The staples of Greek cuisine have changed little since Golden Age. It has always taken local and seasonal ingredients at the peak of their flavour and freshness, served either raw or cooked in the simplest of fashions, on a grill, or slowly in the oven.

The people have relied for centuries on staples such as excellent olive oil, fragrant wild herbs, seafood, lamb or goat meat, along with an abundance of fresh vegetables, fruit, pulses and nuts, washed down with local wine.

Today, the traditional Greek diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world, prices are government-controlled and offer excellent value to the visitor.

There are numerous places to eat excellent Greek dishes in all parts of the capital, but Athens has much more to offer as a culinary centre.

Like many European capitals, this city has a thriving restaurant industry, featuring extremely good cuisine from all around the world.

Greeks love to eat out and welcome the opportunity to try new dishes and restaurants, which range from traditional French “haute" to “avant-garde" fusion cuisine.

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Where to Eat
In Greece you'll find a range of eating establishments. Each type specialises in certain dishes, so here is an explanation of the main names that you'll come across on your visit.

The ouzerie is a traditional establishment selling not only the fiery but pleasant aniseed-ftavoured alcoholic drink, but also the mezedes dishes that accompany it (ouzo is never drunk on an empty stomach). Octopus is traditional but it is not compulsory; you will also have a range of hot and cold vegetable and meat dishes to choose from. The psistaria offers fabulous food on the go. It serves gyros and souvlaki. These most ancient of fast food make a tasty lunch or snack.

The taverna is at the heart of Greek hospitality. These rustic eateries, often family run, offer a range of local dishes and country wine. This is where most Greek families will come to eat. More up-market eateries are known as restaurant; these will have fine tableware and offer nouvelle cuisine.
After your savoury courses, peruse the amazing choice at the zacharoplastia (pastry or sweet shop) or the galaktopolio, which specialises in yoghurt, cheese and

other dairy dishes. The kafenion is the Greek coffee shop, traditionally the domain of the male, and still so in the countryside and Greek Island villages. Usually very plainly decorated, with a few old tables and chairs outside, it is the focus of heated political debate and serious backgammon games.

When to Eat
Most tavernas and restaurants will be open to serve lunch and dinner. Lunch is taken between 12:30 and 2:30pm. Traditionally this would be followed by a siesta before work began again at 5:30 -6:00pm, but this is fast changing in the capital. Dinner is eaten late, usually around 9-10:00pm, though most establishments will serve food as late as 12:00am.

If you want to eat early, most will begin their evening service at around 6-7:00pm. You will definitely have your choice of table if you eat before 8pm, but atmosphere is definitely better later in the evening when local people come out to eat.

Be aware that Sunday is traditionally a day of rest for citizens and many eateries outside the main tourist areas are closed.