Looking for the most mouth-watering street food in Athens? Keep reading…
Every trip to any destination, to be complete, must include the local flavours and aromas of the place you’re visiting. A guilty pleasure of every trip is to try the street food that is available, starting with distinct local flavours but also including local versions of popular street food from other countries.
Athens is a real paradise of gastronomy, where the visitor can find and try everything. High gastronomy, national cuisines, local cuisines, patisseries, and bakeries, but also excellent street food. This article maps the most popular Greek street food in Athens and where to find it. We start with extremely unique local flavours, but we also refer to beloved international street food.
Enjoying street food in Athens
Join this gourmet food tour to enjoy an authentic Greek breakfast, visit traditional food stores and try mouth-watering Greek desserts.
Where to find the best street food in Athens
For real local flavours, make sure to add the below street food to your “must eat in Athens” list.
Although you will have heard a lot about the rich recipes of Greek cuisine, you’ll be surprised to learn that the Athenians’ favourite breakfast is the koulouri. It is a small circular bread made with flour and yeast and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Sometimes it’s crunchy, sometimes soft, but it’s always tasty and healthy.
Some historians believe the koulouri originated during the Byzantine period. It then became popular in Thessaloniki when the Greeks from Asia Minor brought it to the city in around 1922. That’s why you will often find it called koulouri Thessalonikis.
In Athens, you can buy it in bakeries, street vendors, and, today, specialised stores that sell different variations of the classic koulouri. But you can eat the best koulouri in two places:
The first one is Koulouri Tou Psirri (Georgiou Karaiskaki 23, Psirri), a workshop that has been around since 1960 and produces the same delicious koulouri all these years. It is also this koulouri that you find at most of the street vendors in Athens.
The second point is the famous Takis Bakery (Misaraliotou 14, Koukaki), very close to the Acropolis. Takis Bakery is something like an institution for the citizens of the Koukaki neighbourhood. With a family tradition of baking bread since 1961, it is actually the first bakery to introduce the koulouri Thessalonikis to Athens.
These are Greek doughnuts that have a round appearance and a nice golden colour. They are made with flour and salt and are covered with honey syrup and cinnamon. This dessert probably comes from Ancient Greece, where it was made and awarded to the winners of the Olympic Games.
In today’s Athens, there are various shops that have loukoumades on their menu. However, the best ones you can try are in two shops that maintain a decades-old tradition and in one that wants to offer a more modern version:
Krinos (Aiolou 87, Athens) was established in 1923 and was the first major patisserie in Athens with a sitting hall. It became famous for its loukoumades served with honey or hot chocolate.
Loukoumades Ktistaki (Sokratous 59, Omonoia Square) is a small place hidden in the streets around Omonoia Square. Since the 1950s, it has been making delicious small loukoumades, crunchy on the outside but soft and full of honey syrup.
On the other hand, Lukumades (Aiolou 21, Monastiraki) is a modern place that, apart from the classic version, offers loukoumades injected with many original flavours and added spreads on the top as well as gelato on the side.
Cheese Pie (Tiropita)
Another favourite morning snack of the Athenians that accompanies their coffee is the cheese pie (“tiropita” in Greek). There are many variations of cheese pie. You can find it with puff pastry (sfoliata), with shortcrust dough (kourou), or with traditional phyllo stuffed with various types of cheese. But the original is always made with feta.
In the centre of Athens, there are three shops that make cheese pies that really stand out and have become part of the gastronomic history of the city.
The first one is Ariston (Voulis 10, Syntagma Square), which is a small bakery that has stood in the same place since 1910 and treats the people of Athens with its famous kourou cheese pie. The recipe came from Constantinople by its founder, Dionysios Lompotesis, and it is still a secret.
The second place is Mam (Pesmazoglou 3 & Panepistimiou 34, Athens) which opened in 1958 and still serves its famous sfoliata cheese pie with a taste certified by the quality of the ingredients.
Last but not least, Dodoni (Lykourgou 9, Omonoia Square) with excellent kourou cheese pie and nine more pies is also a beloved place of the locals.
