Athens for foodies

Athens Foodie Guide
From the very heart of the Mediterranean basin, Greek cuisine is made up of a wide variety of dishes mirroring the long history, the variegated landscape and the crossroads’ nature of this country. From my personal experience in Athens Greek cuisine is full of meat (it was literally everywhere!) as traditional fish dishes are more likely to be found on the islands, vegetables and tasty savory pies (tyropita –the one with cheese- and spanakopita –filled with spinach- a.k.a. the Greek version on my beloved Balkan burek). Wandering around downtown Athens you will find plenty of nice restaurants, taverns and cafés: here is a selection of my favourite ones!
Καλή σας όρεξη!
Enjoy your meal!

Athens Foodie Guide > FOOD MARKETS

Not only foodies, but any visitor can’t miss a tour of Athens’ Central Market (Varvakios Agorà, on Athinas street between Evripidou street and Sofokleous street). During my week in Athens I went there three times: once to visit it, once to eat at its restaurants and again on my last day in town to buy some presents to bring back home, such as Greek olives, cheeses, spices and herbs.
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide
The market is divided into two main sections: the open-air part where you will find fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and the world-known Greek olives, while within the 19th century iron-and-glass complex you will find meat and fish counters, plus some very local cafés and small restaurants to try some authentic Greek food.
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide
The Central Market is among the places where I detected Athens’ Balkan vibe at its best: vendors shouting their prices, ladies glancing at the food counters with their well-practiced look, lots of kiosks on the streets surrounding the market complex, elderly Greek men slowly sipping a coffee at the bars within the market place while “supervising” the situation and that vibrant atmosphere always traversing any bazaar in any corner of the world.
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide
As I said, once I also came here to eat: I entered one of the many small eateries within the meat-and-fish complex, I pointed at some Greek specialties through the window and tasted them with a bottle of Greek beer. The food was very good (where else could you find fresher food, anyway?), but I especially liked the atmosphere of that restaurant: both the owner and the old people sitting beside me wanted to know if I liked the food and from there they started an interesting chat about some basics of Greek cuisine and the differences between the seaside cuisine (mostly known in its Cypriot version) and the culinary traditions of the Attica region.
Athens Foodie Guide
If you are into food and food markets, as I am, you should also know that Saturday is the day of farmers’ markets in Athens: each neighbourhood has its own farmers’ market and I visited the one in Exarchia and the one in Perissos, both very interesting for the way they mingle with the characteristic traits of the neighbourhood where they take place.
Athens Foodie Guide
At the farmers’ market in Exarchia (Laiki Agora, Kallidromiou street) the backdrop to every stand is a street art mural, as Exarchia is known to be the colorful neighborhood of anarchist students. Some of these murals are about politics, as suits this ever-rebellious neighbourhood surrounded by police squads in full riot gear, others are just beautiful, and the mixed effect of the street art and the farmers’ products will amaze you!
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide
Located in a former industrial area in the northern suburbs of Athens, the farmers’ market in Perissos (Laiki Agora, Salaminos street) will surprise you with its abandoned chimneys appearing behind the stands. Nearby you can also enter a former factory now transformed into a huge supermarket: the big industrial structure is just few steps away from the farmers’ market.

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Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide

Athens Foodie Guide > RESTAURANTS

TO STEKI TOU ILIA (THISSIO)

Address: Eptachalkou 5
On my first night in Athens I ate at this traditional Psistaria (a restaurant serving grilled meat) in the nice area of Thissio, just outside the tourist radar. This is an authentic eatery frequented by locals, very simple and definitely not pretentious. Here I had a cabbage salad and some very tender lamb chops, served with a glass of the house wine: it was one of those especially welcoming dinner that gives you a foretaste of all the delicious meals coming next!
Athens Foodie Guide

MANAS KOUZINA KOUZINA (AGIAS IRINIS)

Address: Aiolou 27 
Just few steps from the hip area of Agias Irinis, Manas Kouzina Kouzina is a simple place where you can eat traditional Greek food while looking at the bustle on Ailou street from a big window. The service is fast as all the food is already made and you will choose it through the glass counter, but this doesn’t mean that the quality is low, quite the contrary!
Athens Foodie Guide

GAZI COLLEGE (GAZI)

Address: Persefonis 53
The Gazi district, a former industrial area, became the trendy place to be, where clubs and fancy cocktail bars are mushrooming all around, gay clubs included. Bustling at night, the Gazi district doesn’t lose its charm during the day and it is certainly easier to enjoy Gazi’s restaurants without the night crowd. My pick was the Gazi College, a hipster restaurant whose walls are covered by a wooden bookshelf and it has globes and reproductions of the solar system all around. The food choice isn’t traditional at all, featuring a wide range of burgers and salads, but the food is good and the hip vibe is making it even better!
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide

ROZALIA (EXARCHIA)

