Greece has some of the most delicious and diverse culinary specialities of Europe from their countless pastries to their mouth-watering mezzes. I always love taking food tours when I’m in a new destination as they are a fantastic way to gain firsthand insight into local food culture, and so I went virtual scavenging for the best food tours in Athens. You can imagine how pleased I was to come across the excellent range of tours offered by Athens Food on Foot, especially when I saw that they had one dedicated to vegetarian Athens! We had an amazing, and absolutely delectable, discovery of the Athens food scene! Take a sneak peek below!
In general, Mediterranean cuisine is quite vegetarian friendly, however, I didn’t realize just how much Greece was a dream destination for vegetarians until I took the Athens Food On Foot Vegetarian Food Tour. The specialized food tour company is run by local Greek guides, immensely passionate about their culture and culinary traditions. We were lucky enjoy to be introduced to the best Greek specialities for vegetarians at some of Athens’ most authentic food spots led by the company’s founder Anna Tzogia. The company also offers seven other tours, the vegetarian one is an adaptation of the “ultimate tour” so meat eaters will have a similar experience to the one we had, just with a few different versions and a couple of other stops.
Athens Food On Foot is one of the few tour companies in Athens entirely dedicated to food, so were were looking forward to an insightful experience… and we were not disappointed! The dedicated vegetarian tour takes visitors to an impressive range of venues providing a very comprehensive primer on Greek food. Early on we hit some excellent historic shops like To Koulouri tou Psyrri, a 24 hour shop serving moist koulouri, a Greek style bagel and the quintessential local snack as we learnt from Anna. We furthered our knowledge of Greek pastries with a visit to the city’s oldest pie-making shop, where you can witness the filo pastry maker hard at work, we tasting some of his sweet wares as well as discussed the different types of pastries, in part at another fantastic bakery nearby.
Pastries go very well with coffee, and as such, Anna took us to a legendary Greek coffee emporium. A trip back in time, the beautiful café has a sort of museum dedicated to Greek joe displaying historic greek coffee making equipment, memorabilia and posters. It also serves up some exceptional Greek coffee, which is similar to Turkish coffee, because of this there is usually some grain residue left in the bottom of your cup–perfect for telling fortunes! Which Anna so kindly did for us! Let’s hope mine comes true!
One of the other nice things about the tour was chatting with some of the local vendors, proof of the great relationships Athens Food On Foot has with its contacts. We had a fascinating explanation about Greek olive oil (totally amazing!) at one shop and had a personalized ice cream made right before our eyes with top quality artisanal ingredients at a speciality chocolate shop, Chocotopia, before hearing the fascinating story of its owner Panagiotis Paspaliaris.
As Anna manoeuvred the center of the city from fantastic shop to shop we also had the chance to chat about Greek food customs and Greek culture and current society, another bonus of taking a small group tour. A Green food tour wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the country’s most famous products: feta and olives. We got to try some divine cheese at a charming deli and nibble our way through an incredible olive store where there’ll also vacuum pack olives of your choice, so the flavors of Greece will linger when you’re back home.
After an amble through the local market, our flavourful journey came to a tasty finale as we settled down at a very genuine and typical taverna. Surrounded by friendly locals we dug into a phenomenal tapas plate overflowing with delicious Greek specialties which we would seek out on the menus as we carrying on our trip, the great tips and information provided during our tour coming back to us along the way. We ended with a cheers of ouzo and lofty dreams of returning to Athens soon to try some of the other tours offered by Athens Food On Foot.
The four-hour tour costs 62 euros per person, which we found to be very worthwhile considering the ample tastings and excellent information provided. It can run Monday to Saturdays and can be adapted to vegans. You can find out more about all their great tours on their website here. Καλὴ ὄρεξη! Or Bon appetit!
Thank you to Zekya Ulmer for joining me on the tour and for some of these photos!