Athens Restaurants

Doesn't anybody eat at home anymore? When you're on vacation, travelers don't have much choice in the matter, but these days—even in the throes of the current economic crisis—Athenians are going out to restaurants (many of which have lowered their prices accordingly) in record numbers. And it's easy for visitors to the capital to become a part of the clatter, chatter, and song, especially at the city's neighborhood tavernas.

These Athenian landmarks were famous for their wicker chairs that inevitably pinched your bottom, wobbly tables that needed coins under one leg, and hima wine drawn from the barrel. There are still plenty of them around, but today some of their clientele has moved up to a popular new restaurant hybrid: the "gastro-taverna," which serves traditional fare in surroundings that are more modern and creative. Most are located in the up-and-coming industrial-cum-arty districts of Central Athens, such as Gazi-Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio and attract youths who stay nibbling, sipping tsipouro (a distilled grape spirit), and laughing for hours. At the same time, enduring in popularity are the traditional magereia ("cookeries"): humble, no-frills eateries where the food, usually displayed behind glass windows, is cooked in grandma's style—it's simple, honest, time-tested, filling comfort food. Some noteworthy magereia are located around the bustling Ayias Irinis Square in the heart of Monastiraki. Of course cheap, filling, and delicious souvlaki is more popular than ever, and local favorites still have queues. Meanwhile, Athenians' evolving taste for exotic foods, combined with a tighter budget, has led to the opening of numerous ethnic street food restaurants—some just holes in the wall—serving expertly made, authentic options.

Trends? Athens has them. Health-centric restaurants specializing in vegan, vegetarian, and raw food seem to be blossoming more, as well as sophisticated juice bars. These would have stood out just a few years ago; now they have competitors. Organic food stores can be found in every neighborhood, many selling Greek-grown concoctions made in the traditional style by small producers, many of whom returned to the rural homeland after facing unemployment; look for local truffle oils, unpasteurized craft beer, and gold leaf honey. Most Greeks value pure, high-quality, and easily accessible staples like the seasonal vegetables and fruit, medicinal handpicked herb teas, and nuts that they hunt for at the weekly neighborhood laiki market, as well as the multitude of Greek product stores. With less money to spend, Athenians now order more discerningly and in smaller quantities, but they resolutely linger outside, which never seems to be a problem for restaurant owners.

But some things remain eternal. Athenian dining is seasonal. In August, when residents scatter to the hills and seaside, many restaurants and tavernas close, with the hippest bar-restaurants reopening at choice seaside positions. And visitors remain shocked by how late Greeks dine. It's normal (even on a weekday) to show up for a meal at 9 or 10 and to leave long after midnight, only to head off for drinks. Hotel restaurants, seafood places, and Plaka tavernas keep very late hours. Most places serve lunch from about noon to 4 (and sometimes as late as 6) and dinner from about 8 or 9 until at least midnight. When in Athens, don't hesitate to adopt this Zorbaesque lifestyle. Eat, drink, party, and enjoy life—knowing full well that, as a traveler, there can always be a siesta the next day.

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  • 1. Aeglí Zappiou

    $$ | Syntagma | Mediterranean

    Visit the elegant Aeglí Zappiou, an excellent spot for a classic Greek coffee experience. Nestled among fountains and flowering trees next to...

    Visit the elegant Aeglí Zappiou, an excellent spot for a classic Greek coffee experience. Nestled among fountains and flowering trees next to the Zappio Exhibition Hall in the National Garden, it's an ideal spot to sample a fresh dessert or some haute cuisine, or watch a movie at the open-air Cine Aegli next door. Adjacent to this café is the noted Cibus restaurant, which offers a special degustation menu of modern Greek cuisine every Wednesday evening (reservations recommended).

    Zappio Megaro, Athens, Attica, 11557, Greece
    210-336–9300

    Known For

    • Good desserts
    • Great coffee
    • Views of open-air Cine Aegli next door
  • 2. Aleria

    $$$ | Metaxourgeio

    Restaurants, including this multiple award-winning Michelin-starred gem of Neoclassical design and inventive Mediterranean cuisine, are the reason Metaxourgeio's profile went up. As soon as you...

