Great Food in Athens, Greece

IMG_5687 2

 

Everything’s betta with a little feta—El Greco

 

Mrs. Big Surf and I make our travel plans based on what food we like to eat.  We love Greek food…so you can do the math.

We spent four days in Athens and I ate about two weeks worth of food.  This was the best Greek food I have ever eaten, tasted so authentic…oh.

If you can get past most menus looking like a fraternity/sorority talent show lineup, ordering food wasn’t too difficult. Most menus have English sub titles and most of the waiters and waitresses speak English. Of course if you don’t speak Greek or English I don’t have any advice for you.

We began our foraging through Athens on our arrival at the Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel.  We arrived late and we asked the desk clerk for a recommendation and he steered us to a very close 24 hour restaurant, called 24oro .  He said it was good Greek food and he was right.  My advice here— don’t go by the names as we do in America where a 24- hour joint is probably not the best choice unless you are hungry at 3:00 AM.

Since it was late, we split a moussaka and we also began our four day love affair with fried feta drizzled in honey.

IMG_5474 2

IMG_5360 2

Moussaka at 24oro.

IMG_5361 2

The fried feta, drizzled with honey and sesame seeds was our go-to appetizer in Athens.

 

I began the next morning with a short walk to the Acropolis Museum to get tickets for the day. I stopped by Terra Carpo for a cup of Americana coffee.  This may have been the best coffee I have ever had. This was my coffee stop for the next three days.

IMG_5371 2

 

After coffee each morning, we would eat breakfast at the hotel.  Our usual custom when we stay at hotels in cities is to get breakfast in cafes or bakeries  to maximize our time finding good food. However our breakfast at the Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel was included, so we took advantage of this.  These breakfasts, with Greek delicacies, gave us a good start each day as each one was so good.

IMG_5469 2

This was our typical breakfast each day.

 

After a morning at the Acropolis Museum and a walk through the charming Anafiotika neighborhood, we had lunch at Klepsidra Cafe. 

IMG_5437 2

IMG_5443 2

At Klepsidra Cafe, we had our first stuffed grape leaves, tsatziki, a Greek salad and sampled some ouzo.

IMG_5444 2

Yogurt with nuts and dates and drizzled with honey was also one of our favorites at Klepsidra Cafe.

 

Later that night, we dined at Strofi which was a short walk from our hotel. Our food was good but it wasn’t our favorite meal. However my appetizer of fresh anchovies marinated with spices, olive oil, and lemon was one of my favorite dishes of the stay in Athens.

IMG_5461 2

I hope you are lucky enough to get this view at Strofi.

IMG_5462 2

The marinated anchovies were delicious at Strofi.

 

The highlight of Day three in Athens for me…lunch at Diporto.  This is a very unique experience that I found on Youtube.  It is near the central market, has no sign and is below the street.  There is home cooked Greek food, homemade wine, and an intimate atmosphere, where the owner invites you into the kitchen to see what he is cooking for the day.  Don’t let the less than pristine appearance dissuade you from dining here when you descend under the street level through graffiti-marred doors, you will love this dining experience.

IMG_5516 2

One of the two entrances into Diporto.

IMG_5520 2

Our view of the street at Diporto.

IMG_5525 2

Three dishes with bread and homemade white wine was brought to our table.

IMG_5529 3

The grilled anchovies at Diporto may have been my favorite dish in Athens.

 

IMG_5528 2

Intimate dining at Diporto.

 

We had an unforgettable view of the Acropolis at Hotel Thissio. We stopped for another fried feta with some red wine and watched the sunset turn to the night sky over Athens.

IMG_5643 2

IMG_8601 2

We had a great view of the Acropolis and Athens at Hotel Thissio.

 

We headed over to souvlaki row off Monastiraki Square and split a Greek salad and souvlaki at Savvas and had an outdoor table on the busy pedestrian street.  This wasn’t the best souvlaki that we had but it was still good.

 

The following day, our last full day in Athens, we toured the Acropolis and walked over to the old neighborhood of Plaka and had lunch at Estia Taverna.

IMG_5624 2

IMG_5629 2

IMG_5626 2

Our lunch at Estia Taverna in the outdoor part of the cafe was very enjoyable.  It was a nice sunny day and we shared a different fried cheese, called saganaki, named for the pan it is fried in. We also had some really good french fries which are popular in Athens.  We had a nice red wine that complimented this simple meal and were refreshed for an afternoon shopping in the shops of Plaka and of course finding more things to eat.

 

A few hours later we headed over to the steps of Plaka and found a table at Anafiotika Cafe.  It was a lively time on the steps, so we partook of some more ouzo. I really encourage anyone going to Athens to find these small cafes and eat on the steps.

IMG_5648 2

 

Afterward, Mrs. Big Surf was in the mood for a chicken crepe and she found one at a creperie on Souvlaki Row on Ermou Street and I went into O Thanasis for a souvlaki for take-out.  We took our purchases over to Montesoriki Square and found a spot to enjoy our simple meal in the midst of this lively and entertaining gathering place.  I loved both of our dishes.

IMG_5657 2

I thought this chicken crepe was very good, Mrs. Big Surf thought less of it but still liked it.

IMG_5656 2

I loved this souvlaki from O Thanasis.

 

The final stop for the evening was a rooftop bar overlooking Athens. We found a wonderful spot atop the A for Athens Hotel. The rooftop bar for a nice glass of red wine was a perfect spot to enjoy our last night in Athens.  The view is incredible and if you can get a seat at sunset, this would be a minor coup.  We were able to accomplish this,and let me tell you, it was hard to leave this view.

IMG_8912 2

IMG_8913 2

IMG_8903 3

IMG_8908 2

IMG_8929 2

We had a beautiful view from the A for Athens rooftop bar in the late afternoon sun and into the night.

