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Athens Travel Guide

The 14 Best Restaurants in Athens Are Also Beloved by Locals

Attracting tourists from around the world, Athens restaurant scene is a thing to be envied.

From dining in a meat market to fish restaurants along the coast, digging into street food to one of the oldest tavernas in Athens, if there’s one thing Athenians take seriously, it’s their mealtimes.  Here is a selection of some of the best restaurants in Athens that locals love, too.  Join them and be thrown into the thick of Athenian life.

1 OF 14

Epirus Taverna

WHERE: Psyrri

The meat and fish stalls at Varvakeios Market in Central Athens will engage your senses as vendors shout out their wares.  If you’re looking to throw yourself in the deep end of a traditional working man’s café in Central Athens, this is where you need to start, but with a strong stomach.

Right at its beating heart–in the butchers’ section–lays Epirus Taverna or Oinomageireio H Epirus in Greek.  From offal–tripe–soups and stews to stuffed vegetables, whole fish (even the head) rounded off with Greek salad and feta, sitting with the market crowd and only tourists in the know will really give you a taste of local life.

INSIDER TIPGo only if you have a strong stomach, as the offal soups and stews really don’t leave anything to the imagination. But if you’ve had a bad night on the tiles, it’s a great dish to line the stomach and is eaten after the 40-day fast before Greek Easter.


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WHERE: Psyrri

Just opposite Varvakeios Market is one of the oldest tavernas in Athens. Descend a steep flight of stairs to the cellar of a graffiti/tagged stained, 150-year-old neo–classical building, Diporto’s exterior is misleading, but those in the know come to enjoy daily specials–the fava dip served with homemade bread, fava dip, soups, fish such as cod and sardines and meat of the day–there’s no menu, just what’s available on the day, so go and be adventurous with your appetite.  It’s simple food just as yiayia–grandma–makes.

Wine barrels line the walls–served by the jug–and locals chat at the oil-clothed tables. It’s an excellent throwback to 1960s Athens.

INSIDER TIPIt’s a popular spot, so if a table isn’t available, you’ll initially share it with others until one becomes free.


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WHERE: Plaka

This welcoming taverna might be located right in the heart of the touristy area, as it is underneath the gaze of the Acropolis, but locals love it here too–for the location and dishes on offer.

Scholarhio serves up the familiar Greek staples of moussaka, taramasalata, tzatziki dips, and stuffed vegetables.  Go Greek style and order a meze–many smaller dishes such as fried zucchini, keftedes–Greek meatballs–and calamari to share as a table.

INSIDER TIPScholarhio is located on Tripodon Street, thought to be the oldest street in Europe recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as over 2,500 years old. “Tripodon” refers to the copper tripods once placed along its length, dedicated to the God Apollo.


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WHERE: Monastiraki– Platia Irinis Square

For good old-fashioned gyros to go–Greece’s national dish of meat, usually pork, cooked on a rotisserie and sliced into a pitta bread with salad, fried potatoes, and tzatziki dip–Kostas in central Athens is where everybody heads.  A hole-in-the-wall joint and no seating, there’s often a line at lunchtime as it’s a favorite with local businesses as well as tourists.

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O Tzitzikas Ki Mermigas

WHERE: Syntagma

Meaning ‘The Cicada and the Cricket’ from an old fable by Aesop, with the restaurant claiming “it’s a place where inspiration (cicada) meets labor (ant)” this perennially popular spot with locals and tourists serves old style Greek dishes with interpretations that use regional ingredients.  Examples include the Chicken Mastihato, a chicken dish served with mastica resin sauce from the Greek island of Chios and cream, served up on a pastry nest.

INSIDER TIPBe sure to head inside and see their décor that emulates traditional 1950s Greek stores and kitchens, giving it a real homey feel.


6 OF 14

Kypseli Kalamaki

WHERE: Kypseli Square

This inner-city neighborhood tavern, translated as “Cell Straw” is famous for serving all its dishes on parchment paper as opposed to plates, making an authentic dining experience.  You can ask for a plate if you want though.

Expect simple yet hearty fare such as fried chicken, house pork or gyros–pork on a rotisserie sliced and served with chips, salad and tzatziki.

