The authentic guide of where to eat in Athens

Amid a lingering economic crisis and harsh austerity measures, Athens and its citizens have still found a way to breathe a sense of renewal into the city’s cultural life.  Although there is still a long way to go, many visitors are surprised to find that it’s not all doom and gloom in the capital. New businesses are sprouting up all over the city at record numbers. Athens is priming itself for a comeback and funneling a great deal of its creative energy into the food offering in and around the city. From street food, fine dining and everything in between, restaurants in Athens will change your thoughts on Greek food forever and provide you with a world-class culinary experience.

This authentic guide of eating in Athens, includes traditional tavernas as well as the more polished neo-tavernas that seems to be a growing trend in the city. In no particular order here is our round up of eating well in Athens.

Traditional eating, ‘taverna’ style

Diporto

It doesn’t get any more rustic than Diporto. Located downtown in the heart of old Athens through the city’s market district, you won’t find any signage out the front and you may need to ask around for directions. When you do find it, you will see two brown hatchet doors leading underground (hence its name which translates to ‘two doors’) to what resembles a bunker. There is no menu and only a handful of dishes available each day. You can be sure everything has been made from scratch that day and is delicious. Established in 1887 it upholds a 129-year-old tradition of old school Greek food that feeds the local working class. You will leave feeling like you’ve just had an eating experience straight out of biblical times. Wine is poured from large wooden barrels that are stacked up against the walls. Diporto is an institution of Athens and is worth the effort.

Address: Cnr Sokratous and Theatrou, Omonoia

T. +30 210 3211 453

For the taxi driver:

Δίπορτο

Σωκράτους και Θεάτρου

Closest metro station: Monastiraki


To Steki tou Ilias

Another old haunt of Athens where you will find lamb chops all year round. ‘Paidakia’ or baby lamb chops has a special place in any Greek’s heart and so it should be no surprise that there is a taverna solely dedicated to them. At To Steki tou Ilias (Ilias’ place) they have perfected the art of preparing and grilling chops. You order by the kilo and for a carnivorous couple, a kilo will suffice. A few basic sides, including a Greek salad or steamed spinach, fava and a plate of fries (that are thick cut and cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with oregano) will make the perfect accompaniment. Ilias has kept up with demand and opened two tavernas within walking distance to each other. It is no-frills eating under the trees on a quiet pedestrian strip in Thissio. You should expect a short wait to be seated in peak season.

Only open for dinner Tue-Fri, Sat: lunch/dinner Sun: lunch only Mon: closed

Τwo Addresses:

5 Eptahalkou, Thissio T. +30 210 345 8052

7 Thessalonikis, Thissio T. +30 210 342 2407

For the taxi driver:

Επταχáλκου 5, ΘΥΣΕΙΟ

Θεσσαλονíκης 7, ΘΥΣΕΙΟ

Closest metro station: Thissio

Klimataria

Live music into the wee hours is what has made Klimataria a favourite with locals. Set in a 100-year-old tavern, down the back streets of the fish market district, this is an original ‘steki’ of Athens with sandstone walls and wooden wine barrels. Its resident band Rebeletiko will lift your spirits, as it plays Rembitiko music (with a jazz twist) all night long. Traditional dishes include slow cooked lamb, fresh seafood and homemade wine. It’s more about a great night out than exceptional eating and the experience doesn’t get any more authentic than this.

Open lunch/dinner Mon – Sun. Bookings recommended

Address: 2 Platia Theatrou, Athens

T. 30 210 321 6629

For the taxi driver:

Πλατεία Θεάτρου 2, Αθήνα

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

* This is a small indoor venue where smoking is allowed

Neo tavernas: Modern Greek food in Athens

Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani

A fairly new edition to the food scene in Athens, Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani a is a charcuterie and ‘mezetzidiko’ that has won the hearts of locals and visitors. Its menu is built around artisanal cold meats such as ‘pastourmas’, a tasty cold cut that is fragrant and full of flavour and inspired by the indigenous people of Karaman and Cappadoccia in central Anatolia. The menu is designed to share and consists of fresh organic ingredients paired with the highest quality meats. Highlights include gourmet sausages, pies with pastourmas, ‘Sachanaki Karamanlidiko’ with bio-organic eggs. An extensive list of Greek wines and traditional spirits are also on offer such as Retsina and Tsipouro from Naousa. Set in a restored neo-classical building, along one of the oldest mercantile streets in Athens. A well stocked grocery will inspire you to take home products that are sourced from all over Greece, including cherry liqueurs and olive oils from Laconias. It will be one of the best and unique eating experiences you’ll have in Athens.

