Navigating the restaurant landscape in Athens can be tricky. For every authentic spot there are a slew of tourist traps offering bad quality food at exorbitant prices. Fear not. We’ve identified some of the best authentic Greek restaurants in Athens.
A popular local spot, To Mavro Provato (‘the black sheep’) is a traditional Greek restaurant in the trendy area of Pagrati. The outside tables are some of the most coveted in Athens. Meat is kept simple and perfectly executed, and other must-try dishes include classics like fava, halloumi, dakos and aubergine salad. There is also a good selection of ouzo, raki and tsipouro to accompany your meal in the most traditional of ways.
If you’re looking for the flavour of traditional Greece, Marathonitis Taverna (near the landmark Panathenaic Stadium) is a sure bet. The atmosphere is boisterous and welcoming, with live music throughout the week. The menu is authentic and straightforward. Lamb chops are a must-try and salads are made with fresh and flavoursome ingredients. To accompany your meal, try the homemade wine, which is served from large barrels that run along the side of the restaurant. Those who prefer their meal without a side of cigarette smoke may decide to dine elsewhere, as the interior can become a little smoky as the evening progresses.
Located in the heart of Athens’s central market, Epirus Tavern is a traditional Greek restaurant worth hunting for. The menu is simple and delicious. This is a frills-free establishment where you can enjoy slow-cooked local specialties. Open from the early hours of the morning, it is packed throughout the day. The soups are a must-try, as are the artichokes, meatballs and the pasta-based dishes. The service is renowned as well. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back again and again.
Peinaleōn is located on the edge of Exarchia, and has a long history as a liberal hangout. The owner’s brother is a film director and the decor has a lively, cinematic feel to it. The eclectic interior adds to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. It helps that the food is delicious too, with authentic Greek dishes that are perfectly cooked. Try the aubergines with feta, or well-known specials such as soutzoukakia.
Located close to the city’s most touristy area, To Steki Tou Ilia is a local favourite. The restaurant has a beautiful and often lively garden next to a church, and is the perfect place to while away an afternoon, especially after a morning of sightseeing. The menu is traditional and the dishes are expertly cooked. The lamb chops are highly recommended, but everything is tasty.
Opened in 1968, The Ugly Ducking provides local history as well as delicious, traditional Greek plates. The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, complementing the great cooking. The menu is simple yet offers the whole spectrum of classic Greek dishes. With so much to try it’s easy to over-order, but it’s an affordable place.
If you’re looking for fresh, delicious fish in Piraeus, Yperokeanio is the place for you. The traditional fish taverna isn’t the oldest in Piraeus but the food reflects a traditional approach. A local favourite, the atmosphere is always friendly and lively, and it’s easy to see why. Simple, thoughtfully prepared fish is always tasty, and there are daily specials to keep you coming back to try new things. Whether it’s the octopus, grilled sardines or a seasonal catch, you won’t be disappointed. The decor is nautical and Greek without feeling kitsch.
Established around 1930, Taverna tou Oikonomou specializes in home-style cooking, offering an authentic Greek restaurant experience. Locals travel from across the city to eat in this special place, where the extensive menu of traditional, freshly made Greek recipes includes beef stew, roast lamb and braised veal. Wash your dinner down with an ample supply of wine or ouzo. Caring about their community, Oikonomau donates any leftover food to local people in need at the end of the day.