When it comes to street food scenes around Europe, we often think of Mediterranean countries like Italy or Portugal, but somewhere else is on the verge of rivaling these two destinations, and that’s Athens.

Athens is the hub of ancient Greek cuisine that foodies can’t get enough of; the way the street food vendors here work their magic is a sight to behold, from the slicing of some fresh gyros to baking batches of koulouri as the sun comes up.

If you’re on the hunt for the best street food in Athens, I’ve got all the inside knowledge from when I planned my Athens food tours. In this list, I’ll give you some insight into the finest roadside dishes you can try in the Greek capital, including delicacies like bougatsa, souvlaki, and much more.

Bougatsa

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Bougatsa is a popular Greek breakfast bite; it’s sort of like a custard pie with phyllo pastry. The recipe is said to come from the Byzantines, who were massive consumers of pies specifically made in pans.

Some of the ingredients used to make these Greek pies include eggs, butter, sugar, milk, semolina, and vanilla extract. When it’s finished, it should be golden brown in color and have a flaky appearance on the outside.

Where To Eat It?

Set in one of my favorite districts in all of Athens, Psirri, Bougatsadiko Psirri is a delightful pie/pastry shop that’s always so busy. You’ll be lucky enough to get a seat in here, even during the low tourist season. 

I love the aesthetics here, between the wooden design on the ceiling and grey bricked walls throughout. However, the sweet and salty versions of bougatsa are a big draw for me. While the sweet type is a classic, I think the salty version is better.

It’s filled with feta cheese, which makes it salty, with some slightly spicy notes to the starchiness of the dough. The piece I got was chopped into ten slices, and I got a cocktail stick, which allowed me to pick slowly as I enjoyed my morning espresso.

Bougatsadiko Psirri (€) – Pl. Iroon 1, Athina 105 54, Greece – Every day, 7:00 am to 1:00 am

Souvlaki 

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Nothing screams Greek street food like a couple of skewers of souvlaki, which are marinated meat skewers known to come from the beautiful Greek island of Santorini.

Everywhere you walk in Athens, you’ll see someone cooking souvlaki. The skewers are usually grilled on a barbecue on the side of the street, so you can easily spot them being made. 

Souvlaki can be made with any meat, whether it’s chicken, pork, lamb, or beef; however, pork souvlaki is the most-eaten version among local Athenians. There are two ways souvlaki can be eaten, either on a skewer or with pita bread, you’ll be asked when you’re ordering what type you want.

Where To Eat It?

The next time you’re in Athens, add Street Souvlaki in Kolokotroni to your list of stops on your street food tour. It’s in a relatively small building, but don’t let that turn you off, as they’ve got lots of seats and tables outside. 

Even when you’re out there, you can still see the street vendors doing what they do best.

My order of souvlaki came out on a tray covered in parchment paper. It was loaded with three skewers of pork, red onions, French fries, chopped tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, and small triangle-shaped pita bread.

The pork meat was so succulent with some light, tangy, and smoky flavors. Around the edge of each piece was a bit of charring, which is where the smokiness came from; it tasted phenomenal with the cool cucumber tinge from the tzatziki sauce.

Street Souvlaki (€) – Kolokotroni 30, Athina 105 62, Greece – Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 am to 2:00 am, and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am to 3:00 am

Sardeles

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I couldn’t possibly write a list of food you can find on the streets of Athens without mentioning at least one seafood dish. 

Sardeles is a plate close to many Greek hearts; they are sardines that fishermen catch in the mornings; they then salt them as soon as they catch them and are sold to vendors who sell them in the evenings.

This dish is seasonal in Greece, so your best chance of trying it is in July and August. It’s sold during the summer months; if you come outside of this period, the dish will be wiped off the menu entirely.

Where To Eat It?

Zisis, Fish In A Cone is a dining establishment near Monastiraki that’s very close to my heart. From the typical white Cycladic designs to the bustling atmosphere made by the chatter among customers and staff, there’s something about the vibe here that gets me every time.

The first time I had their grilled sardines, I was blown away by the tasty seasoning and the generous serving; there were ten in total on the plate.

