Not so long ago, if you told a Greek you were vegetarian they’d say: “But you do eat chicken, right?” Lately, Athens has caught up with the global trend for green-and-clean cuisine. From cold-pressed juice bars to beachfront dining and vegetarian-friendly street food joints, here’s where to refuel in the Greek capital.
Casually stylish, It offers an imaginative selection of meat-free, low-calorie temptations. Stand-out dishes include mushrooms with asparagus, sweet potato, tahini cream and linseed, and steamed greens with tomato vinaigrette, pistachios, and mizithra cheese. All served in a funky, split-level space made out of chipboard and upcycled wooden crates.
If Middle Eastern food is your thing, seek out Feyrouz on a back-alley in the Historic Centre. Though not strictly vegetarian, this family-run street food joint does amazing, paper-thin lahmajoun topped with eight different vegetables, nuts and spices, pide stuffed with seasonal greens and pulses, topped with humus or smoked aubergine, plus hearty pumpkin, beetroot and yoghurt soups—all at crazy-cheap prices.
It looks like just another run-of–the-mill souvlaki joint. But Cookoomela Grill is busy re-inventing Athens’ most famous street food. Their delicious vegetarian souvlaki are built around the Cookoomela mushroom tribe. Bestsellers are the Red Amanita with avocado, vegan mayonnaise and tomato salsa, and the Cookoomela Kebab with lentils, tomato salsa and almond cream, both at bargain prices. The chips, fried in cold-pressed 80% virgin olive oil, deserve a shout-out too, along with the eco-savvy biodegradable wrappings.
Mellow Avocado is one of the oldest vegetarian cafes in Athens. It’s owned by the founder of NYSY Yoga and Pilates studio across the street, so expect lots of toned, honed regulars nibbling on healthy salads, veggie paella, coconut-rich curries, and stir fries. Bread is baked in-house, wines are organic, and the juices deliciously zingy. Our favourite drink is the ginger passion smoothie.
Local Green Organica
You’ll feel healthier just by stepping inside this fashionable new lunch spot in zippy Perikleous Street. The décor has all the zing of biting into a crisp green apple: from the Scandi-cool woodwork to the hanging pot plants and feature wall of fresh produce. Everything looks as clean as a whistle too. Polish off an enormous Portobello mushroom and tofu wrap (two could easily share); a curry cauliflower bowl with toasted almonds, raisins and aged balsamic; or build your own dream salad bowl from an evolving menu that specialises in raw local ingredients. Refresh with the cucumber, ginger and lime brew. It's the perfect tonic to a steamy Athens day. We also love how Local Green sits cheek-to-cheek with the classic taverna next door. It really brings home how old and new Athens are happily sharing the same stage these days.
"Polish off an enormous Portobello mushroom and tofu wrap (two could easily share); or build your own dream salad bowl from an evolving menu that specialises in raw local ingredients."
There are only a few stools at the counter and a handful of tables outside teeny Baba Ghanoush, just off Pangrati’s lovely Varnava Square. But it’s worth waiting for fresh falafel wraps with house-made harissa, pickles, tahini sauce, and smoky aubergine puree, alongside superb salads (try the roast beets with hummus, mint and sumac or the carrot, ginger and sesame). Delicious, welcoming, and amazingly good value.
Close to Panepistimio metro station, Mama Tierra is a bright and basic vegetarian canteen. The eclectic menu is a journey across continents, taking in sweet potato hummus, vegan moussaka, Pad Thai, burritos and mushroom burgers, washed down with kombucha or green juice. The chocolate, avocado and date smoothies are a meal in a glass.
Among the many bars in the studenty suburb of Halandri, To Vazaki is paradise for health nuts (or hangovers). Alongside a mind-boggling menu of organic superfood smoothies, cold-pressed detox blends, and turmeric almond-milk lattes, you’ll find salads and sourdough sandwiches (try the spinach, avocado, and homemade pesto). This cheerful café decked in rainbow colours is also a lovely spot for a health-conscious breakfast or brunch: options include an acai bowl, chia pudding, and avocado toast.