The tasty Greek attraction: Athens Food Tour with Athens Walking Tours

Still drooling thinking at my last week experience: Athens Food Tour, my first culinary experience of this kind. In my second day in Athens, with Athens Walking Tour and an amazing guide, Artemis. She totally made us fall for the Greek habits. I was even starting to wander if the Greek habit of eating at midnight and then go staring to bed it is not a very good idea actually.

It all started in a beautiful morning, at the end of September, when we all gathered at 9:15 at the Panepistimio metro station, in front of Zara store, near Starbucks.

Of course I skipped breakfast. Instead, I had a double cappuccino from a random vendor in Omonia square and it was very good. A perfect morning, as you can see.

With such a decor, it is a good idea to take your coffee to go in Athens
With such a decor, the best to immerse in the city life is to take your coffee to go in Athens

Since the very beginning, we met our guide, Artemis and we received a map of Athens and a list with all the places we will visit, the goodies we will have and their story and ingredients.

Meeting the group of 12: we were told about many dishes and their stories, like baklava, moussaka and much more
Meeting the group of 12: we were told about many dishes and their stories, like baklava, moussaka and much more

First stop: Kolouri, the late Greek Breakfast

Kolouri is the Greek pretzel, only that is round and covered in sesame seeds. It is very tasty and nourishing, thanks to the sesame seeds.

The typical Greek breakfast is made of strong coffee and cigarette, some milk for the kids. So, at about 10 they get hungry and then it is time for kolouri, the late breakfast. Kids take one at school, in their way, too. I may add that the alternative for the late breakfast are the delicious pies, we got later at Creme Royale.

Greek meals: lunch around 5 pm! And then the dinner? After 10 pm, in the summer days even at midnight. Greeks usually go to sleep immediately after the dinner.

The youngsters go to disco, clubs, bars, return home at 2,3 am, eat and then go to sleep, of course. It is the Greek way. As Artemis said: ”hey I do not pretend that our lifestyle is the healthiest, but it is the way we leave. We are lucky with the olive oil.”

Loukoumades at Ayaiov, a family business from 1926

Loukoumades are some round shaped doughnut, soaked in honey, walnuts and cinnamon. They are absolutely delicious. A little crunchy and not extremely sweet, just perfect. I also loved the cosines of Ayaiov little shop and I bet that those bougatsa they also had are amazing, too.

Loukoumades in Ayaiov, Athens
Loukoumades in Ayaiov, Athens

Varvakios Agora – Central Market

Our next stop: walked over to the central meat, fish, fruit and vegetable market. All the products are very fresh, thanks to a Greek law that is respected as favors anyone involved: all the products must be sold until 18:00 o’clock. To ensure this, all the vendors have contract with one or more restaurants.
Hence, at 17:50 all the merchandise that was left is sold, half price, to the restaurants. They cannot pick: just take all that is left.

This law is good for everybody: vendors have their merchandise sold, restaurants have fresh products half price and citizens have only fresh produce.
In the morning the markets are not very crowded, as the vendors start to cut down prices around noon, so the locals go at around 12. It is an ideal time: do you remember that they take lunch at around 5 pm?
The atmosphere in the market is very colorful: everybody try to lure you to purchase their products showing it, loudly welcoming you and smiling. Greeks are very good merchants.

Total freshness in Varvakios Agora
Total freshness in Varvakios Agora

Zouridakis Cretan Store – the Greek products marathon 

Crete is the largest island of Greece and has an unique climate and an enormous amount of endemic plants and fruits. We went to Zouridakis Cretan Store, a family business at the third generation, that produce the merchandise in Crete and sells it in Athens.

Here we tasted a lot of incredible tasty natural products.  Bread with olive oil, olives, olives spread, cakes, goat cheese, other types of cheese and a lot of spoon sweets. Crete is famous for thyme honey, we also tried.

My favorite were, besides cheese and olives the carob sweets and the revelation was the olives and honey jam. I couldn’t imagine that it can be so tasty.  And the Katsuni – Crete delicious biscuits, not crispy, but soft with cheese inside.

Zouridakis Cretan Store
Zouridakis Cretan Store

Greek liquors: delicious 

At the end we tried two Greek liquors and while for some they were pretty strong, I must admit that for a Romanian it was more like a syrup. Nevertheless, it is very tasty and obviously with alcohol in it. I loved it, for dessert. As for the Greek drinks, I love Mastic, Tsipuro and Ouzo more, let’s say, stronger ones we are used to.

Liqueur time
Liqueur time

One year old Lou, our younger group member tasted the whole things (except the alcohol) and enjoyed it too. The fresh cheese with honey was his favorite.

Zouridakis Cretan Store
Zouridakis Cretan Store

Creme Royale – Bougatserie 

Love Creme Royale stop: we had here some of the famous Greek pies: Spanakopita, with feta cheese and spinach and Bougatsa with cheese – there are many types of Bougatsa, but hey, will not disclose more, don’t want to spoil the surprise. It is totally water mouthing. Could eat only those two for a day. Or two.