    Restaurants, including this multiple award-winning Michelin-starred gem of Neoclassical design and inventive Mediterranean cuisine, are the reason Metaxourgeio's profile went up. As soon as you arrive in the beautiful garden, lit with fairy lights and scattered with statuettes and other creative decor details, you'll want to stay for hours; the winter dining area indoors is very elegant too, but not as uplifting. Chef Gikas Xenakis's cooking is a serious candidate for notoriety. Currently there are two types of tasting menus, "earth & sea" or "garden & nature," with a choice of four, five, or six dishes. There is also an excellent wine pairing menu available, but if you prefer to choose your own there is a wide-ranging wine list. 

    Megalou Alexandrou 57, Athens, Attica, 10435, Greece
    210-522–2633

    Known For

    • Inventive gourmet tasting menus
    • Beautiful garden setting
    • Fresh Greek ingredients

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No lunch, Reservations essential
  • 3. Café Avissinia

    $$ | Psirri | Greek

    Facing hoary and merchant-packed Abyssinia Square, this timeworn but exceptional eatery is popular with locals who want home-cooked traditional...

    Facing hoary and merchant-packed Abyssinia Square, this timeworn but exceptional eatery is popular with locals who want home-cooked traditional food with heavy Asia Minor influences and endless servings of the excellent barrel wine and ouzo. Diners love to settle within the elegant glass-and-wood interior to sample mussels and rice pilaf, wine-marinated octopus with pasta, fresh garden salad, or any of the dips. Little wonder so many head here to relax after a day of shopping at the nearby flea market. A newer rooftop addition offers spectacular Acropolis views. Another plus: during the winter months, music is often in the air—on weekend afternoons, you can enjoy live accordion performances sometimes accompanied by the piano.

    Abyssinia Sq., Kinetou 7, Athens, Attica, 10555, Greece
    210-321–7047

    Known For

    • Delicious moussaka and grilled sardines
    • An air of nostalgia but with style
    • Live music on weekend afternoons

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 4. GB Roof Garden

    $$$$ | Syntagma | Greek

    With a skillfully-curated modern Greek-Mediterranean menu of haute cuisine dishes and an excellent wine list, this classic restaurant on the...

    With a skillfully-curated modern Greek-Mediterranean menu of haute cuisine dishes and an excellent wine list, this classic restaurant on the rooftop of the legendary Grand Bretagne hotel makes for an idyllic fine dining experience. Premium meats, hand-picked seasonal ingredients, and the freshest fish are served. Add to that some of the most stunning 360-degree views of the city under the twinkling sky and abundant greenery all around and you're sure to enjoy a stellar dinner.

    Vas. Georgiou 1A, Syntagma Square, Athens, Attica, 10564, Greece
    210-333–0766

    Known For

    • Fantastic city views, including the Acropolis
    • Creative and flavorsome gourmet dishes
    • A stylish VIP crowd
  • 5. Kapnikarea

    $ | Monastiraki | Greek

    A perfect stop while exploring Ermou Street's shops and the Monastiraki area, Kapnikarea serves up tasty meze with a live soundtrack of the...

    A perfect stop while exploring Ermou Street's shops and the Monastiraki area, Kapnikarea serves up tasty meze with a live soundtrack of the Greek blues (rembetika), especially between 6 and 11 pm, in a relaxed, authentic setup reflective of the owner's heritage from "longevity island," Ikaria.

    Hristopoulou 2, at Ermou 57, Athens, Attica, Greece
    210-322–7394

    Known For

    • Rembetika music played by skilled musicians
    • Great location
    • Favorite local hang-out
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  • 6. Kokkion

    $ | Psirri | Fast Food

    An ice cream workshop (dare we say laboratory) and store, Kokkion is the brainchild of a Cordon Bleu patissiere and serves ice cream like no...

    An ice cream workshop (dare we say laboratory) and store, Kokkion is the brainchild of a Cordon Bleu patissiere and serves ice cream like no other in Athens. The parlor uses only super-fresh ingredients like cow's milk from a small farm in northern Greece, high quality French chocolate, and homemade caramel, seasonings, and flavorings. Most exciting of all are the unique flavors, like milk chocolate with orange and pepper and coconut sorbet with chocolate steamed biscuit and chocolate pieces, as well as classics like bitter chocolate, salted caramel, and vanilla. Vegan options are available, too.

    Protogenous 2, Athens, Attica, 10554, Greece
    698-1563–511

    Known For

    • Fresh ingredients—no ice cream mixes here
    • Unique flavors
    • Homemade flavorings
  • 7. Kuzina

    $$$ | Thissio

    Kuzina may be sleek, dazzlingly decorated, and moodily lit, but it's not just a pretty face. The food—especially the inventive seafood and pasta dishes—is among...

