Athens: The Best Seafood Restaurants for Feasting on Fish (2024)

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Travel 4 minutes 01 July 2024

Discover our top recommendations for restaurants in Greece’s capital city serving delicious fish and shellfish.

Athens fish Greece Restaurants Seafood

Situated on the Attica peninsula, Athens has a special relationship with the sea. For proof of this, you need only take a stroll through the city's fish market, one of the finest in the Mediterranean! These four seafood restaurants, selected by The MICHELIN Guide, all provide a fitting showcase for the exceptional produce of the sea.

Cookoovaya, Cruising Between Corfu and the Aegean

Not far from the National Gallery, this contemporary restaurant is the kingdom of Periklís Koskinas, an affable chef who hails from Corfu. After travelling the world and honing his skills in a number of MICHELIN-Starred restaurants, he chose to settle here, in the heart of the Greek capital. Adjacent to a busy street, his modern eatery is a peaceful haven sporting white tablecloths, polished wooden floors and soft armchairs. All of this extends out onto a lovely shaded terrace, ideal for lunchtime.The open kitchen is busy crafting the house specialities, most of which have a seafood base. The fish is prepared with impeccable technique, from head to tail, and care is taken to ensure that nothing is wasted. To obtain his supplies, Periklís calls on the country's best fishermen, working across all the Hellenic seas, from Corfu to the northern Aegean. This enables the chef to offer the best quality and, above all, an exceptional variety of ingredients – all while respecting the fishing seasons.

Seabass, sea bream, langoustines, octopus... alongside these much-loved favourites, the menu also offers the catch of the day, like a magnificent grouper served three ways: in soup, stewed and grilled. What a treat! Periklís also offers customers the chance to choose how their fish is prepared: raw, in broth, fried, seared, roasted... There is also some exceptional produce on display, such as bottarga with Trikalinos mullet roe or delicious homemade tarama.Among the signature dishes are the refreshing raw ‘gamberi’ with tomatoes, oil and capers, and bianco, a succulent fish dish from Corfu, a sort of seafood stew with onions, potatoes, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. The chef likes to use ingredients from his island, such as olive oil, lemon, oregano and 'sea fennel'. His dishes are always straightforward: the aim is to bring out the 'essence' of the fish. With a glass of white assyrtiko from Santorini, you can't help but be won over!

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Gamberi in Cookoovaya ©Cookoovaya

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Catch of the day in Cookoovaya ©Cookoovaya

Varoulko Seaside, a Seafood Institution in Piraeus

Chef Lefteris Lazarou is a legend. So much so that he is sometimes referred to as ‘the admiral of Greek cuisine’. His father? He was a chef on private boats, working for ship owners and wealthy families. After a fair amount of travelling, the patriarch opened a fish restaurant in the centre of Piraeus, where his son was to learn the art of cooking. In 1987, Lefteris opened his own restaurant in Mikrolimano, a small fishing port where fish taverns are in bountiful supply. It was an immediate success, and the awards soon followed. In fact, he was the first chef in Greece to be awarded a MICHELIN Star. Yet he never thought of leaving this place, which he considers his true home. That hasn't stopped him from travelling though; he loves discovering the world and its gastronomy, as long as the sea isn't too far away! At the age of 72, the chef – who appeared on the TV show MasterChef – still has plenty of plans, including opening a tapas bar on the waterfront in front of the restaurant.

Varoulko Seaside spreads its tables and panoramic terraces over three levels, facing the harbour and providing a spectacular view. Popular with gourmets and politicians alike, what sets this restaurant apart from the crowd is that it only serves seafood. And it boasts outstanding expertise in bringing out the best in this produce, which is always of the finest quality: mussels from Chalkidiki, prawns from Platamónas and ‘gamberi’ from Ermioni.As for the fish, it is certified 100% Greek. That's what the chef wants. Over the years, Lefteris has built up a special relationship with his suppliers, who always call him first. He doesn't hesitate to take species that nobody else wants, because he knows how to prepare them like nobody else. That's how he came up with a number of his signature dishes, such as divine squid spaghetti with ouzo pesto, or the wonderfully delicate cuttlefish in squid ink. To add even more depth to the dishes, no fewer than 280 different wines are waiting in the cellar. It all comes together for an unforgettable experience.

