Make a dinner date with one of these fine dining restaurants in Athens and invite the Parthenon to your table.
By Carolina Doriti
Indoor eat & drink and entertainment spaces (restaurants, cafeterias, bars, cinemas, theatres, museums etc.) are open to the vaccinated public (at an occupancy rate of 85%). Read more here.
It can be a struggle. Keeping your mind on what’s on your plate when you’re dining at a rooftop restaurant—especially when you’re gazing at one of the wonders of the ancient world. But at these fabulous hotel restaurants in Athens, you’ll find that the food and the view are in perfect harmony. Whether you’re craving classic or modern, five-star or boutique, Mediterranean or international, here’s where to go for an unforgettable meal.
GB Roof Garden $$$
A timeless classic that’s never out of fashion. The view from the roof garden of Hotel Grande Bretagne always packs a punch: the Acropolis rises in one direction, Lycabettus hill in the other, and the Greek Parliament, flanked by its ceremonial guards, is just across the street.
Old world opulence reigns at Grande Bretagne—but GB Roof Garden wisely refrains from trying to compete with the distracting backdrop. The restaurant is a simply dressed space whose elegant stone pillars discreetly echo the Parthenon. The menu is modern and Mediterranean, the atmosphere undeniably fancy but not too stuffy. During the day, you’ll find a more relaxed vibe (the formal dress code kicks in after 6pm). The lunch menu is a lighter version of dinner as well, with more emphasis on daily specials (perhaps something slow-cooked in the wood-burning oven or one of their fantastic pizzas).
Many of the main dishes blend traditional Greek and Mediterranean recipes to wind up with something altogether more exciting: like the red mullet in an eggplant roll, served with summer vegetable purée, potato with Greek saffron and bouillabaisse sauce, or grilled chicken with artichoke purée, zucchini and egg-lemon foam.
Don’t leave without sampling something from the lauded French pastry chef. Unlike the main fare, his creations are based on French techniques that result in light—and not too sweet—temptations. They look gorgeous and taste accordingly. If you’re fond of lemons, do try his signature Le Fraîcheur citron, a light lemon cake with lemon marmalade, crémeux and mousse.
The Grande Bretagne’s sister property, the King George Hotel next door, has its own regal rooftop restaurant. It also shares the same executive chef, pastry chef and sommelier—and naturally, an Acropolis view that’s every bit as high-impact. But it’s the chef de cuisine, Alexandros Koskinas, who has really put his stamp on the thoroughly modern Greek menu, weaving in many culinary influences from his native island, Corfu.
Awarded the Toques d'Or and the Greek Cuisine Awards six years in a row, the kitchen focusses on simple, fresh and seasonal food, which means the menu is updated often. Deft little tweaks elevate typical Greek dishes, like the saddle of lamb roast over vine twigs with black olive curry and spinach, or the Corfiot pastitsada (braised rooster with macaroni and nutty San Michali cheese from Syros island). For dessert, go for one of the Greek-inspired choices like The Pistachio—a tribute to this local nut, served with green apple and lemon verbena sorbet, fennel confit and caramelised pistachios. Heaven.
"Top of the line are the homemade ravioli or the matsata (egg noodles, similar to tagliatelle) from Folegandros, served with a rich beef ragout and grated xinotyri cheese from Ios."
Electra Metropolis Roof Garden $$
The five-star Electra Metropolis opened in 2016 and the sunset selfies from its epic rooftop haven’t stopped since. The hotel’s 10th floor roof terrace houses a bar, a restaurant, a small swimming pool, and a full-blown panorama that takes in the Acropolis, Ancient Agora and the National Observatory in Thissio. The view from the inside is still entrancing because the dining room is encased in glass. A modern design lends this fine dining destination a more casual aura than other five-star hotel restaurants in Athens, especially during the day.
The menu is updated twice a year, in October and April. Choose from regional Greek specialties cooked with ingredients sourced from small producers around the country.
The salads are always superb. If they are in season, order the foraged greens, drizzled with a beautiful olive oil and lemon verbena dressing. Or marinated artichokes from Tinos, served with aged pecorino and pistachios. Did you know Greek pasta was a thing? This is the place to try it. Top of the line are the homemade ravioli or the matsata (egg noodles, similar to tagliatelle) from Folegandros, served with a rich beef ragout and grated xinotyri cheese from Ios.
The pastry chef plays with staple Greek ingredients like yoghurt, nuts, and honey, to create impressive desserts. I definitely recommend the chocolate walnut pie served with a delicious mastiha ice-cream. Or, if in season, the refreshing grilled peach mousse served with a lemon-thyme yoghurt ice-cream.
Smart-casual and retro-cool, AthensWas hotel enjoys a prime location just one block from the Acropolis Museum and Plaka. Sense, the hotel’s refined rooftop restaurant, is so close to the Parthenon you could almost reach out and touch it. The leafy outdoor terrace is small, but it’s framed by an herb garden that scents the breeze and makes the setting feel less urban. If you appreciate a “food as edible art” approach, this is the place for you. The executive chef is known for his knack of plating up bold and playful dishes that will set your Instagram alight.
Rustic Mediterranean classics are raised to haute cuisine standard using semi-curing and molecular cooking techniques such as foams and liquid spheres. Every plate is a well-balanced modern artwork, whether you go for the lighter lunch menu or the more complex evening menu. Take the lamb imam, one of the most famous dishes on the dinner menu: a perfectly cooked neck of lamb, paired with half an aubergine loaded with caramelised onions and topped with delicate feta croquettes.
The lovely desserts also take inspiration from traditional Greek recipes. My current favourite is the honeyed dipla (a crispy pancake roll) with yoghurt mousse, walnuts, cinnamon and a reviving pomegranate sorbet.
The Parthenon isn’t quite in your lap at the Athenaeum Intercontinental’s award-winning rooftop restaurant, Première, but the view from the spacious 10th floor terrace is still spectacular. Aesthetes will approve of the restaurant’s elegant interior and walk-in cellar, along with the contemporary art works (spot the Giorgos Lappas sculpture, The Bourgeois).
Foodies will also relish the chance to embark on one of several different food odysseys (à la carte is also available). Choose from a 6- or 9-course chef’s choice degustation or a 7-course vegetarian tasting menu. (This is one of the few fine dining restaurants in Athens that caters so well to vegetarians). All the menus focus on Greek cuisine and seasonal, local ingredients. But you’ll also detect international influences, with cameos by exotic ingredients such as mango, lemongrass or garam masala.
Whichever food adventure you decide to take, all the dishes are sure to be delicately executed and beautiful to look at, starting with the homemade bread and excellent kefir butter. A stand-out from the summer menu is the cod fillet served with a refreshing courgette and basil puree, pine nuts and a white wine and caper sauce. The desserts are just as compelling (my weakness is the mille-feuille with pineapple, coconut and lemongrass ice cream). If you’re not especially hungry, sit at the bar and sample from the excellent Gourmet Bites menu, featuring delicate mini tarts with beetroot, smoked eel and citrus. They’re perfect paired with their famous champagne cocktails. Première has some outstanding vintage wines in its cellar if you really want to splash out.
At this intimate and relaxed rooftop restaurant, you’ll be dining out on Athens’ architectural history. Zillers Roof Garden—and the boutique hotel it belongs to—are housed in one of Ernst Ziller’s neo-classical masterpieces. The German-born architect designed some of the city’s most important royal and civic structures, including the Greek Parliament.
The restaurant’s modern design ethos makes a satisfying contrast to the classical architecture of the building itself (they’ve used my favourite green marble from Tinos island to create the three bars). The crowd is diverse, but leans towards youthful. And the view offers a different perspective from the other restaurants on this list. You feel more “in the thick of it” here. The tables overlook the marble square in front of Athens Cathedral, with the Acropolis floating above Plaka’s tumble of tiled rooftops.