One of the most popular reasons to explore Greece is getting a taste of traditional Greek cooking. The country’s capital, Athens, is home to a number of excellent restaurants that use locally sourced food, including seafood that comes fresh from the Aegean Sea.
Athens often gets overshadowed by Paris and Rome as a major culinary destination. However, the city has a number of incredible restaurants that have earned praise from the world’s most discerning food critics, and there are numerous restaurants with more than one Michelin star. Some of the city’s best restaurants include:
Known as one of the best options for adventurous eaters, Funky Gourmet plays with the traditional flavors of Greek cuisine while adding some modern flair to its dishes. The food here can best be described as molecular gastronomy, a new phenomenon in cuisine that combines chemistry with cooking that relies on unique flavors and textures to trigger various emotions and memories. Currently, Funky Gourmet holds two Michelin stars in recognition of its distinctive style. Even the physical space is beautiful with charming works of art, gorgeous furniture, and dark wood tones.
Located right on the Aegean Sea, Matsuhisa is set within the Astir Palace Resort. Once people have taken in the sweeping views of the water, they can appreciate the minimalist design of the interior space, which was created to blend organically with the environment around it. Many people choose to sit at the martini bar and enjoy the view. This also gives them the chance to try a cocktail envisioned by Dale De Groff, who made the first Cosmopolitan. The restaurant takes its name from its chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, who uses Greek ingredients on his Japanese-inspired menu featuring dishes like salmon with ponzu sauce and inaniwa pasta with lobster.
Having welcomed guests for more than seven decades, Strofi is located adjacent to the rock of the Acropolis. The restaurant itself claims to be one of the most historic in Athens, and its menu reflects this. Diners will find a range of traditional Greek dishes prepared with care. Some of the menu highlights include pork filets stuffed with gruyere and sun-dried tomato, and lamb wrapped in vine leaves and stuffed with feta. Strofi also offers an outdoor seating area with a retractable roof so that diners can enjoy the sun.
Another Athens restaurant with two Michelin stars, Spondi has emerged as one of the most popular eateries for both locals and tourists. The restaurant is near the Panathinaiko Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games. At Spondi, individuals will find a seasonal menu that changes regularly and reflects the imagination of the head chef. One of the main draws of the restaurant is incredible presentation that makes it almost as exciting to see the food as to eat it. Much of the menu has a hint of exoticism that keeps each meal interesting.
Located in a neoclassical structure, Aleria provides diners with a romantic courtyard lined with greenery and a charming original tile floor. The restaurant is located in Metaxourgio, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Athens. One of the menu’s highlights is the crayfish with pink grapefruit and sorrel, but diners may want to try one of two different tasting courses to get a full feel of the restaurant’s flavors. Aleria is a must-visit for fans of wine, as the restaurant has one of the city’s best lists. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine choices provided that they pay a small corking fee.
For visitors, Doris may seem a little overwhelming—the menu is written in Greek on chalkboards—but most dishes are displayed in large pans and it is fine to point. The café serves many of the classics, including sagonaki, stuffed tomatoes, and moussaka. Guests can sit in the large dining room or enjoy dining alfresco in a garden along the side of the building. People may notice a long line at Doris, particularly in the early morning hours. The restaurant is known for having some of the best loukoumades in town. These donuts are incredibly light and crisp, making them an essential end to any meal or a reason to come to Doris in the first place.
Boasting one of the best views of any restaurant in Europe, Orizontes sits on top of Lycabettus, the highest peak in Athens. In addition to the panoramas of the city, guests will find a simple, yet elegant restaurant with a menu of traditional Greek and Mediterranean food. Orizontes maintains a strong dedication to finding the freshest ingredients for its chefs. Many of the recipes have been slightly elevated from tradition, such as the slow-cooked lamb with thyme, honey, and beer accompanied by vegetable pearls. Another solid choice is the grouper, which comes fresh from the sea, with caper, lemongrass, and sweet peppers.