Address: Valtetsiou 59
While planning my week in Athens, I noticed almost everybody discourages visitors from entering Exarchia. I didn’t give too much importance to that advice and I actually stayed in Exarchia instead and, while having dinner at Rozalia restaurant, I noticed many other visitors weren’t scared to enter Exarchia either: Rozalia was actually the only restaurant where I met fellow foreigners! I am not implying that the restaurant is touristic or the food is low quality, though, and I had a great traditional dinner here! (…maybe a bit too heavy, but that’s Greek food! And anyway, if you feel replete, you can always call the resident cat to your table and he will love to help you finish your meal :-) ). Here I had a vegetable pie (a kind of burek 2.0: it is fried!!) and pork souvlaki from a very tender meat, both very tasty!
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide

YPEROKEANIO (SYNTAGMA)

Address: Pericleous 46
I noticed this hidden alley while wandering around downtown Athens and I already loved it for what it looked like on that lazy holiday morning.
Athens Foodie Guide
Little did I know that this charming alley hosted a lovely restaurant (the best place that I ate at in Athens, actually) that gives off a nice smell and jazz music at night! This restaurant is very tiny, a true hidden gem: there is a small kitchen in view and some tables in the alley. The food is simple and tasty and the atmosphere is really pleasant! The place is so cute I couldn’t help falling in love with it!
Athens Foodie Guide
Athens Foodie Guide

Athens Foodie Guide > CAFES, TEA ROOMS, PUBS AND MORE

PEONIA HERBS (THISSIO)

Address: Amfiktyonos 12
A very cute tea room with a mezzanine where you can get your own customized blend choosing from many different qualities of tea. Here I bought a Tibetan black tea to bring back home (and I am sipping it right now, while writing about how lovely this tea room is…), they have a wide selection of teas and infusions and some intimate tables where you can sit down and taste them. The place smells of wood and herbs, the atmosphere is very relaxed and calming, the tea menu is only in Greek but the friendly waiter will surely help you!
Athens Foodie Guide

CANTINA SOCIAL (PSYRRI)

Address: Leokoriou 6
Well, this is one of those places that instantly get a special spot in my travel memories, because it is lovely without aiming to be trendy, hipster or anything. Where I arrived there was an old radio tuned into Greek music and some old Greek men having a great time ;-)
Athens Foodie Guide
Party time at Cantina Social

I started to chat with the owner while he attempted to make me a cappuccino (“Is it coffee and ice, right?”), he has some relatives living in Italy and of course he knows all about Italian football and so, by the time I got my cappuccino (“It’s the first cappuccino I made in my life!”), my new friend was sitting at my table and ice was broken (which –luckily- didn’t end up inside the coffee!).
The place also has a nice outdoor garden, but unfortunately my week in Athens was exceptionally cold and rainy and so I didn’t have a chance to enjoy the outdoor area.

Athens Foodie Guide

YOZEN (KOLONAKI)

Address: Tsakalof 7
I walked all my way up to the posh neighbourhood of Athens just to taste the pure Greek frozen yogurt from this shop. If you are a foodie, this is an experience you really can’t miss! As in any frozen yogurt bar you will find many different toppings to choose between; I went for puffed rice and Goji berries and my yogurt was really yummy! Just be sure to go for the smaller size, as it is already a full meal by itself.
Athens Foodie Guide

BARLEY CARGO (SYNTAGMA)

Address: Kolokotroni 6
This pub is well-known for serving a wide range of Greek craft beers, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the selection! It is very crowded and loud, especially at night, but that’s part of the fun.
Athens Foodie Guide

BOOZE COOPERATIVA (SYNTAGMA)

Address: Kolokotroni 57
Another great place to hang out at night, but not just. It has a long wooden table to share with young people working on their laptops and chess players absorbed by their game, a mezzanine floor that gives a bird’s eye view on the hipster furniture, high ceilings, lamps that can easily be considered art installations and an underground art gallery, which unfortunately was closed during my week in Athens.
Athens Foodie Guide

NOSOTROS (EXARCHIA)

Address: Themistokleous 66
I went to this place with the street artist STMTS. It is a squat inside the ever-rebellious Exarchia, so you can expect a simple selection of food and beverages spiced up by an alternative crowd, a wide range of cultural activities and discussions, some street art and the feeling of being right where “the movement” spread from. The centre organizes several classes and workshops, movie screenings and many other events, and there you can also find a music studio and a library.
Athens Foodie Guide

I hope you will find this short foodie’s guide of Athens useful.  

Feel free to add any further advice in the comment area below!
PEEK THROUGH | You find some of these places in my video “7 days in Athens…in 70 seconds

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  • Good choices! Especially Mana’s Kouzina-Kouzina! It is the best!!!!

    • yes, tasty food and a big window to indulge in people watching.

    • yes!!! I’ve recently been back in Athens and stopped there for lunch: still amazing!!

  • Little cosy cafes in Athens are my favourite! You may become a friend with the owner in 5 mins and in 10 you will be making him your favourite dish on your granny’s recipe. Greeks are very friendly and kind people, everyone should visit Greece at least once!

  • I love Greek food. It is so fresh, delicious, and diverse.