16 Places To Eat And Drink In Athens, Greece

Athens is often spoken of as a city of antiquity. While its history of it warrants that categorization, the modern metropolis is far from being a set of old bones on display. The Athens of today is the second most densely populated European city, according to Greek Reporter, and the people that call the city home are far from monolithic. Geographically positioned as a crossroads between the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean, Greece's capital city is home to a diverse population with diverse tastes.

Greek food once changed cooking forever. It still ranks as a favored flavor by many, but with the accessibility of international cuisines, its visibility in food culture is being matched, accentuated, and even overtaken by otherworldly flavors. Nowhere is that more true than in Athens, where a walk down the street can introduce you to a traditional taverna that's been in business for 60 years, or a new-age bistro that just popped up yesterday. With a food scene as unique as this, we couldn't resist taking a visit.

Between the Michelin recommended and the World's 50 Best Chosen, there are a lot of awards raining down in Attica. But some of the best places you can eat and drink in Athens are still flying under the radar.

Baba au Rum

Baba au Rum bills itself as a Rum and Cocktail Society — a word that often implies exclusion or secrecy. But the popularity of this bar — and the welcoming service its staff provides — sets the place far and away from any perceived clannishness. Those are a few of the many reasons that the World's 50 Best elected Baba aum Rum as the 20th best bar in the world; that, and a world-class collection of spirits based on local herbs and fruit, including some that Baba has grown.

It's high-volume, high vibes at Baba au Rum. Low, red mood lighting traces the molding of a lofty ceiling while targeted gallery tracks over the bar give each cocktail an aura of Renaissance paintings. All the while, the artists behind works like the Pearl Fishers (Amaro, spices, cherry blossom) and Baba's Signature (oak, basil, and vanilla botanicals with Barcelo Imperial from the Dominican Republic) smile from the shadows.


During our visit to Athens, the theme that was most prominent was the intense diversity of the city's dining scene. Traditional Greek food is enshrined in the culture, but a multitude of international cuisine blooms right alongside it. Many places have grown as cross-pollinated hybrids of that environment.

Japanese and Greek food have strong grilling traditions; souvlaki is Mediterranean, while yakitori is a full category of Japanese dishes. Both have distinct and valuable nuances, and Birdman brings them together as table mates. It's an example of dining's most important purpose — showing that what we have in common is far greater than any differences.

Along with perfectly blackened yaki hits listed by a selection of chicken, meat, seafood, or vegetarian options, the open-flame kitchen at Birdman births spectacular katsu sandos and tender beef nagiri. The grilled goods come served with unique pairings of salty, acidic, and sometimes citrine sauces. During our meal, we opted for luxurious seared guinea fowl alongside the best iteration of scorched broccoli we've ever touched. Though it's considered a commuter pub, no eatery makes you want to sit still as Birdman does.

Holy Llama

A walk into Holy Llama can be disorienting. The warm invitation of baristas treating you like a friend (even if it's your first time in), means you're certainly in Greece. Yet the juxtaposition of design elements — a bright glass-covered patio, airy ceiling, lush green accents, abundant plant life, and bamboo-toned wood — make the café look as if pulled from the dreams of an LA design firm.

So too does the stunning bakery case filled with unique treats made in modern Viennoiserie style. They're sometimes gluten-free, regularly sans sugar, often filled with unique flavors, and always incredible. The tagline at Holy Llama is creative baking. Sensory combinations like chocolate, hibiscus-pear, and Tonka-spiced croissants back the claim. Pair with a superfood latte and you're in line for a meeting with the divine.

Opos Palia

When you are traveling, it's easy to write off monument-adjacent restaurants as tourist traps. There's nothing inherently wrong with this discernment; it's regularly true. Proximity to attractions often means a greater volume of guests, leading to higher prices and lower quality of service. Fortunately, many of the eateries surrounding the Acropolis and its museum buck this trend, offering affordable food and an exceptional experience. Opos Palia is one.

The restaurant itself is sort of small, and it's more likely you'll be eating at a sidewalk table than inside. That's fine — this is one place where you're definitively coming for high-caliber, traditional Greek food rather than a specific ambiance. Order a big block of sizzling, squeaky saganki cheese, the best-sautéed mushrooms on the block, and watch the people pass.

