Athens Dining Guide

This Athens dining guide doesn't list restaurants but gives practical advice on types of eating places, tipping, hotel breakfasts, and picnics.

How Do You Choose Where to Eat in Athens?

It wasn't very long ago that Athens only had a handful of really exceptional restaurants, the vast majority being good-value places with similar menus, and some rather over-priced options trying to lure the tourists in the Plaka. That's no longer the case. Standards have risen, Michelin stars have arrived, and it is as easy and as expensive to have a gourmet meal in Athens as in any other European capital. However, it is still possible to find those good-value meals, and if you are in Athens and sticking to a budget your money will stretch much further here than almost anywhere else. 

The only thing that hasn't changed is that the Plaka still has a number of places where the food is mediocre. There's a simple rule for dealing with this: never eat anywhere which pays someone to stand outside trying to persuade you to come inside. It isn't an infallible rule, but it's right more often than it's wrong. The best places in the Plaka are a handful of simple basement tavernas. If you have to go down steps to get in, then in our experience the place will probably be good.

If you haven't set out to eat anywhere in particular but enjoy walking around trying to decide where to eat, head not for the Plaka but for the neighbouring Psyrri district to the north-west. This buzzes with ouzeries, bars, and restaurants and is where the Athenians go to eat. Many places only have Greek menus but don't let that put you off. Most staff speak English and can tell you what they've got.

Types of Restaurant

The word restaurant is in common use in Athens (estiatório in Greek) and mostly refers to a slightly more upmarket eating place than a taverna. The taverna is usually less formal, the kind of place where you might be invited into the kitchen to see the day's dishes rather than choose from a menu. Tavernas are generally cheaper, too. Then there are ouzeries, which serve the Greek aniseed-flavoured drink, ouzo, with snacks and sometimes full meals – more akin to a Spanish tapas bar. Psistariés are places that specialise in grilled food, and psarotavérnes focus on fish and seafood.

Breakfast

Hotel room rates sometimes include breakfast and sometimes don't. Some hotels serve excellent breakfasts in continental fashion, with coffee, fresh juice, fresh breads and croissants, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, and yoghourt with honey. Others serve a perfunctory meal of dried toast, watery orange juice, and cereal. If that's the case then you should head straight out to a neighbourhood café and have something there instead.

Picnics

Athens is not a great city for picnics. The National Gardens is the best spot, away from the traffic and with lots of benches and greenery around. Many Athenians do pop in there to read their papers or catch a moment's peace and quiet. If you want a snack for there, or to take on a day trip, then go shopping near the Central Market, south of Omonia Square. Here you'll find olives, bread, cheeses, dips, and fruit, to put together a tasty meal. Pies are popular with locals, and you can buy these at shops on almost every street. Like fast food anywhere, they range from the delicious to the dismal, but a good hot and fresh spinach or cheese pie is a cheap and filling treat.

Eating Times

Athenians eat late. Starting lunch at 2-3pm is normal, and dinner before 9pm is something only visitors do. Places are open much earlier than this, to cater to the needs of visitors, but if you want the real Athenian experience you'll adjust to their eating times. 

Tipping

Your bill in a restaurant will usually include a service charge, so there is no need to add on a tip. If no service charge has been added, then 10-15% or rounding up the bill to the nearest round amount is normal. The custom is also to leave any loose change or small notes on the table for whoever does the clearing away.

Where to Stay in Athens

Don't miss this visual tour of Athens with photos by Donna Dailey of Greece Travel Secrets.

You might like these other Athens posts...

  • National Archaeological Museum

    The National Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to see in Athens, and the best museum in the world for seeing Greece's archaeological treasures.

  • A Drive around Attica

    This drive around Attica offers visitors high hills, beach resorts, small villages and classical sites like Marathon and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

  • Cape Sounion and the East Coast

    The beach resorts of Athens are easily reached from the city and also close are Cape Sounion with the Temple of Poseidon, ancient Marathon and Rafina's port.

  • The Best Things to Do in Athens

    The best things to do in Athens, Greece, include top archaeological sites like the Acropolis and must-see attractions such as the National Archaeological Museum

  • Best Cocktail Bars in Athens

    Two of the best cocktail bars in Athens, MoMix Kerameikos and The Clumsies, are making creative cocktails using that most Greek of Greek spirits, Metaxa.

  • Athens: Travel Information and Advice about Athens, Greece

    Athens is a top vacation destination. The Greece Travel Secrets Athensguide has information on hotels, museums, Athens airport and all the best things to do.

  • Athens Weather and the Best Time to Visit

    The Greece Travel Secrets website looks at the Athens weather, the chance of rain, the climate in summer and winter and the best time to visit Athens.