Karamanlidika tavern – wine time

At Karamanlidika we had home wine, very good quality and very cold, perfect for the hot day, water and a homemade dish, of peas and potatoes. And they also have a very good free WiFi, which was very much welcomed by me and Laura. It seemed we were the only ones in the group so desperate to be online, I wander why?

Karamanlidika tavern - Athens Food Tour
Karamanlidika tavern – Athens Food Tour

Fruits stop – vitamins intake

Here we tasted some dry fruits and then grapes, the ones used to do the rising. They were delicious and I must mention we had them after Artemis washed them all.

Fresh treats in Athens
Fresh treats in Athens

Pastourma – beef meat at Miran store

We visited a charcuterie store and we had slices of pastourma and rusk bread. It is delicious and we loved to hear about the process of making this tasty treat.

Now it is modern, but back in time, the Greeks kept the meat between their but and the saddle while riding a horse till the pastourma was ready. I never cease to be astonished about the ingeniously of our ancestors.

I think I loved more the explanations and the guide than the food itself, it is tastier when explained in a nice manner
I think I loved more the explanations and the guide than the food itself, it is tastier when explained in a nice manner

Fotsis herbal store 

Spices, teas, exotic oils, different essential oils, natural soaps, pumice, it is an absolute heaven for all those who favor natural products. We smelled some jars with different combination of herbs and fruits, I bet the tea are delicious.

Here we have learned and tasted mastic: the tears, the mastic tree resin that is only produces in Chios Greek island. While the trees were planted in different areas of the globe, it was pointless, as they didn’t made the tears, the gum. Even if  the trees grew and the places had similar climate as Chios. Mastic is really good for different health conditions and generally to increase immunity. In Greece there is also a very delicious liqueur, Mastic.

Footsie store, Athena
Footsie store, Athens
Pumice
Pumice
Laura is crazy about natural tea and products generally, Fotsis is like a heaven for her
Laura is crazy about natural tea and products generally, Fotsis is like a heaven for her

Gyros in Iroon square

Our last stop was in a traditional tavern in Iroon square, where Artemis said good bye to us, before she ordered gyros for everybody depending on the preferences. We also had water from the house and a very good free WiFi. The beers we took extra were very cheap, 3,5 euro for a big bottle of Fix, a blonde Greek beer we chose.

Gyros: is a pita filled with pork (or chicken or completely vegetarian) with fries, tomatoes, salad, onions and of course tzatziki. In Greece I always take the pork gyros (and also in Romania, we have traditional Greek food tavernas, but somehow, the best ones are in Greece).

Some carbs plus beer: perfect in a sunny warm September afternoon
Some carbs plus beer: perfect in a sunny warm September afternoon

About the Culinary Tours in Athens

We had a Food Tour with Athens Walking Tours and they have many Culinary Tours to chose from. Tours like: Athens Wine Tasting Tour, Athens Cooking Lesson and Dinner, Sweet bites and Sights. Plus many other Athens tours, here more info about the tours and booking – English website.

The Food Tour was part of my freelance Info Trip in Athens, as I only chose those experiences and stays that are in my dream travel list and may say enjoyed the tour even more than expected reading the tons of positive reviews about it.

Upon reservation, you will receive all the details about the place to meet, hour, what to have with you (water, comfortable shoes…) and others.

Our tour was 3 hours and a half and in English, but there are also tours available in other languages, for private tours they also offer. Now it is a new challenge, to search for food tours in the cities or countries I visit, as it is a great way to get to know a country: you cannot understand it unless you try the food. Challenge accepted.

So, next on my list in each destination: culinary tours and cooking lessons tours. I also love the Wine Tours, but it is an old love story. Enough reasons to stay longer in Athens? 

Kali orexi!

10 Comment

  1. Wow! you post reminds me of my honeymoon in Athens! Stunning pictures 🙂

  2. This post makes me hungry. We had a food tour in Amsterdam and it was one of the best experiences we had in the city. We’re going on a similar tour next week when we visit Greece. I can’t wait to taste their famous gyros and coffee. 🙂

  3. Ah! All of these food items look and sound amazing 🙂 Sweets and cheese are my weak spots but the markets and charcuterie store makes me want to go Athens for the food alone. Thanks for this post!

  4. Wow! The walking tour around Athens incorporated with the food tour sounds great. I like the Fortis store a lot!!! I have used pumice stones as a kid when I lived in India and they are really great…Very informative post with attractive colorful pictures. Definitely doing the Athens walking tour next year when I am there

  5. OMG the food looks amaaazing!!! I would love to go to Athens one day. I enjoyed all the photos you shared

  6. Very nice article! Of course a food tour is my absolute weakness, yours makes me water at the mouth! And of course gotta have time for wine-time 🙂 Looks like a great trip!

  7. I love doing food tours and this looks like a great one. So much good food to try 🙂

  8. There is something funny about reading that you started a tour of an ancient city with so much history at a Starbucks. LOL! Love it. I am planning a vacation to Greece for a BIG birthday that is coming up! (Though officially I turn 29 again every single year. 😉 Hey – age is just a number right? And I get to choose the number. LOL! I am totally intrigued by this tour and will add it to the list of must do things in Athens!

  9. this reminds me of my trip to Greece two years ago. The food is so amazing. You captured it very well! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Greek food is amazing thank you!