It’s 3 am on a Saturday night. After a few drinks at some of Athens’ many bars, that dinner you had seems like a lifetime ago. You’re in luck. Athens is a city for night owls. Whether you’re craving a hot dog from a food truck or a home-style meal, you’ll find one. And if you’re up for some more partying after lining your stomach, you’ll find plenty of bars and clubs that stay open around the clock.
Where to Eat After Hours
Athenians love to eat late at night (or just before sunrise) after a long night out on the town. Finding something to coat the stomach is never a problem, thanks to the three food trucks that are a staple of Athens nightlife. The first is on Mavili Square and is known as Mavili Canteen. Having started as an actual food truck on the square, it’s now moved to an indoor space. Go for the sandwich with the two skewers of pork or the hot dog, and let staff add whatever sauces or specials they suggest.
If you’re closer to the Michalakopoulou Street food truck, try the chicken nugget sandwich. It would definitely be one for David Chang to feature on Ugly Delicious. Then there’s Johnie Hot Dog, tucked among the sleazy strip joints on Syngrou Avenue. Sausages are the way to go here and there are plenty to choose from, from traditional Greek to Bavarian wieners. Top them with caramelised onions and a sauce and you’re set. They've got all the right combinations ready, to avoid too much decision-making so late at night.
If you’re more into the sit down kind of midnight meal, head towards Syngrou Avenue where there are three eateries that stay open round the clock. There’s nothing particularly special about them but if you’re looking for somewhere to eat in the wee hours of the night, you’re obviously not expecting Michelin stars. Ciao, famous for its pizza and pasta, is the place that will be last to close if the world comes to an end. There’s a sister joint in Pangrati.
If you want a large and diverse selection of night nibbles, head to 24oro, which literally means 24-hour. The menu is book-thick and ranges from pizza to grilled meat to salads, crepes, and anything else you can think of. Deliolanis started off as a pastry shop and still sells sweets and ice cream in the front. Walk to the back and you’ll stumble onto a huge selection of traditional Greek dishes, from moussaka to stuffed tomatoes to giouvetsi (a comforting beef and orzo casserole that’s great for soaking up booze). Otherwise try the sandwiches with grilled beef or pork.
The Greek word aftoforo refers to getting caught by the police for some illegal act and put in jail overnight, until your court hearing the next day. It’s no coincidence that Aftoforo, one of the city’s most popular 24-hour kitchens, is right across the street from Athens’ police headquarters. The place isn’t exactly eye candy, but the food tastes like it’s been cooked by your Greek yiayia (grandma). If you’re a brave carnivore, try the patsas (a soup made with lamb or beef stomach, bobbing about in lemon or tomato sauce). It has an intense aroma and goes well with skordostoumbi, a fiery condiment made with garlic, vinegar and chilli pepper.
If you want to go completely old-school, there’s only one place for a midnight feast (or hangover-proof breakfast): Ipiros. Located inside the Central Market, this is the mother of late-night eateries in Athens. If you are a carnivore with a high tolerance for the smell of meat, go on in, the surroundings will take you on a journey to the 1960s. A glass display counter boasts specialities like cow heel soup, goat soup and lamb fricassee (stewed with lettuce and lots of dill and lemon). The mere thought of these dishes fills your stomach.
Where to Drink After Hours
Sometimes you need a drink after all that food. Other times, you need to drink to raise the boldness to try it. Whatever your case, Athens has plenty of after-hour clubs and watering holes, most of which will keep you pumping past sunrise. Skullbar is a basement bar where you can dance to the beat of pumping electronic music. Six d.o.g.s. is one of the most popular clubs in Athens and Crust is an electronic club that you enter through a pizza parlour.
Fans of rock, metal and indie find refuge at Off the Chain, open until 8 am. At Sodade2 you’ll get your disco fix and a gay-friendly atmosphere.
But the two all-time classics of the Athens after-hours scene are MG bar and Batman, bars that attract people of all ages, play music from all over the world, and don’t close till the sun comes up or the owner gets tired. At Asilo, which means 'asylum,' you’ll mingle with sweaty youngsters dancing the night away.
Most of these places are purposely shaded from the sun rising beyond their doors, so don’t forget to squint a little as you make your way out into the light. Need a preemptive painkiller? You’re likely to find one of the famous Greek kiosks open on a central square. Many kiosks stay open 24 hours. Here you can get anything from more booze to water to cigarettes to Depon (the most popular over the counter paracetamol). Pop one or two, head to To Koulouri tou Psirri and grab a koulouri (sesame bread roll). Bread is great for soaking up some of the alcohol still lurking in your stomach.
Now call it a night. All this will still be here tomorrow.