The Mediterranean Food
Food is a large part of Greek culture, with long meals being enjoyed by the whole family across generations on weekends or evenings. Along with the developments in youth culture, many restaurants have sprung up to offer exciting international cuisine, innovative twists on traditional Greek food and fantastic street food to take away across the city into the small hours of the morning. There is an abundance of high-quality eateries across the city, with very few establishments offering poor quality to unknowing tourists. Nonetheless, it is good to know where to start with great places to eat.
On Adrianou street right in the historical centre of town, off the side of the railway line that separates the street from the Ancient Agora, with a view of the Stoa of Attalos, is the tavern “Dióskouroi”. Serving up traditional Greek mezedes, excellent fish and meat main courses, this is a fantastic place to have a real Greek experience. With an abundance of food, quality wine and beers, friendly waiters, live music and singing being played every evening, it’s not a place to miss. You can sit out on Adrianou street under the carpet of night with the romantic lighting, feeling the warm air and the sound of crickets as you sip your wine and chat with your loved ones. The prices are reasonable for the centre of town as well.
Head down Makrygianni street (outside of the Acropolis metro station) past the big tourist taverns and cafes, take a right at Veikou street and you’ll soon be at Opos Palia. A very small restaurant, with most of its patrons sitting at tables on the street, it is extremely popular within locals and so you’ll be dining very close to others. But the great array of Greek foods, from seafood to fresh bread and starters, you will be hooked on the fantastic vibe of so many people dining this great quality, yet casual food. It’s also common to have customers come for a small snack and glass of wine or tsipouro shots with their friends after work. Although the English of the staff might not be the same standard of those trying to hawk you on Makrygianni, the great value is what brings customers back here again and again.
About a 10-minute walk from the Panathenaic stadium in Pagkrati area is Mystic. Building on its highly successful progenitor in Exarcheia- ‘Mystic Pizza’- it has now taken its original concept to a further level. Serving up ecological pizzas and pasta with a variety of low-gluten doughs and infused with hemp flour, there is a range of options for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Mystic has grown up and now includes traditional foods in the mix, alongside the favourites from Exarcheia, and all located in a beautiful roof garden restaurant bar. Expect to see goats cheese starters, Cretan raki and some meat dishes, all produced to the same fine ethical standards as the pizza and pasta. Often accompanying the dining and drinks is live jazz music or an ambient DJ set.
To Avgo Tou Kokkora
Καλή σας όρεξη από το αυγό του κόκκορα
Take a trip a little bit out of the town centre to the quieter neighbourhood of Metaxourgeio and have something to eat at the “To Avgo tou Kokkora”. The name means ‘the egg of the cockerel’ and with typical Greek enthusiasm and passion, they serve a broad variety of regional dishes at this tavern far from the beaten track. Throughout most of the year, the weather is very fine to dine in their garden across the road from the main building and ease away the evening under the starlit sky with friends, great food and a good bottle of wine. Closing at 01:15am there’s no need to rush and you can keep eating until the early hours of the morning. The prices are very reasonable too.
For a gourmet dining experience in one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in the centre of town, you’ll have a night of wonder at Balthazar. From the stunning entrance and the neatly sculpted garden oasis to the professionally mixed cocktails and inventive fine dining, your senses will be delighted. Chef Christoforos Peskias takes traditional Mediterranean cuisine and twists it with the global tastes derived from his worldwide quest for flavour. Paired with a hand-picked wine, or just come to enjoy a refreshing cocktail, this peaceful yet aristocratic setting is only 5 minutes away from the noise of the city.