If you follow my blog, you already know that when I go to a new city, one of the first things I do is look for a walking food tour to go on. This time, in order to provide you with information on Culinary Backstreets’ walking food tour of Athens, I have collaborated with them.
To begin, if you are reading this essay and are thinking about booking the trip, you should know that the tour company means what they say when they tell you to skip breakfast. You are going to want to walk into this tour with an empty stomach, but I can assure you that you won’t leave it feeling hungry at all!
If you find yourself in Athens, make it a point to participate in any of the following activities, all of which will help you feel more at home in the city:
- Athens: Small-Group Guided Tour of the Acropolis, Including Admission Ticket
- Guided day trip from Athens to Delphi, including pickup and an optional lunch stop.
- Train excursion to Meteora for the whole day departing from Athens
- Athens: Cooking Class that Lasts for 4 Hours and Includes a Trip to the Market
- A Trip to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon at Sunset from Athens
Our first visit was at a place known for its delicious koulouri, which is a local delicacy.
Koulouri brings to mind a pretzel sprinkled with sesame seeds or the simit that I had on a walking culinary tour of Istanbul. Both of these dishes are called simit. This is a snack that people in the area frequently consume on the run when they are rushing to go to work. Our tour guide made a light-hearted remark about how the traditional Greek breakfast consists of coffee, a cigarette, and maybe a koulouri.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t really like for it. My first impression was that it was dry, but I can see how it might make a terrific, on-the-go snack.
While we were walking to the next location, our tour guide informed us that Culinary Backstreets steers clear of tourist trap restaurants and cautioned us against eating at establishments where staff members wait outside and attempt to entice customers inside. These establishments are not genuine. Also, according to popular belief, a restaurant is not considered local if its menu has photographs of the dishes offered. Greeks despise this practice since they are already familiar with the offerings on the menu.
The next place we went was widely regarded as the most excellent bakery in all of Athens. Because it’s so delicious, the proprietor used to think that well prepared bread had the power to heal every kind of ailment. Even when he did this, people began to refer to him as the “bread evangelist,” and he would wear a white robe.
Naturally, given that I do not have a need for sweets, I gravitated more toward the savory foods. The Greek spinach pie known as spanakopita was mouthwateringly good. The crust had a flaky texture, and the spinach was cooked to the ideal degree. I had previously had something similar to this, but this was the first time I had it with dill, and it was a refreshing departure from the norm!
My go-to dish was the spanakopita until someone brought out the tiropita, often known as the Greek cheese pie. This meal featured a crust that was almost identical to the one used for the spanakopita, but the interior was cheesy and melted, and it was served hot straight from the oven. It was without a doubt my go-to selection when I visited the bakery.
In addition to that, we tried a variety of the bakery’s sweet treats, which everyone who has a sweet tooth found to be quite satisfying.
We proceeded down the path until we reached a little park in front of a church, when our tour guide offered us a handmade dessert called koliva.
Wheat berries, roasted almonds, and dried fruits are the components that go into making koliva. Even fresh pomegranate seeds were used in this rendition of the dish.
Despite the fact that it is traditionally a dish offered at funerals, the snack was really tasty and is something I would enjoy having for breakfast. The wheat berries symbolize the promise of perpetual life, the fruits the sweetness of life, and the spices are symbols of abundance. The combination of these three elements creates a dish with symbolic meaning.
It was very kind of our guide to make koliva for us, considering that, according to our guide, the meal requires two days of preparation. However, the time was well spent since it was both new and breezy.
Following that, we made our way to a Greek deli where we tried a range of the country’s traditional foods. Our tour guide informed us that he often purchases from this store, indicating that it is highly local and real.
While the proprietor of the restaurant prepared our meals, we began with a shot of a local liquor that was very much like the raki that I had in Albania.
The proprietor then offered a charcuterie dish that consisted of smoked pork from Crete, an aged combination of cheese made from sheep’s milk and goat’s milk, caper leaves, and Kalamata olives.
While we worked our way through the plate, our shot glasses were continually refreshed with booze, and we were given explanations of the Greek diet and the reasons why it is regarded as one of the healthiest diets in the world.
A significant portion of this phenomenon may be linked to the use of olive oil by Greeks, which is reportedly the greatest of any nation and amounts to around 17 liters (4.5 gallons) per person on a yearly basis. That’s a whole lot of olive oil right there!
We delighted in trying a variety of Greek olive oils from various places and gained an understanding of the pricing, flavor, and quality variations among them.
In addition, we had some of the world-renowned Kalamata olives, and I discovered, once again, that I do not like eating olives.
I’ve chosen to continue sampling olives on any walking tour that presents the opportunity to do so since I’ve already had the opportunity to do so twice—once in Madrid and once in Istanbul—and discovered that there are certain varieties that I don’t actively despise. However, that is not the case in Greece.
After that, we went to a well-known Greek coffee shop.
We spoke about how the Greeks have a significant culture around coffee but almost any culture surrounding tea at all. Additionally, we discovered that Greece is the birthplace of the frappe.