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Varoulko Seaside, dorado filet © Varoulko Seaside

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Squid Pesto in Varoulko Seaside, in Pireus ©JT

Merceri, Two Women at the Helm

In 2021, Melina Chomata and Maria Ntioudi decided to open their restaurant in the pleasant district of Thissio, close to the Acropolis. Before that, they worked for a long time in the kitchens of major hotel establishments in the Cyclades, notably in Santorini. In Merceri's small, open kitchen, every move must be meticulous. And that's just as well, because the chefs are very close friends, not hesitating to swap roles as and when the need arises.Fish? They've been eating it since they were very young and consider seafood to be an essential part of their lives. So when it came to devising a menu for their new restaurant, the sea was not forgotten. Most of the fish and shellfish served here comes from Greece, but the two chefs do not shy away from seeking out a few rarities from other countries when necessary. Their only guide is quality! After all, their cooking is all about bringing out the best in the ingredients, through simple, straightforward recipes.

A meal at Merceri takes place between the beautiful terrace, set in a quiet street, and the elegant contemporary dining room, which is both warm and intimate. The house ceviches and sashimi, prepared with rare dexterity, are particularly well suited to the scorching Athenian summers. Served raw, the Mediterranean red tuna is delicately seasoned with lemon, ginger and chilli for added freshness. Mediterranean food purists will fall back on pasta with prawns, topped with grilled pancetta and bergamot. Or why not try the parsnip and lobster soup with summer truffles? The menu changes once a season and is complemented each morning by a number of original suggestions based on the catch of the day. It’s a good reason to keep coming back again and again! To accompany the cooking, you can choose from the attractive wine list, which gives pride of place to Greek white wines, joined by a few foreign rosés.

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The two chefs ©JT

Pelagos, a Mediterranean Culinary Odyssey

Overlooking a sublime cove with translucent waters, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Astir Palace hotel benefits from a unique panorama of the Aegean Sea. Awarded a MICHELIN Star, Pelagos is home to Luca Piscazzi, an Italian chef who has worked with the likes of Anne-Sophie Pic and Heinz Beck. It's an exceptional setting that inspires the chef every day, prompting him to come up with beautiful dishes that taste of the sea.
To supply his kitchens, he has teamed up with a fishmonger based in Crete, with whom he has forged a wonderful relationship. The latter doesn't hesitate to contact Luca when he finds an exceptional product that might interest him. When he cooks the fish, the chef is always torn between his Italian origins, his experience in French brigades and the age-old traditions of Greece, his new adopted land. Should he add butter to the sauce, be content to use a light stock or rely on olive oil and lemon? Suffice to say, he always finds the right balance. The most important thing is to preserve the unique taste of the ingredient.

For several summers now, Pelagos has been offering culinary odysseys across Greece. In 2024, it's off to the Cyclades, more specifically to the islands of Naxos, Sifnos and Santorini. To create this mouth-watering menu, the entire restaurant team travelled across the Aegean. They explored local culinary traditions, met with exceptional artisans and sourced the finest produce.For example, the tuna tartare is refreshed with a granita of Sifnos capers and the sole is sweetened with sage; the white aubergines from Santorini are served with oysters and pork belly; the lobster is served in traditional pitas topped with Naxos chickpeas and nduja bisque. As for the gnocchi made with Naxos potatoes, they are filled with acqua pazza, a kind of fish stock from Naples, and topped with a sardine tartare. Eating at Pelagos is guaranteed to take you on a fantastic culinary journey across the Mediterranean.

Hero Image : Acropolis ©DR

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Potato Gnocchi with Acqua Pazza in Pelagos ©Pelagos

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Chef Luca Piscazzi fishing ©Pelagos

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This post is brought to you in partnership with Greek National Tourism Organisation

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Written by The MICHELIN Guide

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Athens: The Best Seafood Restaurants for Feasting on Fish (2024)

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