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. See our full page of information on Tipping in Greece.

Where to Stay in Athens

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

Some more Athens pages

  • Thessaloniki: City of Gastronomy

    UNESCO has made Thessaloniki a City of Gastronomy, under its Creative Cities network, the only city in Greece to be acknowledged for its unique food and drink.

  • 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.

  • Santorini Wineries

    Visiting Santorini wineries is a popular activity on this Greek island in the Cyclades, whose volcanic soil provides a distinctive terroir.

  • 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.

  • Zakynthos Winemaker

    Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • 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.

  • What Is Metaxa?

    What is Metaxa? Metaxa is an amber Greek spirit combining brandy made by distilling wine, sweet wine from Samos and a secret recipe of Mediterranean botanicals.

  • What Is Greek Raki?

    Raki is an alcoholic drink made with distilled grapes and anise, and popular in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, including Greece’s neighbour Turkey.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • Tipping in Greece

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to tipping in Greece from two Greece travel experts, including when to tip, what to tip and when not to tip.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • 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.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • Marathon

    The ancient site of Marathon and the site of the Battle of Marathon are in Attica and naturally about 26 miles or 42 kilometres from the centre of Athens.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pictures of Athens

    Pictures of Athens from the Greece Travel Secrets website

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Museum of Samos Wine

    A visit to the Museum of Samos Wine to learn about the muscat grapes that produce the best dessert wines in the world and also the Greek spirit, Metaxa.

  • Monastiraki Flea Market

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Monastiraki Flea Market, followed by Sunday lunch at Sigalas on Monastiraki Square

  • Monastiraki and Around

    Around Monastiraki is the flea market, Athens cathedral, Kerameikos Cemetery, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and the Psirri and Gazi nightlife districts.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

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