Athens is one of the world’s greatest cities thanks to its history, architecture, and the inspiration it has given to countless poets, painters and novelists, from Lord Byron to Lawrence Durrell. Although Greek fare is not perhaps thought of as one of the world’s great cuisines in the same way as French or Italian, the contemporary restaurant scene in Greece’s capital is thriving. Here are ten of the best restaurants in Athens.
Oroscopo is located in the heart of Athens’ hotel and shopping district. Situated next to the prestigious Divani Caravel and near to the Hilton, Golden Age and Crowne Plaza hotels, Oroscopo is ideal for dinner before a lazy stroll back to your hotel. It is also close to the National Gallery, the Benaki Museum and the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, so is perfect spot for art lovers to visit after a day spent exploring the works of art. You can sit out on the terrace, dining al fresco and watching the world go by in Caravel Square, or take a table inside. The cuisine is classic Greek, with one particular specialty being ladorignani, a traditional Greek dish of oven-baked lamb with lemon and fresh oregano.
Avocado is regarded as the finest vegetarian restaurant in Athens. Located on Nikis Street close to the Greek Parliament, Avocado prides itself on offering wholesome meals that are good for both the body and the soul, featuring home-made breads and cakes, fresh fruits, vegetables and smoothies with no artificial flavors or preservatives. The menu offers a wide range of inventive pasta dishes, pizzas, salads, soups and panini. Among the dishes to look out for are guacamole, falafel, spicy dahl soup, macrobiotic platter with plenty of brown rice and fresh greens, and avocado penne and parmigiana di zucchini.
Mani Mani is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Athens, serving up regional cuisine from the Mani region in the far south of Greece – the owners’ original home. The restaurant is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Acropolis. The menu is focuses on excellent, simple cuisine made using local ingredients from Mani, so look out for dishes including filo parcels with manouri cheese, octopus with fava, and bruschetta served with siglino – the traditional cured ham of the Mani region.
Thea Terrace Bar is an ideal spot for lunch and offers an extraordinary vantage point from which diners can look out over the old town of Athens and across to the Acropolis. The bar is part of the Central Athens Hotel in the historic old city known as Plaka, once the home of the Turkish governor of Greece in the days before the Greek War of Independence. Plaka is built around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis and is made up of small winding lanes and passages. At the Thea Terrace Bar you can drop in for plates of traditional mezes, or cheese with Florina peppers along with a glass of ouzo.
Strofi has been serving high quality cuisine since 1975 and is located in the shadow of the Acropolis, with a terraced area that enables diners to gaze out at the Parthenon, one of the greatest historical sites in the world. The menu is classic Greek with a touch of international influence. Starters to watch out for include octopus with olives, feta cheese with eggplant or with honey and sesame, marinated anchovies, and tzatziki yoghurt with cucumber and garlic. Entrée courses include rooster cooked in wine, lamb with rosemary, kid goat with tomato and thyme, and lamb served with vine leaves stuffed with cheese.
The Funky Gourmet can lay claim to being one of the most distinguished restaurants in Athens. Having opened in November 2009, the restaurant gained its first Michelin star in 2012 and its second in 2014. The philosophy of the restaurant is to create, innovate, and re-think cooking and ensure that diners enjoy a stimulating and evocative experience. You can find curious flavor combinations on the menu, including smoked ice cream sandwiches and classic Greek botargo – salted fish roe – served with white chocolate, as well as classics such as langoustines, snails, and truffled foie gras paired with an excellent wine.
Spondi was Athens’s first Michelin-star restaurant | Courtesy of Spondi
For 12 years in a row Spondi was voted the best restaurant in the whole of Greece, and in 2013 was ranked as number 97 in a run-down of the best restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine. Established in 1996, Spondi won its first Michelin star in 2002 and was awarded a second in 2008. The restaurant itself is located next to the Panathenian Marble Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896 in the Pagrati district of Athens. Elegance and refinement are the aims of the owners of Spondi, with dishes such as pigeon, crab, langoustine, veal sweetbreads, and milk-fed lamb with herb cocotte on the menu.
Orizontes is situated on Lycabettus, the highest peak of Athens, and thus offers diners an utterly breathtaking view across this most ancient and beautiful of cities. Located 277 meters above the city, diners can look out at the Acropolis, the Saronic Gulf, and Piraeus in the distance. There is a small 19th century church on the hill of Lycabettus along with the restaurant. On the menu, you will find pleurotus mushrooms served with tomatoes from Santorini, feta cheese from Epirus served in dough with thyme honey and sesame seeds, shrimps with gruyere from Naxos, and chicken cooked in Samos wine with mushrooms and French fries.
The GB Corner Restaurant is all about sophistication and chic elegance. Set in the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which was once a fashionable hang-out for the Athens literati, the restaurant features Art Deco interior decor and has long been regarded as one of the most refined spots for dinner in all of Athens. The cuisine fuses classic Greek fare with international influences – the head chef Sotiris Evangelou trained under the great Frenchman Alain Ducasse and previously worked in kitchens in Monte Carlo, Provence, and Hong Kong. An open kitchen enables visitors to watch as their food is prepped; dishes on offer include oysters, roast cod with peppers and vinaigrette, shrimp, lobster, octopus and calamari, and roast baby goat cooked in a clay pot.
The Chocolat Royal is located in the center of Athens, close to the National Observatory and wonderful ancient monuments such as the Temple of Hephaestus, the Ancient Agora of Athens and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. From the dining room of the Chocolat Royal you can sit back and marvel at the towering heights of Lycabettus Hill and look out at the Acropolis. It is the perfect location for a lazy late afternoon lunch. The dishes on the menu keep things simple – you can opt for honey roasted pork with rosemary, and mixed vegetable salad with gruyere cheese from Crete.