After a few months living in Athens, I was able to discover many local restaurants and “tavernas“. After some incredible and some disappointing experiences, here is the list of my favorite addresses to mingle with Greeks and taste their cuisine.
When you arrive in Athens, it is better to forget your old eating habits. Here, we eat between 2pm and 4pm and we don’t eat before 10pm in the evening. (Unless you feel like having brunch in Athens.) The way of eating is also different. Greeks never order one dish per person but prefer to share all the dishes among themselves.
As for restaurants, taverns, and bars, avoid the most touristic places in Athens such as Monastiraki where you will have a better chance of finding Europeanized and quite expensive restaurants where you will not have the opportunity to taste the authenticity of the Greek taverns that make all the charm of this country. I would also recommend avoiding the places directly near the Acropolis or most touristic sites, as not only will prices there be jacked up, you sometimes get bad surprises regarding the quality with a few unscrupulous tourist traps. Generally speaking, this is also true with housing so we recommend your at least consider options outside the city center for your stay in Athens.
You can also read : The 15 best things to do in Athens
What is the difference between a taverna and a restaurant?
A tavern, taverna is a rather friendly place where people gather to have a drink or eat “mezzes” on the run with family or friends. It is a bit like the Greek equivalent of the Spanish tapas you can find in Barcelona or the Pays Basque pintxo of Bilbao.
How to find good addresses in Athens?
In general, avoid large establishments with a big boards and English menus plastered everywhere. Even if there are some exceptions, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality found in the small hidden places of the city. In fact, most of the establishments in this list are off the beaten path.
In Athens, each district has its own quality taverns & restaurants, so I will not go around all the districts but propose a non-exhaustive list of establishments that I have tried and that correspond to what I am looking for: good local, authentic cuisine and a warm atmosphere.
When you are in Athens, the only real way to discover good addresses is to ask Greeks around you. Feel free to ask the question, Athenians are very open-minded and I have found that they will not hesitate to take the time to show you their favorite places.
ΑΜΑ ΛΑΧΕΙ (Ama Lachei)
ΑΜΑ ΛΑΧΕΙ is one of my favorite restaurants in Athens. Located in the Exarchia district, it is essential for several reasons. First of all it has a great garden where it is very pleasant to eat when the weather is great. Then, it is a restaurant a little different from the others because, even if they offer traditional Greek dishes, they are mostly revisited in more “modern” versions by their chef.
Eating at Ama Lachei will cost you between €8 and €15 per person including drinks and you have a large choice of digestives at the end of the meal, as often in Greece, which is always appreciated.
Where to find it: Kallidromiou 69, Athina 106 83
Όξο Νου (Oxo Nou)
Όξο Νου is a second address in Exarchia which is, in my opinion, the best neighborhood to eat in Athens along with Metaxourgeio (if you like other neighborhood better, do not hesitate to indicate it to me in comments, I will go for a walk there and check them out…).
Oxo Nou is a good tavern where it is as nice to sit down to drink as it is to eat. Simple and copious dishes at a very good price like all the taverns presented here. A good place to spend a good time around a Greek salad and some specialties.
Where to find it: 106 81, Emmanouil Benaki 63, Athina 106 81
Μπεμπα (Bemba) Bar Restaurant
Μπεμπα is one of my first discoveries at Metaxourgeio. A very good discovery with classic but well presented dishes, a really affordable cuisine, good wine and really good dishes. Note that it is also possible to eat if you have a vegan diet in this tavern (which I am not sure about for other restaurants, while Greek food is traditionally vegetable based and following a vegetarian diet there is rather easy and pleasant, not all places get the distinction between vegan and vegetarian yet).
Where to find it: Akadimou 16, Athina 104 36
Seychelles is a very good address in Metaxourgeio. This tavern, often full, is a very friendly place with a young and attentive staff, as often in Greece. Metaxourgeio and the surroundings of this tavern may seem a little strange but it is a very pleasant district with many bars and places not to be missed in Athens (such as the Café Louis for example).
Where to find it: Keramikou 49, Athina 104 36
Ουζερί η Λέσβος Λέσβος (Uzeri Lesvos)
Ουζερί η Λέσβος Λέσβος is a good tavern address where there is usually a very good atmosphere. Regularly entertained by a little music, we like to go there to taste a few mezzes as well as for a good meal to share with friends.The food is tasty and the ingredients fresh from the market.
Another address where the atmosphere alone makes you spend a good evening at a very modest price.
Where to find it: Emmanouil Benaki 38, Athina 106 78 78
Αγκλέουρας is one of my favorite addresses in Exarchia. Even if this tavern does not look like much from the outside, do not hesitate to take the leap: the cuisine is very good (try the “Dakos” in particular) and the atmosphere is extremely friendly and genial. If you go there in winter, finish your meal with a good “Rakomelo” to digest. It is also one of the cheapest addresses on this list (count 10€/p drinks included) and the lady who runs the tavern is a real sweetheart.
Where to find it: Koletti 9, Athina 106 81
Thai Zab – A very good “Thaïverna”.
Thai Zab is a rather special address in the list because it is not a traditional Greek restaurant but a “Thai tavern”, or Thaïverna. I am not necessarily a passionate fan of Asian cuisine but the Thai chef here offers an exceptional menu where you can enjoy yourself for about 15-20€/p. If you have eaten a lot of “souvlaki” or Greek salads and other mezzes and want to take a break from Greek specialties, this is an address not to be missed and Thai cuisine mixed with Greek hospitality is a real success.
The plus of this tavern is also its decoration which is superb. Located in Kerameikos, the restaurant is located about a 600 feet from the metro, which also makes it easy to find compared to most of the taverns on this list which are off the beaten path, literally, and as such sometimes quite far from traditional tourist paths and metro stops.
Where to find it: Dekeleon 22, Athina 118 54
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