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Eat for a treat – 10 restaurants to try in Athens

Greeks have always held dear their love for traditional food. And why not? But times move on and Athens is cooking up something special. Here is our selection of 10 of the best, a mix of new openings and old-time classics.

Athens’ culinary scene is going from strength-to-strength. Timeless restaurants across Athens continue to carry the torch for traditional food – served the way it always has been, in storied and historic tavernas. But in recent years, younger generations have brought new ideas to the table and put their twists on classic Greek dishes. Throw into the pot the recent upsurge in authentic foreign cuisine and fusion restaurants, and you’ll soon see why Athens hotter than ever. Here are 10 special places, a mix of the traditional and the modern.

Photo: Jerome Galland

Dining, architecture and the arts, all under one roof

Delta offers impressive views out over Faliro Bay from within this Renzo Piano-designed architectural masterpiece. If the seriously high-end food alone isn’t enough of a spectacle, you can head downstairs to catch a show at the Greek National Opera or one of the many free events that take place outside in the idyllic garden throughout the summer.

Delta

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, 5th floor, Greek National Opera building, 364 Leof. Andrea Siggrou, Kallithea, Athens

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Photo: Annie Fine Cooking

Coming home for creative cuisine

A new arrival in the up-and-coming foodie neighborhood of Neos Kosmos, Annie Fine Cooking serves up Michelin-standard cuisine in a homely, down-to-earth setting. The emphasis here is on local cuisine, small producers and an ever-changing, seasonal selection of dishes. While you can never be certain of what’s on the menu on any given day, you can be assured you’ll find creative combinations of flavors, ingenious touches and a forward-thinking approach to highlighting the best of Greek cuisine.

Annie Fine Cooking

4 Menaichmou, Neos Kosmos, Athens

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Photo: Aleria

Exquisite Greek wine pairings make for a perfect experience

The setting alone would be enough to make a visit to Aleria essential. Housed in a lovingly restored mid-19th century neoclassical townhouse, summer evening dinners in the courtyard are something special, indeed. But no effort has been spared on the food, either, with a choice of two inventive and surprising set menus – Garden & Nature and Earth & Sea. Asking for pairings with Greek wines should be an essential part of your experience.

Aleria

Meg. Alexandrou 57, Athens

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Hard to find, easy to love

Negotiate the trapdoor beneath a ramshackle building opposite the vegetable market and you’ll find Dimitris, the white-haired master of ceremonies holding court from a tiny open kitchen. With no menu, you take whatever worker’s fare has been prepared each day. A typical spread could be freshly caught fish of the day, chickpeas, potatoes with courgette and crusty bread, washed down with white Moschofilero wine, poured from the enormous wooden barrels stacked along one side of the cellar. Lunch only.

Diporto

9 Sokratous, Omonoia, Athens

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Photo: Angelos Giotopoulos

Grab yourself a taste of the east

The Feyrouz family trace their ancestry back though Lebanon, Cyprus, Istanbul and Antioch, an ancient Greek city that lies near what is currently Antakya, Turkey. Today, they feed hungry passers-by with flavors from across the Mediterranean — a timely reminder that people have never stopped moving around this region and have always taken their foods, flavors and folk music with them. Do not miss their Bosporus rice with spicy chicken, chicken and chickpeas.

Feyrouz

Karori 23 & Aiolou, Monastiraki, Athens

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New school Greek cuisine

The brainchild of head chefs Fotis Fotinoglou and Thodoris Kassavetis, Fita is all about simplicity, freshness and flavor. Each day starts with a trip to the market to pick up the best seasonal offerings from small farms and producers. Back in the kitchen, the menu takes a new shape each day, according to where the produce takes them. The honest food speaks for itself – Greek staples such as vlita or grilled sardines, served up without pretension but with impressive attention to detail, innovative flourishes and unexpected combinations.

Fita

1 Ntourm, Neos Kosmos, Athens

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A fun-filled fusion of flavors and cultures

You may not expect Greek and Japanese food to go together – but they do deliciously, at Nolan. Created by Greek-Japanese chef Sotiris Kontizas, this is fusion cuisine at its very finest. The inventive dishes also come with a humorous twist – the signature Barracuda for Babies, is a succulent parody on the Japanese penchant for filleting, for example. Always willing to experiment with new ideas, Kontizas recently opened Sweet Nolan, an emporium of sugary delights, just down the street.

Nolan

31-33 Voulis, Syntagma, Athens

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Photo: Athénée

Dining with a dash of deco on the side

One of the most impressive interiors in all of Athens. Most Athenians will know it by its former name, Zonars, and this splendid Art Deco building has stood here since the 1930s. It recently underwent a stunning refurbishment to return it to its former glory. Under a new identity, Athénée, it offers high-end takes on classic Greek dishes, sushi and an in-house bakery, providing pastries and desserts to accompany afternoon tea. Take one sip of your tea and you’ll be transported back in time!

Athénée

9 Voukourestiou, Syntagma, Athens

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Photo: Tuk Tuk Thai Street Food

A thrilling ride through authentic Thai flavors

Of all of Athens’ foreign cuisine offerings, the most fun-filled is a dinner at Tuk Tuk. Wedged into tiny premises in Koukaki, it authentically captures the essence of the Bangkok dining experience it seeks to emulate, in terms of vibe, décor and the stellar menu. The interior is overflowing with unusual, charming Thai keepsakes, good-luck charms, and other odd pieces of memorabilia. Opt for the exquisite Tom Kha Gai soup to get your palate excited, then explore the rest of the menu. Get there early, Tuk Tuk fills up fast and there are no reservations.

Tuk Tuk Thai Street Food

40 Veikou, Koukaki, Athens

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Small plates big flavors

Possibly the best budget eatery in all of Athens. Strewn up and down the stairway next to an ancient Roman water cistern and open-air cinema nearby, Dexameni is the ultimate in no-frills, outdoor dining. A cafe and meze or small plates restaurant, its highlights include the marinated octopus salad and grilled halloumi with fig marmalade and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy with ouzo or the light house white wine.

Dexameni

Dexamenis Square, Kolonaki, Athens

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