3 Days/Nights in Athens
In late May, my husband and I are spending 3 days in Athens (before we embark on a cruise). We'll most likely stay at the O&B hotel. We love to explore a city through food, and are excited to hear any recommendations for great meals (we're not afraid to try "hole in the wall" type places, and also would be open to nicer suggestions as well).
Feel free to include any "must-visit" spots, we love to walk and explore.
We just got back from two weeks in Greece...LOVED Filistron.
A little disappointed in Tzitzikas kai Mermigas. Maybe I had built it up too much in my head.
Had great fun with the tasting menu at Ta Kioupia, which is an overwhelming amount of food for 50e/pp. We viewed it as a great educational experience, and the restaurant is very lovely.
We had a nice meal our very last night at (oh, crap, the business card is in Greek)...Mesoilea? It is one of a stretch of restaurants that also contains Mamacas. Sort of a fun, younger scene over there.
Oh and another good place to know about is Ariston, at 10 Voulis Street. Just behind parliament square. It sells traditional Greek pies to take away - cheese, spinach, vegetable, chicken, etc. - for less than 2 euros but they're much nicer than the standard pies you get at bakeries in Athens. If you're in the centre of Athens and need a quick snack, this is the place.
Another place I like is Café Avyssinia.
More info here: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/athens/D11255.html
I disagree with the review that says prices are reasonable, I'd say they're high because portions are small. But the food and decor are great. If you go during the day, the furniture shops will be open. At night the square itself is a bit gloomy but there's plenty of atmosphere inside.
The tavernas in the meat market are very good for no frills traditional Greek food.
For the ultimate Greek experience I recommend Stoa Athanaton. It's an Athens institution. A restaurant/cafe and music hall also in the meat market (you go up steps to get there). There's live rembetiko music and very enthusiastic dancing during the day and at night. The crowd is a funny mix of market sellers, civil servants who work nearby, lawyers and others. If you want to do it more low key, I'd go in the afternoon (after 3.30pm) for an ouzo and maybe a snack.
If you can find time to eat in Piraeus - perhaps before your cruise? - there are two very good restaurants, excellent value that are really worth the trip. Kollias (http://kollias.gr/) has fish and seafood, excellent but difficult to get to, a taxi is your best bet. And O Stolos O Polemikos (Ethnikis Antisaseos 29-31, Drapetsona) has delicious food too. Both are very highly recommended.
i'd try and avoid most of the restaurants in Plaka, they're really not great, but here's a reliable list if you find yourselves in Plaka having to eat:
Btw, His suggestions are generally good but I don't agree with Kapni Karea - it's very useful when you want somewhere quiet in the centre of Athens, and the music is great but last time I ate there food was disgusting. So go for a drink or coffee only.
Lambros in Varkiza overlooking the sea is my favorite fish tavern. It is a bit pricey but worth it in my opinion.
Athiri is a great, very well priced urban restaurant in the Gazi area- which is not very far from where you are staying. It is elevated mediterranean food. They use fresh ingredients and the presentation and flavors are excellent. They have been awarded culinary awards here in Greece.
In Thissio, you must go to the rooftop seating of Filistron- a great restaurant with a menu made up of meze (small plates). Have your hotel make a reservation for you there. You will have a lovely view of the Acropolis!
Where are you staying? I might be able to make a couple of suggestions for eating, in the Thissio/Monasteraki area.
There are way too many must sees for three days, but if you've not been to Athens before the obvious "must" is the Acropolis. Go very early in the morning (it opens at 8.30) to see it before the hordes descend (that should be "ascend"). The next "must" now has to be the new Acropolis Museum, which is simply stunning. Again, go early to avoid the crowds: it opens at 8.30 and fills up by 10 and quiets down at lunchtime. It stays open in the evening until 8, and on a recent visit (I've just come back, actually) it was almost empty between 6 and 8.
The next must sees would have to be the other archaeological sites, especially the Agora and the Kerameikos, and their attached museums; and the National Archaeological Museum which has the best collection of Greek antiquities in the world. I would also include some time spent walking in the green hills near the Acropolis: the Pnyka, or Pnyx, where democracy was born, and the Philopappou Hill, from where the views of the city, especially at sunset, are marvellous.
That's more than enough to be getting on with, but there are other excellent museums too. It's a wonderful city, with a great laid-back atmnosphere. May is a good time to go, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
I recommend a hole-in-the-wall loukoumades shop (fried donuts with syrup and cinnamon) called Aigaion at 46 Panepistimiou St. Very hole in the wall - and half underground too - but delicious loukoumades and a quirky feel.
You might not want to go this far if you've only got 3 days, but Varsos in Kifissia (suburb 30min from centre of athens by metro) is a great place. It's one of the last traditional coffee-and-cake houses in Athens. The decor is dated 70s aristocratic. The galaktoboureko pastries are really good too. It's got a garden too if the weather's nice.
If I think of other suggestions, I'll add them
Hope you enjoy your vacation! Afraid I don't have any good restaurant suggestions, you should definitely stop by the roof top bar of the Grande Bretagne Hotel at sunset. They have an absolutely gorgeous view of the Acropolis with the sun setting behind it. (Also, if you haven't made your hotel reservation yet, it's a beautiful hotel, and quite convenient to the subway system. Highly recommended).