This is is a Greek pastry (sweet or salty) consisting of custard cream, cheese, spinach, chicken or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo. Bougatsa is served sliced into small pieces and the sweet one with powdered sugar and cinnamon on top. The origins of bougatsa can be traced back to Constantinople and Byzantium. Bougatsa spread all over Greece after 1922 and was established as a popular snack in Serres and Thessaloniki by the refugees from Asia Minor.
There are many places in Athens that make bougatsa, but you can eat the most authentic ones at three places.
Near the National Gallery, Makedonia (Michalakopoulou 27, Athens) makes excellent authentic bougatsa with a recipe from Serres. It has very good phyllo and rich cream.
Another well-known place is Sante (El. Venizelou 74, Kallithea), in the suburb of Kallithea. It is a truly legendary shop that remains open 24 hours and serves freshly baked and delicious bougatsa with various fillings.
Finally, at Krinos (Aiolou 87, Athens), you can try a bougatsa that prides itself on being authentically Athenian. It is made with puff pastry, filled with smooth and sweet cream, and served whole (not sliced).
This boat-like bread is a type of open pie, containing cheese and other fillings. Its characteristic is the buttery dough and the fresh butter usually added on top. Its origin is in Turkey and its name comes from the Turkish word “peynirli” which means “with cheese”. But, it is also known as the “pie of the Black Sea” and is a very popular delicacy of Georgian cuisine (where it is known as “khachapuri”). In Greece, peinirli came along with the refugee flows of the 20th century. Although it is one of the most popular street foods in Athens, there are only a few places in Athens where you can taste it in its original form.
Stamatis (Akadimias 77, Athens) is the place you must visit if you want to taste freshly baked peinirli. The peinirlis here are prepared and baked in front of your eyes. The dough is a little bit crispy and extra tasty, while the variety of fillings is quite sufficient.
Another place for peinirli in the city centre is Feyrouz (Karori 23, Athens). Born in Antioch, Turkey, Feyruz brought with her the flavours and aromas of the East and shares them generously through her small shop. Among the delicious oriental dishes, the freshly baked peinirlis stand out. Here you find unique combinations of flavours and ingredients that are enough to satisfy every desire.
The king of Greek street food is definitely souvlaki. It consists of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. The original souvlaki is made with pork (but nowadays it is also made with chicken, beef, or lamb) and served with a slice of bread. But souvlaki is also served wrapped in pita bread along with tzatziki, tomato, onion, and sometimes fried potatoes. This version is called tylichto (which means “wrapped” in Greek).
Apart from the meat on a skewer, tylictho can also be filled with gyro, kebab or burger. Although souvlaki restaurants (“souvlatzidika” in Greek) have always existed in Athens, in the last 20 years there has been an explosion in the number of stores offering souvlaki. In this way, it is very hard to suggest which is the best.
However, the following four places are really worth a visit:
- Ηοοcut (Agias Irinis Square 9, Monastiraki) is created by five well-known chefs who decided to open a souvlaki restaurant. They do not try to innovate, but rather create classic souvlaki wraps in their highest quality version.
- Lefteris o Politis (Satovriandou 20 & Romvis 18, Athens), on the other hand, serves Athenians a version of tylichto with a well-cooked pita, juicy burger, tomato, and onion for 71 years.
- At the same time, Prodorpion (Akadimias 52, Athens) is considered to serve the best pork skewers in downtown Athens. The meat is always freshly grilled and very juicy.
- Finally, if you want to try the best tylichto with a kebab, you must visit Tomas Kebab (Sarkoudinou 49, Neos Kosmos). Here Tomas and his sons, with traditional recipes from their homeland, Armenia, make a unique lamb kebab wrapped in a pita with onions and tomatoes.
The sandwich is a popular snack for all hours of the day in Athens. For many years, the term “vromiko,” which means “filthy” in Greek, was mostly used to describe sandwiches in Athens. These sandwiches are frequently cooked by street canteens using cheap materials (hence the nickname). Also, it has long been a favourite supper for people coming home from nighttime entertainment. However, things have changed and there are now many different sandwiches available, both in terms of quality and ingredient selection.
