Top Places to Eat and Drink in Athens

Athenians love to eat out. Any day of the week, you’ll find them tucking into a lunch of fried meatballs or stuffed cabbage leaves at their favorite magirio (no-frills restaurant), enjoying a family dinner at their local taverna, or feasting on seafood mezze in the city’s waterfront suburbs. They can’t even go for a glass of wine without ordering a few nibbles to share. Dining out is a sociable affair in Athens; go late and bring as many friends as you can muster so you can order pretty much everything on the menu. Restaurants rarely close before midnight and the city’s jumping cocktail bar scene doesn’t even get started before then. On the go? Grab that quintessential Greek snack, the souvlaki, or hit up the new wave of internationally inspired street food joints.

Highlights
Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
With its walls of colorful glass bottles, this charming little bar can be elusive—nestled deep in downtown Athens, in the warren of streets that make up the Plaka. Day or night, Brettos (pronounced Vrettos in Greek) is frequented by locals and tourists alike—the oldest distillery in Athens. While you can opt for beer, wine, homemade moonshine, or perhaps a cocktail, you might kick yourself later for passing up the chance to have an ouzo, Greece’s signature anise-flavored liquor, in such a storied watering hole. Who knows where that first sip might lead?
Pireos 84, Athina 104 35, Greece
Rooftop cocktail bars are a new craze in Athens, but this place was 20 years ahead of the curve. A prime Athens spot on a hot summer (or spring, or fall) night, Bios is a hybrid of watering hole and cultural center—the rooftop bar is legendary for perfect Acropolis views, but there’s a lot more going on inside: two music halls, a theater, rehearsal rooms, exhibition areas, and additional hangout zones. Events are well-visited by the Athenian cool crowd, but the atmosphere is relaxed, not contrived. Come for culture, company, and sweeping views over the city’s rooftops, under the stars of the warm Greek sky.
Veranzerou 5, Athina 106 77, Greece
I Kriti (Greek for “Crete”) has been serving some of Athens’ best Cretan cuisine long before the island’s hearty cuisine became fashionable in the mid-2000s. A charming, utterly unpretentious tavern tucked into a nondescript arcade passage near Omonia Square, Kriti serves fare that will leave you reeling with pleasure—dakos (barley bruschetta topped with grated tomato, crumbled myzithra cheese, olives, and pickled samphire), smoked Cretan pork, snails in garlic, Crete-made sausages, spicy cheese dip, and baked pies, all at excellent prices and with real Cretan hospitality (the owners don’t really speak English, but it doesn’t matter). Expect to wait for a table but then, once seated, to spend some time here. And don’t forget to wash each dish down with some Cretan raki, a strong grape distillate similar to grappa.
Vasileos Georgiou A 3, Athina 105 64, Greece
Dining at the King George Hote’s seventh-floor Tudor Hall restaurant is not to be missed. The Acropolis is so close it feels as if you can reach out to touch it. Seeing the Parthenon lit up in the evening while you enjoy refined, well-balanced dishes such as smoked eggplant salad smashed tableside; scorpion fish with chard, fennel marmalade and saffron; and braised rabbit with smoked Metsovone cheese and plums, is truly unforgettable.

Tudor Hall presents a modern and elegant take on Greek cuisine. The freshest seafood from local waters, beautiful cheeses and herbs, and Mediterranean flavors that just whisper “Greece.” Executive Chef Sotiris Evanelou and Chef de Cuisine Alexandros Koskinas, are two of the best chefs in Greece. Ask Head Sommelier Evangelos Psofidis to pair Greek wines with your courses to taste the nuances of both your food and the excellent wines.
69 Kallidromiou
The large, leafy patio of this mezze restaurant in bohemian Exarchia was once the local schoolyard. Now cozy couples and animated gaggles of friends gather beneath the flowering bowers to enjoy some of the most honest and comforting food in town. Order as many dishes as you can fit on the table and share them all. Rather than traditional Greek fare, the menu is a tasty Mediterranean pick-and-mix. Try the cracked wheat salad with green apple, mint, and dried figs; meatballs seasoned with cinnamon and clove; and mini lamb kebabs. The high-ceilinged, well-lit classrooms make charming dining rooms in cooler weather. Service is unfailingly friendly and relaxed.
Keramikou 49, Athina 104 36, Greece
It’s always fun stumbling upon places the locals frequent. If you’re in Athens, venture beyond Monaistaraki/the Plaka and all the typical souvlaki joints to the Metaxourgeio neighborhood. Here, you’ll find Seychelles—described by Buzzfeed as “one of the 31 places you should eat around the world before you die.” Here, not only are the clientele and interior space hip, but the menu is fun and creative with simple but elevated dishes such as chickpeas with feta and mint, tomato and zucchini fritters, and a fantastic selection of cheeses from all over Greece. The pappardelle with kavourmas (cured pork) was jaw-droppingly delicious! Do yourself a favor, and make the trek out this way ... take the metro to Kerameikos, then walk or grab a cab for under five Euros. You’ll be glad you did. Ask about the daily specials and always book ahead (in warmer weather, ask for a table outside on Avdi Square).
