Athens has the best and the most varied restaurants and tavernas in Greece – and many places are sources not just of good food but of a good night out too. Fast-food and takeaway places are also plentiful – the usual international chains keep a relatively low profile, and there are plenty of more authentic alternatives. Reservations are rarely necessary – indeed the simpler places probably won’t have a reservation system (they can usually squeeze in an extra table if necessary) – but it is worth calling ahead at the fancier restaurants, or if you’re planning a special trip across town.
While Pláka’s hills and narrow lanes can provide a pleasant, romantic evening setting, they also tend to be marred by high prices, aggressive touts and general tourist hype. Still in the centre, areas like Psyrrí, Monastiráki and Thissío (or Gázi a little further afield) are where the locals go for a meal out; lively and fashionable. Omónia is business territory, a great place to grab a quick (or a long) lunch. For better value and traditional food, it’s well worth striking out into the ring of neighbourhoods around, all of which have plenty of local tavernas: Exárhia, Neápoli, Áno Petrálona, Pangráti, Koukáki or the more upmarket Kolonáki are all good bets. On the coast the big attraction, not surprisingly, is fish. The pleasure harbours of Pireás, especially, are a favourite Sunday lunchtime destination.