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WHERE: Syntagma

Avocado is the perfect spot for those that are vegetarian or vegan, even if you’re seeking fresh vegan fare. Travelers and locals alike frequent it often, enjoying the range of local, seasonal, organic and gluten-free produce such as hummus and avocado dip with gluten-free pita, fettuccine pasta with a simple homemade basil and pine nut pesto cream to burgers made from chickpeas and peanuts layered with avocado, sweet potato and various sauces.

INSIDER TIPOrder the burgers without the bun. Even though its gluten free, the burger itself is so thick you won’t want to fill yourself up with the bun too.


8 OF 14

Café Avissina

WHERE: Monastiraki

Café Avissina is a traditional Greek taverna in the heart of Monastiraki, popular with the stall holders, and serves up traditional Greek food such as grilled burger and Greek salad, not forgetting meatballs or octopus in wine sauce, all at very reasonable prices. Its bohemian décor over two floors–the top with fantastic Acropolis views–showcases its original tearoom beginnings.

INSIDER TIPThroughout the year, except in high summer months of July and August, live music and singing is performed at weekends in the evenings, the perfect traditional accompaniment to your food.


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WHERE: Gazi-Keramikos

Despite its name, no Indian Ocean cuisine is served here.  If it’s real Greek food from across the country you’re after, Seychelles is a taverna well frequented by locals and tourists choosing from a vast menu of foods generally not easy to come across, such as apaki (smoked pork) from Crete, manouri cheese from Northern Greece and buffalo kavourmas from Kerkini, a small village near Thessaloniki.

Traditional Greek ingredients prepared in a gourmet yet affordable way and set in a pretty square with inside or pavement seating, giving the feeling of being in a small community instead of a sprawling city.


10 OF 14

Nice ‘n’ Easy

WHERE: Kolonaki

The upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki is home to a fantastic bistro with a free range of produce that you’ll often find locals coming to for Sunday brunch as a family.

Nice ‘n’ Easy’s organic farm-to-table menu ranges from meat dishes such as buffalo tenderloin tartar with black truffle and cured egg yolk served with thick handmade fries to vegan dishes such as mushroom pasta with winter herbs.

Or snack on eggs Benedict–and all at reasonable prices, too.


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WHERE: Omonia

Dairy desserts are a staple in the Greek diet, and this family patisserie has been loyally serving the workers of central Athens since the early 1930s, making it one of the capital’s oldest. Stani is a small place with pedestrianized and indoor seating, choose from famed Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and walnuts or loukoumades–small yeast puffs deep-fried until golden brown with honey, sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon and thought to be the oldest recorded dessert in the country, traced back to the first Olympic Games of 776 B.C.

INSIDER TIPGreek yogurt comes from sheep’s milk, not cows. It’s been considered synonymous with longevity as its acidic PH level is considered safer than cow’s milk and contains more protein.


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WHERE: Piraeus

A staple of local life in the port of Piraeus, Margaro opened her small taverns serving simple comfort food to dock workers in 1944 next to the Naval Academy.  Taking over the business in the ’60s, her son has cultivated a unique menu of only five pan-fried seasonal fish dishes: shrimp, crayfish, red mullet, koutsomoura–a type of red mullet and lithrini–a small red snapper.  It’s delicious with a simple tomato salad.

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WHERE: Kastella (near Piraeus)

Another fish restaurant that’s famed locally, this one started life in the 30s as a local kafenio serving coffee and light food to the workers. Upgraded in the late 50s, both cuisine and décor, it hasn’t changed much with its famed balcony appearing in some films due to its beauty, expect dishes such as kakavia–traditional fish soup, steamed prawns and fresh salads.

INSIDER TIPBook ahead, as this restaurant can get crowded.


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Labros Fish Restaurant

WHERE: Vouliagmeni/Athens Riviera

Attracting locals since the late 1800s, this classy fish restaurant opposite Vouliagmeni Lake is a great place to come and devour fish-sharing plates such as calamari, saganaki shrimps, and taramosalata paired with Greek or tomato salads, to name but a few.  Meat lovers should try the Black Angus steak or their cheeseburgers.

INSIDER TIPThis is the perfect spot to head to after a swim in Vouliagmeni Lake and for a sunset dinner.