To Kati Allo

To Kati Allo is another restaurant that sits in close vicinity to the Acropolis and does so without sacrificing an authentic soul. The eatery is a traditional Greek taverna — maybe even more traditional than most, since it's only one step away from a serve-yourself buffet. A large batch of dishes is made at the start of the day, placed on a service line, and offered to you across the counter.

When dining at To Kati Allo, we went for some traditional stuffed peppers, a plate of veal and potatoes, and a half-liter of unidentified red wine poured from a box that we're certain has seen more than just a single use. But that's the charm of this place. It's no-frills, honest food at an exceptional price.

The Clumsies

If there's one thing the top craft cocktail bars of Athens have in common, it's character. The Clumsies has it in spades, from the multi-leveled seating arrangement that screams modern to the dark wooden bar that looks like it's been pulled from a past age. Another of the World's 50 Best bars (No. 19), the project was sparked after the chance meeting of two Greek World Class Cocktail Competition winners, Vassilis Kyritsis and Nikos Bakoulis. The joint approach morphs the work of bartending into the art of hosting, and you feel the hospitality as soon as you sit.

You also feel the buzz. Heavy hitters like The Dark Side of the Moon blend diverse, complex profiles that you want to keep drinking; think smokey Johnny Walker Black with pear, strawberry, capers, rose geranium, and lemon. Overall, The Clumsies might be one big meta-joke on foreshadowing. The smiley logo predicts how you'll look after your first taste, and the name suggests how you'll move on the way out.


In business since 2016, the execution of high-end comfort food has landed Nolan a spot on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list. Like Birdman, Nolan is another bistro offering a taste of Asian influences in Athens. Yet, this spot is decidedly broader in scope and with a much deeper focus on the beauty of making whatever tastes good.

For example, you may walk into Nolan and decide that bean noodles paired with the briny Mediterranean taste of octopus and olives sound like the way to go, while your dining partner opts for their Greek infusion to come from lamb paired with the quintessential Japanese cozy-food dish, donburi. Or, you might both decide to go back for a second visit in as many days because the panko-crusted NFC (Nolan Fried Chicken) is calling you, and last time you made the mistake of splitting it instead of ordering your own. Just know, we've been there.

Little Tree Books and Coffee

Tucked into a neat intersection is a beautiful all-day café and bookstore combo that's perfect for sipping morning coffee, a post-lunch digestif, or a pre-dinner aperitif. It's called Little Tree Books and Coffee, and it's the type of place that anyone would love to have in their neighborhood; a hybrid café and bookstore that offers peaceful vibes and thought-provoking titles.

Little Tree is a quiet place with moderate outdoor seating covered by trees and umbrellas, and seats inside. It's great for light lunches and a glass of wine, close enough to escape the business of Athen's main attraction without actually going too far. If the weather blows cold, we recommend a hot lemonade or a large pot of mountain tea.

Cedro Negro 1985

Another pick for Michelin Bib Gourmand, Cedro Negro 1985 is a must-visit when touring Athens, especially if gustation menus are your preferred way to dine (though it offers al la carte, as well). Not normally our chosen style of eating, we decided to step out of the box and found that the warm feel and freedom of the small taverna's patio dispels any air of hubris, while the wood-fired cooking burns off any essence of pretension. A meal at Cedro Negro 1985 is like fine dining that your closest, warmest friends are cooking.

Between the music, service, and quality of the meal, (or was it the Cedro Negroni?) our first three courses brought us to laughing tears. A merging of Mediterranean characteristics that span Greek and Spanish cuisine is the anchor point for the restaurant's spirit. Even after a two-hour meal, you'll find yourself hoping there's more to come.

Ama Lachei

Ama Lachei is a case study in modern takes on typical Greek meze. It makes sense since the small plate spot has given new life to the old bones of a former primary school. The restaurant is located in the Exarchia neighborhood, one of the more trenchant areas of Athens, which seems to put the tavern's flush natural light, vibrant patio, and eclectic chair collection in contrast with the graffitied streets just outside. But the playful art style of the menu, guiding you toward future bites, teases Ama Lachei's alignment with the soul of the area.

And the food aligns it with the rest of the country. A dedicated cheese menu provides samplings from across several Greek islands; a creamy goat-sheep blend from Ioannina called galotiri grabs your tastebuds, as does the graviera from Crete. You'll want to swim towards the shortfin squid and bury your face in mushroom souvlaki.

