Athens city could easily become your next foodie destination. So many restaurants new and old ones with reasonable prices and of course the world-famous Greek cuisine. Moreover Greek cuisine is not just about souvlaki and mousaka. You have so much more to taste, to expand your palate. Take a bite of food, close your eyes and savor it. In the end This will be your best memory from Athens.
Therefore I’ve made you a list of the top 10 places where locals eat authentic Greek cuisine in Downtown Athens. Indeed these are my personal favorites but also these that are best reviewed on different sites.
We will start from the cheapest and go on to the most pricey one but still in a friendly budget range.
Address: Agia Eirini Square 2, Athens
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10 am- 6 pm
The best souvlaki doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s the most popular Greek street food wrapped in a piece of paper. At this place they know how to make a great souvlaki since 1946, exactly at the same spot at Agia Eirini Square. This restaurant serves good quality meat, passed through skewers and grilled, then wrapped in pita bread with the addition of fresh tomato, onions and the secret red sauce. But if you want French fries, you should order them separately.
Keep in mind that when food sells out they close the restaurant. Also don’t be intimidated by the long queue, actually it moves quickly. In addition to souvlaki they also serve pita bread stuffed with a burger.
Prices: 2,5€ for souvlaki pita, 1,4€ per pork skewer.
Address: Spintharou 18, Neos Kosmos
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 4.30 pm-12 am
Gyros is meat saved from a spinning rotisserie wheel. Usually pork meat but you can also find and ask for chicken Gyros. In Turkey, you may hear it as a kebab.
You will have to wander a little further from the inner city center to taste the best handmade Gyros. Situated in Neos Kosmos neighborhood this restaurant serves top-quality meat since 1987. Same as previous, here when the food sells out around 8:00 p.m. they close for the day.
Prices: 2,4€ for a pita gyros
“Avli Psiri Restaurant”
Address: Agiou Dimitriou 12, Psiri
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11 am-2 am
A hidden backyard with a Greek island vibe. A secret even among locals. The address is right. Agiou Dimitriou 12 at Psiri neighborhood. You will probably pass by the entrance a few times in disbelief before entering the doorway with graffiti all around. It’s easy to miss it. The place is small with 10 -12 tables. The menu is brief, the food simple, tasty and inexpensive. Greek salad (6€), grilled sausage (4€), fried liver (6€), fried chicken in sauce (6€).
“Oinomageirio Epirus” (est 1898)
Address: Filopoumenos 4, inside Varvakeio Meat Market
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 6 am-8 pm
After a crazy night out locals used to sit down for a tripe soup. Then the economical crisis came, the nights-out weren’t so crazy and only one tavern stayed true to its origins. Oinomageirio Epirus is located inside the Varvakeios Market, the biggest closed meat market in Athens. There you will find a traditional open kitchen with simple decoration and wooden chairs. The prices are fair enough (soups tripe 6,5€, bean soup 5,5€, Mpamies->oven okra 5,9€, goat soup 8,5€, Gigantes ->oven giant beans 5,9€)
The tripe soup Patsas is considered the best hangover remedy and consists of pork belly and feet. If you are not brave enough to try it choose from fish soup, chicken soup, goat soup or traditional dishes like goat chops and chicory fricasse in egg lemon sauce (8,5€), mpamies, gigantes, beef stew in tomato sauce (8,9€).
Address: Avliton Street 7 ,Psiri
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 1 pm-1 am
A great and simple restaurant tucked in an alley, meters away from the busy Ermou Street in the city center. The focus here is on food and specifically seafood. The serving portions are generous. Sit down and enjoy freshly grilled sardines (7€), fried calamari (squid for 7€), fava with anchovies marinated (6€), spaghetti with shrimps (10€).
Address: Veranzerou 5, Kaniggos Square, Exarchia
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 12.15 pm-12am
Crete is Greece’s biggest Island. But apart from this Crete is a totally different place from the rest of Greece. Having lived there for 6 years during my studies I learned to love the outspoken Cretans and the unbelievable hearty and mouthwatering food. The warmth and hospitality you encounter in Crete are unlike anywhere else.
A small hint of Cretan spirit ,you will get at this tavern “I Kriti” that offers traditional dishes with excellent prices. Hence start with Cretan dacos for salad (4,8€), taste graviera cheese with honey(4€) and galomizithra cheese. Also Do try the fried Cretan snails with rosemary (7,2€), apaki (smoked pork with herbs) and fried liver with honey.
“Karamanlidika tou Fani”
Address: Sokratous 1, Psiri
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 12 pm-11 pm
When you enter this charcuterie, you may feel as in Turkey with so many dried meats and pastramis hanging. The truth is this half delicatessen half restaurant pays honor to the Anatolian Greeks. Before 1923 almost 1.5 million Greeks lived peacefully as orthodox at Asia Minor and were forcefully obligated to relocate to Greece. The history and the cuisine of the Greek refugees you get to taste at Karamanlidika tou Fani.
If the weather allows enjoy the famous saganaki with pastrami, eggs and tomato (6€) at the terrace on the first floor. Other dishes to try are karvourmas beef with potatoes and peppers (9€), the meatballs, the smoked eggplant’s paste with beef stew (12€), the dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves with rice, 5,5€).
On your way out grab some cheese and pastrami for the next day’s breakfast.
Tip: The neighborhood may seem a little scary. Better go there earlier when there is still light and turn at Evripidou street from Athinas Street which is a central one. Further down after Karamanlidika at Evripidou Street, it’s like a ghetto and if it’s too obvious you are a tourist, you may be harassed.
Address: Valtestiou Street 44, Exarchia
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 1pm-12.30 am
Giantes is one of my favorite and actually one we discovered by chance at the misunderstood neighborhood of Exarchia. Once you step inside its picturesque courtyard, you will know your stomach will thank you later. Everything here is neat and classy. On the menu you will find many vegetarian and vegan choices too. I strongly recommend the potato salad with smoked mackerel (9,4€), the risotto with mushrooms, parmesan and white truffle oil (10,9€), grilled mastelo cheese with clementine jam (7,3€) and the Cretan salad with carob rusks, tomatoes, peppers (6,9€).
Address: Skouleniou 1, Athens
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 12 pm-12.30
A recent entry in the Athenian gastronomical map under the name of famous Christofors Perskias is Dopios, which translates to local. Here they respect the traditional Greek cuisine and they had some interesting modern twist to it. We really enjoyed revithada (chickpea stew,6€), braised octopus with fava(14€), shrimp popcorn(12€), grilled sardines wrapped in grape leaves(8€), lamb kebab with avocado cream (8€).
10. “Samano Radio Restaurant”
Address: Filomousou Eterias Square 3, Athens
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 6pm-12.30am, Friday-Sunday 2pm-5pm, 6pm-12.30am
The last one on the more pricey side is a new fancy restaurant in the heart of Athens. Here the creations of chef Leonidas Koutsopoulos are based on a more unconventional Mediterranean cuisine. Excellent dishes are cucumber salad (12€), tzatziki avocado(9,5€), fava(12,5€), beef brisket (22€) and dumplings stuffed with rabbit stew (16€). You will see that in the end it would totally worth its price.
Athens has so many to offer in regard to food and is more recently considered as an emerging culinary destination. Whether you are after a fine-dine experience on budget or a traditional dinner accompanied by live music at a tavern, this place will certainly keep you happy. So stay tuned and informed on the next Top 10 list of Athens,