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Pigging out on local delicacies is a travel tradition you should do in every country you visit.
And if you’re in Athens, you have food options galore. With so many restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls, how do you find the best Greek food in Athens on a short vacation?
That’s exactly what I’m going to show you today.
While in Athens, Dayan and I went on a food tasting rampage downtown. We stuffed our faces with dish after dish, explored markets unknown to most travelers, and learned a ton about Greece in the process.
Here are the three keys we learned about hunting down the best Athens food spots…
Table of Contents
- Tips for finding the best Greek food in Athens
- The Athens Food on Foot Tour Review
- Is an Athens food tour tasting with a local worth the money?
Tips for finding the best Greek food in Athens
#1.) Not all Greek food in Athens is created equal
When visiting Greece, most travelers (myself included) just go to the stalls and restaurants nearest their accommodation and tourist attractions.
These limited experiences often create our perception of the entire food scene in a country.
The thing is, if you happen to choose the wrong spot, you might get a bad perception of a certain dish (or a country’s food in general) and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Also, these tourist-oriented restaurants don’t always best represent local recipes.
When seeking out traditional foods to try, it’s important to visit places known for preparation.
#2.) Many of the tastiest spots are “secret”
When looking for tasty food in most destinations, you might just search for “best restaurants in ___” on Google and TripAdvisor.
This isn’t a bad start, but it’s also not always the best way to do things.
For one, I am often skeptical of Google reviews. Businesses are catching on to the importance of these reviews, and I’m starting to see more and more fake reviews pop up.
When you see every single restaurant in a neighborhood is rated 5 stars, it starts to make you wonder.
Secondly, once a restaurant starts to dominate with reviews and attract hoards of tourists, quality tends to drop.
Third, oftentimes the best spots are “secret” family-run restaurants and food stands that aren’t going to pop up on Google in the first place.
These are usually located in areas of town away from the main tourist attractions.
But even if you do find some reliable reviews online (which, let’s be honest, most street food articles are written by other travelers who only tried a couple different places), there are new food joints popping up all the time.
The only people that know about them are locals who live in the area and tried them all.
#3.) A food tour can save both time and money
I’m a budget backpacker at heart, and the idea of shelling out for a food tour is a bit foreign to me.
After all, why pay someone to take you around tasting different foods when you could just do it yourself, right?
Well, not so fast.
If you do it alone, how much time and money will you waste trying different dishes and restaurants before you find a winner? (And how will you even know it’s a winner?)
Short-term tourists have a limited number of meals for food-tasting, and there’s no time to waste on poorly-prepared food.
Plus, while solo food-tasting is adventurous, the language barriers are intimidating. When you see a menu like this, it’s hard to even know where to begin:
That’s why if you want to try all the best Greek food in Athens as efficiently as possible, spending a little extra on a food tour is a great way to do it.
This is especially true if you do it as soon as you arrive in a new country. That way, you’ll quickly discover your favorite dishes and can order them for the rest of your trip.
Plus, you’ll normally cram enough food in your stomach for at least two meals, which you won’t have to buy elsewhere.
Here’s what you can expect from a food tour in Athens.
The Athens Food on Foot Tour Review
DISCLAIMER: We were invited by Anna, the lovely owner of Athens Food on Foot, to try her Classic Food Tasting Tour in exchange for an honest review. As always, all our opinions are our own.
We had no idea what we were getting into when we joined our Athen’s food tour — just that we had to show with an empty stomach.
We met our guide, Anna, who is originally from Thessaloniki, Greece, but has spent the last 9 years scoping out the best food joints in Athens.
Her tour groups are small — maxing out at around 10 people — but we had her all to ourselves.
It was super cool having a friendly local to answer all our questions about Greek food, and Greece in general.
The food tour itself started with two larger snacks, then some smaller samplings to give us time to make room in our stomachs before a delicious Greek lunch.
Here’s what we tried:
#1.) Traditional Greek yogurt
For breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised with a traditional Greek yogurt made with sheep’s milk drizzled with honey and nuts.
