Many of the best local dishes from Athens contain healthy doses of olive oil with creamy feta cheese and a variety of herbs and spices. You’ll see these ingredients served with salads, meat dishes and vegetarian staples. It doesn’t stop there. You’ll have so much more to try in the Greek capital.

    Whether you want a simple fried cheese appetiser, some of Europe’s best seafood or a spit-roasted and charcoal-grilled meaty treat, you’ll find a dish from Athens that hits the spot. Read on to learn more about the must-try dishes and famous food locals love to eat in the Greek capital.



    A simple Greek starter for cheese lovers

    Saganaki is a simple cheese dish that’s enjoyed as an appetiser in Greece. To prepare saganaki, you simply wrap a cheese such as kasseri or gruyère in flour and fry it for 10 minutes. The special technique produces melted cheese with a crunchy crust that goes great with salad and a slice of lemon.

    While you can make saganaki at home with ease, we highly recommend trying this Greek favourite at a restaurant in Athens like Ydria Café, which is a top-rated restaurant in the capital, minutes away from the Roman Agora.



    The Greek version of the Mediterranean favourite

    In Greece, moussaka usually consists of layered minced lamb, sautéed aubergine and fried pureed tomato with garlic, onions and spices. It’s then topped with a healthy dose of cheese and béchamel sauce. In some restaurants, this dish is suffused with nutmeg and cinnamon to give it a sweet touch.

    If you want to try Greek moussaka at a local hot spot in Athens, we recommend Maiandros, a restaurant that’s a short walk from the Roman Agora. For a slightly more formal dinner, try a diner such as Lithos Tavern or Arcadia Restaurant.



    Vine leaf parcels of meat, rice and herbs

    Dolmades come in a variety of forms, differing from one Greek household or restaurant to another. They usually take the form of stuffed vine leaf parcels, but you can also find stuffed hollowed-out vegetables like courgettes, tomatoes or peppers. The stuffing consists of minced meat and rice, though you can swap the meat out for herbs like oregano, dill and thyme.

    You’ll find dolmades on the menu of just about any Greek restaurant in Athens. Some of our favourite diners in the Greek capital include Karamanlidika, Kuzina and Arcadia Restaurant, which are all within minutes of central landmarks like the Acropolis of Athens and the Roman Agora.



    A fast-food favourite in Athens

    Souvlaki is just one of many delicious Greek spit-roasted and charcoal-grilled meat dishes. It’s made with chunks of skewered pork served with pitta bread or gyros filled with onions and chopped tomatoes. In some taverns in Athens, you’ll find the pork replaced with goat or lamb… or a combination.

    As a fast-food favourite, souvlaki can be found at takeaways and classy diners alike in the Greek capital. You can eat like a local by ordering souvlaki at a popular street stall such as Street Souvlaki. If you’d prefer to sit down, we recommend a diner, like Oroscopo Restaurant or Souvlaki Athinaiko.



    A sweet and crunchy Greek dessert

    The Greek dessert of Baklava will satisfy your sweet tooth after dinner. Baklava is made of layers of ground nuts and honey wrapped in flaky filo pastry. There’s also a similar dessert called galatoboureko that’s filled with custard.

    In Athens, you’ll find baklava in just about all dessert shops and patisseries. Top-rated options include Zoubourlou, Nancy’s Sweet Home and Krinos. If you fancy a late-night sweet treat, head to a restaurant such as Deliolanis Antonios, which stays open 24 hours a day.



    A starter of courgette ball fritters

    Kolokythokeftedes are lightly fried fritters that are made from puréed or grated courgettes, with mint, dill and a variety of other spices depending on where you eat. They usually contain feta cheese, giving them a slightly creamy inside, and they taste great with tzatziki dip.

    Kolokythokeftedes is a popular starter and mezze dish in Athens, and it’s suitable for vegetarians. If you want to eat this delicious dish at its best, try a restaurant such as Zampano, Kallipateira or Oroscopo Restaurant.


    Choriatiki (Greek salad)

    A popular salad with feta cheese, olives and olive oil

    Salads are especially popular in Greece, with many locals eating a portion with every meal. One of the tastiest salads in Athens is the choriatiki, which is made of tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, onion and 3 of Greece’s favourite ingredients: feta cheese, olives and a healthy dose of olive oil.

    In Athens, you’ll struggle to find a restaurant or café that doesn’t serve various versions of the Greek salad. Some of the top-rated diners for choriatiki include Maiandros Restaurant, Ella Greek Cooking and Karamanlidika, which are all located near the city centre.



    A sweet or savoury pastry breakfast treat

    Bougatsa is a delicious treat that comes in 2 forms. The sweet version is a creamy, custard-filled filo pastry pie topped with a sprinkling of flour. The savoury twist swaps out some fillings and adds minced meat and cheese to the mix. Either one makes for a tasty breakfast when served with coffee.

    While you’ll find bougatsa in most Greek restaurants, we recommend purchasing freshly baked delights from a pie shop or patisserie. Krinos is a dessert shop that’s been treating locals and visitors to tasty bougatsa since 1923. Other cental shops include Bougatsadiko Psirri, Bougatsa Savas and Mám.


    Garides saganaki (Greek shrimp saganaki)

    A typical mezze dish of shrimp, salad and cheese

    Garides saganaki (Greek shrimp saganaki) consists of sautéed shrimps that are deglazed with ouzo before being drenched in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese. For an extra touch of Greece, you can also add olive oil to the mix. This dish is most commonly enjoyed as a starter or mezze dish and served with pita triangles or bread.

    Saganaki, which is cheese fried through a special technique, is a menu highlight in many restaurants throughout Athens. For a traditional dining experience, we recommend grabbing a table at Tavern Klimataria, which has been rustling up tasty Greek favourites since 1927.



    A spinach pie with cheeses and herbs

    Spanakopita is a spinach-filled filo pastry pie that’s packed full of vitamins and flavour. It’s similar in style and taste to a spinach pie, with additional fillings that include spring onions, eggs and herbs. Plus, in true Greek style, this pie contains a healthy serving of olive oil and a variety of cheeses.

    You’ll find spanakopita in just about every food outlet in Athens, from classy diners with terraces to takeaways and all-day patisseries. If you fancy a sit-down affair, visit a restaurant like Zampano or Karamanlidika.

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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