Greece has many Michelin-starred restaurants. Unless one is a gourmand, however, one may not be aware of their existence.
This is a tragedy on a Homeric level given that there is a significant spattering in and around the country. Furthermore, though they might not be as numerous or acclaimed as those in New York, Paris, London, or Tokyo, they are good enough to rival those abroad.
Interestingly enough, the first Michelin guides were for motorists rather than for gourmands. The system was set up by the French tire company of the same name to encourage the use of cars by providing maps, replacement instructions, and the addresses of car mechanics, hotels, and gas stations.
The first thirty-five thousand were free. Then the Michelin brothers, Edouard and André, began to expand and sell their guides in other European countries. It was only in 1926 that the guide began to rate restaurants with a single star initially. The brothers introduced the numbering hierarchy ranging from one to three in 1931, however, and by 1936, they had established the criteria by which the rankings were starred.
Paul Bocuse, one of the French founders of Nouvelle Cuisine, once infamously said in the 1960s that “the Michelin is the only guide that counts.” How prophetic his words were indeed, as a Michelin star is the most prestigious award a restaurant can receive. Bocuse’s tenet therefore still holds as true today as it did back then.
Michelin restaurants Greece:
2-stars for harmony
Delta Restaurant: 364 Syggrou Avenue, Kallithéa Athens $$
Delta Restaurant is located in the stunning Cultural Center of the world-famous Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Kallithéa, Athens. It is a grand complex that also houses the National Library of Greece and the National Opera. it is a fitting site, therefore, for one of the best restaurants in the city.
Delta is the fourth capital letter of the Greek alphabet. According to the restaurant’s founders, it provides the perfect example of a triangle with its three sides in harmony. These three sides represent their principles of gastronomy, sustainability, and culture. Delta’s delights, therefore, not only include both outstanding food and architecture but also the promise of sensory exploration of Greek-Mediterranean haute cuisine, design, and culture.
This is evident in the fifth floor dining establishment with its breathtaking views of the city and sea view from its floor to wall ceiling. There, diners savor the gourmet delights of its two chefs, George Papazacharias and Thanos Feskos, under a canopy of inverted greenery. One of the wonders of Delta is the trees suspended from its heights. This reflects its dedication to the environment and sustainability.
2-stars for 12 courses
Delta’s menu consists of twelve courses, carefully created and curated by Papazacharias and Frescos. These reflect twelve aesthetic stages of dining which aim to promote the philosophical as well as physical dining experience.
“Minimalistic perfection, utilization of local raw materials, focus on small-scale producers. These three pillars are the main ingredients of the menu,” it states. All of this is prepared on the farm dedicated to zero loss and zero waste.
Out of respect for our ecosystem, we work with small producers and a farm in Markopoulos (less than 50 km away) with the aim of transforming modesty into grandeur. We also support the zero waste movement by creating stocks and side dishes for our recipes.— Thanos Feskos, Georgios Papazacharias
The “conscious culinary,” as they call it, is a concept to which the owners have more than successfully adhered.
1-star for farm to table sustainability
Soil Restaurant: Ferekidou 5, Athens $$$
Early gastronomy. That is how Soil describes its restaurant and it is something truly unique. A “journey to a holistic gastronomic experience starts from our private garden,” Soil maintains.
At Soil, the journey to a holistic gastronomic experience starts from our Chef’s private garden at Alepochori…Biological herbs and vegetables and exceptional Greek produce reveal exquisite tastes of creative and sustainable Greek cuisine. The restaurant’s earthy philosophy, the balanced food, and the perfect service make eating at Soil more than a meal.
This is a promise they keep as well. The restaurant is tucked away in Pangrati in a beautiful house surrounded by fragrant orange trees. There, the Michelin star Chef Tasos Mantis has invented his own innovative style of cooking in Greece. It is one that takes as its inspiration both the country’s nature and its quality ingredients.
The menu is based on the best and freshest ingredients, and it is this farm to table approach which enhances the earthiness and natural taste of the cuisine on their menu.
1-star for redefining Greek culture through cuisine
Hytra: 107-109 Syngrou Avenue, Athens $$$$
Another Michelin star restaurant in the top five in Greece is Hytra. It has developed its culinary approach around the redefinition of the rich culture and heritage of Greek gastronomy. This was done by giving it a modern twist in its execution as well as presentation.
The aim is to take away the nostalgia of Greek cuisine and instead stimulate actual memories of the Greek flavors of the nation’s traditional recipes. Greek wines contemplate Hytra’s modern-day Hellenic dishes all set beneath the starry skies of Athens. Its romantic view of the Acropolis is another asset in addition to the menu.
1-star for Urban Gastronomy
CTC: 15 Plateon Street, Athens $$$
CTC is another Michelin restaurant that takes urban gastronomy with a Mediterranean twist to the highest level. The establishment has won many awards for its fine dining and mouthwatering gastronomy.
Alexandros Tsiotinis, is both chef and owner and in the Greek foodie world is considered one of the best. He is renowned for taking his diners on a voyage that he divulges in eleven stages, each one preparing for the next.
His urban terrace and restorative gardens are also just as enticing as his Mediterranean based cuisine.
1-star for a common table experience
Botrini’s: 24b Vasileos Georgiou, Athens, $$$
Although Botrini’s is the last on the list, it is one of the best. Tucked away in Chalandri outside the center of Athens, it offers a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. This Wednesday, October 12th, marked the eleventh year anniversary of this elegant Michelin restaurant.
Its owner and chef Ettoro Botrini was born in 1969 on Corfu. His father, Etrusco Botrini, was a chef himself in many MED Clubs worldwide. In his words:
This restaurant is the realization of one of my oldest dreams. I always believed that one of the greatest pleasures of life is to share food at a common table with friends and loved ones. For this reason I wanted to create an affordable restaurant that would bring gastronomy closer to people with due respect to seasonality, quality and the indigenousness of my raw ingredients.
My dream, however, was more complex because I always believed that one of the greatest pleasures of life is to share food at a common table with friends and loved ones. For this reason I wanted to create an affordable restaurant that would bring gastronomy closer to people with due respect to seasonality, quality and the indigenousness of my raw ingredients.
I also designed a flexible menu that allows one to taste the various expressions of my cuisine, freely choosing, according to mood, between the dishes that I suggest, adhering to BOE’s small menu, or the larger degustation menu.
A wonderful philosophy, which the execution and presentation of each of his modern Mediterranean dishes certainly reflects.
Like its Michelin starred restaurants, what many do not know is the fact that Greek cuisine has been ranked number two in the world. The fusion of differing cultures, such as Greek and Italian cuisine, has also led to a new Mediterranean diet. Greek food is also considered one the healthiest.
Greece’s Michelin star restaurants are, therefore, to be experienced first-hand. What they offer is a culinary journey that promises to both astonish and delight.