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To find a good taverna in Athens city, go where the greeks go. Locals choose their taverna according to taste, price and mood. Walk by taverna where you don't unterstand a word being spoken by those eating outside and you've found your place. Places where someone outside is trying to drag you in should be avoided- good tavernas let the cooking do the talking.
Tips from Hotels are sometimes no to be trusted as staff may have a particular place to plug. Always check the menu for prices - fresh fishcan be dear, as can bottles of wine. The house wine ("hee-ma") served out of barrel is cheaper and usually acceptable. Ignore set menus, rarely good value. In someplaces, the food has alredy been served up on dozens of plates waiting for your arrival.Take up the invite to see the kitchenif you're happy with it, and happy with the clientele, you'll be happy with the taverna.
Greek, Under EUR8 to EUR11, Monastiraki
After admiring the painted wine barrels and black-and-white stills of Greek film stars, go to the window case to view the day's magirefta -- maybe beef kokkinisto (stew with red sauce) and soutsoukakia (oblong meatballs simmered in tomato sauce) spiked with cloves. Or sit down and order the gyro platter. Appetizers include small cheese pies with sesame seeds, tender mountain greens, and fried zucchini with a garlicky dip. Run by the same family for more than a century, this is one of the best places to eat in Monastiraki Square. AE, MC, V.
Address: Pl. Monastiraki 2, Athens, Greece
Greek, EUR12 to Over EUR20, Metaxourgio
The epicurean owners of "Ancient Flavors" combed through texts and archaeological records in an effort to re-create foods eaten in antiquity -- not to mention how they were eaten, with spoon and knife only. Dishes like pancetta seasoned with thyme and squid cooked in its ink prove, if anything, the continuity between ancient and modern Greek cuisine. There's an undeniable kitsch factor in the setting: in a torch-lighted garden, waiters in flowing chitons serve diners reclining on couches. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun.
Address: Kodratou 22, Karaiskaki Sq., Athens, Greece
Greek, EUR8 to EUR15, Kolonaki
As you mount a short but steep flight of steps off the street, you'll find yourself eye level with the display of pink taramosalata, eggplant dip, and other salads and spreads in the glass-front refrigerator by the kitchen. Take the opportunity to step inside and peek at what's simmering in the large baking trays and pots, then claim a table in the plain dining room. The decor in this modest, old-fashioned estiatorio (restaurant) amounts to nothing more than a framed print or two on the ocher-color walls. The menu might also lack imagination, but the food is reliably good and the service quick, with a slightly courtly manner. Try spinach pie encased in thin hand-rolled pastry, gigantes, boiled greens, and lemony beef casserole washed down with a carafe of house wine. No credit cards.
Address: Dimikritou 24, Athens, Greece
Contemporary, EUR16 to Over EUR20, Rouf
Chef-owner Chrisanthos Karamolengos's stellar fusion cuisine and his conversion of industrial space into stylish surroundings have made him hugely influential on the local culinary scene. Popular dishes include pheasant sausage with parsnips in Madeira; pork tenderloin with apricot and ginger; shrimp rolls with a sesame-and-tomato paste sauce; and a Greek version of sushi -- raw squid and trout roe on eggplant puree. The restaurant is divided by partitions (hence the name, "Left-Right") and a glass runway affords a peek below into Athens's best wine cellar. In summer, tables move outside and the menu switches to simpler taverna fare. Happily, prices drop accordingly. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun. No lunch.