Pentelis 5, Athina 105 57, Greece
The queue is long and you’ll have to eat standing up, but this spotless hole-in-the-wall does some of the best souvlaki in town. If you get antsy while you wait, be mindful of the multiple signs behind the counter saying: OXI AGXOS (NO STRESS). You won’t find frozen fries or garlicky tzatziki here. Just perfectly grilled pork skewers wrapped in a grease-free pita and garnished with sliced tomatoes, onions, parsley, a dollop of yogurt, and plenty of paprika. Don’t worry if you confuse it with the other Kostas souvlaki joint just off Agia Irini Square on Vassiliki Street, where the thing to order is pita bread stuffed with meatballs and spicy tomato sauce. Pull up a plastic chair and watch hipsters drink craft beer while you dribble tzatziki down your chin.
Melanthiou, Athina 105 54, Greece
Brit-born cycling fanatic Gareth Jones first opened a bike shop called Vicious Cycles, then expanded into the next-door space with the Handlebar, a funky restaurant/bar/“cycle” cafe on a grungy, graffiti-lined backstreet in the increasingly touristy Psirri neighborhood. The simple brunch, bagels, and (mostly vegan or vegetarian) snacks fare here consistently earns rave reviews, and so do the DJs’s mad mixes of house music and more. The beer is cheap, and the young, edgy crowd is consistently enthusiastic. The bar closes at midnight so this isn’t a late-night venue. But where else can you eat well, drink inexpensively, listen to great tunes and get your bike fixed, all at the same time? Keep an eye out for occasional record launches, live gigs, and street parties.
6 Leokoriou
Blink and you might miss it. There’s not even a sign to alert you to Cantina Social, a hidden gem of a dance bar. It’s nestled into a vacant space at the end of an alley, wedged between two buildings in Monastiraki. By day, antique dealers and actors chat over coffee and cigarettes in the secret courtyard. After dark, the cool kids of Athens congregate at absolutely all hours to drink and groove in a low-key, intimate atmosphere. Simple but funky decor, intentionally inexpensive drinks, neighborhood regulars, and great music by resident DJs that veers wildly from indie pop to disco beats are standard; the occasional exhibition or event spices things up. Always open.
Inside Athens’ tony Hotel Grande Bretagne, Alexander’s is sophisticated, old-school, and incredibly appealing. Dark wood, dark marble, and tapestries (the one behind the bar, which dates to the 18th century and depicts Alexander the Great, is how the bar got its name) frame the elegant scene. Classic cocktails and a vast array of whiskeys, brandies, and cognacs are on offer from knowledgeable bartenders. The dress code is “smart casual,” so be sure to don your glad rags. There’s also a cigar lounge up on the first floor, with a roaring fire in the winter.
Kinetou 7, Athina 105 55, Greece
This deliciously offbeat restaurant in Monastiraki flea market has built up a loyal clientele since 1986. Surrounded by ramshackle antique shops and decorated with floral wallpaper and patterned tiles, it’s as much about the atmosphere (live accordion and table-top dancing at weekends) as the Asia Minor-inspired food (pork with leeks and prunes, sublime taramosalata, lamb with couscous, and stuffed vine leaves). The top-floor dining room has one of the best views of the Parthenon anywhere in Athens, so ask for a table upstairs—unless you want to be part of the infectious street party atmosphere on the square.
Petraki 30, Athina 105 63, Greece
Although it’s only been open since 2012, this cozy wine bar already feels like an Athenian classic. You’ll find plenty of regulars propping up the green marble bar or catching up at the little tables on the pedestrian street, Right opposite the Metropolitan Cathedral, it’s one of the busiest and most touristy spots in Athens, and yet Heteroclito feels wonderfully intimate and familiar. The surprisingly affordable wine list focuses exclusively on Greek producers; with monthly specials available by the glass, this is the place to experiment with local grape varieties such as assyrtiko, malagouzia, and xinomavro. There’s an excellent selection of Greek spirits, liqueurs and craft beers too. Simple but sophisticated bar snacks include a platter of Greek cheese and charcuterie, hummus with pickled beets, and olives. Heteroclito’s newer, smaller outpost two doors down the street specializes in natural wines.