    Kuzina may be sleek, dazzlingly decorated, and moodily lit, but it's not just a pretty face. The food—especially the inventive seafood and pasta dishes—is among the best in Athens, standing out on touristy Adrianou. The main room soars skyward, glittering with birdcage chandeliers and factory ducts, with a vast oak-covered gray bar set below a spotlit wall lined with hundreds of wine bottles. The menu (refreshed a couple of times a year) showcases newfangled and alternative Greek dishes with traditional touches like the tasty chicken fillet with confit of cherry tomatoes, graviera (a gruyère-like Greek) cheese, and spinach rice or Asian influenced plates like the light black cod marinated in a miso. Cocktails are to be relished on the rooftop terrace, blessed by very drinkable views of the Acropolis. If you can tear yourself away from that, visit the Porta art gallery on the second floor.

    Adrianou 9, Athens, Attica, 10555, Greece
    210-324–0133

    Known For

    • Head chef Aris Tsanaklidis
    • Great pedestrianized location
    • Scenic rooftop for delicious drinks

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Reservations essential
  • 8. Lukumades

    $ | Acropolis | Fast Food

    Try (and probably get addicted to) one of Greece's most popular and traditional desserts— loukoumades . These doughtnut-like balls are deep...

    Try (and probably get addicted to) one of Greece's most popular and traditional desserts—loukoumades. These doughtnut-like balls are deep fried, then stuffed and slathered with an impressively enormous variety of delicious fillings and toppings. You can sit at the bench outside to feast on your selected sweets, or take them to go. The dough is freshly prepared every day using quality ingredients, as are the sauces and toppings that are sprinkled over them.

    Aiolou 21 & Aghias Eirinis St., Athens, Attica, 105 51, Greece
    210-321–0880

    Known For

    • Top quality ingredients
    • Great variety of toppings and fillings
    • Excellent flavor every time
  • 9. Mani Mani

    $$ | Makriyianni

    Mani Mani is a creative restaurant featuring recipes inspired—and made mostly with ingredients that are sourced—from the southern Peloponnese's Mani region. It strikes the perfect...

    Mani Mani is a creative restaurant featuring recipes inspired—and made mostly with ingredients that are sourced—from the southern Peloponnese's Mani region. It strikes the perfect balance between unpretentious sophistication and heartiness. The food and extensive regional wine list take center stage, and its comforting dishes sweetly scream "village," with the chef adding delicate new fruity or spicy touches and embracing organic products from small farms. Located in a converted Neoclassical residence, the decor is modern and clean, serving as a thoughtful metaphor for the restaurant's philosophy.

    Falirou 10, Athens, Attica, 11742, Greece
    210-921–8180

    Known For

    • Authentic Peloponnesian cuisine
    • Farm-to-table ingredients
    • Good wine list

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Reservations essential
  • 10. Nice N Easy

    $$ | Kolonaki | Mediterranean

    Inspired in its decor and the names of the dishes on the menu by old Hollywood glamour, this was Athens's first farm-to-table restaurant. Having...

    Inspired in its decor and the names of the dishes on the menu by old Hollywood glamour, this was Athens's first farm-to-table restaurant. Having received several awards over the years for its top quality ingredients—mainly organic and sourced from small producers—as well as its great service and many healthy comfort-food options, it's also set up in Kifissia and Mykonos. The all-day restaurant has an easy-going and upbeat urban ambience and serves creative as well as classic modern Greek, Mediterranean, and North American-inspired cuisine to suit all tastes, moods and dietary requirements. You can head here for a full brunch, lunch, or dinner or order a great bottle of wine accompanied by several appetizers to share with friends. If you have a sweet tooth, don't miss out on the dairy and sugar-free olive oil ice cream, which comes in several indulgent flavors.

    Omirou 60, Athens, Attica, 10672, Greece
    210-361–7201

    Known For

    • Top quality ingredients put together in a flavorsome way
    • Many healthy, tasty choices for vegans and vegetarians
    • Excellent brunch menu
  • 11. Taverna Filippou

    $$ | Kolonaki

    An unassuming yet high-profile (and recently renovated) taverna-style restaurant, this restaurant has devotees (since 1923) who enjoy simple, traditional yet top-quality Greek food. From cabinet...