Takis Bakery

Takis Bakery is the place if you've got a big day of site-seeing ahead and you need a quick breakfast that can be consumed on the go. Just make sure you've left some time for your visit since on the several occasions we stopped there was always a small queue. But if you think along the same lines as us, a string of locals interspersed with tourists is a good sign.

Definitely more traditional than places like Holy Llama (this is a third-generation establishment), Takis Bakery keeps it fresh by providing a slightly changing repertoire of goods, depending on the day. We opted for a mushroom quiche that was dense enough to eat while walking, cheese-baked bread, and a sack full of kourambiethes (Greek almond cookies traditionally made during the holidays).

Zisis Fish in a Cone

Stay in Athens long enough, and you'll start to see that access to street foods is more than just a convenience, it's a necessity. There's a lot to see, and a lot of people trying to see it all. This doesn't make it easy to sit down for a meal every time you want. Fortunately, no place makes it as simple to feed yourself as Zisis Fish in a Cone.

Zisis does have a full menu, and a place to park it, but the eatery is best known for its quick service, and signature fish in a cone. You can order up sardines or anchovies, shrimp, calamari, cod, or french fries. The counter workers will measure your choice by a scoop and weight, then fry it up and serve it to you in a paper cone with a slice of lemon.


Throw a stone in Athens, and chances are it will hit a shop that serves the Greek's most famous wrap. And sure, the truth behind the gyro is that it's a food with a complicated, traveled history, but its association with Greek cuisine is a fact at this point. Hoocut might not be the most long-standing gyro stand, but it is dedicated to carrying the legacy of the dish with honor.

There are two different types of pita sandwiches you can have a Hoocut — the special Skepasti dressed with custom sauces and two pittas, or the more traditional "True Pitta," made from your choice of animal protein or vegetarian dolma and topped with tzatziki, tomato, cabbage, lettuce, and onions. Simple cooking techniques applied to a simple food mark the simple pleasure of eating at Hoocut.

Ta Kavapia

Gyro is one of the more common image that appears when conjuring an idea of Greek food, but the seaside city has a lot on offer in terms of fish, mollusks, various types of shrimp, and other ocean-born foods. Head towards the salty breeze and you're sure to find tavernas specializing in the abundance of Poseidon's realm, but one of our favorite eateries is actually right outside a waterfront view.

We can all agree that it's nice to have a beach panorama when eating seafood. We can also probably agree that those sorts of vistas normally come with an added cost. If you're willing to spring, by all means, do. But if you're looking for the freshest options at a reasonable cost, head a few streets back to Ta Kavapia. The restaurant has a small menu and is only open for dinner, but as an eatery that's been around since 1950, it has connections that ensure the freshest locally-caught seafood. The gilthead seabream is worth the trip, but the crisp-skinned red porgy will make you want to return.


The overall footprint of Athens can be delicately described as sprawling. If you're interested in seeing just how far the city goes, or you happen to have picked lodging north of the city center, we recommend a trip to Mezedopolio. It represents a long-standing example of traditional Greek food done well every night, but Sunday sees the addition of live music along with your meal.

Mezedopolio has a wide-ranging menu that requires some investment to shift through, so don't feel rushed if the waiters come to visit you several times before you've actually figured out what to order. Know that all meat from the grill section comes from Greece and that ordering a slew of appetizers is common. The more you get to taste, the more you'll start to wonder if someone's actual grandma is adding a home-cooked feel to the dishes that are flowing from the kitchen.

O Kostas Souvalaki

Hoocut, which specializes in a simple but modern take on classic Greek cooking, wouldn't be what it is without a place like O Kostas. The souvlaki grill has a host of family secrets passed down through the generations which culminate in 65 years of incredible pitta-wrapped delicacies. The menu offerings are sparse because Kostas specializes in one primary thing — exceptional souvlaki.

Here, we're talking un-oiled but perfectly warmed pita cradling lightly-charred, thin-sliced, fresh-tasting pork souvlaki. Kostas skips the contentious inclusion of french fries, and it's better for it. Instead, the meat is topped with a sprinkle of finely minced onions and a strained Greek yogurt which is tangy, balancing, and accentuated by chopped herbs. It's a snack to eat on the move, but we don't recommend going too far, since you'll want to turn right back for seconds as soon as you finish your first. We also suggest getting there before 3 p.m. or risk visiting a restaurant that's sold out for the day.