Eating in Athens: Top 12 Locals' Favorite Food Spots
In Athens you will most likely eat well. Greeks enjoy going out eating with friends and family, so there is a big variety of restaurants, bistros, street food and mezedopoleia to choose from. You can check our previous suggestions for the Top 10 restaurants in Athens and our 10 best street food spots. Here we list a few of the locals’ favorites to enjoy lunch or dinner during your stay at the Greek capital.
1. Theio Tragi – Punk Bistro
Theio Tragi means Holy Goat; a weird, provocative name for a restaurant, one would think. However, the name is inspired by the 1931 book Theio Tragi by Greek novelist Jiannis Skaribas (1893-1984), where the anti-hero protagonist of the book decides to leave like a stray bum despite his education, going against the conventionalities of his time. The same way, To Theio Tragi - punk bistro in Petralona, offers top quality experimental cuisine in a warm environment and in affordable - for the middle class- prices, going against the pursuit of the Michelin Stars (and the Greek equivalent Golden Caps) and the high prices of the gourmet restaurants. In Theio Tragi, you will taste interesting plates from a limited menu of 9-10 plates which changes quite often. The innovative recipes combine ingredients in an unconventional way, the outcome being more than satisfying. At the same time, you will listen to punk and rock ‘n’ roll and meet mainly (but not only) the alternative Athenian youth. To Theio Tragi, run collectively by a group of young, visionary Greek people, is one of the wonderful gastronomical surprises of the capital. It is best to book a table in advance as it very popular and difficult to find available.
Location: Kydantidon 36, Ano Petralona
Opening hours: The Restaurant is open Tue-Sat 19:00 – 00:00 and on Sundays 14:00 – 17:00 and 19:00 – 00:00. The Bar area is open Mon-Th 19:00 – 02:00, Fri-Sat 18:00 – 02:00 and Sundays 14:00 – 02:00
Average cost: One plate costs between 7€-15€. For a full meal, you may spend around 20-25€ per person. For more detailed prices, check the Theio Tragi menu.
Even though, I am not the biggest Asian cuisine fan, I absolutely love this restaurant, located in Kato Petralona, a rather quiet Athenian neighborhood, in a three-story colorful building. You can choose from a big variety of handmade appetizers, soups, noodles and main courses (their ingredients being explained in detail in the menu), while the people working there are one of the friendliest and most helpful staff I have ever met. The lively and exotic decoration of the restaurant travels you to Thailand, but the big surprise is the restaurant’s terrace area. Colorful bright red and petrol walls, bamboo and plant decorations, the smell of ginger, comfortable sofas and patterned pillows, ethnic, jazz and funky music, refreshing cocktails and of course the delicious plates, created by experienced cooks from Thailand, all mix together to create an absolutely dreamy atmosphere. And as you think that things cannot get more idyllic, a light summer breeze hits you, the stars appear in the evening sky and you are being served your dessert, a chocolate mousse with mango flakes (5€) that literally melts in your mouth.
Location: Peiraos 187 & Alopis 65, Kato Petralona
Opening hours: Mon – Tue 20:00 – 02:00, Fri – Sat 20:00 – 03:00 and on Sundays 13:00 – 01:00
Average cost: For a full course meal, around 25€ per person. Detailed food selection and prices can be found on their menu.
If you want to taste homemade Greek traditional foods without spending too much money, then Kimatothrafstis in Eksarcheia is the place for you. The chefs cook daily a variety of Mediterranean dishes, with the menu changing constantly, depending on their inspiration. You can choose from warm dishes, meat, pasta, and a big selection of delicious salads, all made with fresh and good quality ingredients, like you would do at home. Kimatothraftis operates like a buffet, which means that you can fill your plate (big or small depending on your appetite) with as many of the available dishes as you want, so you don’t have to spend too much time thinking of what to get! The portions are satisfying, the staff is always friendly, and you get good value for a small price. They also have many vegetarian and vegan options, while you are always more than welcome to ask about the dishes and their ingredients, depending on your dietary preferences or potential allergies. You can either have your food take-away or sit in, either in the interior dining area or on the tables outside.
Location: Charilaou Trikoupi 49 & Valtetsiou, Eksarxeia
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 12:30 – 23:30 and on Sundays 11:00 – 19:00
Average cost: €3,40 for the small plate - €6,80 for the large plate.
