For a long time, eating out in Greece was synonymous with decadence: heavy food loaded with saturated fats. Thankfully, healthy food is making a comeback, and as with every food trend Athens is at its epicenter. While cutting out fast food and takeout is pretty much impossible for the Athenians and their fast-paced lifestyle, lighter and more nutritious options for those quick bites are popping up around the city. Of course, there are also great dinner options.
So rest assured, whether you’re looking for a healthy fast food option, a quick energy boost, or a vegan restaurant good enough to bring carnivore friends, Athens has it. Below are our top picks.
FONTANA LIVING WELL
Jars filled with spices, herbs, superfruits, oats and seeds line the walls in this health store, which doubles as a juice bar.
Try: Your own choice of ingredients in a juice or smoothie before deciding which to purchase for home, or go with something from the menu, like the Popeye, with spinach, chia seeds, banana, green apple, mint and lemon.
Ermou & 17 Aiolou
Open Mon-Sat 8:00-23:00, Sun 9:30-23:00
Who says takeout food has to be greasy? Holy Greens, located in an office building in the northeastern suburb of Marousi, follows a Swedish concept of healthy but filling salads to give you energy throughout the day; perfect for a quick bite in between meetings.
Try: The Eat Your Greens, with red quinoa, avocado, pickled ginger, broccoli, beetroot hummus and lemon basil vinaigrette, or the Beef Vietnam, with glass noodles, red cabbage, pulled beef, cucumber, pomegranate, roasted peanuts and cilantro-habanero dressing.
3A Fragoklisias, Marousi
Open Mon-Fri 8:00-19.00, Sat 10:00-16:00
Juices you could live on as well as raw soups and smoothies made with homemade almond milk.
Try: Whatever is in season. The seasonal menu changes with the quality of the fruit and vegetables. From the regular menu, try the Mr Green juice, with spinach, celery, lime, green apple, cucumber and parsley.
6 Athanasiou Diakou & Porinou
Open Mon-Fri 8:00-20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-18:00
Falafel is the souvlaki lover’s healthy option, and at Falafellas, you won’t feel like anything’s missing. This place is hip, and has been for a couple of years already.
Try: Everything. The falafel in pita bread, the hummus and the tabbouleh.
Open Mon-Thu 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-00:00
Open Mon-Sat 10:00-22:00
A wild mix of different takeout foods, all coming from the same busy kitchen, is what brings people here. Vegan Nation makes everything from sushi to moussaka, to Brazilian feijoada to gazpacho, and from healthy breakfasts to decadent desserts.
Try: The sandwiches, the spaghetti bolognese with soy mince, any of the salads and the brownie tiramisu.
The beverages at this juice bar are good for whatever ails you. They’re not medicine, but if you’re suffering from a hangover, or are a smoker or a diabetic, the staff will find something special to recommend to you.
Try: Juice No. 13, with kiwi, pear, blackberry, lemon balm, cherry tomato, grapes, carrot and spearmint. 4
Open Mon-Fri 6:00-22:30, Sat 7:30-22:30, Sun 8:30-22:30
6 Vyronos & Vakchou, Plaka
Open daily 9:30-19:00
POKÉ HAWAIIAN SUSHI
Chef Giannis Kantilidis, who used to work at the renowned seafood restaurant Varoulko, makes poké (bowls of Hawaiian sushi) for the masses in the center of Athens. You can design your own bowl with fresh, raw Greek seafood, rice, veggies and fruit, or you can choose a bowl from the menu.
Try: The O’Ahu, with salmon, bean sprouts, avocado, nori, crispy onions and soy-sesame sauce; the Wai Mea, with fresh white fish, avocado, mango, red chili, coriander and the same sauce; and the Ai Ai, with boiled octopus, green beans, and aioli (a garlic and olive oil sauce). Order the small bowls so you can try them all.
7 Petraki, Syntagma
Open Mon-Sat 13:00-23:00
This is the place for juices, smoothies, and healthy snacks that are products of organic farming.
Try: The X-Factor juice, with kiwi, pineapple, spinach, wheatgrass, and honey, and the coconut chia pudding.
21 Sina, Kolonaki
Open Mon-Fri 9:00-20:00, Sat 9:30-19:30
With a focus on vegetables and unprocessed ingredients, this unpretentious bistro makes scrumptious healthy food that you’ll want to copy at home.
Try: The dakos with homemade carob rusks, topped with grated tomato and cream cheese made from almonds, or the mushroom gyros (which tastes remarkably similar to pork gyros) with homemade pita bread and vegan tzatziki.
23 Dekeleon, Gazi
Open Wed-Sun 14:00-23:00
Head to the southern suburb of Glyfada for some of the healthiest dishes in Athens. Aside from a few dishes with honey, Yi’s menu is all vegan raw food. The kitchens here look like a chain of laboratories, which is what’s needed to make all their homemade flours, butters, breads and more.
Try: The desserts. Particularly the banoffee, and the unbelievable chocolate pastry with hazelnut cream filling. The wraps made from dried apple and banana are sweet, but strangely a perfect match for the savory stuffings. The “fricassée” truly does taste just like a tangy fricassée stew, but is raw and made with mushrooms and avocado.
69 Grigoriou Lambraki
Open Mon-Fri 8:00-24:00, Sat 9:00-00:45, Sun 9:00-24:00
Books on veganism for kids and adults line the wall at Michelin Guide-recommended Mama Tierra. Chef and co-owner Polash Alam prepares international cuisine with added Indian spices and natural ingredients.
Try: The comforting vegetable korma, the excellent mushroom burger and the green salad with strawberry vinaigrette.
Open Mon-Fri 12:00-22:00, Sat 13:00-22:00
Known for using hemp flour in their pizza crusts, Mystic Pizza always works with healthy, organic ingredients. All food preparation is done after you order, to keep the food as flavorful and nutritious as possible.
Try: The avocado and mushroom pizza with chili and lemon, the hemp-flour tagliatelle with spirulina, veggies and cream, and the Mystic tahini salad with greens, orange slices, crushed cannabis seeds and cranberries.
2 Ferekydou, Kallimarmaro
76 Emmanouil Benaki, Exarchia