Eating, drinking and talking is the main entertainment for Athenians. The vibrant restaurant scene is marked by a delightful culture of casual, convivial alfresco dining. Ouzeries and mezedhopoleia, both serving small plates with drinks, are popular for those with limited budgets. Some of the best food is found in just-slightly-modernised tavernas that showcase fresh produce and regional ingredients.
Because Athenians prefer sitting and eating, the city isn't bursting with snacks, but you will find a few options. In the morning, look for vendors selling koulouria (chewy bread rings covered in sesame seeds). The standard breakfast is a slab of tiropita or spanokopita (cheese or spinach pie), sold by big bakeries or specialists in pites (pies). In the afternoon, carts sell grilled corn or chestnuts; some sell a variety of nuts. From lunch till the wee hours, Greece’s favourite savoury snack is souvlaki, packing more punch for €2.50 than anything else. We list purveyors in most neighbourhoods. One of the best is tiny Kostas, with its signature spicy tomato sauce, in the pleasant square opposite Agia Irini church.
Need to Know
- On a large menu, only the dishes with prices are available.
- Can't decide? Order daily specials and/or peek in the kitchen.
- Vegetarian and vegan dishes are usually available, with the best selection during Lent, before Christmas and in summer.
- Solo diners should request half-portions; a family-run spot can usually accommodate.
Standard Restaurant Practices
- Athenians start eating dinner around 9pm.
- For trendier restaurants, book ahead on weekends (try www.e-table.gr), or just go early.
- You can always get tap water instead of bottled; bread is technically optional too. Neither is expensive, though.
- Plates are typically not cleared until you ask for the bill.