We took a little detour to take in this breathtaking panorama of the sprawling metropolis as we were on our way to the next location. Athens, the capital of Greece, is home to five million of the country’s ten million inhabitants, and our tour guide shared with us the reason for the city’s almost constant bustle:
Another information that we learnt, which I found very intriguing, is that neither the monarch nor the queen of Greece has ever originated from Greece.
The next place we went to for our “light” lunch was a restaurant that is so well-known for serving Greek meatballs with “THE red sauce” that even Jamie Oliver has eaten there.
The meatballs lived up to their reputation as a mouthwatering dish.
They were different from the meatballs I’m accustomed to since they were fried and then served in one of the most wonderful red sauces I’ve ever tasted, one that is most certainly deserving of the term “THE red sauce.”
Along with the meatballs, we were brought a salad in an edible bread bowl. The salad, which was simple but delicious, consisted of juicy tomatoes, feta cheese, onions, and capers that were absorbed into the crusty bread bowl. The bread bowl itself was eaten after the salad was scooped out of it.
In addition, we sampled stuffed grapevine leaves, which consisted of rice that had been seasoned, and we drank it down with an intriguing rosé from the region.
The next item on the menu was a fried local cheese topped with honey, capers, and a delicious red jam.
As we all sat about staring at the few bits that were left, the tour guide explained that these were known as the bites of shame because they were the ones that everyone wanted but no one took because they wanted to be nice.
In accordance with Greek etiquette, you are required to first make these bites available to the other people seated at the table and then, only if they decline, take one for yourself.
If only the meatballs hadn’t been eaten up entirely since everyone was so eager to get their hands on them, I would have willingly volunteered to take the “bits of humiliation.”
We were getting close to being full when we made our way to the next location, which was a souvlaki business that is widely considered to be the greatest in the city.
The reason I say that is because everyone has their own opinion regarding which store is the absolute greatest. But if one were to judge by the crowd waiting outside the entrance, they would likely all recommend this store.
Another fantastic justification for choosing Culinary Backstreets as your trip operator: Not only were we able to go behind the line of people waiting to order, but our guide was also able to get a pork version of a dish for us that the restaurant had run out of for the other patrons. If you go there by yourself, you will not only have to wait in line, but there is also no assurance that the packed business will still have what you want. If you go by yourself, you will have to wait in line.
The guide said that there was one more stop ahead, and it was the largest one thus far. Even though we were all so full that we could have gone home and had a sleep, we were nonetheless pleased when we found out that we would be eating at a seafood restaurant that served traditional dishes.
Delicious cuisine prepared in a home-style manner was brought to our table in dish after plate after plate.
The wonderfully cooked calamari and the calamari that was squeezed with fresh lemon juice were two of my favorite meals.
and the peppers that have been roasted and then packed with a tasty rice.
Additionally, we had the crispy whole fried sardines, which included the bones in the dish.
These were good, but my preference is for sardines that have been grilled, like the ones I had for the first time in Ljubljana.
This time, there were lots of leftovers, but we were all so full that we didn’t need to feel guilty about sneaking any bits!
The tour leader enquired, “Would anybody want dessert?” from the group. We all responded with the same message, “Not today.” I’m curious to know how many people really get dessert.
- 1 Which dish looked best to you? Would you consider taking a walking food tour of Athens? Let me know in the comments section below!
- 2 FAQs
Which dish looked best to you? Would you consider taking a walking food tour of Athens? Let me know in the comments section below!
Practical Information: Visit their website by clicking here in order to reserve a spot on this trip for yourself.
A disclaimer first: I’d want to express my gratitude to Culinary Backstreets for taking me along on this journey as their guest. As always, each and every viewpoint is just mine.
Can you tour Athens on your own?
Are self-guided tours of Athens possible? Yes! The majority of Athens’ most notable attractions may be found in the city’s historic core, which can be covered on foot in little more than an hour. Make sure you have some data for Google maps so that you can figure out where you are at various points during the day.
Is Athens easy to walk around?
It is possible to go about Athens on foot, the city’s ancient core is straightforward to explore, and the city’s public transportation is reasonably priced. Take a stroll along the pedestrianized great promenade that was built as part of the city’s restoration project in preparation for the Olympic Games that were held in Athens in 2004.
What food should you not miss in Athens?
Must Eat Authentic Greek Foods in Athens
- Mousakka. One of the most well-known and well-loved traditional Greek recipes that can be found all around Greece and is enjoyed there as well…
- Saganaki – Fried Cheese. …
- Souvlaki – Grilled Meats. …
- Tzatziki. …
- Kolokythokeftedes – Courgette Balls. …
- Choriatiki – Greek Salad. …
- Olives as well as olive oil….
What is the national dish of Athens?
When people are asked what Greece’s national cuisine is, the response that comes up most often is moussaka. However, a significant number of people will also mention Fassolada, either as a potential winner or a close second!
How much time do you need to visit Athens?
The question “how many days should I remain in Athens?” is asked by a great number of people; here is the answer: Although it depends on the individual, most visitors find that four days in Athens is sufficient to see the city’s most important landmarks. However, if you only want to have a taste of this magnificent Greek capital city, a visit that lasts for four days is an excellent choice. You will definitely want to return.