the Gazi district of Athens – head over there in the late evening for a night of fun drinking and finger food! If you’re unsure about how to drink Ouzo (usually mixed with water and served over ice) then ask your waiter to explain.

Time for Ouzo & mezedes!

 

⭐ Cafe 111 – $$

This late night cafe hosts live music every night from 9:30pm. The style is slightly different to the traditional Greek music (which is a welcome change!). For example, the night I went there were two guitarists but they played such a wide variety of songs – including covers of western music – that it was enjoyable for hours.

Cafe 111 itself is a great place to be regardless of whether there’s live music on. They serve mezedes (Greek tapas) and drinks in a cosy setting, including a bustling outdoor seating area. Drink prices are towards the higher end – €3.5 (£3.1/US$4.1) for a 330ml beer – but it’s the atmosphere and live music you’re paying for (and it’s totally worth it).

The cosy interior

 

Yiasemi – $$

Enjoying some drinks on the famous plaka steps is something to tick off your Athens bucket list. The combination of traditional tavernas and unique setting make for a chilled-out atmosphere; perfect for socialising with friends. However, it’s not so great if you’re alone as there’s no live music to entertain you.

Read more: the struggles of solo travel.

View from Yiasemi; the Plaka steps at night

 

Other places to check out

In the slightly touristy but extremely pleasant area of Anafiotika there are a number of restaurants offering live Greek music and/or dancing. A few such places include: Geros Tou Moria Restaurant; Taverna Stamatopoulos and Avafiotika Restaurant. Performances tend to kick off around 8pm. It would be worth arriving early or else reserving a table, especially if you’re in a group.

 

Feel like an expert on Athens food? You should – now get out there and sample some!

 

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