Some of the best seafood in Athens is to be found around Piraeus, the city’s main port. From Michelin-star restaurants to cheap and cheerful fish tavernas by the water, here’s where to find the freshest seafood.

By Carolina Doriti

Think you know Piraeus? Yes, it’s the world’s second largest passenger port. But to Athenians, it’s not just a place to jump on a ferry and escape to the islands. To us, Piraeus is a diverse seaside community of shipping merchants, working fishermen and old world charms. You’ll find us on any given Sunday enjoying straight-from-the-net seafood at authentic, laid-back favourites like Margaro, or celebrated fine dining restaurants like Varoulko.

Piraeus retains a nostalgic character that’s rare in big cities nowadays. You can feel it in the grittier neighbourhoods like Keratsini, Drapetsona and Perama; but also in the photogenic areas of Mikrolimano and Kastella, Piraiki and Marina Zeas. Perhaps it’s because historically, Piraeus was inhabited mostly by islanders; people of the sea, who are usually simple, open and kind. 

Piraeus is home to Athens’ central fish auction (in Drapetsona), as well as an organised fish market in the central shopping district. Little surprise then that some of the best secret spots to enjoy local seafood are tucked away here, along with some of the most famous seafood restaurants in Greece. Here are our top picks—all well worth spending a few extra hours in Athens, before you head to the islands.

Mikrolimano at Pireaus during golden hour.

Panorama

This family-run fish taverna has movie credits to its name. It started life in the 1930s as a kafenio, serving coffee and bites to the locals of Kastella, perhaps the prettiest district in Piraeus. In 1957, Paraschos Manioυdakis—who came over to Piraeus from Crete to work in the docks—opened a proper taverna by Profitis Ilias, a panoramic spot up on Kastella hill. A star was born. Thanks to its beautiful location, and a balcony that seems to be suspended over Mikrolimano bay, Panorama appeared in several old films, including The Burglars (1971) with Jean Paul Belmondo and Omar Sharif. Now in the hands of Paraschos’ grandson (of the same name), the restaurant has undergone a renovation but the menu hasn’t changed a bit. Top quality, seasonal fish and seafood are cooked to simple perfection. Portions are large, salads are fresh, and everything is made in-house. Try their delicious kakavia—the traditional fisherman’s soup—or their steamed prawns with a light olive oil, mustard and caper sauce. Who knows? You might even bump into Angela Merkel; she ate here during a visit to Athens.

  1. 8 Herakliou, Profitis Elias, Kastella 185 33
  2. +30 210 417 3475
  3. Website

Yperokeanio

  1. 48 Marias Hatzikyriakou, Piraeus, 185 38
  2. +30 210 418 0030
  3. Facebook

Outside at Yperokeanio.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Fried red mullets from Margaro's simple menu.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Margaro

  1. 126 Hatzikyriakou Avenue, Piraeus, 185 38
  2. +30 210 451 4226
  3. Website

Ilias

Not far from Margaro is Ilias, a trusty neighbourhood fish taverna with about a dozen tables and a reputation for well-prepared and well-priced seafood. Although Ilias passed away several years ago, the rest of the family are keeping the wheels turning. Signature dishes are the shrimp saganaki, cooked in fresh tomato sauce with chunks of feta, and the crispy fried smelt that are a beloved delicacy in Greece (children munch on them as if they were french fries). You can also enjoy fresh sea urchin and steamed mussels with virgin olive oil and parsley. Team your seafood with a perfect accessory—fava, a velvety yellow split pea puree topped with chopped onions, fresh rocket, red pepper, olive oil and lemon. But leave room for their heavenly homemade orange cake or a wedge of halva sprinkled with cinnamon.

  1. 104 Hatzikyriakou Avenue, Piraeus, 185 39
  2. +30 210 451 1261

Get ready to pile your plate high with the best seafood in Piraeus.

Photo: Eleni Veziri

Yiannis

A bit further down the street is Yiannis, an honest family-run taverna that’s enjoyed steady trade for the past 30 years. The current owners hail from Symi island, a small paradise next to Rhodes. Unlike the area’s more premium seafood restaurants, there’s no view. But Yiannis’ great cooking, good service and reasonable prices speak for themselves. Stand-out dishes (although everything is delicious) are the mussels saganaki (cooked with tomato and feta), grilled octopus, bite-sized battered dogfish, and  pan-fried Symiako garidaki, tiny shrimp found around Symi and loved by Greeks for their sweet flavour.

  1. 107 Chatzikyriakou Avenue, Piraeus, 185 39
  2. +30 210 418 0160
  3. Instagram

Imerovigli

  1. 56 Akti Themistokleous, Piraeus, 185 39
  2. +30 210 452 3382
  3. Website

These clams are just as tasty as they are photogenic.

Photo: Courtesy of Imerovigli

Dourabeis always blows us away with their food.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Dourabeis

  1. 29 Akti Dilaveri, Piraeus, 185 33
  2. Wheelchair Accessible

  3. +30 210 412 2092
  4. Instagram

Taxidevontas

  1. 72 Platonos, Keratsini, 187 55
  2. +30 210 432 4368
  3. Website

A basket full of fresh fish.

Photo: Courtesy of Taxidevontas

This Michelin-starred seafood spot focuses on what's seasonal.

Photo: Varoulko Seaside

Varoulko Seaside

  1. 54 Akti Koumoundourou, Mikrolimano Piraeus, 104 35
  2. Wheelchair Accessible

  3. +30 210 522 8400
  4. Website

Papaioannou

This famous fish restaurant first opened in the backstreets of Mikrolimano. Five years ago, it moved to the seafront on popular Akti Koumoundourou. Like his neighbour, Lefteris Lazarou, Yiorgos Papaioannou is among Athens’ most celebrated seafood chefs. Grilled gambari (a local type of prawn), crispy mullet fillets, raw cockles, and crayfish cooked with spinach, almost like a stew, are stars of the show. As with most seafood restaurants in Greece, Papaioannou doesn’t serve complex dishes. He believes that fish and seafood need only be ultra fresh and simply cooked. Indeed, he doesn’t even offer the classic ladolemono sauce of olive oil with lemon juice, that every Greek seafood taverna serves alongside your fish. You’ll close on a sweet note with a free serving of the local specialty loukoumades, and a shot of ice-cold mastiha liqueur, a popular Greek digestif. 

  1. 42 Akti Koumoundourou, Mikrolimano, Piraeus 185 33
  2. +30 210 422 5059