Bookings recommended for dinner. Open Mon-Sat lunch/dinner

Address: 52 Evripidou (corner of Socratous)

T. +30 210 3254 184

For the taxi driver:

Tα Καραμανλίδικα του Φάνη

Σωκράτους 1 & Ευριπίδου 52

Βαρβάκειος Αγορά

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

Ama Laxei stis Nefelis (pronounced Ama Lahi)

Another fine example of Greek traditional food that has been revamped and take you by surprise. Ama Laxei stis Nefelis is set in a beautiful courtyard beneath overhanging, lazy bougainvillea trees. It is located in the gritty suburb of Exarchia, at the base of Strefi Hill. Their staples include; gourmet sausages and ‘bakalyaro’ fish fillets with a walnut crust. A selection from their modern meze menu could easily satisfy as a light casual meal, including mussels with ouzo, vegetarian fritters and smoked eggplant with yoghurt served on hot pita bread.  The relaxed setting is perfect for a laid back Sunday lunch.

Open daily lunch and dinner, bookings recommended

Address: 69 Kallidromiou, Exarchia

T. +30 210 2845 978

For the taxi driver:

Καλλιδρομίο 69, Εξάρχεια

Closest metro station: Panepistimio

Butcher Shop

Gazi is the old gasworks precinct of Athens, a vibrant part of the city that is full of restaurants and hip bars. The Butcher Shop is the local meat eatery and one of three in Gazi owned by the Hellenic Food Group, who started off in the area with their successful seafood restaurant ‘Sardelles’ that is located next door and still going strong. Their meats are free range, organic and 100 percent Greek. They believe the taste lies in the quality of the meat and how it is cut, hence they avoid marinating or over seasoning. It’s a large but simple menu with everything from souvlaki to burgers and a nice selection of artisanal cold cuts and cheeses from all around Greece. It upholds a well-established tradition of delivering high quality and simple food that is full of integrity.

Open daily for lunch and dinner, bookings recommended

Address: 19 Persefonis, Gazi

T. +30 210 3413 440

For the taxi driver:

Περσεφόνης 19 Γκάζι

Closest metro station: Kerameikos

Yiantes

This Modern Greek tavern offers a picturesque courtyard with good quality Greek food away from the tourist sites. Located in Exarchia (that is still close to the city centre) you can expect a full menu with fresh seafood, tasty wild greens and tempting meat dishes such as their knuckle of lamb with celery root. Their selection of organic house wines compliment the dishes well. It is well positioned along a pedestrianised strip, opposite a boutique style bar and next door to Exarchia’s open air cinema. Ideal for lunch or dinner.

Address: 44 Valtetsiou, Exarchia

T. +30 210 3301 369

For the taxi driver: Βαλτετσίου 44 Εξάρχεια

Closest metro station: Omonia

Filema

Filema has built up a good reputation for its big selection of meze plates including grilled sardines, fried cod with skordalia (garlic sauce) and delicious saganaki graviera cheese, drizzled with honey. It is ideally located half way between Syntagma and Agias Irini Square and serves as an ideal pit stop for a quick lunch or dinner. Always full with a local crowd, the service is fast and you will be seated and served quickly.

Address: 16 Romvis, Syntagma

T. +30 210 3250 222

For the taxi driver: Ρόμβης 16, Σύνταγμα

Closest metro station: Syntagma

As always all opinions are our own and this post was not sponsored in any way.

Your trip to Athens should start with the Why Athens, the ultimate guide on what to do and where to go in Athens, Greece. www.whyathens.com

Why Athens Tips:

Some of these establishments do not accept credit cards. We recommend you take sufficient cash with you or call in advance to check their accepted methods of payment

Many Athenian restaurants close during the month of August, we recommend you call during this time to confirm they are open

Many Athenian restaurants close on Monday’s due to extended hours over the weekend, we recommend you call to confirm if they are open

About whyathens

Why Athens is a city and cultural guide to Athens for the discerning traveller and lover of good food, wine and experiences.
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