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Athens, the vibrant capital of Greece, has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last decade: It has emerged as the gastronomic hub of the country, drawing food enthusiasts from near and far. Situated in the heart of Greece, Athens enjoys easy access to the finest produce from all corners of the nation.

As the largest city in the country, Athens boasts a wide array of restaurants and taverns, each offering a unique experience. Many of these establishments are owned by Athenians or individuals who have migrated from the countryside, bringing with them treasured family recipes and traditional cooking techniques.

Wandering through the streets of this ancient capital, you can discover a variety of flavors and influences: From Cretan taverns serving up hearty dishes, to spit roasts from the mainland, and from delectable seafood sourced from the Aegean to delicate filo pies hailing from the north, here’s where to experience that culinary richness.

Oinomageiro Epirus

The hearty plates at Oinomageiro Epirus.

One such gem is Oinomageiro Epirus, a restaurant with a rich history dating back to 1898. Located in the bustling meat market, this establishment has been serving up authentic Greek cuisine for over a century. From comforting tripe soup and avgolemono (chicken, lemon and egg soup) to savory goat fricasse and cuttlefish with greens, the menu is a testament to time-honored traditions. The clientele at here is diverse where taxi drivers, tourists, and local market workers mingle with groups arrive seeking a satisfying meal after a night out. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and excellent value for money, this restaurant is rightly a beloved Athenian institution.

Filopimenos 4, Athina 105 51, Greece

Linou Soumbasis kai Sia

Outside Linou Soumbasis kai Sia.

For a modern twist on traditional taverna fare, Linou Soumbasis kai Sia is a must-visit. Housed in a converted candle factory, this bright and contemporary spot features galvanized tables and chairs, natural beeswax candles, and a charming garden where diners can enjoy their meal under the shade of a lemon tree. The menu here is focused on showcasing the best of local produce, with a wide selection of meat and fish dishes prepared either raw or cooked over charcoal. The wine list offers a delightful variety of both local and international options. While the prices may be on the higher side, the experience and the exquisite fish soup, a staple since the restaurant’s opening, make it well worth it.

Melanthiou 2, Athina 105 54 & Kalamida 9, Athina 105 54, Greece


Red Hellenic shrimp with caviar and carrot.

Makris Athens takes Greek cuisine to new heights with its farm-to-table philosophy. The head chef sources most of the vegetables used on the menu from his own garden, ensuring the freshest and most flavorful ingredients. Offering only set menus and providing formal service, this fine dining establishment also boasts a stunning view of the Acropolis. Standout dishes include the exceptional red mullet and the tantalizing bites of octopus served as an appetizer.

Astiggos 10, Ermou 119, Athina 105 55, Greece


The grill station at Volvi.

For a quick and satisfying bite, head to Volvi, a small corner restaurant located in Varvakios agora. Here, you can savor souvlaki (pork skewers) and kebabs wrapped in a warm pita or served by the piece. Grilled to perfection over charcoal, these flavorful meats are served with a simple yet satisfying combination of sauce, tomato, and onions. Volvi is the go-to spot for those seeking a delicious and convenient meal. Tip: never ask for chips here, they find it insulting. 

Evripidou 24-26, Athina 105 51


Big pots of beans and chickpeas by the chief of Diporto.

Hidden away in the basement of an old abandoned building, Diporto is a charming spot that has stood the test of time. Run by the same proprietor for over 50 years, this humble establishment is renowned for its delectable chickpeas and butter beans, accompanied by slices of fresh tomato, onions, and olives. Bread is a must, as is its house white wine. If you’re lucky, you may find sardines or a protein stew on the ever-changing menu. Be sure to arrive early, as Diporto fills up quickly with lunchtime crowds. Cash is the only accepted form of payment, adding an authentic, old-school touch.

Sokratous 9 & Theatrou 2, Athina 105 52

Signature kontosouvli.

For seafood lovers, Travolta is a paradise. It takes pride in serving the freshest local prawns, squid, and fish prepared in a variety of mouthwatering ways, including raw, fried, stewed, and grilled over coals. Unlike other places, Travolta opts for simplicity, using only sea salt to accentuate the natural flavors of the fish. A must-try is its signature, the seafood “kontosouvli,” a generous skewer of fresh squid and prawns served with squid ink on the side, accompanied by a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Agiou Pavlou 33, Peristeri 121 32

Morning Bar

Feta filo pie.

To start your day on a high note, visit Morning Bar, a specialty coffee shop that takes pride in sourcing beans from both Greek and international roasters. Alongside the exceptional coffee selection, Morning Bar offers an enticing range of homemade baked goods: try the granola, tomato and feta filo pies, or fried eggs with shokupan bread. 

Odissea Androutsou 36, Athina 117 41

Alex Gkikas is the owner of Catalyst Coffee in London, home of the famous Koffiracha coffee sriracha hot sauce. Header image: Travolta’s red mullet. All photography by Alex Gkikas, except for Travolta, courtesy of Travolta Facebook.

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