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Food & Dining in Greece


Several factors make dining pleasurable in Athens: there is the contagious joy shown by Athenians as they savour their food, their tendency to dance on any available surface including tables, and the endless chats. The picture perfect scenery, be it a traditional taverna located in a vine-covered backyard in Plaka or a seaside fish restaurant in Piraeus - will add to your enjoyment. Finally, the pleasant weather means that you can dine and party outdoors for most months of the year.

Great alfresco dining is offered on the terrace of Ta Kioupia in Kifissia, with its splendid view of the city and the culinary feast of around forty traditional dishes you will find on your table. Other restaurants which stand out for their great city views are Dionysos Café and Restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis and Le Grand Balcon in the St George Lycabettus Hotel in Kolonaki.

A major component of each dining experience is not just the food but also the excellent Greek wine, which has played an important role in the Athenian way of life for thousands of years. The Attica region is actually one of the oldest wine-growing regions of the world. Vintners have been providing Athenians with their elixir for thousands of years and wines range from the simple retsina to excellent reds and whites.

Eating out in one of the traditional tavernas is a must for any visitor. These serve tasty Greek dishes (made from meat, seafood and vegetables) that are preceded by mezedes. These mouth-watering appetisers are varied and can constitute an opulent meal in themselves. A good place for sampling mezedes is the Psirri district, where there are several tavernas (such as Silfio) located on Taki Street, as well as Athinaikon near Omonia Square and Vlassis near Mavili Square. Among the numerous tavernas of the old town of Plaka are Damigos and Xynou, the latter serving food in its garden during the summer. One of the most authentic tavernas is Bairaktaris on Monastiraki Square, which is famous for its traditional dishes. Traditional Greek fare can also be found in restaurants such as Ideal on Panepistimiou Street and Kafenio in Kolonaki. Classic Greek cuisine is also served in the elegant Daphne's in Plaka.

Numerous Greek chefs have rediscovered various regional cuisines and added a dash of sophistication to simple traditional dishes. This has resulted in excellent Greek restaurants including Kallisti near Exarhia, and the innovative Kouzina Cine-Psirri in Psirri. Meanwhile, the cuisine of ancient Greece has been revived by Archeon Gevsis, a restaurant chain with branches near Omonia Square and in Piraeus.

Athens offers a selection of excellent seafood restaurants. Dinner at one of the traditional fish restaurants in Mikrolimano, such as Jimmy and the Fish, the picturesque fishing harbour in Piraeus can be a very enjoyable experience. Upscale fish restaurants include To Varoulko (the gourmet mecca of Piraeus) and the elegant Ithaki at Vouliagmeni Beach.

Athens also has a range of sophisticated eateries offering world-class cuisine ranging from the classic to the innovative. Dinner at these restaurants does not come cheap, but the prices are actually quite affordable when compared to those at similar restaurants in other European capitals. Cuisine of the highest quality is served at the elegant French restaurant Vardis in Kifissia, Spondi in Pangrati, Edodi in Koukaki, Symposio next to the Acropolis, and Beau Brummel. Also combining excellent cuisine with striking design is Aristera Dexia in Gazi.

Athens boasts a large selection of ethnic restaurants featuring cuisine from every continent. These range from informal eateries to gourmet temples such as the sophisticated Italian restaurant Boschetto in Kolonaki, the excellent Polynesian restaurant White Elephant and Kiku, the best Japanese in town. Excellent pasta and other Italian specialties are served at Casa di Pasta in Kolonaki, while Furin Kazan, near Syntagma Square, is ideal for a quick sushi lunch or dinner.

People who value style as well as good cuisine have a choice of many fashionable restaurants, such as the spectacular Island summer restaurant on the cliffs near Vouliagmeni Beach and Sphinx in Glyfada. One of the most beautiful dining rooms is G.B. Corner, which shares the old-world charm of the adjacent Grande Bretagne Hotel on Syntagma Square.





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