When I arrive home in Athens to visit my family, my first evening is usually spent with them at Dionysos Zonar’s, a restaurant in the city centre that we’ve been going to since I was a child. It’s been refurbished since then, but it’s still very special because of the view from the terrace across to the Acropolis. I like that it changes through the day, from breakfast to brunch, lunch to dinner. It’s a real heritage place. They do an incredible traditional lamb stew and the best taramasalata you’ll find anywhere. 43 Rovertou Galli Street, 11742 (+3021-0923 3182; dionysoszonars.gr).
The Grande Bretagne is one of Athens’ best hotels. Its GB Roof Garden restaurant and bar is surprisingly laidback, with a great modern menu of healthy Mediterranean food. After lunch there, I like to walk in Eleftherias Park, which has a very peaceful coffee place that not many people know about. Eleftherias Park, Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, 11521. Hotel Grande Bretagne, Syntagma Square, 10564 (+3021-0333 0766; gbrestaurants.gr).
I can’t go to Athens without a visit to Blue Pine – a very old, unchanging restaurant that does an amazing veal Milanese. It might seem a strange thing to eat in Greece, but it’s just so good. And L’Abreuvoir, a French restaurant I used to go to every Sunday with my parents, is also very old school and charming. It has the best garlic bread in the world and fantastic crêpes Suzette. Blue Pine, 37 Panagi Tsaldari Street, Kifissia (+3021-0807 7745; bluepine.gr). L’Abreuvoir, Xenokratous 51, 10676 (+3021-0722 9106).
You can get a lot of different styles of food, from sushi to truffle spaghetti, and a fantastic caramelised almond mocha cake, at Ratka, an Asian fusion restaurant in the middle of Kolonaki, close to the centre of town. It’s been there for around 40 years. Charitos 30-32, 10675 (+3021-0729 0746).
Vouliagmeni, which is about 40 minutes by car – and a beautiful journey – from Athens, has a lot of beach clubs. Balux, one of my favourites, serves great sushi and has a chilled-out seaside vibe. You can swim until early evening, then relax on big cushions with a drink and listen to lounge music. I also like Astir Beach, which has its own beautifully kept beach – after a swim there, I go for coffee and a snack nearby at En Plo, a popular all-day bar with views over the Saronic Gulf. Astir Beach, 40 Apollonos Street, Vouliagmeni 16671 (+3021-0890 1625; astir.gr/beach). Balux Café, 58 Posidonos Avenue, Asteras Glyfadas 16674 (+3021-0898 3577; baluxcafe.com). En Plo, Leof Poseidonos 4, Vouliagmeni 16673 (+3021-0967 1770; en-plo.gr).
When it’s really hot during the day, I like having lunch at Jimmy’s Fish. It’s out in the port of Piraeus, a 20-minute drive from the city centre. It serves the best fish in Athens. If you go for a dinner date rather than lunch – or a late, late lunch, as they do in Greece – then you should go to Mary Pickford next door. It’s one of my favourite cocktail bars with a Cuban style to the drinks and interior and a nice view of the marina. Jimmy’s Fish, Akti Koumoundourou 46, Piraeus 18533 (+3021-0412 4417; jimmysfish.gr). Mary Pickford, Akti Koumoundourou 54-56, Piraeus 18533 (+3021-0412 3308).
I’ll often meet friends for drinks in Karytsi Square, where there are lots of cool, casual bars. I also like the Hilton’s Galaxy Bar and A for Athens – both are classic rooftop bars with amazing views. A for Athens, Miaouli Street 2-4, Monastiraki 10554 (+3021-0324 4244; aforathens.com). Galaxy Restaurant & Bar, Hilton Hotel, Vassilissis Sofias Avenue 46, 11528 (hiltonathens.gr).