  • Athens Walking Tours and Other Experiences

    Athens walking tours and other experiences like cookery lessons, ceramics workshops, dining with a family, and street art are available from Alternative Athens

  • Athens to Santorini

    There are lots of flights from Athens to Santorini as well as a ferry service from Piraeus, with flights to Santorini leaving from Athens International Airport.

  • Athens International Airport

    Athens International Airport is east of Athens city centre with its own Metro train station, buses to Athens and Piraeus, taxis and car rental offices.

  • Athens in the Rain

    Athens in the rain isn’t something you’re likely to experience but here are suggestions for things to do in the rain in Athens including museums and shopping

  • Athens Food Tours

    Athens Food Tours are being introduced by new company The Greek Fork, and will include tours of the Central Market, and the best street food.

  • Athens Events and Public Holidays

    If visiting Athens it helps to know when major events and public holidays take place, as some shops and attractions may be closed, but to be there at times like Easter can make for a magical trip.

  • Athens Eaters Guide

    Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City, is published by Culinary Backstreets, who do walking food tours in Athens and the book recommends the best places to eat.

  • Athens Culinary Tours

    Athens culinary tours are among the food walking tours offered by an unusual company, Culinary Backstreets.

  • Athens Car Rental

    Athens car rental options include almost all of the major international car hire firms such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Europcar.

  • Athens Airport Hotels

    Athens Airport hotels include the luxury Sofitel at the terminals, Holiday Inn near the airport, and others close by like the Hotel Pantheon.

  • Athens Airport Car Rental

    Athens Airport car rentals include Alamo/National Car Rental, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, all with offices at the airport.

  • Athens Acropolis

    The Athens Acropolis has the city's most iconic building, the Parthenon, along with other historic buildings and is where the Elgin Marbles were taken from.

  • Artistic Athens

    This extract of Artistic Athens in the Lonely Planet book Culture Trails takes visitors on a journey through the artistic side of Athens..

  • Pictures of Athens

    Pictures of Athens from the Greece Travel Secrets website

  • Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus

    If you're wondering where to eat in Athens and Piraeus we have a few suggestions including some favorites around the Acropolis, Omonia Square, and Syntagma.

  • Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens

    Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens include eating in the Central Market, watching the sun set over the Acropolis and seeing one of the world's oldest theatres.

  • Piraeus

    Piraeus is the port of Athens from where many ferries to the Greek islands depart, and it also has an Archaeological Museum and the Hellenic Maritime Museum.

  • My Athens: a Portrait by Travel Writer Mike Gerrard

    In My Athens on Greece Travel Secrets travel writer Mike Gerrard describes what he loves about Athens including the Acropolis and eating!

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Kos on its Way to Become a Greek Biking Destination

    The comparative advantages of Kos as an emerging biking destination were presented by Deputy Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos during an event held recently on the island by local authorities…

    Read More

  2. Covid-19: Greece Still in CDC’s ‘Very High’ Travel Risk Category

    The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning Americans to avoid travel to some 75 countries, including Greece, after adding on Monday, Germany and Denmark to its “Level Four: Very High” Covid-1…

    Read More

  3. Greek Mountain Destinations Aching for Bookings

    The second winter season in the pandemic finds hotels in Greece’s striking mountain villages in a fragile state.

    Read More

  4. What to Eat at Syntagma – Petraki Street

    Petraki Street, near Syntagma Square, has everything a foodie wants, whether you’re looking for a good wine bar, cocktail bar, bakery, pastry shop, or restaurant worth visiting again and again.

    Read More

  5. Bringing Ancient Olympia Back to Life

    A new digital revival project, "Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds," harnesses artificial intelligence to bring the ancient sanctuary back to life like never before.

    Read More

  6. Athens Tops Europe’s Meeting Destinations Ranking, Says AmEx Report

    Athens, Greece’s capital city, ranks first in the top 5 meeting destinations in Europe in the 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the 11th annual report produced by American Express Meetings & E…

    Read More

  7. Covid-19: Greece Bans the Unvaccinated from More Indoor Places

    Adults in Greece not vaccinated against the coronavirus (Covid-19) will be banned from entering more indoor spaces, including cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms as of Monday, November 22, according t…

    Read More

  8. South Aegean Islands Introduced to Luxury Wedding Planners

    The South Aegean islands were introduced to some of the world’s leading wedding planners during the 7th Destination Wedding Planners (DWP) Congress 2021, that took place on Rhodes earlier in November…

    Read More

  9. Greece Promotes Western Macedonia as Top Wine Tourism Destination

    Western Macedonia, its wineries and wines are spearheading a far-reaching tourism ministry campaign to establish Greece as a leading wine tourism destination, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zachar…

    Read More

  10. A foodie guide to Thessaloniki

    Welcome to our foodie guide to Thessaloniki, where you’ll get to know all about what and where to eat in one of the best culinary getaways in Greece.

    Read More