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Varoulko
Photograph: Varoulko

The 9 best restaurants in Athens

The best restaurants in Athens offer up the best Greek food on the planet, which shouldn't be a big surprise

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Marissa Tajada
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Greek food is all the rage worldwide, so many might assume that the best restaurants in Athens offer the cuisine at its best. Sometimes, assumptions are correct. All those great thinkers had to eat somewhere, after all. Obviously, these magnificent restaurants weren’t about when Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and the rest were doing their thing, but the food in the Greek capital is so good it might just inspire some critical thinking of your own.

You’ll find everything from greasy kebabs to high-end gastronomic opulence, so be sure to pack your appetite and get to eatin’. Eating as much as humanly possible is one of the best things to do in all of Greece, after all.

Best Athens restaurants

To Kati Allo
tastefortravel.com.au

1. To Kati Allo

Why go? To experience a hidden neighbourhood Greek taverna.

Tucked down a small street around the corner from the Acropolis Museum is a Greek taverna run by two generations of a local family, the Bakatselos, who have been serving traditional meals here for more than three decades. They all pitch in to help in the open kitchen, cooking hand-me-down recipes and making guests feel at home in the understated dining space. There’s no menu, only a display of whatever’s just come out of the oven. 

Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani
Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani

2. Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani

Why go? For the traditional Greek deli experience.

This Byzantine pastomageireio, a tavern and deli in one spot, is set in a neoclassical house. Expect an array of Greek cheeses and cold cuts. The restaurant serves traditional regional dishes, like fried aubergine and zucchini in a Cappadocian sauce or saganaki cheese, served with a slice of dried meat called pastourma, beef sausage and eggs. 

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Klimataria
Klimataria

3. Klimataria

Why go? For traditional Greek food, music and dance.

This family-run taverna has been going strong since 1927, offering evenings packed with Mediterranean food, music and dance – a combination Greeks love. The tis oras – a grilled meat platter – is a must. It includes biftekia, grilled meat patties seasoned with spices, as well as lamb and pork chops. Plus, considering Klimataria translates as ‘grape vines’, it’s no surprise the wine served here is always excellent. 

Hytra
Hytra

4. Hytra

Why go? To try some of Greece’s most distinctive flavours.

Greek cuisine is always elegantly presented at this Michelin-starred restaurant on the sixth floor of the Onassis Cultural Centre. Here, dishes are created with wild herbs, fresh vegetables, meat and seafood sourced from nearby. A multi-course menu encourages anyone new to Greek cuisine to indulge in its most distinctive flavours through dishes like sea bass carpaccio and orange-scented pork. There’s an array of imaginative desserts.

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Orizontes
Orizontes

5. Orizontes

Why go? For fine dining on Athens’s most scenic terrace.

Perched on Lycabettus Hill, one of the highest peaks in Athens, the views from Orizontes are god-level. Sit outdoors come sunset – with the Acropolis, the Aegean Sea and the entire city sprawled below – and you’re guaranteed to feel like you’re dining on Olympus. The restaurant is equally acclaimed for its food: Mediterranean dishes that incorporate seasonal ingredients and local produce. Go for the pork tenderloin with vegetables in feta cheese, honey and sesame if it is on the menu. It’s rich, moreish and will blow your mind. 

Strofi
Strofi

6. Strofi

Why go? To dine with superb views of the Acropolis.

The view of the Acropolis from Strofi’s roof terrace is one of the most impressive in town. The menu is astounding; expect traditional Greek dishes, including meze such as smoked aubergine and a cooling, smooth tzatziki. A classic main is a roast lamb stuffed with Greek cheese. 

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Lukumades
Lukumades

7. Lukumades

Why go? To chow down on a doughnut with a difference. 

Most European cultures have their version of doughnuts, but Greek loukoumades are arguably one of the tastiest. They’re perfectly fluffy fried dough balls topped with Greek honey and cinnamon. At Lukumades dessert café, lines of locals come to indulge in much more sinful versions. Creative toppings and syrups are drizzled on, and they’re sometimes accompanied by scoops of creamy ice cream made with mastiha (a resin from the mastic tree).

Varoulko
Photograph: Varoulko

8. Varoulko

Why go? For a Michelin-starred experience by the sea.

Varoulko is one of the most elegant sea-view spots in the city. The Michelin-starred chef Lefteris Lazarou specialises in taking traditional Greek dishes and adding a creative and flavourful seafood touch. For example, his take on the usually minced meat-laden moussaka is made with crayfish, while his pesto pasta is squid-infused. Make sure to try the smoked octopus prepared with wild greens called stamnagathi. Visitors can take in the picture-perfect view of Mikrolimano harbour, the sailboats, yachts and tiny fishing boats floating in the distance. 

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Nice ‘n’ Easy
M-word

9. Nice ‘n’ Easy

Why go? Locally sourced Greek food.

This bistro emphasises organic produce – packing local veg and traditional pasta into hearty dishes that incorporate meat from sustainable growers. The farm-to-table concept combines with a trendy, laid-back atmosphere reminiscent of ’50s Hollywood (even its name is inspired by a Frank Sinatra song). Try the Bogie and Bacall, skewered chicken kontosouvli marinated in Greek beer with sun-dried tomatoes, or the Coppola zucchini pasta topped with buffalo meat and marinated in a Florina pepper sauce.

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