Great food is a travel essential, often making or breaking your experience. But discriminating between the tourist traps and authentic cuisine is often enough to make one just give up and reach for a candy bar. For the savvy traveler however, a city’s street-food vendors and sidewalk Tavernas can easily provide a delicious bite of culture.
In a pinch, walk two blocks in Athens in any direction and I promise the familiar red sign of an Everest- fast-food Greek style – will be in sight. I never leave Greece without at least one triangular slice of spanakopita and a freshly squeezed orange juice. Enjoy it at the airport, fountain-side at Syntagma square, by the Acropolis metro exit… seriously, everywhere. It’s my ideal quick-bite breakfast on the go, keeping my energy high while museum lines are still short.
Just off Monastiraki Square, stretching from one corner to the other of Mitropoleos Street, is O-Thanasis, a must-stop for local Athenian favorites in the heart of the Plaka. Walking streets crowded with souvenir shops and restaurants, deciding where to eat can be a challenge, especially while being prodded from both sides to “Come eat! Look at the menu!! Sit here!” No one at O-Thanasis hassles passersby…they don’t need to, Athenians just know. I’ve never ordered the full kebab plate; half is always more than enough, with a side of greek salad and a plate of fries. Lightly dusted with paprika, with shredded raw red onion on grilled pita bread brushed with olive oil, the hot spiced kebabs are the perfect combination of meat and delicious fat that will leave you satisfied and ready to walk it off.
Looking for dessert and a view? Try Chocolat Royal Cafe and its rooftop terrace for an afternoon coffee or an evening drink. High above the street noise and dust, a perfect day of walking the archaeological ruins and museums is capped by a fancy frosted drink, a decadent dessert, and the Parthenon glowing in the sunset’s golden light. They also have a full lunch and dinner menu, and it’s a perfect reason for an evening stroll along the main pedestrian road around the Acropolis. (27 Apostolou Pavlou, Metro Thisseio). Reservations are recommended, but if you arrive before 9 pm you’ll beat the Greek rush. It’s a perfect piece of accessible and modern Greek luxury to be enjoyed with good company.
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Photo by Lori_NY