Athens is a sweet pot of common cuisine, supplemented by traditional music, and the need to feed the visitor's stomach. Because Greek cuisine is famous, but at the same time one of many, one can find restaurants to everyone's taste. Eating out is a serious part of Athenian culture. There you can find many places to eat. From street eating, buying a Koulouri (sesame seed bread ring) from a street vendor, or Galaktoboureko (delectable custard-filled flaky pastry topped with a dusting of icing sugar), to Tyropitta (cheese pies) or souvlaki (kebabs), now known in most of Europe, one may eat a full meal just by traversing the streets.
Fast food restaurants are now added to the traditional tavern where a inexpensive meal still usually can be had. Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Russian, you name it, Athens has a restaurant serving their cuisine.
Greek wines are satisfying to once producing only a lowly cousin to retsina, the resinated wine, which is an acquired but good taste. Today Greek wines are becoming noticed internationally and some are very good indeed. One of the most popular and most eaten Greek food is souvlaki. It is usually beef, lamb or pork meat that is served on a round pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onions, french fries and tzatziki. That is if you eat it in a souvlaki shop. If you want take out the pita bread is rolled. You take it with you in packed in wax paper which keeps it all together and eat it while walking. Souvlaki is to Greece what the hamburger is to the US.
Athens has the best and the most diverse restaurants and tavernas in the Plaka, Psiri and neighboring area. If you try these out you will know what a good restaurant should look, taste and feel like, and be less likely to get a unsatisfactory meal in one of the tourist joints. Remember that if you order fish it is often sold by the kilo so before you choose make sure you know the price since it can vary greatly from one fish to another. House wine is more inexpensive than bottled wine and if often better, as it should be. Vegetarians can find ample to choose from even in the meatiest restaurant. Prices in Greek restaurants will usually already include the 10% sales tax. However, all Greek restaurants are required by law to add a 13% service charge to the bill and it is still customary to leave the waiter an additional 10% tip on top. Here we mentioned some restaurants that offer different dishes:
It is at 43 Haritos , Kolon ki. (Tel. 21072 53817). Kolon ki perhaps the heart of commerce by day, but by night it is also a glamorous quarter for wining and dining. Azul has earned itself a reputation for innovative Greek-Mediterranean cuisine, with exquisite meat and fish dishes accompanied by light sauces and aromatic herbs, such as sole in caper and lemon sauce. The interior dining room is small, with just a dozen or so tables, but throughout summer tables spill out onto the pedestrian walkway.
It is at 10 Epidaurou , Kastella, Piraeus. (Tel. 21041 38617). Main dishes of this restaurant feature suckling pig stuffed with liver, apple, chestnuts and raisins, whilst the desserts such as apple, pomegranate and yoghurt with honey are divine. Food is attended in ancient style, with a spoon and knife but no fork. There is also a central branch, however, the Piraeus establishment lies in a beautiful neoclassical building together to Mikrolimano marina.
It is at 3 Andronikou , Gazi. (Tel. 21034 22380). This restaurant once down at heel but now rather popular, takes its name from the town gas plant. Young, refined Athenians come here to eat mixture cuisine, with main dishes including pheasant sausage with parsnips in Madeira sauce. Dinners should save room for a dessert the chocolate mousse with passion fruit puree is exquisite. The interior is quite impressive, with a glass catwalk leading over an underground wine cellar. On warm evenings there are tables outside in the patio.
It is at 9 Ag Dimitriou , Kifissia. (Tel. 21062 36780). This restaurant is one of most costly restaurant of Athens, values at Beau Brummel, in the elegant district of Kifissia, have eased up of late. It has a French style and a lighter and healthier Mediterranean slant, with an emphasis on fresh local garden produce and seafood, such as the sea bass marinated in Noilly Prat and served with fennel sauce. The first floor dining room displays quiet charm and elegance parquet flooring, exposed stonework, silver cutlery and crystal glass whereas the recently opened ground floor Brasserie now offers a cheerful 30 set menu for Sunday lunch.
It is at 8 Omirou , Neo Psihiko. (Tel. 210 672 9150). The interior of this elegant bar restaurant covers simple furniture, modern paintings and industrial style lighting. The carte du jour contains an inspiring range of appetizers, pasta, meat, fish and cheese dishes, as well as sandwiches at lunchtime. The second floor gallery holds contemporary art exhibitions and remains open until 2400.
It is at 41 Kidathineon, Plaka. (Tel. 21032 25084). Damigos first opened in 1865, making it perhaps the oldest taverna in Athens. One of the two rooms in which it is housed has many huge wine barrels on exhibition. The menu includes hearty local dishes, notably bakaliaros tiganitos (deep-fried cod) and melitzanes tiganites (fried aubergine), both of which are served with delicious skorthalia (thick garlic sauce). The house white wine, a pine scented retsina, comes from the family vineyard.
It is located in Lykavittos Hill . (Tel: 21032 11463). For a unusual night out, take the cable car up to the peak of Lykavittos and watch the sun set over panoramic attractions of Athens whilst dining at Orizontes. The menu at this exclusive restaurant is Greek influenced Mediterranean, with a prominence on seafood. The food and service are world class, as is the wine list.
It is at 4 Diogenous , Plaka. (Tel. 21032 20666). This is one of oldest tavernas of Plaka, situated near the Tower of the Winds, O Platanos has served up home cooking since 1932. There is a good option of stews, mainly lamb or veal cooked with either okra, potatoes, spinach or aubergines, whereas the only dessert on offer is syrup drenched baklava. The house wine, a barrel retsina, is tremendous. The interior is simple green and white covers and wooden chairs whilst tables outside are arranged on a pretty jasmine covered terrace.
It is at 5 Apostolou Pavlou, Thissio. (Tel. 21034 23665). Often mentioned as Athens' top restaurant, the Michellin-starred Spondi is located in the Pangrati district and rules a vaulted stone cellar, with tasteful simple furnishing and subtle lighting. In summer, there are tables outside in a pretty courtyard. The menu features fusion cuisine, with an abundant use of aromatic herbs and spices. Diners can choose from main dishes like pigeon breast with artichoke sauce or sea bass with rose petal and vanilla sauce. The deserts are equally tempting and extravagant. Reservations recommended. No lunch.
It is at 69 Mitropoleos, Monastir ki. (Tel. 21032 44705). A classic site to stop for souvlaki kalamaki (shish kebab) attended with pitta bread and chips, Thanasis is famous with citizens and gets incredibly busy, especially at weekends. The environment is fast and chaotic but traditional and fun. Tables are set in a lofty space above the open plan kitchen area, as well as outside on the street, just around the corner from the Monastir ki metro station.
It is at 26 Loukianou, Kolon ki. (Tel. 21072 29056). This is a famous place for lunch among embassy staff. The air conditioned restaurant is sophisticated but comfortable, with wood panelled walls and pink covers. Somebody might start with melitzanes imam baildi (aubergine in garlic and tomato), continued by hirino me selino (pork casserole with wild celery) dished up with a creamy lemon avgolemono sauce.
It is at 5, Pyrronos St., Pagrati. (Tel. 21075 64021). This excellent restaurant has been consistently voted Athens' best and the accolades are well deserved. Spondi offers imaginative French-Mediterranean cuisine with some Greek influences. There is a lovely garden terrace draped in bougainvillea in summer. The desserts are exquisite, the service faultless and wine list excellent. Opened 8:00pm-12:00am