4. Avli tou Petrou
Avli tou Petrou (Petros’ garden) has been operating since 2008, serving a big selection of Greek appetizers, Romanian dishes as well as Anatolian traditional food, all in very low prices. This might sound a little bit of a weird mixture at first, however the food is extremely tasty and personally, I have never tried something I did not like. The restaurant is indeed a little, hidden garden on the pedestrian Mikinon street, playing traditional Greek music, decorated with colorful tables and wooden benches. This is a great choice to go and eat with your friends, while enjoying some wine, beer or tsipouro. From 2014, Avli to Petrou opened a street food branch, the window facing the corner of Leonidou and Plataion street. It stays open until late, serving the late night hungry ones or the ones in a hurry. The menu includes soups, noodles, lachmajoun, falafels, burritos and burgers, all having a vegetarian alternative, with the burrito with biological soya being my personal favorite (3€).
Location: Leonidou 86 & Plataion 31, Metaxourgeio
Opening hours: On Mondays 19:00 – 03:00, Tue- Thu and on Sundays 13:00 – 03:00, Fri – Sat 13:00 – 05:00
Average cost: Street food to go 3-6€, to eat in and drink around €10-15 per person.
5. Nonna Emotional Cooking
In a small alley in Psyrri you will find Nonna, a restaurant serving emotional food, as they state. What is emotional food? The two owners, Lianka and Stefanos, go everyday to the market to buy fresh ingredients and then they improvise in the kitchen with their finds, cooking healthy, power foods, with love and care for their customers. The menu changes daily and the foods of the day are mentioned near the counter. Here you can try homemade lemonade, refreshing salads, warm homemade soups (3.5-4€) and filling smoothies with fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts (3€), among others. The façade is all glass with a view to the alley, the ceiling is high, and the big restaurant area is filled with all kinds of different furniture the owners found from friends and relatives, creating a vintage, cozy, mix-and-match atmosphere. Nonna means granny in the dialect of the Ionian island Zakynthos, where Lianka comes from, and this is exactly the type of food you will eat here. Fresh, homemade, non-pretentious food, made with love, the way your grandma cooked it for you when you were little.
Location: Kakourgodikeiou 6, Psyrri
Opening hours: Tue - Sun 13:00 – 01:00, Mondays closed
Average cost: 5-10€ per person
6. Ama Lachei Stis Nefelis
The beautiful neoclassical building on Kallidromiou street in Exarcheia used to operate as a school until 1980. You step into the stunning garden of Ama Lachei stis Nefelis, a typical Greek mezedopoleio, and you get a feeling of an old Athenian neighborhood. Lemon trees and clementine trees among other typical Greek plants smell wonderful during the summer nights. The food is inspired by traditional Greek cuisine, and you can taste a variety of mezedes, Mediterranean appetizers, and also meat and seafood. The philosophy of the restaurant is to share the dishes with your friends and have a lovely evening together. You can accompany your meal with the restaurant’s wine, tsipouro and ouzo selection from Greece. There is also a dining area inside, decorated with pictures of past school students. Downstairs is located Ama Lachei stis Nefelis’ sister, the bistro Ama Lachei chez Violette, serving French food. The names of both the restaurants are inspired by the names of the owners’ daughters, Nefeli and Violette.
Location: Kallidromiou 69, Exarcheia
Opening hours: Mondays 19:00 – 01:00, Tue-Thu and on Sundays 13:00 – 01:00, Friday and Saturday 13:00 – 01:30.
Average cost: € 15 – 20 per person or check the detailed menu on their Facebook page
7. Mpiftekopoleio (o Stavros)
Mpiftekopoleio o Stavros, is a Greek souvlaki place, operating since 1960. As the name says, its speciality is the bifteki, the Greek version of the burger meat, with beef mince mixed together with olive oil, bread crumbs, onion, parsley and spices. Mpiftekopoleio is famous for its recipe and the locals love it! In addition, you will find a few souvlaki alternatives, with a characteristic spicy taste, potatoes and salads. The menu is limited, but you will have good quality souvlaki here, all dishes are homemade, and the pitas are fresh, baked daily for you. You can enjoy your meal with a cold beer or soda drink. The dining area is rather small with a few seats inside and a couple outside at the front of Mpiftekopoleio.
Location: Davaki 59, Kallithea
Opening hours: Mon - Sat 10:00 – 00:00, Sundays closed
Average cost: € 2.5 – 7.5 per person
8. Kitsoulas Taverna
Kitsoulas is a traditional cult Greek taverna operating since 1946, run by the family of Christos or Kitsoulas, with a steady clientele over the years. The simple, old-fashioned decoration in combination with its good quality Greek food, cooked daily with fresh local ingredients from local producers, make Kitsoulas a much loved taverna by families, employees on their lunch breaks, actors and groups of friends. During summer, tables are placed on the pedestrian streets in this beautiful neighborhood of Athens. You can try stuffed zucchinis with egg and lemon sauce, lamb with oven potatoes, rooster cooked with wine, moussaka and beans among other traditional Greek dishes. The menu changes depending on the seasonal available fresh ingredients. To drink, you can find table wine and beer. You can book a table in advance to make sure you will find a free table or alternatively you can take-away your meal.
