“Don’t eat anything – not even breakfast,” instructed my email from Greeking.Me Food tours. “You won’t have room left for lunch afterwards!” Me: “I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS.”
Ask any frequent traveler what some of their favorite capital cities in the world are, and I can guarantee that few will say Athens. In fact, nearly every single person I messaged asking for things to do in Athens basically told me to see the Acropolis, then head straight to the islands.
I spent nearly a week in Athens and wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment. In fact, Athens is vibrant and cultural, filled with dozens of narrow alleyways and streets, a huge variety of delicious food, and many distinctive neighborhoods (check out all the must-visit sites). We would have never eaten half of these items if it weren’t for Greeking Me’s amazing Athens for Foodies food tour.
Even though Nancy and I were nearing the end of our time in Greece by the time we did the food tour, we still managed to encounter plenty of new and dishes and delicious eats with Greeking.me.
Athens Food Tour Review: Eating with Greeking.Me
At promptly 10 am, Nancy and I met in Syntagma Square for breakfast and a healthy dose of culinary history. Our tour guide, Elena, shared how colonization, migration and agriculture influenced Greek cuisine and eating habits. For breakfast, we shared some koulouri, a pretzel-like bread made with toasted sesame seeds, twin sister to Turkish simit. Fun fact: there is no “best” kuluri stand in Athens because they’re all made by one bakery in Psiri and distributed to all the stands throughout the city. Plus, at only 85 calories apiece, this is truly the breakfast of champions.
Our next stop was just across the square. Elena explained that we would be alternating between savory and sweet dishes to keep our palates and stomachs happy. Fine by me! While this bakery had enough drool-worthy looking desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth for a month, we were there for their most well-known dessert: rizogalo – rice pudding made with buffalo milk. Yes, it sounds weird but it was surprisingly light, delicious, and not overly sweet. Nom.
Our third stop was to a tiny shop not far from Ermou street, where you can find the best pies in Athens. Pies, in both savory and sweet forms, are huge in Athens and are the perfect meal or snack: a favorite for me given my tendency to prefer small bites to big meals. Funnily enough, Nancy and I had already been to this pie shop at the beginning of our trip, but we hadn’t tried the famous kuru pie, a cheese pie made without olive oil (atypical for Greek pies). While it was certainly good, I much prefer the variety of other pies they sell, with my favorite being the spinach and cheese. If you find yourself in Athens, it’s definitely worth coming here and picking up a few to sample.
We continued learning more about Athens’ history as we strolled down Ermou Street, stopping at some churches and squares enroute to our second round of dessert for the day. When Elena told us we were about to sample Loukoumades (Greek donuts), I squealed with excitement. I’d just been telling Nancy that I was upset that we hadn’t managed to sample them just yet (we’d been in Greece for nearly two weeks at that point). Anyway, Loukoumades bear no resemblance to American donuts whatsoever, except for in shape. These are lightly fried and dipped in honey and cinnamon. In fact, Greeks love loukoumades so much that they used to be the prize for Olympians in ancient Greece! How’s that for some #MotivationMonday?
No food tour is complete without a visit to the central market and this one was no exception. After a quick stop to watch (and smell) coffee being freshly ground at Coffee Blend, we headed to the Central Market. Unlike most markets, this one sells only meat and fish and opens at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM. After checking out the entire cast of The Little Mermaid, we were led to one of the oldest restaurants in the meat market, which serves meals according to whatever is fresh that day. Our group shared some of my favorite dishes of the day: bifteki, a giant meatball with herbs, and yemista, stuffed tomato with rice and spices. So freaking drool-worthy. They weren’t kidding when they told us to come hungry!
Because somehow Nancy and I hadn’t consumed enough cheese on our trip thus far (I straight up went on a dairy detox when I got home), we crossed the street to do a cheese sampling at the cheese shop. Greeks consume an average of 27 kilos of cheese per year (!!!) so I didn’t feel too bad about my ridiculous level of consumption either. Here, we tasted four types of cheese: feta, ladotiri, graviera, and manouri. Fun fact: feta has to be aged three months and have a certain percentage of sheep and goats milk to be called feta. This definitely explains why the feta in Greece is amazing, whereas the version in the U.S. tastes like someone made it in a factory.
I feel like I’m getting full just typing this but we weren’t done just yet! We meandered over to the Psiri neighborhood – more specifically, Evripidou, the street that Nancy and I were staying on at the end of our trip. In one breath, our guide told us the best spices in all of Athens are sold here, but also that the street is shady AF at night. Oops. What’s life without a little risk, right? Anyway, here we went to the famous Miran, a cold cuts and cheese shop that has over-the-top décor and a coma-inducing sampler platter. Our no pork dietary restrictions were accommodated pretty easily, and we even got to try dolmades – Greek-style stuffed grape leaves – along with our cheese and meats.
Honestly, I was so full I could have easily rolled to the next stop, but thankfully Elena told us it would be our last food stop of the day. We walked to the end of the street to an inconspicuous little restaurant where I had the best grilled chicken I ate in Greece. It was served with kafteri sauce – a slightly spicy feta, tomato, and olive oil blend topped with chili pepper. Let’s just say I made sure to write down the recipe for future cooking adventures.
By this point, it was early afternoon and between the food coma and the lack of caffeine, my body was screaming for coffee. Luckily, our final stop was to a chic, hipster café in Psiri for a Greek coffee. It was there that I learned that Greek coffee was stolen from the Turkish, who stole it from the Arabs. So basically, it was my people’s coffee. And it was delicious, because we make amazing coffee, obviously. In all honesty, I would have never discovered this neighborhood on my own, so I was extra ecstatic that the food tour covered areas outside of touristy Plaka and Koukaki.
Elena dropped us off at Monastaraki Square, with goody bags and restaurant recommendations a plenty. Just like that, the food tour was done and Nancy and I went back to our hotel to recover from the day’s eating marathon. Thankfully, it was only a short walk away.
Headed to Greece for a week? Check out this one week itinerary.
Booking a tour with Greeking.me
I’ve done a fair amount of food tours and Greeking.Me’s was definitely one of the best. It was an excellent mix of historical stops and eating, and we truly sampled a huge variety in a short amount of time. You’ll get an excellent introduction to Greek cuisine away from the touristy neighborhoods and frankly, it’s impossible to leave this tour feeling hungry. If you’re looking for a delicious way to explore Athens, this is by far the best way to do it. You can book the Athens for Foodies food tour or check out the rest of their awesome experiences (like dance lessons!).
More Greece ResourcesPlanning a trip to Greece soon? Check out ALL my posts on Greece below:
- Greece Travel Guide
- Sailing Greece: Exploring Greek Islands with A Dot in the Blue
- Athens Food Tour: Eating with Greeking.Me
Tell me: Which Greek dish would you most like to try? Share in the comments below!
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