 

We had an afternoon flight scheduled for Istanbul, so this gave us some time to head back over to the shops in Plaka.  While my lovely wife shopped, I of course looked for more food and was drawn to the small cafes on the steps one last time.  I had a very nice spinach pie with some jasmine tea (see cover photo). This was a great place to reflect on my stay in Athens and enjoy my last few minutes.

 

An addendum to this food story is our trip back from Turkey where we had a connecting flight out of Athens.  We had some time to kill so we headed over to the Sofitel across the street from the airport.  This turned out to be a very good decision. We shared a delicious assortment of Greek appetizers and a lemon tart with berries and a raspberry glaze.  The red wine complimented it very nicely.  This gave us a good send off from Athens.

IMG_6295 2

The plate of appetizers at Sofitel, a good choice if you have to kill some time in the Athens airport.

IMG_6294 2

The lemon tart was a nice treat also at Sofitel.

 

I look forward to the possibility of more good food in Athens if I ever get the chance again.

Athens, Greece

IMG_8928 2

How great are the dangers I face to win a good name in Athens—Alexander the Great

 

Evidently, Alexander the Great had a different experience in Athens than my wife and I.  The only dangers we faced in our four days in Athens were gluttony,  over-stimulation of the senses, and sunset fatigue.

Athens is a beautiful city that is easily navigated by foot.  We are not planners, we are plodders.  We walk a while, rest a lot and eat a while, rest a lot…you get the picture.

So when we were able to plan a side trip to Athens on our way to see some family in Turkey, we jumped at the chance.  It is an easy city to explore on foot and four days was plenty of time for us to see what we wanted in a relaxed visit.  The ancient sites and neighborhoods were an easy walk from our stay at the Acropolis Museum Boutique hotel (a 40 Euro cab ride from the airport).

We went to Athens in the middle part of April. We had some rain at times and some cool nights.  When it wasn’t raining, a tee shirt and long pants were very comfortable.  My wife wore some sleeves and we both had light rain jackets.  We still had pleasant evenings and saw some wonderful sunsets.

I will apologize for the many, many photographs.  I had a hard time editing.

The following are scenes of the Acropolis  with the Parthenon and other sites.

IMG_8724 2

IMG_8785 2

I was mesmerized by these lovely ladies, possibly supermodels of ancient Athens.

IMG_5586 2

The Theater of Dionysus.

IMG_8671 2

Sunburst over the Temple of Athena Nike.

IMG_8747 2

The Parthenon.

IMG_5590 2

The Erechtheion.

 

There are some incredible views from the Acropolis looking out over the city of Athens.

IMG_8756 2

IMG_8718 2

IMG_8764 2

IMG_8666 2

 

We climbed up to Mars Hill for a late afternoon view of Athens and joined the sunset seekers awaiting the show.  I think we were the oldest folks there.  Don’t despair for it is an easy climb up to Mars Hill.  I was more interested in being in the same place where the Apostle Paul introduced the Gospel of Christ to the Athenians.

IMG_8546 2

The trail up to Mars Hill was decorated with wild flowers. It is a very rustic path to the top.

IMG_8551 2

The view of the Acropolis from Mars Hill.

IMG_8547 2

Athens view from Mars Hill.

IMG_8570 2

Mt. Lycabettus seen from Mars Hill.

 

IMG_8431 2

The Panathenaic Way in the Ancient Agora.

IMG_5558 2

Ancient column top or pedestal in the Ancient Agora with the Temple of Hephaistos in the background.

IMG_8510 2

Temple of Hephaistos in the Ancient Agora.

IMG_8480 2

Columns of the Temple of Hephaistos.

IMG_8250 2

Hadrian’s Arch seen from inside the Temple of Zeus area.

IMG_5477 2

Temple of Zeus.

IMG_8611 2

Hadrian’s Arch seen on one of our night walks.

IMG_8273 2

The Panathenaic Stadium, all marble.

IMG_8286 2

Inside the Zappeion building.

IMG_8353 2

Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside of the Parliament building.

IMG_5501 2

The beginning of Ermou street, a pedestrian only shopping street beginning across from the Parliament building.

IMG_8221 2

As you walk down Ermou street, you will come upon the beautiful small church of Kapnikarea.

 

The following are scenes around Hadrian’s Library.

IMG_5449 2

IMG_8172 2

IMG_5450 2

IMG_5476 2

 

IMG_5675 2

Outside tables of the small cafes on the steps of Plaka.

IMG_8864 2

One of the narrow paths between houses in the Plaka neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis.

IMG_5429 2

A colorful graffitied path in the Plaka neighborhood.

IMG_8212 2

Lively Montistoriki Square.

IMG_5535

The market near Montistoriki Square.

IMG_8079 2

This is the terrace of the Acropolis Museum. It looks like a great place for coffee or lunch.  It was rainy this day, so it was the day we picked to go to the museum. It is a fascinating museum of sculptures and statues and to learn about the Parthenon which can be seen atop the Acropolis.

IMG_5388 2

One of the ancient sculptures in the Acropolis Museum, Hercules wrestling a sea creature.

 

The following are colorful street scenes in Athens, a great city to explore on foot.

IMG_8836 2

IMG_8850 2

IMG_5643 2

IMG_8375 2

IMG_8966 2

IMG_5646 2

IMG_5660 2

IMG_5644 2

IMG_8973 2

IMG_5673 2

IMG_5639 2

IMG_8965 2

IMG_8406 2

IMG_8115 2

IMG_5641 2

IMG_8956 2

IMG_8961 2

IMG_8951 2

 

One last look at the sun-drenched city and I will say good-bye.

IMG_8913 2