Location: Filikis Etairias 25, Chalandri
Opening hours: Tue - Sun 12:00 – 18:00, Mondays closed
Average cost: € 10-15 per person
Cabezon, with its beautiful garden smelling of honeysuckle, hidden on a small alley in Metaxourgeio, is an absolute local favorite amongst alternative Athenians, especially of younger ages. Metaxourgeio area is in general a local hotspot with many bars and mezedopoleia. During the weekend this place gets packed with students and groups of friends, enjoying the simple but tasty mezedes and the cheap alcohol (beers are around 2,5-4€, wine costs around 4€ and drinks 5€). The music varies between rebetika, funky, soul, lives and DJ sets, depending on the night. The menu is limited, including burgers, fried feta and the amazing cheeseballs with a spicy sauce, but in Cabezon you will definitely get value for money. The interior of this neoclassical house operates as a bar, which gets busy and stays open until late.
Location: Kerameikou 110, Metaxourgeio
Opening hours: varying from 19:00 to midnight or up to 03:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays
Average cost: around €10 per person
10. Mpar Mpee Kiou
Mpar Mpee Kiou may not be considered a hidden gem but is must-try for locals and especially burger lovers, being listed on number 10 within the best 25 burger places in the whole world (list25.com). Opened in 2013, originally as a steak house, Mpar Mpee Kiou quickly became famous for its different, tasty, massive, provocative even, burgers and soon won a special place in the Athenian hearts, with food options pleasing both to the eyes and to the mouth. To start, you can have french fries; french fries with minced meat, french fries with cheeses and french fries with feta cheese. The choices go on with your burger options, as you can find burgers with pretty much everything in them, like fried eggs, caramelized onions, roquefort, mushrooms, red sauce and so on…. The surprise of the menu is “The Father of the Brave” with literally 4 burgers in it. The service is friendly and fast which also counts as a bonus. Go early to find a table, as almost always people queue outside.
Location: Freattidos Ave. 13, Freatida (Piraeus) and El. Venizelou 18 (Nea Smirni)
Opening hours: Mon -Fri 18:00 – 01:00, Sat – Sun 13:00 – 01:00
Average cost: €10-15 per person depending on how much you plan to eat really. The full menu is available on Mpar Mpee Kious's official website.
The entrance to Avli may go unnoticeable if you do not know where and what you are looking for, a little bit like the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter universe. If you push the small door inside a narrow corridor however (it says Η Αυλή, The Garden on a sign on top of it), you will enter a small interior garden of a 19th century building block and time travel to old Athens of the '50s. The menu includes mainly traditional Greek appetizers, salads, dips, fried vegetables, omelettes, sausages and meatballs, while there also is a selection of wines, raki and beers. The friendly service will take your order, the food will be prepared in the open kitchen in front of you and served to you to the soundtrack of traditional Greek music. The walls are blue and white like an island, the tables are of old tavern style, cats are wandering around the area and as any sound from the city is being blocked when in Avli, you might forget for a moment you are in the center of Athens. Avli is usually really busy and you may not find a table easily, but it is worth the wait.
Location: Agiou Dimitriou 12, Psyrri
Opening hours: 15:00 - 02:00 daily apart from Tuesdays when it remains closed
Average cost: €8-10 per person
Colibri, named after the little hummingbirds, soft spot of the owner and trademark of the brand, offers American style fast food, however with fresh and good quality ingredients. Opened in 2004 in Mets area, now Colibri counts two more branches in Pagkrati, the bigger and more comfortable one on Empedokleous Street and one on Immitous – mainly for production and delivery. The pizzas are famous in Athens, like the PPO with yogurt and paprika, Ricca with fresh vegetables and meat, the best seller rocket-prosciutto-parmesan pizza where the ingredients are added after the firing of the pizza, and the more extreme and spicy Chilliens, with chilly and yogurt. They also offer roast beef, salads and a variety of burgers, with homemade sauces and 100% beef mince, accompanied by a large portion of french fries. The atmosphere is cozy and chill, with jazz and rock tunes on the playlist.
Location: Anapauseos 9, Mets and Empedokleous 9-13, Pagkrati
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 13.00 – 00.30
Average cost: €8-15 per person