The 10 Best Budget Restaurants in Athens

Aster restaurant in Petralona
Aster restaurant in Petralona | © Aster

In Athens, eating out is generally cheap. As with any major city, quality can vary from place to place. If you’re looking for a delicious meal, read Culture Trip’s guide to the best restaurants for the city on budget.

1. Sphḗka

Restaurant, Greek, Tapas, Fusion

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© Sphḗka

The bright, eclectic decor of Spheka restaurant offers the perfect setting to enjoy contemporary Greek food. The low-key yet vibrant atmosphere makes this a lovely restaurant to go to with friends, and the food is great too. The menu consists of small plates, which are excellent for sharing. Choose from traditional classics such as baked feta with sesame seeds, courgette balls and pork with oregano. Service is warm and friendly, with waitstaff always on hand to recommend new dishes. The central location makes it easy to enjoy a midnight stroll around the Acropolis afterwards.

2. The Seychelles Restaurant

Restaurant, Greek

Located in the Metaxourgeio area, Seychelles restaurant is a vibrant local favourite. The restaurant serves traditional Greek food with innovative twists. The menu features a selection of small plates, so make sure to order from across the menu. Highlights include a carefully curated selection of Greek cheeses as well as delicious pasta dishes. The pappardelle with kavourmas comes highly recommended.The atmosphere is friendly and upbeat, fuelled by the dynamic work which takes place in the open kitchen at the back. In summer, tables spill on to the street outside and there is sometimes a large open grill. Almost always busy, booking is highly recommended.

3. I Kriti

Restaurant, Greek

Hidden away at the back of one of Athens’s many malls, I Kriti is a restaurant worth seeking out. Located close to Omonia Square, this Cretan restaurants serves up some of the best traditional food in Athens. Dakos is a must-try, while their selection of grilled meats – from traditional sausage in vinegar to slow cooked pork – are always delicious. Mushrooms with pomegranates and Cretan cheese are a must-try. Raki in small glass vials is potent and serves as the perfect accompaniment to shared plates. Over the years, the restaurant has expanded across multiple rooms. Its popularity has continued and grown, which means service can often be slow. But the food, and affordable prices, means it’s worth waiting for.

4. Mama Tierra

Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian

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© Mama Tierra

One of the best vegetarian restaurants in Athens, Mama Tierra is a relatively new opening (as of this writing) and has already amassed rave reviews and a cult following. The menu is extensive. Opt for a Macrobiotic salad if you’re looking for a real health kick, or try the mushroom patties if you’re in the mood for something heartier. Desert-wise, the raw truffles with cashew cream and pistachios from Aegina island are a must-try. Alongside these healthy plates is a small but delicious selection of Greek wines sourced from local producers. A 10 p.m. closing time means this isn’t a place to spend a long evening. Instead, it’s the perfect spot for a healthy and memorable lunch (its most busy time of the day) while exploring the city. Alternatively if you’re not operating on a Greek mealtime schedule, then stop by earlier in the evening.

5. Cafe Avissinia

Cafe, Market, Restaurant, Greek

Cafe Avinissia
© Cafe Avissinia
Founded in 1985, Cafe Avissinia is an award-winning cafe-restaurant that offers traditional Greek food, served with an Acropolis view. The restaurant started as a small tea house. The interiors harken back to an earlier time, with floral wallpaper, wooden furniture and porcelain tea-pots on the shelves. Today, you’ll find a seasonal menu with a mix of classic plates, all affordably priced. Old favourites such as the moussaka or the meatballs or traditional tabuli and fava are all well worth ordering. Open all day, this is an excellent spot for any meal. Go on the weekends (except in July and August) for live music and enjoy a flavour of old Athens at the heart of it all.

6. Elvis

Restaurant, Greek

If you’re looking for a seriously cheap eat in Athens, Greek souvlaki is for you. And while an Elvis-themed souvlaki restaurant might not sound like the spot for the best souvlaki in Athens, it is! Unlike many souvlaki restaurants in Athens, Elvis serves the classic dish as individual sticks of pork or chicken, bread and delicious chips. In spite of its popularity with locals and visitors alike, Elvis has remained cheap and reliably good. After enjoying a traditional Greek feast, you can either head out to super clubs such as Lohan (Lindsay Lohan’s nightclub) in neighbouring Gazi or go into Pysrri for your pick of fun and relaxing bars.

7. Saligaros

Cafe, Restaurant, Greek

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© Saligaros

Founded three years ago, Saligaros (the snail) is a Cretan-influenced restaurant that is created with community in mind. Working with local producers, this dreamy spot in Exarchia has fostered a vibrant culinary agenda while remaining affordable. The menu is thoughtfully brought together, and everything is worth trying. Marinated pork steaks and rocket pesto pappardelle are great dinner options, while Sfakian pie with honey, lentil salads and the range of delicious sandwiches make for great lunch options. Cretan burgers are tasty too. Drinks-wise, try the selection of Greek wines or sample the cocktails made with a Cretan twist. In the evenings, you’ll find live music, but this is an energetic and vibrant spot throughout the day.

8. Aster

Restaurant, Greek

This local gem in Petralona is worth venturing to. In recent years the area has transformed into a trendy and lively area, full of young professionals with a vibrant atmosphere. With a small and curated menu, the restaurant serves traditional homemade Greek plates in a friendly and intimate environment. Dishes are unpretentious and simple but never boring. The menu varies seasonally, with dishes including macaroni and ricotta, pork in the pot with beer and honey and veal stroganoff.

9. Avocado

Cafe, Restaurant, Greek, Vegetarian, Vegan, Healthy

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© Vasileos Kyriakoulis / Avocado

Avocado in Athens is a vegetarian restaurant in Athens which focusses on healthy living with a sustainable ethos. The atmosphere is friendly and open and the food delicious, healthy and affordable. The restaurant came about after the founders opened a yoga and Pilates studio which was based upon the same ethos. Plates are made from local and organic produce, and there’s plenty of great dishes to choose from. The Guacamole is a must-try, and seasonal salads are always satisfying. There’s also a range of vegetarian pizzas and pastas if you’re looking for a bigger meal. Make sure to try one of the juices too. You can choose from simple options like carrot juice to blends with ginger, apple and beetroot.

10. Diporto

Restaurant, Greek

The basement level taverna Diporto in Athens
© Boaz Rottem / Alamy Stock Photo

A restaurant that has been in the city for over 100 years, this is a culinary destination for any foodie looking for an authentic Greek experience. Small and in-the-know, the staff speaks little English, and it’s easy to miss even though the restaurant is just next to the central market. Situated in a basement, the atmosphere is dark and cosy. You feel like you’ve discovered a real secret. There’re only a few tables, so expect it to be busy. Try the chickpea soup, which is hearty and packed with flavour. Fish comes straight from the market and is grilled fresh.

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