Athens Food Walk (Self Guided), Athens

The traditional Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, and prices in all but the flashiest establishments afford excellent value. The prevalence of vegetable and dairy dishes makes eating out a delight for non-meat eaters. Carefully selected appetizers (tzatzíki, dolmádes, kalamarákia) can constitute a full meal. Greece’s most famous slow-cooked oven dish, however, is probably moussakás – successive layers of sliced potatoes, eggplant and minced beef/lamb topped with a generous layer of béchamel sauce and seasoned with nutmeg. Follow this self-guided walk to find some of the best, time-tested eateries in Athens offering something for everyone's tastes and pockets.
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Athens Food Walk Map

Guide Name: Athens Food Walk
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Athens Central Market (Varvakeios, or Dimotiki Agora)
  • Evripidou Street Market
  • Psirri / Agion Anargyron street
  • Monastiraki Square Area
  • Adrianou Street
  • Anafiotika
  • Kydathineon Street
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Athens Central Market (Varvakeios, or Dimotiki Agora)

1) Athens Central Market (Varvakeios, or Dimotiki Agora)

If you want a break from touring the historic sites of Athens or simply need to save money on food, or wish to see how Athens is fed, consider visiting the city's busy Central Market. Full of exotic sights, smells and colors, it is simply ideal for the “life as it is” photography. Halls of meat, fish, fruits and veggies, spices and herbs, as well as cheeses and sweets from all over Greece are here to be found. If you're not faint-hearted, you may even watch the butchers at work.

Varvakeios is undoubtedly one the best places in town for authentic Greek lunches, local food specialties, and edible souvenirs such as fresh olives (many olive vendors here have vacuum-seal equipment, so you can easily take your purchase back home), feta cheeses (made from sheep's, goat's, or cow's milk, varying in texture from the young cottage-cheese-like to the aged hard, granular kind, and ultimately, kefalotyri – hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese), and herbs.

Finally, you may treat yourself to a freshly-cooked meal at one of the first-come, first-served grill areas (try the grilled calamari!), or seek these two spots in particular:

– EPIRUS TAVERN ("Oinomageireio H Epirus"; Filopimenos 4; Mon-Sat: 6am–8:30pm)
Pleasant casual/retro feel; very welcoming staff/owners; typical grandma's recipes, very well cooked; and enormous portions. If on a little adventurous mood, try the tripe soup or the goat soup; if you feel less adventurous, stick with the chicken soup or the vegan options.

– KRINOS ("Κρίνος"; Aiolou 87; Mon, Wed, Sat: 8am–5pm; Tue, Thu-Fri: 8am–8:30pm)
Great place to pop by for a snack of the delicious “loukoumades”, or Greek deep-fried doughnuts, deep-fried to a golden crispy brown, then drizzled with honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. A plate of 6 costs €3.5. To give the extra kick, ask for a serving of soft ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate, or mix)!

Tip:
Although Varvakeios operates from early morning until late in the afternoon (Mon-Sat), it is still best to do your shopping here first prior to setting out to dine at EPIRUS or KRINOS, as many of the market stalls and nearby shops wrap up for the day at about 3pm.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 7am-3pm (late: 6pm)
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Evripidou Street Market

2) Evripidou Street Market

As you depart from Central Market, you may pick up the exotic, rich scents wafting from the nearby Evripidou street which will take you to yet another colorful location on the food map of Athens, the Evripidou Street Market. This street itself is split into sections, each with its own specialty: fresh fruits and veggies; dried fruits and nuts; dairy products (Greek yogurt and feta cheese); and spices and herbs. There is no shortage of what you can find here, really!

One of the shops particularly worth checking out in Evripidou is ELIXIR (Mon-Sat: 7am–5pm), where, apart from other quality herbs and spices, you will find spatholado – a "miraculous" oil of deep red color, known from ancient times to be used by soldiers to heal their wounds.

Sitting next door at No. 41 is the historical Armenian butchery, ARAPIAN, selling marvelous sausages, pastourma and soutzouki, along with other meats.

In continuation of the meat theme, there is another shop further next door, also owned by Greek Armenians, called MIRAN (Evripidou 45, Mon-Sat: 8am–8pm). A true heaven for cold cut lovers, this place has been curing meats and cheeses since 1922, producing around 30 types of salami, pastourma, soutzouki (their specialty!) and other treats. They also have a great range of loose spices and cheeses. A seated tasting area allows you to sample their products and, if needed, they will vacuum-pack for travel takeaway.
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Psirri / Agion Anargyron street

3) Psirri / Agion Anargyron street

Psirri is a happening arty and bohemian neighborhood nestled between Athinas shopping area, Monastiraki and Agion Asomaton (Thissio) squares. Once working-class-industrial district turned scaled-down version of NYC Soho mixed up with the East Village, today's Psirri is an entertainment mecca renowned for its cool, relaxed vibe, but just as importantly for its vibrant food scene manifested in the myriad of small newly-opened cafes coexisting harmoniously with the unpretentious 50-year-old taverns, ouzerie-mezedopouleon-style eateries (the Greek version of tapas bars, reminiscent of a luncheonette from a 1960s movie) tucked away in the winding streets and smaller alleyways. Situated right next to the picturesque yet overwhelmingly touristy Plaka district, Psirri charges just a fraction of its prices, for which it is much loved by the local students and other hip, young and restless flocking here in droves for cheap nights out. Overall, the area resembles a theatrical show, where each person is an actor, seemingly casual while fully, if not say – happily, dedicated to their part. To share the mood of the crowd and to follow their rhythm, it is best to park yourself at one of the tables and chairs outside the many bars and coffee shops and enjoy some of their freshly made delights, heavenly delicious, served in killer portions.

Heading towards Plateia Iroon via Agion Anargyron street, we pass through a somewhat tranquil zone replete with small cafes, all with free Wi-Fi, ideal for a quiet breakfast or just sitting out reading news or checking e-mails. The farther we go up the street, the closer we get to the main drag and the louder and higher-key it becomes.

Down the road, opposite the church, we find NIKITAS (Sun-Wed: 12pm–7pm; Fri, Sat: 12pm–12am), a typical Greek place with several traditional dishes of the day readily available (e.g. biftekia, eggplant in tomato sauce), friendly ambiance, and affordable prices – one of the last remaining establishments of this kind in Psirri.

At the very end of Agion Anargyron, we bump into another popular location – PAME PSIRRI restaurant – renowned for its live laika and rembetika shows, as well as good food in good portions (especially the meat variety).
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Monastiraki Square Area

4) Monastiraki Square Area

A meeting point for locals and tourists alike, Monastiraki square deserves to be visited, if only for a few minutes, to soak up the lively and often festive atmosphere, that is as Greek as it possibly gets, and perhaps try some of the local street snacks, like “koulouri” (a bagel-like roll sprinkled with sesame seeds). The adjacent flea market offers a choice of goods that may rival the Grand Bazaar of Constantinople itself, while the neighboring streets host a cluster of shops, taverns, bistros and coffee/tea houses luring visitors with a chance of a pleasant break.

The alley named Mitropoleos (to the east of the metro station) is lined with lively restaurants packed with local Athenians and serving good inexpensive food.

At the entrance to Mitropoleos Square, is the famous kebab joint SAVVAS (9am–4am), specializing in gyros, kebab, lahmacun, and pastrami appetizers. Dishes are huge and a great value for money; plus, you get a very nice view of the Acropolis from the rooftop terrace.

CAFE AVISSINIA (Tue-Sun: 11am–1am), located in the eponymous Avissinia Square, is the only establishment around Monastiraki where antiques are not for sale but form part of the interior. More than just an eatery or a watering hole, this tavern is a manifestation of Greek philosophy and culture. Opened back in 1986 as a small tea house, today Avissinia is a classic haunt offering a choice of Greek delicacies, moussaka, grilled calamari, baked sardines, and most notably, live music to delight the multiple clientele! There are three seating areas one of which has a fabulous view of the Acropolis.
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Adrianou Street

5) Adrianou Street

Just a short stroll from Avissinia cafe is Adrianou street, the bustling thoroughfare of Plaka neighborhood. Although heavily commercialized these days, the street does retain the feel of old Athens all the same. In fact, there are two parts of Adrianou quite different from one another: the upper part – Adrianou Ano Plaka – stretches right in front of the Agora (Acropolis) complex; and the lower – Kato Plaka – lies between Syntagma and Monastiraki. The former section is densely packed with sidewalk cafes, taverns and restaurants offering visitors, apart from decent food and coffee, an excellent view over the Acropolis plus a vantage point for crowd watching and, of course, some gossiping too (just as the Athenians do – espresso in one hand, pastry/cigarette in the other). In addition to the magnificent (especially at night) views of the ancient ruins and the ever-present cool breeze, this place will greet you with a friendly service while you enjoy your refreshment and light meal.

Don't miss the cozy, very well located 33 ALL DAY restaurant/bar, where you can have some of the best pizza in Athens, coupled with a large variety of Greek, Belgian, and German beers. Wide menu otherwise, with good-sized portions, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of food (traditional Greek but with a modern/special twist), the presentation and the service.
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Anafiotika

6) Anafiotika

The tiny scenic district Anafiotika, part of the historic Plaka neighborhood, lies at the foot of the Acropolis hill, seemingly time-forgotten in the shadow of Greece's most glorious landmark. Poetically referred to as a “breeze of the Aegean” in the heart of Athens, it is perhaps Athens’ loveliest and quirkiest neighborhood. It was built in the 19th century by tradesmen from the island of Anafi who re-created a pocket of home here in a maze of tiny passageways with blue-and-white houses and banks of bougainvillea – all island-style.

– Plaka Steps / Anafiotika Cafe-Restaurant
Recently renovated, the area abounds in small cafes, bars and restaurants scattered on the slopes of the Acropolis within Mnisikleous pedestrian street and nearby. Because of the hilly landscape, this pedestrian street is made in the form of steps lined up with cafes on both sides, with seating arranged creatively (and often compactly, too) along the steps. All this lively commotion resounding with music and happy voices of the folk passing by, eating, lounging around or chatting over a drink contributes to a very unique dining atmosphere observed from the early lunch on through the evening.

If you're looking for a nice place to have dinner and some drinks, the Anafiotika Cafe-Restaurant – located on the narrow Plaka Steps – has a large patio area as well as a rooftop terrace to catch the sunset.
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Kydathineon Street

7) Kydathineon Street

One of the two main streets of the popular Plaka neighborhood, Kydathineon is a home to the Folk-Art Museum and the Hellenic Children's Museum, as well as gift shops, street musicians and a plethora of restaurants and cafes, particularly around the small square known as Platia Filomenon Eterias (more commonly known as Platia). In fact, all the cafes around the square are pretty good and nice to pass some time at any time of day and any season of the year.

As far as serious eating goes, the BYZANTINO (8am–11pm) is one of the firm favorites among the locals. Although hardly distinguishable, on the outside, from other tourist-infested outlets, this restaurant does offer some truly delicious and reasonably priced Greek food complete with Greek wine, Greek music, and friendly and gracious service, attesting to which is the steady inflow of Greeks coming here regularly.

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