    An unassuming yet high-profile (and recently renovated) taverna-style restaurant, this restaurant has devotees (since 1923) who enjoy simple, traditional yet top-quality Greek food. From cabinet ministers, diplomats, and actors to intellectuals, its repertoire of loyal diners fills out the place at lunch and dinnertime. The appeal is simple: skillfully prepared, flavorsome Greek classics, mostly ladera (casseroles cooked in an olive oil and tomato sauce), moussaka (layered eggplant and ground beef in fluffy béchamel sauce), and memorable side dishes like succulent crayfish meat in a mayonnaise-based sauce. The menu adapts to what's fresh at the open-air produce market.

    Xenokratous 19, Athens, Attica, 10675, Greece
    210-721–6390

    Known For

    • Excellent traditional Greek cuisine
    • Familial atmosphere
    • Sophisticated clientele

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and mid-Aug. No dinner Sat.
  • 12. Yiantes

    $$ | Exarcheia | Greek

    In a flower-filled courtyard—fashionably green and framed by wisteria and jasmine—you peruse a menu that, despite some modern influences, reads...

    In a flower-filled courtyard—fashionably green and framed by wisteria and jasmine—you peruse a menu that, despite some modern influences, reads like an honest culinary journey through the far reaches of Greece. Almost everything is fresh and delicious, as the chef estimates that about 90% of the ingredients he uses are organic (the owners are organic farmers), including the house wine. And there are plenty of healthy, vegetarian choices, too. Although a little pricier than the norm, this neo-taverna and urban oasis, which attracts a high-brow clientele, is located right next to a charming open-air Riviera cinema. The bargain prix-fixe menu offers excellent value for money.

    Valtetsiou 44, Athens, Attica, 10681, Greece
    210-330–1369

    Known For

    • Mainly organic ingredients
    • Beautiful garden setting
    • Bargain prix-fixe menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 13. Ama Lachei at Nefeli's

    $ | Exarcheia | Greek

    Step out of Kallidromiou Street in edgy Exarcheia and find yourself in a large, lovely courtyard full of little tables and abundant greenery...

    Step out of Kallidromiou Street in edgy Exarcheia and find yourself in a large, lovely courtyard full of little tables and abundant greenery. Ama Lachei has gained a loyal following for its decently priced, delectable Greek dishes always made with a fanciful flourish and with bona fide ingredients. You'll find scrumptious regional cheeses; seafood appetizers such as orzo pasta with Kozani saffron and tiny shrimps; succulent meats and sausages; and plenty of vegetarian options such as the makarounes Karpathou (a traditional handmade pasta from Karpathos island) with rocket and myzithra cheese. Do like the Greeks, and drink these down with a gratifying choice of regional wines and tsipouro (the local firewater), then linger on with your parea (group of friends) until late at night. Every day there are five to nine new daily specials.

    Kallidromiou 69, Athens, Attica, 10683, Greece
    210-384–5978

    Known For

    • Large selection of fish, meat, and vegetable mezedes (small plates)
    • A good choice of regional wines
    • Verdant courtyard setting
  • 14. Athenee

    $$$ | Syntagma | Greek

    Famously known as Zonars until falling into new ownership recently, Athenee is one of Athens's most established and elegant restaurant-cafés...

    Famously known as Zonars until falling into new ownership recently, Athenee is one of Athens's most established and elegant restaurant-cafés, where a multitude of international film stars, academics, and politicians have sipped their coffee since 1939. The plush decor, elegant atmosphere and sophisticated crowd create a feeling of nostalgic old-style luxury combined with modern urban liveliness. Throughout the day Athenee caters to all culinary desires, offering plush brunches, modern Greek dishes, exciting varieties of sushi, mouthwatering pastries, and perfectly mixed cocktails.

    Voukourestiou 9 & Panepistimiou, Athens, Attica, 10671, Greece
    210-325–1430

    Known For

    • A long and glamorous history
    • It's a cultural institution
    • Delicious pastries
    • A perfect location for business chats

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sunday
  • 15. Athinaion Politeia

    $ | Thissio | Café

    For a fancy coffee (think espresso mixed with Sambuca), sweet crêpes, or an impromptu meal, stop at this restored neoclassical-style mansion...

    For a fancy coffee (think espresso mixed with Sambuca), sweet crêpes, or an impromptu meal, stop at this restored neoclassical-style mansion and watch the crowds on Apostolou Pavlou. The seating in the square in front of the restaurant bordering the ancient agora has one of the best views of the Acropolis in town.

