Culture Trip takes a look at why the street food scene in Athens is more exciting than ever.
When you think of food in Greece you probably think about the taverna culture. For decades the long, leisurely lunches and dinners have been a staple of the way in which locals socialise. Family meals happen here, friends gather and there’s even local entertainment courtesy of bouzakia and rebetiko players. Traditionally street food has been limited to souvlaki stands. Given the delicious combination of flavours it’s no surprise that the reign of the souvlaki lasted so long. But recently its rule as the best street food in Athens has finally been challenged.
Similarly, while it’s unlikely that the presence of tavernas on every street corner will ever disappear (and we hope that they won’t) in recent years Athens has enjoyed a flurry of innovation in the city’s food scene. A host of innovative restaurants such as Vezene and Sense Rooftop Food & Bar have opened up. Athens-based chefs are offering innovative updates on traditional greek plates and bringing a new spectrum of flavours to the city. Thanks to such openings in Athens, gourmet dining is arguably at an all time high.
But at the other end of the spectrum the street food scene has also exploded, creating a new subculture. ‘It [the street food scene] has changed immensely,’ agrees Stavros Striligas, press manager at The Athens Street Food Festival. Walk through central Athens and alongside the traditional tavernas and bars you’ll find pop-up taco restaurants, burger stands and cool new dessert spots which all provide a range of alternatives to the beloved souvlaki.
A post shared by Athens Street Food Festival (@athensstreetfoodfestival) on May 15, 2017 at 4:15am PDT
The growing success of the street food festival is testament to Athenian’s love of this new offer. Athens Street Food Festival runs every May, bringing together some of the best and most inventive names in the Greek culinary scene. While places like London and New York are awash with pop-up foodie events and street festivals, the festival is the only one of its size and kind in Athens. Unsurprisingly, it draws quite a crowd. But success wasn’t inevitable. ‘When we started the festival in 2016,’ Stavros notes, ‘nobody even used the word street food. We had to convince chefs to create street food recipes and portions.’
Two years later, attitudes have changed entirely. Stavros cites attendees to the event as in the ‘tens of thousands’, with an audience made up of Greeks and tourists coming to enjoy the best of Athens’ culinary game. This year visitors are in for a treat. Pop-up highlights include ‘Mac ‘N Cheesus!’ who will be offering a Greek take on the American classic, meaty dishes from ‘Monster Burgers’ and decadent sweet treats from Athenian hotspot Chimney – to name a few. Experimentation within the Athenian scene continues. This year one of the biggest trends to emerge this year is Thai ice cream, so expect see to more and more stands that sell it popping up over the summer.
A post shared by Mac ‘N Cheesus | Athens Greece (@mac.n.cheesus) on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:02am PST
Among the most exciting street food trends to have already taken the city by storm are Hawaiian sushi, bao buns and cheesecake on a stick. The latter may sound a little gimmicky but it also reflects the scope of new flavours, techniques and recipes coming to the Athenian street food market. Not all of them will stay, but as Stavros notes ‘it is street food itself that has become the trend’. Whatever foodie fads might pass through the city, the new love of street food is a trend that seems set to stay.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.