Culinary superstar Vasilis Kallidis shares his top tips on how to eat like an Athenian. First on the list? Where to score the city’s best cheese pie.
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Vasilis Kallidis is one of the most recognisable chefs in Greece. Not because of his culinary TV shows, nor because he actually owns restaurants around the city, but because he’s everywhere. He spends his time travelling all over Greece and has left no stone unturned in Athens or Attica. Kallidis loves to explore Athens on foot, walking into any eatery that triggers his curiosity. Striking up conversations with strangers as though he’s known them all his life. That’s why he’s the perfect person to introduce you to Athens' tastiest foodie secrets. He’s not one to send you down the pricey gourmet road, but will guide you to more affordable places, without sacrificing authenticity and quality. Here are his top picks for an authentic Athenian dining experience.
Traditional homemade isli at Ariston.
Photo: Eleni Veziri
At Ariston you’ll have the best cheese pie (tiropita) in the city. Try it for breakfast, instead of the usual hotel buffet, and make sure to wash it down with some cold chocolate milk. A cult Greek breakfast. Just one will probably not be enough.
Attikos has the best moussaka. It’s great for traditional Greek food in general. But it also has a fantastic view of the Acropolis, serving up the Parthenon on your plate.
Go to Tzimis and just ask for ‘whatever Mr. Kallidis is having’—they’ll bring you kokoretsi (sweetbreads wrapped in intestines), kontosouvli (spit-roast pork), pancetta, a horiatiki (Greek) salad and a beer.
The wonderful Avli in Psirri, in a courtyard formed by a complex of late-19th century houses, is like an old movie set from the 1950s. After this place was discovered by some location scouts, it took on new life. The menu that now accompanies the beer and tsipouro, is divine. You should definitely try the omelette with sausage.
Limanaki in Drapetsona serves heavenly fried calamari, under the tallest chimney in Athens. The cab fare is well worth it for great seafood and a glimpse into Greece’s surreal side.
Avli is a local favourite for food, drinks and atmosphere.
Photo: Amalia Kovaiou
If you're hunting for views, head straight for Anglais.
Photo: Orestis Seferoglou
For the best fava in the city centre, go to Paradosiako. It also serves fabulous grilled squid, all kinds of small, fried fish, and moussaka layered with pumpkin for a twist.
For an assortment of Greek cheeses and wines, with an incredible view of the Acropolis, head to Anglais. It’s on the top floor of the tallest building in Monastiraki. The young chef performs miracles as far as main courses go, but I especially recommend the tasting platters.
Head to Yperokeanio in Piraeus for the best grilled sardines. This place is guaranteed to set your Instagram on fire.
You absolutely must try the ice cream at Kokkion. Open since the summer of 2018, they use amazing, exclusively Greek ingredients. The space is amazing, too.
You’ll find the best homemade yoghurt at Stani. Ask them to put some honey on it. Even though it’s considered a working-class breakfast, yoghurt is served here 24 hours a day. The best healthy dessert in the city, it’s extremely refreshing in the summer. Of course, you can also try their old-fashioned cakes.
For drinks, go to Brettos. I love this place because even though it’s touristy, it has never lost its authenticity since it opened in 1909, in this exact same spot in Plaka.
This glowing bottle wall is the hallmark of one of the city's iconic bars.