Athens Market Taverna
Athens Market Taverna

Athens Market Taverna

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://athensmarkettaverna.com/
  • Phone: (619) 234-1955
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:00am - 4:00pm; Dinner: Monday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Greek
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Entertainment, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Smoking Area (patio only), Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Facilities: The historic Senator Hotel is the perfect backdrop for your event, with its elegant Victorian lobby decorated with a crystal chandelier and mahogany staircase perfect for mixers that spill into the bar and adjacent restaurant. We have three rooms to choose from.
  • Private Party Contact: Private Party Coordinator 8667234233
  • Entertainment: Live Singing. Dates vary monthly. Please call for schedule.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: between First St. & Front St. just West of Horton Plaza
  • Public Transit: SD Trolley stop Santa Fe station.
    SD Metro Bus stop 1st and Broadway.
  • Parking: Street Parking
A word from Athens Market Taverna
Established in 1974, Athens Market Taverna has been a gathering place for dignitaries, politicians, sports celebrities and Hollywood stars, from Elizabeth Montgomery ("Bewitched") to Andy Rooney.

Owner Mary Pappas is a third-generation restaurateur who moved to San Diego from Greece in 1961 to attend school.

A pioneer in downtown's renaissance, Pappas renovated the bottom floor of the historic Senator Hotel and moved her restaurant from E Street to its current location in 1986.

In 1994, she expanded her restaurant to the North County location and added a concession in the San Diego Convention Center, a popular eatery for out-of-towners.
Reservations are not required for lunch.
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Athens Market Taverna reviews from OpenTable diners
30 reviews since July 25, 2014
Overall Rating4
  • Food4.1
    Service4.4
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelModerate
94% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (17)fit for foodies (16)good for groups (15)special occasion (9)great for outdoor dining (7)romantic (7)kid-friendly (5)great for lunch (5)late-night find (5)great for brunch (1)vibrant bar scene (1)hot spot (1)Show More
  • Great food, great service.
    mikew
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    We had a wonderful meal and caring and attentive service from the moment we entered until we were walking out the door. Bravo to everyone there.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Greece Revisited
    tnt42
    Dined on 10/27/2014
    We had just returned from two weeks in Greece. Thought this would be a nice "remembrance dinner." It was! The food was great, and we found ourselves transported once more to Athena and the Pelopponese. There's lots of space for larger gatherings and outdoor seating though we chose to sit inside.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful food!
    comfortfoodfanatic
    Dined on 10/23/2014
    The only draw back for me was the children running around - I think they belonged to the owners. The Saganaki was terrific! The Greek lasagna - yummm. Service was really good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • happy to have found this place!
    teenVIP
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    fine food, great service and really comfy atmosphere.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • great service and food
    GoodFoodsGoodFriends
    Dined on 9/30/2014
    I tried out the place during restaurant week. It is a great place for romantic date or catching up with friends. The food was great, especially the Greek Combo, with the seasoning was spot. The server was kind and she checked in to make sure everything was fine. Overall, the dinner experience was great. My friend and I enjoy the food a lot.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Athens
    Zack
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    The food at Athens Market was delicious and the wait staff was very attentive. The waitress saw that I downed my water in a few seconds, and brought me a bigger glass. I appreciate such attentive service and was glad to spend my dining night there.
    Special Features:
    late-night find, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Service
    MLM31
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    Our server was personable and informative. My lamb shank was so tender it melted off the bone-delicious! The brilliant chandeliers were a great touch.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, late-night find, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pre-theater dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    We enjoy going here when we attend theater at the San Diego Rep a couple of blocks away. It was restaurant week so I wasn't sure how the service and food would be. We asked to be seated in the dining room away from the bar; it was quiet and enjoyable. Our waitress was great, making sure we would get to the theater on time, and the menu included most of the Greek dishes we enjoy. Both our lamb shank and souvlaki were tasty. We'll go back again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Friendly neighborhood spot downtown
    caladybug
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    Pleasantly surprised by this old-time downtown gem. Went looking for quieter/less-crowded restaurant to enjoy a pre-theater dinner with 5 women on a Friday evening during restaurant week. Seated right next to the front window with friendly attentive service we were all happy to be able to chat without the usual noise of gas-lamp spots. Food was tasty, authentic greek favorites. Recommend the 3-dip appetizer and homemade pitas for a group. We all had the restaurant week specials which spanned most of the menu favorites and we were not disappointed. Will be back for sure. Opa!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not what it used to be
    Dave
    Dined on 9/22/2014
    We went to the Athens Market Taverna for restaurant week and the food just didn't seem to be what it used to be. Prices have increased and portions reduced. There were all of four tables filled during the entire evening. Did they change cooks?
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Greek Food in San Diego
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009VIP
    Dined on 9/15/2014
    At least, that's what a coworker told me (whose wife is Greek). Took my wife to the Taverna and found out that he was right. Hummus was excellent. Avgolemono was beyond incredible (best I've ever had anywhere). Lamb and beef souvlaki were fantastic (even though my wife initially thought the lamb was burned and going to be dry...it turned out to be moist and delectable). The owner (Mary, who has owned it for 40 years) was there and lent a true Old World, family quality to the place. Our server was beyond excellent, offering us off-menu items and the ability to create a sampler dish (also not on the menu). Same chef for the last 40 years. Can't say enough about this place. Definitely going to be a regular stop for us.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2012VIP
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Great for lunch & dinner. Nice atmosphere. Linen table clothes & napkins. Good service. Lots of options.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Local and involved
    FoodiemanVIP
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    The owner is at every table. Knows most patrons. Chef greets people. Food great. What a find. Telling everyone I know found a gem in gas lamp district. And Mediterranean food is health. What a win. Thank you for 20+ years in the neighborhood.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 17 ratings-only reviews submitted since July 25, 2014
    • Overall Rating3.9
    • Food3.9
    • Ambiance3.7
    • Service4.2
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 30 reviews are from the Athens Market Taverna reviews archive.
  • Late entrees
    sushiVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    Entrees were not served together. We were a party of four. First one entree came, then after a while two arrived and when we were halfway through eating the fourth arrived which was the exact same meal as the second two. They did bring one glass of wine for the person whose entree was very late, but still, it did not makeup for the fact that as our food was getting eaten, he was just sitting there. In my opinion, they should have taken that entree off the bill.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • I love this place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    We were there for an early dinner at 5:00 after a Saturday matinee. It was still early, so it was quiet. On other occasions I have found it bustling. I have been there several times over the years. The food is always great, the service friendly & a nice atmosphere. I definitely recommend it.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Athens Market Taverna
    Susan
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    Close your eyes and you are in Athens! The Greek cuisine is authentic and delicious. My favorites are the lentil soup, spanakopita, Greek salad, chicken souvlaki and grilled salmon. Owner Mary Pappas really knows how to make everyone feel welcome and if you get to know her, you will have a friend for life. The staff is very warm and service oriented as well. The bar scene is always fun and busy, mostly during happy hours. The location is perfect for the theatre crowd and just a short walk from the convention center. Located at 109 West F Street between First and Front Streets, this Greek Restaurant should be on everyone's radar for lunch, dinner or special events as they have two private rooms for groups. Enjoy!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful Athens Market
    luvfinedine
    Dined on 5/9/2014
    Every visit to this gem is a wonderful experience. Service and cuisine is always impeccable and this evening was no exception. Because the bar area was quite lively, we opted for the separated quiet dining area which is quite a nice ambiance. The lemon chicken was moist, flavorful, and tender as always. I usually have the exquisite lamb shank. However, our server highly recommended the special - a whole sea bass. Deboned at our table, it was moist and cooked to perfection, and delicious. Service was very attentive only when desired; and not intrusive. The wine list includes interesting selections not seen at other restaurants; and is reasonably priced. Athens Market is a wonderful experience and a great place to linger over dinner.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food, but ...
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 5/6/2014
    Really wanted to love this place, as I like to take a break from glitzy tourist oriented spots when I travel, and I love Greek food. But food was good, not great. Similar with service. And the place just doesn't smell good. Unclean and musty. Really need to work on that. Not the smell of a successful restaurant.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fantastic Find in San Diego
    DukeParent
    Dined on 4/28/2014
    We were met at the door by the owner and she checked on us throughout the evening. She recommended wine and beer, as well as various food choices (and even some to not order - very refreshing!). Excellent food, well worth visiting. I will return again the next time I am in San Diego.
    Special Features:
    Good for Groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • San Diego's Best Welcome
    slr7VIP
    Dined on 4/25/2014
    The place where everyone knows your name, where you can find food and drink to nourish you and a welcome to warm your heart. Thank you to the remarkable waitress who gave outstanding advice about the food and the wine. And thank you to the extraordinary owner who showed a group of meeting goers that San Diego has much more to offer than typical tourist experiences.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Good for Groups, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    Matt
    Dined on 4/24/2014
    After seeing the reviews on OpenTable, I thought this would be a great place to get dinner with friends. However, the food was mediocre.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Awesome!
    BostonFoodieVIP
    Dined on 4/8/2014
    As good a dining experience as one could home to have. Warm, welcoming, unpretentious, delicious!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Greek Food in SD
    bkm425VIP
    Dined on 4/8/2014
    Family Owned, Family Run, you'll feel like family while you are here. Ask Mary (the owner) to prep up an appetizer sampler and for her Greek wine recommendations. She poured a Greek red that rivaled California Cab. Great experience, great food, great restaurant - you won't be disappointed.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing food
    Braddox
    Dined on 3/29/2014
    Great food, great customer service and affordable price. My wife and I went there for our anniversary dinner. Great choice
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Overall the food was good,
    foodie60
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    Overall the food was good, however, there was a large party in the back room which I had to go through in order to use the ladies' restroom. It made me feel like a bit of a party crasher and I didn't like that. Also, the waiter was ok but not very friendly. It seemed like the regulars were treated great but the newbies were just tolerated. . We were placed in a small corner seat near the door and were plagued throughout the meal with gnats that kept getting in whenever anyone opened the door. . The one outstanding dish was the rice pudding - best I've ever had and I don't even like rice that much.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Delightful Dinner
    AlabamaVIP
    Dined on 3/25/2014
    The food was excellent. The service was prompt. Our dinner was delightful.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great location for theatre evening
    Patsy
    Dined on 3/15/2014
    The restaurant has good food and great location for going to the theatre in downtown San Diego
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Family
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 3/8/2014
    I like the family owned aspect of the restaurant. There's a true Greek feel to the place and the owner is friendly. Our waiter was absolutely excellent! I wish we lived closer to downtown so we could become regulars!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Authentic
    zeus50VIP
    Dined on 2/28/2014
    This place has amazing and authentic greek food. My family is greek and this is one if the best greek restaurants that we have eaten in.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely dining experience
    Pinti
    Dined on 2/19/2014
    Excellent food; excellent service. Loved the ambience of a lovely, quiet restaurant to enjoy a nice meals. Thank you.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, late-night find, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Awesome ambience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    The owners was even better she came to our table and told us a story about how she picked the wine for here I and then fixed up our appetizers we had no idea on how to eat. The flaming cheese and bread is an awesome appetizer and oh so rich. The owners and the waitresses are the best when it comes to customer service and making anyone feel more than welcome we felt like family.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Greek Dining Adventure
    SanDiegoGreek
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    The food, wine and service was excellent from start to finish for a full course Greek dinner. Started with wine from Santorini and finished with Galactoburiko...a favorite custard/ phyllo baked delight. The Moussaka, Pastitsio and Lamb were superb as were the appetizers and dinner sides. The owner, Mary, was active making sure the restaurant was running at top speed for a busy night at Athens Market! Service was consistent and we were never forgotten as we sat off in a corner.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Athens Market Shines like a diamond
    bfjetsetterVIP
    Dined on 2/7/2014
    Mary has been in business for 40 years. This told us she is doing something right. It's the wonderful, authentic food, executed oh so well, the devoted staff and the hip ambiance in the bar or if you prefer, the elegant ambiance in the beautiful dining room. The succulent flavors of the grilled baby octopus, so tender it was unbelievable started the meal off very well. The flavor packed, meaty lamb shank. was perfection as was the Moussaka. No matter your age or level of hipness, you can come in upscale casual or just comfy and fit right in. Loved the diversity of the patrons who clearly come to eat great Greek food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Delicious food and inviting
    Rebecca
    Dined on 1/25/2014
    Delicious food and inviting atmosphere! Definitely going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lamb shank and specialties platter
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 1/21/2014
    We had both of these and thoroughly enjoyed the food. Altogether a wonderful experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Hidden Gem!
    JkorbVIP
    Dined on 1/20/2014
    Have been meaning to try this place for years and just never got a round to it, but finally went during restaurant week and I'm very impressed. Everyone at the place is very friendly - from the owner to the wait staff! The food was fantastic authentic Greek, some of the best I've ever had and I've been to Greek town in Chicago many times. It was only $25 for the 3 course meal during restaurant week - a very good deal - especially compared to most fine dinning restaurants charging $45 for smaller entree sizes - I think many have become very greedy during these special weeks, but not Athens Market - I was absolutely stuffed. I would have to say this is now among my favorite restaurants downtown.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good Greek food in the heart of San
    WinnipegkidVIP
    Dined on 12/14/2013
    We didn't feel like dealing with the larger crowds in the Gaslamp district, but just a couple of blocks away was this gem. Our hotel concierge at The Sofia recommended it as being a place the locals love and that the food is great and not touristy. The food was excellent. Our native Toronto has a vibrant Greek community and Greek Town so we are used to the food. Plus I have visited Greece many times. The food was excellent, the service was friendly, and all was very good. We will be back!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Greek Food!
    SteveCVIP
    Dined on 12/6/2013
    A great place for a comfortable, great tasting, Greek meal!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great little place
    greekdinerVIP
    Dined on 11/1/2013
    I am greek and it seems like it gets harder and harder to find good greek cuisine nowadays and this place did not disappoint. The spanakopita was good and the tiropita was great, some of the best that i have ever had. They actually have fresh pita that they make themselves which was incredible. The staff was very friendly and attentive. Overall we really enjoyed our dining experience.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • missed mary
    hayden
    Dined on 10/18/2013
    It is a pretty restaurant, great ambiance, with authentic greek food. we live downtown and eat here lots and never had poor service before. we missed mary, the owner who makes every guest feel special. order salmon or roasted chicken--lamb dishes received different reviews from our guests. bread is best in town. hard not to eat too much of it before the entree. bread pudding is a great dessert.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet