Eating Athens: Where to eat in Athens

November 3, 2014   /   bynatalie  / Categories :  Food & Wine, Travel, Uncategorized
It’s my last couple of hours in Athens and as I wait for my flight, enjoying my final Cappucino Freddo, I’m flicking through the pictures of the delicious things I’ve eaten over the past couple of weeks. Before I came to Athens, I got a lot of “a couple of days will be enough” and “it’s just another grimy city”, but the Athens I discovered is a vibrant, energetic city, with a great food scene and friendly locals.

I think that one of the most interesting things about travelling is that everyone has different objectives when visiting a new country or city. Some people want to explore every museum and art gallery, others want to shop. I want to eat.

I believe that you can learn a lot about a culture and a people through it’s flavours. For instance, the flavours of Cape Town’s Malay curries reflect much about the Indian and South-East Asian roots of the colourful community of Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap. In the same way the moussakas, stuffed vine leaves and creamy feta tell stories about Greek history and food culture.

I’ve eaten a lot over the past two weeks and I can honestly say that every bite, from lunch at the higher-end Mare Marina to a quick Souvlaki at locals’ favourite, Kostas in Agias Irinis Square, has been utterly delicious. I usually make a point of eating exclusively local food when I travel (skipping the McDonalds and Starbucks and Italian food in Thailand, for instance) and in Greece that was incredibly easy, since local food is actually easier to find than take-out.

Here are a few of my foodie highlights in delicious Athens.

KOSTAS SOUVLAKI

There are actually two souvlaki places in Athens called Kostas which can cause some confusion. But it was on the recommendation of two trusted locals, Elena from Greek food blog Elena’s Cooking and Andreas Litis from My Secret Athens that we went in search of both.

The Kostas on the Agais Irinis Square (where you’ll find lots of bustling bars, restaurants and trendy locals) serves probably one of the most delicious meals you’ll find in Athens. They serve their souvlaki with a red sauce that is just so flavourful and delicious my mouth waters as I type.

The other Kostas, which has been around for more than 50 years, is only a few minutes walk away and serves light, tasty souvlaki with a creamy yogurt sauce.

Address: Agias Irinis Square 2, downtown
Telephone: +30 210 323 2971
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm

Address: Pentelis 5 (intersection with Mitropoleos), Plaka/Syntagma
Telephone: +30 210 322 8502
Hours: 9am-3pm; closed Sunday 

TA KARAMANLIDIKA TOU FANI

We ate here on our first night in Athens and it was the one meal I kept going back to every time I thought “what’s the best thing we’ve eaten in Greece?” The restaurant’s name is impossible to pronounce so I can’t help you there, but the food is Turkish-inspired Greek and we just asked our companion, Athens local Andreas Litis to order for us.

Each mouthful burst with flavour. Spices and cold meats and vine leaves stuffed with rice, served with yogurt. I hardly spoke throughout the meal, except to mumble “this is amazing” and “this is so delicious”. Judging by the perplexed looks on the faces of other patrons, tourists haven’t caught on to this gem yet.

The restaurant has a selection of cured meats that hang from hooks on the ceiling, casting a red glow around and stimulating the appetite. This spot is definitely worth a visit.

Address: Sokratous 1 & Evripidou 52, 10554 Athens, Greece

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7:00am – 12:00am

WAREHOUSE BAR

We booked on Airbnb to stay in the neighbourhood of Exarchia, which turned out to be a really great location. Our apartment was super-cute and located on a really trendy street, with lots of hot bars and restaurants and a Saturday morning market. 
Pretty much the second I arrived we set out for a walk through the city and we stopped off at this industrial-inspired bar near where we were staying. The friendly woman behind the bar seemed surprised to see us, so I’m guessing it’s not a tourist hotspot. 
Andrea turned out to be incredibly friendly and offered us a craft beer on the house. On our next visit, she made us the most complicated and delicious G&T which included rhubarb bitters and has set the bar far too high for future cocktails. The bar serves speciality drinks, blends and fine wines. Cocktails are served after 6pm.

Address: Valtetsiou 21, Athens, Greece

KOZI’S MEET n EAT

Ok so I know I said that I eat local food exclusively, but on my last night in Athens I went out with a few locals to a restaurant out in the suburbs. The second we were greeted by the owner, I knew. “Are you South African?” “Yes, and I’m guessing you are too?”

Kozi’s is owned by a South African-born Greek family and serves meat. Meat, meat, meat. Spiced with a blend of South African spices. They don’t take bookings, and when we left at around 11:30pm the place was still full and there was a queue of people waiting for a table.

We asked the chef to just send us whatever he thought would be best and man, did we get more than we bargained for! Beef and chicken braai meat, huge salads, giant steaks and enormous burgers. And for dessert: Nutella. Cheesecake.

Everything was truly delicious. The service was so friendly and warm and it made me proud to be a South African. This is a really popular spot with locals and I think it should be with travellers too.

Address: Panagi Tsaldari 32-34, Melissia, 15127, Athens
Telephone: +30 210 81 01 584
Hours: Mon. – Sun. 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

These were just a few highlights in a series of delicious meals. I’ve got something really cool planned for the beginning of next year, where you’ll be able to see my reviews, pictures and find the address to these places and many more – including Cape Town, so keep an eye out for that.

But I can truthfully say, that in the two weeks we spent in Greece, we never had a bad meal.

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