• Meat with vegetables and rice
  • Greek souvlaki with fries
  • Dining table with two meals

Athens Market Taverna

About us

A Greek Taverna... - is more than a restaurant. It's a place where good food and good company are savored. There is no rush to move people in and out; in the Greek tradition, dining is a shared and entertaining event. It's the host's "filotimo" and responsibility to ensure all the guests feel welcome and at home and are treated with genuine hospitality. A typical meal may last hours with neighbors, cooks, restaurant owners, and family joining in with their guests to celebrate life with good food, local wines, and Ouzo.

“When I die I want one word on my gravestone—‘filotimo.’” — Mary Pappas

The Greeks gave the world philosophy – love of wisdom, and philanthropy – love of humanity.

They also gave the world “philotimo” or “filotimo” in Greek. What’s filotimo? It’s one of the most important words to Greeks and impossible to translate into another language.

Greek-born Mary Pappas has the recipe for filotimo and she serves it daily at her San Diego restaurant, Athens Market Taverna.

According to Pappas, filotimo is a way of living and acting that speaks to your character and soul. To be understood it must be experienced. Mary Pappas was raised with filotimo. Her earliest memories of childhood in the village of Levidi in the Southern mountains of the Peloponnese, was hearing her parents’ say that someone who acted in a selfless or generous way had filotimo, or adversely, stingy or rude behavior showed the individual lacking in it.

Greek Philosopher Thales of Miletus said that filotimo to the Greek is like breathing – the highest of all virtues.

Loosely translated, it means “love of honor” but cannot be captured in one word because to the Greeks it is a way of life and embraces many virtues and ideals including honor, justice, dignity, pride and self-sacrifice. It demands respect for oneself and others, duty, freedom, gratitude and hospitality.

What is special about Athens Market Taverna? It’s a restaurant with a rich environment that exudes Pappas’ Greek origins. In the restaurant business for 43 years, she has watched and participated in the new urban life-style emerge in the city. If not a downtown legend, she’s definitely an icon. She’s energetic, a dynamo – a force of her own, juggling projects and business ventures, travel and friends.

Friends are everyone who dines at Athens Market. Mary loves people and people love to be around her. For Mary, entertaining and feeding people are a habit both in and away from the restaurant. Spreading positive energy and a strong belief in divine intervention and her intuition, she has built a reputation as one of San Diego’s best restaurateurs and business leaders.