Eating in Athens Greece.

The Greeks are renowned for their hedonistic lifestyle and the long nights they like to spend eating, drinking and dancing. Few other places on earth can match the city's lively nightlife scene. Late dinners (taken at around 10pm) and nightclubs that fill up after midnight are extremely typical here so don't be alarmed by the empty tables if you show up early for dinner!

Several factors make dining and partying pleasurable in Athens: there is the contagious joy shown by Athenians as they savor their food, their tendency to dance on any available surface including tables, and the endless chats. The picture perfect scenery, be it a traditional taverna located in a vine-covered backyard in Plaka or a seaside fish restaurant in Piraeus - will add to your enjoyment. Finally, the pleasant weather means that you can dine and party outdoors for most months of the year. What better way to end the day than by dining under the stars beneath the Acropolis?

Great alfresco dining is offered at Eleas Gi in Politia with its splendid view of the city and the culinary "orgy" of around forty traditional dishes you will find on your table. Other restaurants which stand out for their great city views are Strofi , Dionysos Cafe and Restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis and Le Grand Balcon in the St George Lycabettus Hotel in Kolonaki.

A major component of each dining experience is not just the food but also the excellent Greek wine, which has played an important role in the Athenian way of life for thousands of years. The Attica region is actually one of the oldest wine-growing regions of the world. Vintners have been providing Athenians with their elixir for thousands of years and wines range from the simple retsina to excellent reds and whites.

Eating out in one of the traditional tavernas is a must for any visitor. These serve tasty Greek dishes (made from meat, seafood and vegetables) that are preceded by mezedes. These mouth-watering appetizers are varied and can constitute an opulent meal in themselves. A good place for sampling mezedes is the Psirri district, where there are several tavernas located on Taki Street, as well as Athinaikon near Omonia Square and Vlassis near Mavili Square. Among the numerous tavernas of the old town of Plaka are Bakaliarakia of Damigos and Xynou, the latter serving food in its garden during the summer. Classic Greek cuisine is also served in the elegant Daphne's in Plaka.

Meanwhile, the cuisine of ancient Greece has been revived by Archeon Gevsis, a restaurant chain with branches near Omonia Square and in Piraeus.

Athens offers a selection of excellent seafood restaurants. Dinner at one of the traditional fish restaurants in Mikrolimano, the picturesque fishing harbour in Piraeus can be a very enjoyable experience. Upscale fish restaurants include To Varoulko (the gourmet mecca of Piraeus that now has moved to Athens.) and the elegant Ithaki at Vouliagmeni Beach.

Athens also has a range of sophisticated eateries offering world-class cuisine ranging from the classic to the innovative. Dinner at these restaurants does not come cheap, but the prices are actually quite affordable when compared to those at similar restaurants in other European capitals. Cuisine of the highest quality is served at the elegant restaurant Spondi in Pangrati.

People who value style as well as good cuisine have a choice of many fashionable restaurants, such as the spectacular Island summer restaurant on the cliffs near Vouliagmeni Beach and Sphinx in Glyfada. One of the most beautiful dining rooms is G.B. Corner, which shares the old-world charm of the adjacent Grande Bretagne Hotel on Syntagma Square.

Tipping

You are not expected to tip the staff in restaurants and bars, because tips are already included in the price. However, it is at your discretion to reward good service with a tip of about 10% or by rounding up the sum on the check. In tavernas, it is customary to leave some change on the table.