Downtown Athens offers you many choices for eating out. However, there are a few places, loved by the locals and those who work at the city center, that could offer you a truly Athenian experience. Nothing fancy, just tasty old-fashioned food, at unpretentious places. Here are our top picks for eating out like a local in downtown Athens, away from the touristic areas of the city:
With more than fifty years history, this place could be called classic. It started as a traditional cafe (kafeneio) where the intellectuals of the nearby publishing houses used to hang out and in the course of years has been transformed into a tavern. Traditional dishes, seafood plates, fresh salads in an ever-changing menu, along with excellent wine and ouzo. The place is always full of people of all ages, especially at lunchtime. Workers, lawyers, clerks and university students all become a big welcoming circle. (Feidiou 3, 106 78 Athens)
Stoa started as a small place with only a few tables but the increasing number of customers forced the owners to expand its size. At Stoa the specialties are all related to seafood and good quality ouzo. The fishes and all the other seafood, like fried squid and steamed mussels, are always fresh and bought from the central seafood market of Athens, just a few roads away. The quality has been kept the same since the beginning in 1995 and the tavern has since then its loyal customers. Come to Stoa for excellent seafood and an always friendly service. (Themistokleous 11, 106 77 Athens)
Another excellent seafood restaurant just a few meters from Stoa. Simple and cozy place, which puts emphasis on the quality and the freshness of the ingredients. You will find here tasty and well-prepared seafood dishes, like the delicious shrimps' saganaki (shrimps cooked in the pan with feta and tomato) and the grilled octopus. You can accompany your food with excellent tsipouro and have a really good time. The service is quick and sufficient, regardless of the fact that the place is usually crowded at lunchtime on weekdays. (Themistokleous 18, 106 78 Athens)
This is a place with a really long history that dates back to the early 20th century. It started as a shop selling coal and wine and was transformed in a tavern as the years passed. The classic Greek movie “O Methystakas” was shot here back in 1950. At Barbagiannis you could find everyday a big variety of homemade Greek dishes cooked in the traditional way with a quality that remains the same for decades. No wonder it has always been a favourite of the university students, who come here for food that reminds them of their home. Don't be put off by the ugly graffiti that ruin the exterior and come here for a truly homy experience. (Emmanuel Mpenaki 94, 106 81 Athens)
Almost hidden in an arcade, this is a relatively new place destined to become a classic. Excellent Greek cuisine, good quality in fish and meat in a menu that changes every day according to what the cook has found in the local market. The young owner and his father will do anything to please you and to feel at home. Open from noon till afternoon on weekdays, the place is usually full at lunchtime. Do not hesitate to discover this hidden treasure. The name which means “relax” and at the same time “then I live” is just brilliant. (Emmanuel Mpenaki 24, 106 78 Athens)
Telis is the absolute cult classic tavern. For almost 40 years it serves the Athenians the best pork steak (aka mprizolakia). Actually this is the only thing you can order in this place along with Greek Salad, fried potatoes and hot tomato sauce (called “kafteri” and it is made with feta, tomatoes and hot grilled peppers). The waiter is going to ask you only “how many”, referring to the number of steak portions. The steaks are served with fried potatoes and they are always juicy and perfectly grilled. The people you will see eating at this place varies from business executives to workers and families. Almost everyone in Athens knows Telis regardless if they have ever eaten here. (Evripidou 86, 105 53 Athens)
Downtown Athens is full of unique surprises and experiences. Visiting one of these six eateries is surely one of them.