Athens Eater's Guide

We recently wrote about the excellent Athens food tours run by Culinary Backstreets, and there's no-one better qualified to publish Athens, An Eater's Guide to the City

This Athens Eater's Guide is only a slim volume of 112 pages but if you're like us and love both Athens and food then it's worth its weight in gold. It follows the same pattern as the walks do, taking you to lesser-known neighbourhoods to find the most exciting and authentic Athens eating experiences. It doesn't matter whether it's a simple kebab place or an innovative restaurant, the only concern is the quality of the food.

Athens, An Eater's Guide

The book, which has five different authors, is filled with the kinds of recommendations that you won't find in regular guidebooks, which rarely venture outside the city centre. Between them the authors have come up with over 70 places to enjoy the best food Athens has to offer, ranging from a dairy serving the best Greek yoghourt, or a bakery, through to terrific seafood places and wine bars.

The Last of Its Kind

The authors have also tracked down the last bakalotaverna in Athens: To Eidikon. These were once widespread, being shops that also served food, but now people seem to prefer to keep the two activities separate. Either that or no-one wants the hard work that goes with running two different types of establishment in one. Apostolos Papakonstantinou doesn't mind, though, and you'll find this unique spot at the junction of Psaron and Salaminos streets in Piraeus. The best time to go is Saturday night when there's also live music.

To Eidikon
Photo (c) Johanna Dimopolous/Culinary Backstreets

Mouthwatering Dishes

Some of the dishes described in Athens, An Eater's Guide to the City, are so mouthwatering to read about that they made us want to jump straight on a plane to Athens and spend a few weeks tracking down every last one of them.

Let's start with Seychelles, which the book describes as the 'best mezedopoleio in Athens'. You'll find it at Keramikou 49 in the Metaxourgeio neighbourhood. How about starting with a chickpea salad with fresh mint and feta, before going on to enjoy octopus cooked in red wine and served on creamed peas?

Or how about Argoura, a seafood place where you'll be welcomed with a complimentary fish soup? You could follow it with a green salad with sea urchin dressing, and then maybe prawns with fava beans. Or would we have the mussels with seaweed? 

The Best Kebab in Athens, at Tomas Kebab
Photo (c) Manteau Stam/Culinary Backstreets

Finding Good Food in the Plaka

We have one very definite rule when we're looking for somewhere to eat, wherever we are in the world. We never eat anywhere that employs someone to stand outside and try to persuade you to dine there. They are invariably tourist traps. This inevitably rules out about 90% of restaurants in the Plaka district of Athens, the most touristy part of the city. But Culinary Backstreets has found a place in the Plaka which they do recommend: Paradosiako.

Paradosiako does traditional Greek dishes, but does them superbly well, say the authors. Their baked feta is done in a ceramic dish with olive oil, tomato and parsley, while their moussaka is so authentic it sounds like a benchmark to judge all other moussakas by.

Maxim is one of the city's best places for pastries
Photo (c) Manteau Stam/Culinary Backstreets

Specials

Most of this excellent book is given over to individual entries - with great photos - for the various eating places and shops that are recommended. Each one gets a double-page spread. The write-ups are only short but they are well done, capturing the atmosphere, the character of the owners and the flavours of the food. That's no easy thing to do.

But at the back of the book is a section called Specials. Here you'll find round-ups on different topics. Over four pages you'll read about the new wave of Greek wine, including retsina, with four of the best bars to drink in. That's followed by another four pages, and another four recommendations, this time for the best grilled lamb in the city. 

Other Specials include the best coffee places, the best places for feta, the best shops for buying wild herbs, the best souvlaki joints and a spread on which of the city's museums also have good places to eat in them.

A toast to Cretan food at the Kriti restaurant
Photo (c) Manteau Stam/Culinary Backstreets

Athens Maps

The entries are grouped by district, and at the back of the book are four maps for the four districts, with each place mentioned being marked on them. They're not the most detailed of maps, though, and you'll still need a proper Athens street map or satnav on the phone to find the places.

Better maps are one of the few ways in which the book could be improved. The lack of prices is deliberate, as they can date quickly, and we've no argument with that. Addresses, phone numbers and opening hours are all provided, but we'd like to have seen websites too for the places that have them - though most probably don't.

To repeat - if you like Athens and you like food, this little book is worth its weight in gold, and will be in our hand luggage next time we go to Athens.

You can buy Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City direct from the Culinary Backstreets website:

http://culinarybackstreets.com/product/culinary-backstreets-athens-an-eaters-guide-to-the-city/

 Note that there are some copies of an older edition for sale on Amazon but be sure to get the updated and expanded edition reviewed here.

Where to Stay in Athens

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

Some other 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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