    Akamantos 1, at Apostolou Pavlou 33, Athens, Attica, 11851, Greece
    210-341–3795

    Known For

    • People-watching
    • Good coffee
    • Crêpes
    • Acropolis view
  • 16. Avli Psirri

    $ | Psirri | Greek

    A very well-kept secret until a couple of years ago, Avli remains well under the radar even today. But if you walk past its inconspicuous entrance...

    A very well-kept secret until a couple of years ago, Avli remains well under the radar even today. But if you walk past its inconspicuous entrance, you'd be missing out on uniquely satisfying small plates and bottomless carafes of barrel wine. Dining here remains a unique experience in a village-like backyard that is nothing like the rest of Athens. Foreign artists and Greek businesspeople alike find refuge here, especially when they want to take the afternoon off and indulge a little.

    Aghiou Dimitriou 12, Athens, Attica, 10554, Greece
    210-324–4117

    Known For

    • Basic grills, from fried liver to meatballs
    • Simple authenticity
    • Completely original village atmosphere
  • 17. Avocado

    $ | Syntagma | Vegetarian

    For such a tiny spot in a narrow street just off Syntagma Square, this small but stylish vegetarian favorite has many devoted fans. The veg...

    For such a tiny spot in a narrow street just off Syntagma Square, this small but stylish vegetarian favorite has many devoted fans. The veg and vegan comfort food appeals to health-conscious diners who appreciate the friendly atmosphere and internationally focused menu. Options include mock burgers, pizza, and heartwarming curries. Its nutritious juices, teas, and smoothies helped start a juice bar trend in the capital. Big hits are the Margherita pizza, vegetable curries and stir-frys, and the forest mushroom burger.

    Nikis 30, Athens, Attica, 10557, Greece
    210-323–7878

    Known For

    • Vegan and vegetarian cuisine
    • Delicious smoothies and juices
    • Macrobiotic and gluten-free options

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Sun.
  • 18. Bairaktaris

    $ | Monastiraki | Greek

    Run by the same family since 1879, this is an almost legendary souvlaki eatery in Monastiraki Square. After admiring the painted wine barrels...

    Run by the same family since 1879, this is an almost legendary souvlaki eatery in Monastiraki Square. After admiring the painted wine barrels and the black-and-white stills of Greek film stars and politicians who have lunched here, go to the window case to view the day's magirefta (stove-top-cooked dish, usually made earlier)—possibly a delicious pastitsio. Or sit down and order a popular gyro or kebab platter.

    Monastiraki Sq. 2, Athens, Attica, 10555, Greece
    210-321–3036

    Known For

    • Traditional kebabs and gyros
    • Historic setting
    • Simple food for reasonable prices
  • 19. Ble Papagalos

    $$ | Metaxourgeio | Mediterranean

    The trendiest and most happening spot for coffee, snacks, and cocktails in Metaxourgeio, Ble Papagalos (Blue Parrot in Greek) is an all-day...

    The trendiest and most happening spot for coffee, snacks, and cocktails in Metaxourgeio, Ble Papagalos (Blue Parrot in Greek) is an all-day social destination. Always abuzz mainly with local youth but also people of varying ages, the charming hangout reflects the up-and-coming area's aspirations as an artsy, hip, green, and friendly locale. Try a fresh homemade dessert with your coffee by day or a light snack and drink by night as you watch the world go by. At night it also hosts swing parties and jazz-themed DJ sets.

    Leonidou 31, Athens, Attica, 10436, Greece
    211-012–1099

    Known For

    • Hip, vibrant crowd
    • Funky decor and ambience
    • Great coffee and cocktails
  • 20. Cafe Oionos

    $ | Plaka | Café

    Stop for an ice-cold frappé (Nescafé instant coffee frothed with sugar and condensed milk) and a game of backgammon at Cafe Oionos. Have a light...

    Stop for an ice-cold frappé (Nescafé instant coffee frothed with sugar and condensed milk) and a game of backgammon at Cafe Oionos. Have a light lunch and watch the world go by on buzzy Kydathinaeon square.

    Kydathinaion and Geronta 7, Athens, Attica, 10558, Greece
    210-322–3139

    Known For

    • Freshly made salads
    • Pastas and sandwiches
    • Relaxing atmosphere

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