Agathonos 2, Athina 105 51, Greece
The freshly pedestrianized alleys in the “Historic Triangle”—the traditional commercial heart of Athens, with whole streets once dedicated to textiles, door handles, or buttons—is the city’s new gastronomic destination. Countless street food joints have come and gone in the last few years; but none have the consistent quality and original flavor of Feyrouz. Run by a charming family with roots that stretch from Antioch to Istanbul, Lebanon, and Cyprus, Feyrouz is a culinary journey to the Near East. Pull up a stool or a find a spot at one of the sidewalk benches and tuck into cheesy pide, delicately spiced lahmacun, sourdough pies, and zingy vegetarian soups, none of which cost more than a few euros. The Bosphorus rice with curried chicken, chickpeas, and yogurt sells out almost as soon it emerges from the kitchen at 2 p.m. Their newer, smarter sister venue across the street specializes in Anatolian sweets. Try the künefe, a crispy kataifi nest filled with Cretan goat’s cheese and drizzled with heather honey syrup, or the buckwheat baklava with pistachios from Aegina. Enjoy with a glass of turmeric tea sprinkled with sumac or a Turkish coffee flavored with cardamom.
Kidathineon 21, Athina 105 58, Greece
Alas, it’s almost impossible to eat well in Plaka, the terribly pretty but desperately touristy old town of Athens, whose pastel-colored streets are carved into the foothills of the Acropolis. Touts will try to lure you into the many identikit tavernas and ice cream parlors. Ignore them and head straight to Saita. It’s a classic taverna with all the standard Greek dishes you’d expect on the menu: grilled lamb chops doused in lemon and oregano (that must be eaten with your hands), pastitsio (Greece’s answer to lasagne, always a hit with kids), steamed seasonal greens (dress liberally in olive oil), and baked eggplant heaped with caramelized onion and crumbled feta. The fries are to die for. In winter, tables are squeezed into the tiny basement dining room, where the smiling cooks beaver away in the even smaller kitchen. In warmer weather, tables are set out on the marble-paved street, opposite a Byzantine church. It’s a postcard setting that miraculously still feels real.
Marikas Kotopouli 10, Athina 104 32, Greece
You haven’t tasted Greek yogurt until you’ve tried the pure pleasure of Stani sheep’s milk yogurt. Oozing with honey and topped with walnuts, it’s almost as thick as clotted cream. The last of the many traditional dairies that once thrived in Athens, Stani has been in the same family since it opened in 1931. The interior has barely changed since the 1960s, though sadly they have ‘modernized’ the outside seating. (The central location, just off Omonia Square, is a little sketchy these days.) Most people come for a fortifying bowl of yogurt or diet-busting anthogala (fior di latte), which is basically a tall glass of whipped cream. For a really retro breakfast, order a bread roll with a slab of freshly churned butter swimming in a pool of honey or rice pudding dusted with cinnamon. Stani is also the place to try classic syrup-soaked desserts like loukoumades (miniature deep-fried doughnuts) and galaktoboureko (crisp filo pastry filled with wobbly, creamy custard). They do savory cheese and spinach pies too—a very good snack to go.
Irakliou 168, Athina 111 42, Greece
When Athenians are in the mood for fresh fish, they head down to the port of Piraeus. Big spenders (and most tourists) head for the fancy waterfront restaurants lined up along Mikrolimano marina, where you pay as much for the view as the refined seafood. But the cheaper, more cheerful, and authentic seafood restaurants where dockworkers and local families eat are burrowed away in the backstreets. Margaro has been around for generations. Named after the original cook, Margaro, whose son Lazaros now runs the business with his family, it’s a little slice of the Greek islands on a nondescript, dead-end street. Painted wooden tables and chairs are set under an awning and murals of Mykonos, where the family originally came from. You don’t have to worry about what to order. There are precisely three things on the menu: fried shrimp, red mullet, and a perfect Greek salad with the sweetest Cretan tomatoes and feta from Argos. Occasionally, there might be langoustines as a special. There’s no better way to kill time while waiting for your ferry to the Greek islands. Avoid the weekends if you don’t want to wait for a table.
Archelaou 32, Athina 116 35, Greece
Pangrati is a typical downtown Athenian neighbourhood—all tightly packed apartments interrupted by lively, leafy squares, and the odd neoclassical or mid-war beauty that has survived the city’s concrete-ification. Yet this studenty/arty district is suddenly super-hip. Blame it on Airbnb, or on the fashionable pizzerias (try Tre Sorelle), and gelaterias (like Marabou) that have popped up along Archelaou Street. The queen of Pangrati cool is Ohh Boy, a bright, white cafe decorated with fresh flowers and ever-changing works by local artists. It keeps the locals caffeinated and energized from early morning to late at night, with its top-notch coffee, wholesome salads, soups, and sandwiches, and decadent cakes (vegan options are plentiful). The epitome of the new Athenian cafe society.
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