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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A History of Athens

    A History of Athens from the first people to live on the Acropolis through the Golden Age of Pericles and Alexander the Great to the military junta.

  • Greek Architecture

    This beginner's guide to Greek architecture explains how to tell your Ionic from your Doric columns, and what to look for in temples and Byzantine churches.

  • Entertainment in Athens

    There's all kinds of entertainment in Athens whether you're interested in theatre, dance, classical music, jazz, Greek music, rock music, disco, opera or movies.

  • Easter in Athens

    Easter in Athens is, like everywhere in Greece, the biggest religious celebration of the year and this page tells you what to expect over the Easter weekend.

  • 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 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.

Latest Posts

  1. Covid-19: Strict Lockdown Measures Announced for Kalymnos

    Greek authorities have announced strict lockdown measures for Kalymnos in the Dodecanese, after the island recorded a significant rise of coronavirus (Covid-19) infections.

    Read More

  2. TUI Planning to Restart Greece Holidays from May 14

    German travel giant TUI will begin its summer 2021 holiday packages to Greece as of May 14, the date the country has scheduled to officially open for tourism.

    Read More

  3. PM: Greece Ready to Open to Travelers with Tried and Tested Protocols

    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece was ready to welcome travelers in safety this summer citing the priceless experienced gained last year.

    Read More

  4. Alonissos Mayor Calls for Creation of ‘One of a Kind’ Underwater Archaeological Park

    Alonissos Mayor Petros Vafinis recently presented the municipality’s plan for the creation of an underwater archaeological park – the first of its kind in Greece – during a recent meeting with the lea…

    Read More

  5. Greece Confirms 5 Nonstop Routes Between Athens and the United States

    Athens this year will welcome direct flights from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark and Washington DC, the Greek Tourism Ministry confirmed on Friday. The new flight from Washington to Athens wa…

    Read More

  6. Ryanair has the Greek Islands on its List for Summer 2022

    Ryanair on Tuesday announced that the Greek islands are among the popular summer destinations included on its list of routes for Summer 2022. The airline’s early release of its Summer 2022 schedule al…

    Read More

  7. Greece Extends Covid-19 Travel Restrictions for Int’l Arrivals Until May 14

    The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) has released updated Covid-19 aviation directives that extend travel restrictions for international flights landing in Greece.

    Read More

  8. Greece will Open Organized Beaches on May 15

    Organized beaches in Greece will open on May 15 when the country opens for tourism, Greek Secretary General for Trade and Consumer Protection Panagiotis Stampoulidis said on Friday. Speaking to state…

    Read More

  9. How to Get from Mykonos to Santorini

    You can get from Mykonos to Santorini, and of course from Santorini to Mykonos, by ferry, by plane (sort-of) or even by helicopter.

    Read More

  10. Greece to Lift Domestic Travel Ban in mid-May

    Greece is expected to lift its ban on intra-regional travel (movement between regional units) on May 15, which is the date the country will officially open for tourism. Non-essential movement between…

    Read More