This snack is popular at weddings and baptisms because the honey represents a sweet life and the nuts represent fertility.
Bougatsa is also sometimes referred to as “pie”, but it’s not the type of pie you’d imagine if you’re from the U.S.
You can choose between spinach, meat, or sweet bougatsa — which is more of like a dessert.
Anna explained to us that each region of Greece has a slightly different version of bougatsa.
It was traditionally considered a “poor man’s meal” because it’s cheap and loaded with carbs.
#3.) Traditional Greek coffee (sand-brewed)
Next up was Greek coffee to help digest our food.
The place she took us is unique in that they use the traditional method of hot sand to brew the coffee.
Never would have found this spot by myself!
Our coffee boosted our energy to walk around the markets and sample some lighter food.
Greece is known for producing lots of nuts, so we stopped at a nut stand to sample different kinds.
If you’re looking for a healthy Greek travel snack, keep an eye out for these nut sellers.
One thing to note about the nut stop (and later the honey stop) is it seems like the vendors were just giving us a bunch of free samples, so it feels slightly awkward if you don’t buy anything.
#5.) Fish and meat market
We didn’t actually eat anything in these markets, but they were interesting to see.
After traveling in Asia and South America, I was impressed at how clean and well-presented all the meats and fish were here in Athens.
Normally, these types of meat markets are not appetizing for me, but the one we visited was different.
If I lived in Athens, I’d definitely make a special trip here to buy all my meats.
She asked us beforehand if we were ok checking out these markets, so if you’re not a big fan of meat (including some animal heads), then you have the option to skip it.
#6.) Greek cheese platter
Next, we sampled four different types of cheese, ranging from 3 to 12 months old.
I know absolutely nothing about cheese, so this was a cool experience for me.
Normally, I’d be afraid to order from places like these because I have no idea what any of the cheeses are or what they’re best used for.
Now cheese is less scary 🙂
#7.) Greek honey
Am I the only one that didn’t know there are hundreds of different types of honey?
Turns out, the type of honey is determined by the type of nectar in the flower that the bee pollinates.
Not sure why nobody ever taught me this, but it was interesting to sample the different flavors.
Pastirma is an air-dried cured meat with Greek-Turkish origins.
It has a super-strong flavor, and Anna says people either love it or hate it.
Unfortunately, I was one of the latter — but at least now I know!
#9.) Greek olives
Our last small sampling stop was at an olive shop.
I’m not a big olive lover, but Dayan tried a bunch of Greece’s famous types of olives from different parts of the country.
#10.) Grand finale meal
By now, we had worked up our appetite again, and it was time for the grande finale lunch at a local hotspot.
We chose the meat lunch, but she also offered us a fish option as well.
It came with a variety of different meats, beans, wheat (that tasted like rice), eggplant, bread with cheese dip, and my favorite — zucchini balls and yogurt.
To drink, we got to choose from wine or traditional liquors.
We chose Ouzo, which is a traditional Greek anise-flavored liquor (similar to aguardiente in Colombia, but with less throat-burning).
And if you still have space, you can try Loukoumades for dessert.
At the end of our tour, Anna even gifted us a container of Greek olives that she had picked up in the olive shop.
She said she hopes to someday bottle her family’s olive oil to give to her guests.
Is an Athens food tour tasting with a local worth the money?
Most of the things on this list I wouldn’t have dared order on my own.
Since most menus were in Greek, I wouldn’t have even known how to order them.
If it weren’t for this tour, I probably would’ve eaten the same ol’ chicken gyro every day of our trip.
So for me, it was worth it.
If you love trying new foods, want insider foodie tips from a local, and have a few hours to spare, a food tour like Anna’s Athens Food on Foot Tour is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon.
The cool part about the Food on Foot tour is Anna started the business herself, which is admirable. So you’re truly supporting a local rather than a large international tour company.
Happy face-stuffing! 🐷
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered—where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
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