When the plate was dropped, I started to regret ordering a main course with them. However, the sizzling oceanic aromas motivated me. 

In terms of taste, the grilled sardines were quite salty with a little bit of a nutty aftertaste. I asked the server for some extra lemon to give them a zesty kick, which mixed nicely with the overall richness of the dish.

When I bit into them, I noticed they were pretty moist with a tender interior; they were also a bit juicy, which was amazing when I added the lemon, as it really brought out their flavors.

Zisis, Fish In A Cone (€€) – Athinaidos 3, Athina 105 63, Greece – Sunday to Thursday, 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 12:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Loukoumades

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Loukoumades are traditional Greek dumplings; this fast food small in size and glazed on the outside with honey. Often fried in batches, loukoumades should be eaten around lunchtime; they’re also served a lot of the time at weddings in Greece.

Athenians claim that these bite-sized donuts are one of the oldest desserts in the world. A Greek poet named Callimachus mentioned in the past that those who won in the Olympics were gifted ‘honey tokens,’ which Greeks believe were loukoumades.

Where To Eat It?

There’s a dessert shop north of Monastiraki called LUKUMAΔΕΣ; they’re well known for their mouthwatering loukoumades, which I’ve tried on many occasions. I couldn’t get over the buzz that was about this place, there were so many people mingling and having a good time even at 11:30 pm at night.

It’s one of those food spots where you go and try their recipe, and you’ll never be able to go anywhere else after; it’s that good.

Fluffy with a delicate crunch, you can order the loukoumades in a variety of flavors; I recommend you go for the salted caramel if it’s your first time. 

The portion came with nine pieces, which I could have easily shared with someone else, but since I was on my own, I was forced to eat all of them; I wasn’t complaining.

I found the sauce to be quite buttery and creamy; it wasn’t overly sweet like other salted caramels I’ve tried in the past. The pieces of loukoumades had soft dough on the inside, which was quite rich, but the exterior was crispy.

LUKUMAΔΕΣ (€€) – Eolou 21, & Aghias Irinis Str, Athina 105 51, Greece – Tuesday to Thursday, 8:00 am to 1:00 am, Friday and Saturday, 8:00 am to 2:00 am, and Sunday and Monday, 9:00 am to 1:00 am

Gyros

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Saving the best until last, the final traditional Greek street food I have for you to try is gyros. Served in eateries, tavernas, bars and stalls throughout the country, I would say gyros are probably the most famous of all food to hail from Greece.

Gyros/gyro are very similar to kebabs. They’re pitta wraps filled with marinated meat from a rotisserie, French fries, chopped tomato, red onion, and a dollop of tzatziki for some sourness. The popular meat used for gyros in Greece is pork, but you can find other versions that include chicken or lamb.

The best way to spot a stall selling gyros is by looking out for the rotisserie, which is normally placed somewhere close to the chef; you won’t be able to miss it.

Where To Eat It?

I must say, almost every stall selling gyros in Athens is pretty good; I always chop and change the one I go to for something different. The last place I went to that I’ve been telling everyone about is Meet The Greek on Fokionos.

Meet The Greek specializes only in gyros, and they sure do a good job of it; if the massive line of people outside at every hour of the day doesn’t explain it, I don’t know what will.

Similar to almost all places selling gyros, my order came out in a cone of parchment paper with the pita bread wedged in the middle. It also comes on a plate if you decide to eat onsite.

With no question, I went for the pork gyros, and it was insanely tasty; heavy on the French fries and marinated meat, and lots of onions to give it a sharp, pungent edge.

The flavor profile of this gyro was quite herby, with a blend of garlic and rosemary notes, and the tzatziki sauce gave it an earthy undertone.

Meet The Greek (€€) – Fokionos 2-4, Athina 105 63, Greece – Monday to Saturday, 12:00 pm to 12:00 am, and closed on Sundays

Conclusion

I think there are enough options in this post to give you a taste of what lies ahead when you get out into the streets of Athens and check out the curbside dining scene.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and try something from a grill on a corner; these dishes will rival anything you’ll find in one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants.



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