One of my favorite things about exploring any city is delving into the foodie scene and partaking in some epic culinary experiences. Athens, Greece offers a ton of options for travelers who fancy food, cocktails and wine, but here are my 5 must-try culinary experiences in Athens:
5. Grab a Seaside Dinner on the Athenian Riviera
The Athens Riviera is chock-full of waterfront restaurants offering patrons their choice of fresh-caught seafood. If you’re in Athens for a few days and seeking a unique dinner experience, I would recommend that you make the 10 mile pilgrimage south to the Riviera. Choose a restaurant overlooking the Saronic Gulf, order several dishes to share and relax as the sky changes idyllic shades of pink and orange and reflects on the Gulf’s sparkling surface. While in Athens I dined at the Riviera’s Kastelorizo Varkiza. The restaurant offered large portions of Greek dishes prepared with a modern twist in a sophisticated seaside setting.
4. Check Out the City’s Unique Craft Cocktail Concepts
The craft cocktail craze has caught on in Athens. I know what you may be thinking, most cities have fully embraced this concept, so what’s special about the Athens cocktail scene? Well, suffice it to say, the cocktail bars in Athens are particularly unique and specialized… CV Distiller is a swanky whiskey bar whose cellar is packed with rare and upscale bottles, Baba Au Rum serves elaborate rum cocktails from around the globe in a playful retro tiki-bar setting, and The Gin Joint serves more than 70 different types of gin in an intimate and quirky atmosphere.
Looking for a unique locale to get into the “spirit” for happy hour? Noel is a holiday-themed cocktail bar spreading Christmas cheer all year long. Despite the bar’s theme having the potential to be hokey, this establishment somehow pulls it off in classy manner that isn’t the least bit cheesy. Are you a mixology snob seeking above-par cocktail ingredients? The owner of Kolokotroni 9 takes “carefully crafted” to a completely different level – he forages the mountains of Crete for the herbs he uses in his cocktails.
3. Dine With Stunning Views at St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel
I’m a sucker for a great meal with a stunning view, and I was treated to just that during my stay at the luxurious five star St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel in the trendy Kolonaki neighborhood. The hotel’s dining floor offers impressive panoramas of the entire city with clear views of the illuminated Acropolis and all the way to the Saronic Islands. One of my most memorable and relaxing meals of my trip was when I planted myself on the hotel’s dining balcony and watched the sunset as I indulged in upscale Greek barbecue. The colorful sunset views were as impressive as the rooftop ambiance and delicious food.
2. Sample and Learn About Local Wines
You don’t have to venture out to a producer’s wine farm in the Greek countryside to partake in tasting some local wines. Wine bars have been popping up all over Athens as the younger generation have taken a renewed interest in the country’s local varietals. I couldn’t walk through any hip neighborhoods without stumbling across a chic wine bar, many which host wine festivals or events with producers. Some local-approved wine bars you may want to stop in for a tasting include Oinoscent, Heteroclito, Warehouse and Kiki de Grèce.
1. Indulge in an Epic Dinner at Aleria
Wow – Aleria was, without a doubt, my favorite culinary experience in Athens… probably my favorite culinary experience all year! I’d highly recommend indulging in the chef’s seven course tasting menu, available with or without wine pairings. Each of the courses were a modern and playful interpretation of classic Greek cuisine, and the chef expertly blended textures and flavors to create carefully crafted dishes which were as pleasing to the eye as they were to the taste-buds. My favorite courses were the amberjack tartare with bergamot and sea urchin eggs and the roasted lamb with butter beans, celeriac and caper berries.
I can see why Aleria is touted one of the best restaurants in Athens. Not only was the food delectable, it is served in a beautiful setting with impeccable service.
Is your mouth watering yet? Which of these must-try culinary experiences in Athens would you like to try?
Thank you to the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau for inviting me to the beautiful city of Athens, Greece. As always, all opinions are my own. Above photos courtesy of Kastelorizo Varkiza, Baba Au Rum, The Gin Joint and Aleria.
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