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Wines on the Wing

A Family Guide to Athens Street Food

by Eugenia Lazaris

Jul 7, 2018

© Jamie Frattarelli | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Growing up, my family always lovingly called a trip to Greece “the festival of eating,” thanks to the myriad of delicious dishes the country is famous for. To this day I crave a good, juicy souvlaki pita enough to make me book a yearly trip. While Greek cuisine is known for being healthy and delicious, the country’s street food selection is a great way to experience the flavors of the culture while on the go.

Families visiting the ancient metropolis of Athens can rest assured wherever they find themselves in the city, they will always be able to find a delicious snack or meal that will satisfy the whole family without putting a huge dent in the budget. Choices are not only plentiful and easy to find, but they are surprisingly affordable.

Cretan products in Zappeion, Athens, Greece.

Cretan products in Zappeion, Athens, Greece © Isidoros Andronos | Dreamstime.com

Greek street food, feeding Greeks for centuries, is known for its simple approach to delicious flavors. In addition, it is an affordable way to feed a family, which makes a big difference when you are vacationing on a budget.

Americans are known for eating big breakfasts — something practically unheard of in Europe. While visiting Athens, eat breakfast like a local and grab a pita stuffed with cheese or spinach from a local bakery and enjoy it on the go. Depending on the shop, these delicious snacks can get pretty creative with different fillings like ham or pumpkin. The buttery, flaky crust filled with savory fillings is the perfect way to start your day and keep your tummy full until your next meal.

Gyros, known worldwide as the seasoned meat grilled on a spit over an open flame and sliced into a waiting pita stuffed with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki (a flavorful yogurt-cucumber sauce), can be found on practically every corner along with its cousin, souvlaki. This marinated meat is served in cubes and comes either on a stick or in a pita like its counterpart — either way you order it, it is the perfect meal to grab and go while you stroll around this magnificent city to take in the sights. A family of four could easily enjoy a souvlaki feast for less than €20.

In between meals, grab some koulouria. These buttery baked treats are part bread, part cookie. Not too sweet, they are a perfect snack to munch on while window-shopping through the trendy neighborhoods of Athens. Usually shaped like a ring and sprinkled with a generous helping of sesame seeds, they are sold practically everywhere you turn — even when stuck in traffic or sitting on the beach, you will always be able to find a street vendor with a stack of koulouria to offer.

During the summertime, there is perhaps one Greek street food that epitomizes the smells and flavors of Athens. Grilled corn. This surprisingly simple treat is grilled up on portable grills throughout the city and its aroma is truly intoxicating and irresistible. During the winter months, this savory treat is replaced by its cold-weather counterpart, roasted chestnuts.

If you are looking for an after-meal treat, grab some loukoumades. These delicious donuts are deep fried and bathed in a sweet honey syrup, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. While not a traditional street food (you won’t want to eat this sticky snack with your fingers!) they deserve to make the list because they are part of the Athens street food culture of stopping in a street-side cafe for a snack, a break from life and a chance to socialize with friends and family.

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