Best Gyros in Athens: Bairaktaris Tavern
One of the most common reasons you might have for visiting Athens is to see the vast number of historic sites and museums. Another reason you should add Athens to your list, however, is to try their incredible food. Regardless of whether you’re a street food fanatic or prefer the sit-down culture of their many taverns, there is something for everyone here. Fortunately, this restaurant covers both options. I also believe they the make the best gyros in Athens.
I enjoyed a number of meals during my time in Athens, but one of the things I enjoyed most was searching for the city’s best gyros.
Fun Gyros Facts
- Gyros is singular in Greek and is pronounced YEE-ros. Plural is gyri, or YEE-ree.
- By some accounts, the history of the gyro dates back to time of Alexander the Great when men would use their sharp knives to carve meat off rotisseries.
- Gyros is Greek for “spin” or “rotate”.
After several days wandering through the city, peeking into kitchens, and asking many locals, I found my answer.
Opening their doors in 1879, Baiaktaris Tavern has been operated by the same family for three generations. This has given them plenty of time to perfect the art of making the best gyros in Athens. They are also one of the most famous eateries in the city, hosting a number of movie stars, politicians and other high-profile guests over the years.
Baiaktaris offers both street food from their window and traditional dining. Note that the street food option will cost around half as much as dining in. It is the exact same food regardless of which option you choose. This is very common in Greece. When ordering to-go, it also offers a high caliber of food at a very affordable price.
My first gyros sandwich at Baiaktaris was the lamb souvlakis. It’s incredible! This was some of the freshest and most flavorful souvlakis I enjoyed during my time in Greece. I also learned here the importance of slicing the vegetables as thin as possible to allow for a little bit of each in every bite. It allowed for the red onion and tomato to make an appearance of flavor but didn’t overpower the meat and tzatziki that should be the primary flavor of any quality gyros.
The french fries were fresh and the pita bread was brushed with a bit of butter, was warm and chewy. It added a hint of flavor and did not fall apart in my hands.
I returned the next day to give the pork gyros a try as well. Again, everything was fresh, properly put together with thinly slices veggies and fresh bread and fries. It was easily one of the best pork gyri I’ve enjoyed so far but the lamb souvlakis are even more delicious. I suggest giving them both a try to see for yourself.
Tips When Ordering
- Gyros, gyros sandwich and gyros pita are often used interchangeably.
- Souvlakis (plural of souvlakia) refers to the small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer, but can be ordered as the meat in a gyros, gyros sandwich or gyros pita.
- These interchangeable words can be confusing. Make sure to indicate that you want a gyro (or pita, or sandwich) “to go” and not “a plate” which is generally served as a dine-in option and is more expensive.
Location & Contact Info
Like many restaurants in Athens, Bairaktaris Tavern does not have a website at this time. They have, however, earned a number of positive reviews such as this one from The Food Network’s Andrew Zimmern. Their location also puts them along the perimeter of Monastiraki Square with a beautiful view of the Acropolis. This is even more true at night. There are also a number of nearby shops and the nearby National Archaeological Museum.
Platia Monastiraki 5
Athens, 105 55 Greece
Like many others, I believe the current financial crisis in Greece makes for incredible prices. If you haven’t already considered adding Greece to your must-visit list, you should at least consider it. In addition to the history and incredible food, Greece hosts incredible sights such as Meteora and of course, the Greek Isles. Santorini is nearly impossible not to fall in love with. I’ll have more on that soon.
If and when you do end up heading to Athens, I hope this helps you to enjoy at least a few meals while you’re there. If you have a favorite gyro in Athens, or anywhere else for that matter, please share it below. Also, feel free to email me with any questions I can help with. Thank you so much for reading!
Eviva! (Cheers in Greek)
Did you find this helpful? Subscribe to my RSS Feed for future updates!