Explore Athens: Local Dishes, Famous Restaurants, and Recipes

Explore Athens: Local Dishes, Famous Restaurants, and Recipes


Discovering Athens through Local Cuisine

Traveling to Athens offers not just a plunge into history and culture but also an extraordinary culinary journey. From traditional Greek dishes to modern twists on classic flavors, the capital of Greece is a food lover's paradise. This guide will take you through local dishes, famous restaurants, and even provide some recipes for you to try at home.

Must-Try Local Dishes

Greek cuisine is known for its flavorsome and healthful ingredients. Here are some must-try local dishes in Athens:

  • Moussaka: A baked dish made of layered eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce.
  • Souvlaki: Skewers of meat, usually pork or chicken, grilled to perfection.
  • Tzatziki: A refreshing dip made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Spanakopita: A savory pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese, and herbs.
  • Pastitsio: Similar to lasagna, this dish has layers of pasta, meat sauce, and béchamel sauce.

Famous Restaurants in Athens

Athens boasts numerous restaurants offering everything from street food to fine dining experiences. Below are some renowned eateries you don't want to miss:

  • Spondi: An award-winning restaurant known for its modern takes on traditional Greek flavors. 5 Pyrronos, Athens, Greece
  • Varoulko Seaside: Offering delectable seafood dishes with stunning views of Mikrolimano harbor. 138 Akti Koumoundourou, Piraeus, Greece
  • Kuzina: A contemporary bistro combining Mediterranean cuisine with a cozy atmosphere. Adrianou 9, Athens, Greece
  • Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani: A deli-restaurant famous for its appetizers and cured meats. 1 Sokratous, Athens, Greece
  • Oineas: Offering a blend of Greek and Mediterranean dishes in a charming setting. Aisopou 9, Athens, Greece

Authentic Greek Recipes to Try at Home

If you can't make it to Athens anytime soon, why not bring a taste of it to your kitchen? Here are some authentic Greek recipes:


  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup béchamel sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large skillet, cook the ground lamb or beef, onion, and garlic until browned.
  3. Add tomatoes, wine, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Layer eggplant slices and meat sauce in a baking dish, finishing with a layer of béchamel sauce on top.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Serve hot.


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and dill.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. Enjoy as a dip with bread or alongside grilled meats.

Strolling Through Local Markets

No culinary trip to Athens is complete without exploring its vibrant local markets. These spots not only offer fresh ingredients but also a peek into daily Athenian life. Visit the following markets to get the freshest produce and local specialties:

  • Varvakios Agora (Central Municipal Athens Market): Famous for its variety of meats, seafood, and spices.
  • Monastiraki Flea Market: Not just for antiques, this market also offers a selection of street food and local products.
  • Laiki Agora (Local Farmers Markets): Various locations around the city offering fresh fruits, vegetables, and local dairy products.

Pairing Meals and Drinks

Greek cuisine pairs wonderfully with a range of beverages. For a truly authentic experience, consider these traditional Greek drinks:

  • Ouzo: A popular anise-flavored spirit, often served as an aperitif with meze.
  • Retsina: A unique white wine infused with pine resin, traditionally served with seafood.
  • Masticha: A liqueur flavored with mastic, typically enjoyed as a digestif.
  • Greek Coffee: Strong and unfiltered, this is a staple at any Greek café.

Each of these drinks has its own history and cultural significance, adding another layer to your culinary adventure in Athens.