When talking about sandwiches, Guarantee (Veikou 41, Koukaki) is always a reference point. For the past 34 years, it has been creating fresh sandwiches in the heart of the Koukaki neighbourhood. Here, the uniqueness, quality, and variety of choices make a difference. Choose from more than 150 different ingredients to create your own sandwich.
Another choice is Amandine’s Bagels (Nikis 13, Syntagma Square), which creates inventive sandwiches with freshly baked bagels using French finesse.
Finally, one of the best options for street food is Talking Breads (Spirou Trikoupi 11, Exarcheia). Here they use only the highest-quality ingredients. Everything is perfect, right down to the last ingredient and the freshly baked butter bread. Despite the fact that many customers come here for the burgers, we opt for the five creative sandwiches.
Probably one of the most famous dishes in the world is pizza. It was invented in Naples and since then, along with its variants, has spread all over the world. In Athens, you can find numerous places making pizza, as it is one of the Greeks’ most beloved dishes. The following four places serve excellent pizza and are located at or near the city centre.
Every day at noon, Crust (Protogenous 13, Psyrri) opens and serves tasty, and genuine New York pizza. The ingredients are fresh, and the dough is airy yet crunchy.
The most well-known pizzeria in the centre is School Pizza Bar (Agia Eirinis 8, Monastiraki). It serves Italian pizza with a few American tweaks and is constantly busy. The dough is crunchy and paper-thin. It’s also intriguing how the restaurant is decorated to look like a classroom.
Another welcome discovery is Smak (Romvis 21, Athens). The dough, which is made and spiced for six days, is what makes the difference, while the pizza has a particular form with raised edges.
Tzaiant (Georgaki Olympiou 21, Koukaki) is a new pizzeria that has captured the attention of pizza enthusiasts. Here, you may try a pizza that deviates from the norm in 10 different mouthwatering combinations.
It is a favourite street food of millions of people around the world and has its rightful place in the hearts of the Athenians. Although twenty years ago you could only find burgers in fast food chains, now they have acquired their own separate place in the culinary history of this city. Today you can find many variations of the burger, from the most gourmet to the most simple street version. Three excellent options for a tasty burger in the city centre are these three places.
Tarantino Burgers (Dimitrakopoulou 17, Koukaki) has a fanatical audience. Here, you’ll find juicy, well-grilled beef burgers served on fluffy bread. Although there are numerous options and combinations, they use only selected ingredients, so the flavour isn’t compromised.
Pax Burgers (Aiolou 34, Monastiraki) is a self-service restaurant where the burgers (for which you have a choice between a burger of 140 gr and 200 gr) are extra tasty and well-grilled. The service here is very quick service despite the crowds that are usually waiting to be served.
Guerilla Chef Burgers (Solomou 33, Exarcheia) is a small burger joint that has become the talk of the town. Burger (single or double), bun, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup are enough to compose one of the juiciest and tastiest burgers in town.
The steamed buns, which originated in China have conquered the world in the last decade and have become a favourite street food in Athens. They are made with fluffy white dough and filled with various types of meat, vegetables, and usually spicy sauces. Athens is no exception to this new trend. Several restaurants have added bao buns to their menus, and many specialised shops are making them. Even the popular Greek fast food chain Goodys has introduced bao buns to its menu.
Thess Bao (Perikleous 30-32, Athens) is the best choice to try a large variety of bao buns. The buns are always freshly baked and with more than ten tasty combinations, which include vegan options as well as bao buns with burgers, you will surely have a problem deciding what to eat.
Another excellent option is Bao Bae (Kapsali 5-7, Kolonaki). Here, you can choose from seven tasty and inventive combinations of handmade buns. If you would like, you can pair it with some quality cocktails (which are served in a disposable glass to take with you on your walk).
Bao Buns from Thess Bao
I hope the information above has persuaded you of the variety of street food in Athens. Of course, there are other locations and delicacies to explore. Although this a detailed guide, nothing can compare to the chance discoveries you can make on your own during a journey.