Right in the middle of town, head chef-owner Sotiris Kontizas's highly original, minimal chic neo-bistro has been one of the city’s 'it' restaurants since it opened in 2017. Prices are decent and the clever Asian-Greek small plates are unfussy, filling and seriously yummy. Think, 'burned cabbage with Naxos cheese', donburi with minced lamb or the straightforwardly ace Nolan cod burger.
The most buzzed-about restaurant in town is not unworthy of the hype: the dining room is beautiful but informal, service is approachable and the food – oh, the food. Assembled by five of the city’s top chefs, the self-styled 'wise cuisine' menu takes its sourcing super-seriously and does classic Greek taverna dishes the way you’ve always really wanted them – artfully presented and cooked to perfection. Definitely book ahead.
2A Chatzigianni Mexi Street
Athens is stacked with high-end restaurants but few, if any, come with the epic vista of this joint, set on the sixth floor of the Onassis Cultural Centre. Views of the Acropolis are no doubt part of the allure here, as is the fancified, forward-thinking refits of classic Greek cooking like lamb with unripe fig and herbs. Pricey? Well, not really. Tasting menus start at an OK €50. You’d pay way more for this in Paris or London.
Andrea Siggrou 107-109
The ridiculously good wood-fired steaks at this easygoing meat and seafood bistro grill are what keeps the tables hard to come by most weekends. Book in advance and order up a fairly priced feast of superbly cooked beef (including the ace thin-sliced strip loin) as well as the totally delicious, endlessly Instagrammed Ionian-style king scallop capesante. Definitely come hungry.
Based down by Piraeus port in a converted warehouse, owner-sommelier Yiannis Kaimenakis’s very cool, concrete-chic wine bistro does around 200-odd bottles from across the Med at that happy, winning-feeling price point beside as a decent roster of Greek comfort food. This is probably not the place for your holiday's Big Meal Out but for a casual, untouristy evening hang-out in a cool part of town – gallery-culture hub Keratsini – this is your spot.
Greek doughnuts? Yup, that’s a thing. For a truly distinct, only-in-Athens dessert (or an energy-upping sugar hit), this petite bar in the centre of town gives the classic Greek loukoumades a hipster remix. Order either the standard deep-fried dough balls covered with honey and cinnamon or crank up the calorie dial to ten and go for the praline-centred, white-choc covered alternatives topped with crushed melomakarona (honey cookies).
21 Eolou & Aghias Irinis Square
For all the glam of the Athens dining scene, you can’t come to Greece and not do at least one old-timey taverna meal, and few places do that better than this oh-so-charming restaurant in the city’s Psirri district. More or less unchanged since 1927, the menu does retrofied, old-is-gold Greek staples such as slow-cooked lamb or the widely ordered tis oras (meat platter). Live music adds to the throwback fun on Sundays.
Plateia Thatrou 2
What is likely Athens' most famous seafood restaurant comes with a cool crowd, views of the Med, a Michelin star and a kitchen led by chef-charmsmith Lefteris Lazarou that can be relied upon to do some of the prettiest plates of catch-fresh fish in town. Try the zesty red shrimp on wine sauce with parsley or the truly divine sun-dried octopus with lime and wild greens. It's been open since the 80s and the experience shows: it’s kinda hard to go wrong here.
Akti Koumoundourou 54, Piraeus
Based in Exarchia, this raved-about kebab bar claims to do the world’s first all-vegan souvlaki made not from meat but mushrooms. Even for carnivores, this place is worth a detour as the trim menu of veg-only gyros doesn’t remotely feel like a compromise (try the ace Green & Light with salsa verde, soy yogurt and crunchy salad). And at a crazy-cheap €2.70 a pop, vegan or not, it’s rude not to, right?
You’re going to need a quick, in-and-out cheap eat at least once on holiday. Well, how about a view of the Acropolis with that? That’s right: not just some of the finest souvlaki (skewered kebabs) in town but a cool, rooftop garden-restaurant in Monastiraki Square thrown into the mix, too. You might need to hustle for a table but it’s well worth it for the excellent, no-frills Greek soul food, happy vibe and, yeah, that view. Open until 4am daily.