Greece may not have an aristocratic culinary tradition, but food is one of the main draws, especially in Athens, where there are a wealth of options. The high-end places almost invariably require reservations, but the casual tavernas usually don’t. Remember, too, that Athenians tend to eat late.
Chef Alexandros Kardasis presides over this deservedly popular restaurant in a renovated house on fashionable Plateon Street. His menu changes regularly, but don’t miss the cod doughnut with a light sweet potato skordalia (potato and garlic spread), split peas from Santorini with caramelized onion and tomato, and the grilled sea bream with vegetables and a fish soup. Also consider the veal in a red sauce with hilopites (traditional Greek noodles) and sfela cheese from Messinia. Closed Monday. US$55.
Plateon 15. Tel. (210) 346-2983
I have to admit, I dislike the name, but the food is as imaginative as you’ll find in town and has garnered the restaurant two Michelin stars. The setting is lovely, in a neoclassical building with a serene, contemporary dining room. Look for such dishes as the rich, flavorful sea urchin pasta, and Greek bottarga (cured and salted fish roe) tartlet with white chocolate. Closed Sunday and Monday. Prix fixe menu, US$170.
13 Paramithias and Salaminos, Keramikos. Tel. (210) 524-2727
Located in the city’s Lycabettus neighborhood, this excellent seafood restaurant has fine views of the Acropolis and serves one of the best catch-of-the-day menus in Athens. Follow one of the outstanding starters — maybe sautéed prawns with chile and feta cheese or octopus stew with sun-dried tomatoes, thyme honey and homemade potato chips — with grilled grouper fillet with summer truffles, potatoes and Santorini wine sauce. US$85
Voukourestiou 47. Tel. (210) 360-8621
Many Athenians consider chef-owner Lefteris Lazarou’s establishment, with its pleasant waterfront location in Piraeus, to be the best seafood restaurant in the city. The catch of the day varies, of course, as does the menu, but look for dishes such as grilled cuttlefish with caramelized lentils and orange, and orzo cooked with crayfish or shrimp, Limnio wine, dried hot red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese. Be forewarned that the fish here is sold according to weight, so it is usually wise to ask the price to avoid an unpleasant surprise. US$105
Akti Koumoundourou 52, Mikrolimano, Piraeus. Tel. (210) 522-8400