Athens restaurants

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To Steki tou Ilia

Price guide: Budget
expert-rated restaurants in Athens
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

The quintessential taverna on a peaceful pedestrian street near the Parthenon.

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Athens is an expensive city, but follow the locals to their neighbourhood taverna or favourite souvlaki joint and you can still find authentic Greek food at reasonable prices. With a new wave of chefs focussing on seasonal and regional ingredients, coupled with a new breed of wine-makers, eating out in Athens is no longer the tired cliché of microwaved moussaka and greasy chicken and chips.

For a real taste of Athens, forget dinner at eight. Locals eat late. And dispense with formalities like starters, mains and desserts. Locals order as many dishes as they can squeeze onto the table and share everything. And don’t bother protesting about the smoking ban. Chain-smoking locals puff away between mouthfuls.

For good value and real Greek food, you can’t beat the no-frills taverna. The best tavernas are in residential neighbourhoods like Pangrati, Petralona or Exarchia. Seafood is abundant and delicious – but expensive. If you stray away from the fancy waterfront tavernas (and tourist traps) in Mikrolimano, Glyfada, and Vouliagmeni, you can still find the freshest fish at affordable prices.

Most Greeks are mean tippers, but do the decent thing and tip at least 10 per cent.

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Greek food is still your best bet in Athens, a city that has been slow to catch on to global gastronomy – although the influx of immigrants in the last decade is slowly changing that. Given that most Greek restaurants abroad have given the country's cuisine a bad name, I have selected some local restaurants that will, hopefully, change your mind. I've focussed mainly on places where locals go. So you won't find many restaurants on my list in Plaka – strictly for tourists, as any Athenian will tell you.