Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

You haven’t truly experienced the Athenian good life until you’ve notched up a long Sunday lunch by the sea.

By Amanda Dardanis

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There really is nothing better than a slow lunch on a beautiful Sunday.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

Timing is Everything

The More the Merrier

Tastes from the sea with a side order of ancient ruins at Elias fish taverna in Cape Sounion.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

That’s an Order!

Ordering can be a protracted and unruly business. Greeks don’t really “do” à la carte dining, especially at tavernas. Instead, they throw a medley of small plates (mezedes) and main dishes into the middle of the table (sti mesi) for everyone to share, stoking the convivial mood. Insider tip: the mezedes are often the most satisfying dishes on the menu, so double down on those and cut back on the tally of mains.

Usually, someone in the group takes it upon themselves to order for everyone (you can throw in your two cents’ worth if you’re craving something specific, like saganaki, that chewy fried cheese, which should always make an appearance, in our opinion). Sometimes, the waiter will even order for you. It depends on the specials of the day or whether you’ve dined at the restaurant before and the waiter is familiar with your tastes. 

"Ordering can be a protracted and unruly business. Sometimes the waiter will even order for you."

Fish at Sardelaki in Vouliagmeni.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

A Fishy Business

6 Seaside Sunday Lunch Staples

An armful of seafood temptations at Elias fish taverna.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

A Word on Wine

A Sunday lunch by the sea without the conversational accelerant of wine (or ouzo)? Unthinkable. Large groups generally order the house wine, called hima, by the kilo or half kilo (miso kilo) in a carafe instead of by the bottle.
Don’t say: Signomi, mallon iparhei mia tripa stin karafa mas (Excuse me, there must be a hole in our carafe).
Do say: Allo ena, parakalo (One more, please).

The Battle for the Bill

When the bill arrives, a lengthy battle of wills usually ensues over who will pay. Even in these financially-strapped times, Greeks will apply their time-honoured powers of negotiation for the privilege of being the one to hand over their credit card. Someone will eventually surrender with the promise of “getting it next time.”
Don’t say: Who’s got a calculator so I can divide the bill?
Do say: Put your wallet away! I’m insulted.

A Tip on Tipping

A 10% tip is generally considered very fair (although not widely practised by locals who usually just round up the bill to the nearest ten—i.e. for a €45 bill, they’ll leave €50).

Who wouldn't want to have a Sunday lunch when it looks like this?

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

Top Athens Riviera Restaurants

Upscale

Sunshine on Sundays at Ithaki.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

A full table at Garbi.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

Mid-range

Budget

Sardelaki me Thea is a perfect budget-friendly dining choice.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis