Looking out over Athens.
There are few countries that offer a richer cultural experience than Greece, especially when it comes to the simple and delicious pleasures of savoring stuffed grape leaves and tzatziki with a glass of beer or wine under a sunny sky. What better place to delve into this tradition than in the beating heart of the country, Athens?
Nevertheless, discovering the best Greek cuisine on a budget can be a bit tricky, despite the comparatively low Southern European prices. And telling the difference between a tourist trap and an authentic local restaurant can be a challenge unless you know what to look for.
That’s why we turned to the experts at Spotted By Locals to help us find the best cheap eats in Athens.
Athens travel tips:
• 5 Easy ways to save on a trip to Athens
• Athens hotels under $100 per night
Follow these tips by Athens locals and you’ll never have to worry about unpleasant surprises!
Address: Karageorgi Servias 2
This rooftop ‘restaurant’ is not much more than a hidden canteen for the employees of a commercial building on Syntagma Square — at least that’s what it started off as. The secret is out, but still “only about 1% of Greeks know about Biftekares”, according to local Nikos. This small terrace with a handful of tables certainly hasn’t lost its views to the Acropolis and the distant sea, its top quality patties, omelets, Greek salad and intimate atmosphere. You can expect to pay around €8 per person for a complete lunch, including drinks.
Nearby hotels: Hotel Tempi | Hotel Achilleas | Hotel Dioskouros
Address: Agathonos 2
Feyrouz is a small street food bar specializing in lahmajoun (Middle Eastern pizza) and other delicacies based on traditional recipes from Antioch, Turkey, the home of the family running this joint. Their hearty vegetable- and meat-based pastries, pide bread, and soups and sweets are traditional with an experimental twist. Everything is cheap yet delicious, while the modern, minimalist atmosphere and huge windows are perfect for a quick bite throughout the day. A lahmajoun plus dessert won’t cost you more than €6 per person.
Address: Dorieon 8
There’s a lot going for having lunch or dinner in the Greek metropolis, but nothing beats enjoying some fava or kalamarakia (fried squid) at a taverna surrounded by the beautiful whitewashed walls on a Greek island. Thanks to the relaxed atmosphere at Santorinios, you don’t have to hop the next ferry to Santorini; instead, you can enjoy this feeling in the very center of Athens. At €4 per dish, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place to sample Greek mainstays, such as the aforementioned fava, which local Margarita reckons is the best in Athens.
Address: Amfiktyonos 33
Syntrimmi has become a true local favorite since it opened a little more than a year ago. This century-old communal house turned-co-op, just a stone’s throw away from the Acropolis, is an all-day cafe and bar with a selection of excellent Athenian beer and organic wine (just €2 for a 250ml carafe). It also has a menu of locally sourced small plates — we recommend you try their filling gigantes (giant beans) and dakos (crusty bread topped with tomatoes and cheese). Each dish should set you back less than €4. Drop by on a Thursday evening, and you can listen to traditional live Greek music on the side for no extra charge.
Accommodations: Nearby cheap hotels
Address: Koilis 20
Crete is one of the most distinct parts of Greece — it has its own dialect, customs, and cuisine. In fact, the Mediterranean diet is actually based on Cretan culinary traditions. At Kritiko Steki (“the Cretan hangout”), you can discover many Greek specialties as well as local variations of dishes you’d only find in Greece’s largest island. Try the Sfakiani pita filled with cheese & honey or the snails in red sauce. You can expect the price to stay below €12 per person for the whole experience — including the obligatory raki.
Your favorite cheap eats in Athens
Have you been to Athens and know a good spot for local cuisine? Let us know in the comments below.