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Athens is the capital of Greece and most definitely a center of great culinary traditions. This is where the best Mediterranean flavors combine into unique and mouthwatering dishes acclaimed by tourists all over the world. If you are sailing around the Greek coast, this city is the perfect destination to experience history, culture, nightlife, and food all at the same time.
The streets of Athens are packed with restaurants and cafeterias in typical Mediterranean style, paired with genuine hospitality and quality ingredients. The best part? You can find good food for all budgets! Whether you decide to opt for proper restaurants or try the local street food, there are some dishes you can't definitely miss.
We gathered them in a list of the best Greek foods you should try when in Athens.
This is Greece's most popular street food and its name derives from the word souvla, which means skewer. Souvlaki is, in fact, meat on a skewer, grilled over charcoal and served in different ways, usually wrapped in pita bread with tomato, onions, and tzatziki sauce. The Souvlaki skewers come in different forms, and the most popular ones are Kalamaki, pure meat skewers served with a dash of salt, pepper, and lemon juice on top - here is the quality of the meat that really matters! Kontosouvli, larger chunks of marinated meat alternated with onion, tomato, and peppers and slow-cooked on a rotisserie over an open charcoal pit. Kalamaki Tlychto, pieces of skewered meat wrapped in grilled pita bread along with sliced tomatoes and sweet-and-spicy red onions. Will you try them all?
- Kostas Syntagma: 5 Pentelis, Historic Centre, 105 57
- Souvlaki Leivadia: Kaniggos 2-4, Athina 106 77
- Kalyvas: Dimitrakopoulou 91-93, G Olymbiou 10, Athina 117 41
Salads are an essential part of Greek cuisine, and the Horiatiki is the most traditional one: a fresh dish made with cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onions, and high-quality feta cheese. Its refreshing taste makes it particularly enjoyable during the hot season. Its name means "village salad" or "peasant salad" for its poor and simple ingredients, but the flavors will undoubtedly make your tastebuds dance!
- Avli: Agiou Dimitriou 12, Athina 105 54
One of the most famous dishes served all over Greek. The Mousakka is an oven-baked casserole made of aubergines layers alternated with minced beef and tomato, bechamel sauce, and topped with a layer of melted cheese. You can say it is similar to Italian lasagna for its ingredients and the layering. Not the lightest dish but definitely a must-try when in Athens. You can find this dish in any traditional restaurant in the city but it's the quality of the meat that really makes it stand out.
- Filippou: Xenokratous 19, Athina 106 75
If you haven’t tried the salty goodness of Saganaki cheese then you haven’t truly lived, because it's a unique experience for all traditional cheese lovers. The Saganaki refers to the pan in which the cheese is fried and the most commonly used cheese is graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri, or sheep's milk feta cheese: the peculiarity of these cheeses is that they melt inside but perfectly maintain their shape on the outside. Add a bit of lemon juice and enjoy it in all its glory! Like many other traditional dishes, you can find the Saganaki in most restaurants around the city, but if you're around Monastiraki, we strongly suggest visiting this traditional tavern.
- O Thanasis: Mitropoleos 69, Athina 105 55
Although anchovies are one of the cheapest fish in Greece yet they are so tasty and so healthy. You can find them in many places around the city as they are a very popular meze commonly served at bars and restaurants. The anchovies are grilled on charcoal and served with lemon, fresh parsley, salt, and olive oil (you can also find the fried version). They are best paired with other small fish plates and a good glass of white wine. Try the anchovies and other fish mezes in a traditional taverna such as the one suggested below!
- Atlantikos: Avliton 7, Athina 105 54
A great traditional starter and the perfect accompaniment to any Greek meal. Despite the hard-to-pronounce name, Kolokythokeftedes is an easy and light dish that combines feta cheese with courgettes, fresh mint, and salt in a perfectly crispy patty. Beware because one leads to another!
- Kallipateiros: Astiggos 8, Athina 105 55
If you're a sweet tooth, the Loukoumades are a must-try! We're talking about a fluffy ball of dough available in various flavors: the traditional way is with honey syrup, cinnamon, and crushed nuts sprinkled on top. Loukoumades are usually served in original Greek cafeterias, along with a cup of coffee or other sweet pastries such as the Bougatsa (pastry filled with custard cream). We suggest trying them at one of the most authentic cafes in Athens, located in an impressive heritage building that was once the city's first pharmacy in 1823. Check the details below!
- Krinos: Aiolou 87, Athina 105 51, Greece
Baklava is one of the most traditional and ancient dishes in all of Greece. Its story dates back to the 8th Century BC and it is part of most Eastern-Mediterranean culinary traditions. Greek people give local names to variations of Baklava according to the place where it's made, but generally speaking, it is a dessert made of various layers of phyllo pastry alternated with nuts, butter, syrup, and spices. You can buy baklava in most bakeries and pastry shops around the country, even in supermarkets, but in Athens, one of the best is undoubtedly made by the legendary Belle Vue, a 41-year-old pastry shop owned by two Greek families who used to be based in Istanbul. Don't miss it!
- Belle Vue: Leof. El. Venizelou 104, Nea Smirni 171 22
If you are planning your next sailing holiday in Athens, check Sailogy's boat availability in the area. Your next dream vacation is just a click away!
Want to know more about Greece? Read our dedicated blog articles and get inspired.