Dazzling beaches, picturesque stone-house villages and thickly forested mountains make Lesvos the perfect island for a classic Greek getaway. But it’s also a diverse culinary hub, from fish tavernas to ouzeris offering traditional dishes and innovative twists on local produce.
In a mountain village 4 km southeast of Molyvos, Eva and Sentan serve up flavours from Smyrna in a warm and hospitable space. The menu is rooted in traditional recipes and is great for sharing.
1. Vafios Taverna
Vafios Taverna is a family-run restaurant in a mountain village 4 kilometers southeast of Molyvos. It has been operating since 1987 and its menu is rooted in traditional recipes passed down through generations. Guests can enjoy the enchanting sunset among the mountains while dining on traditional dishes such as gkizlemedes (traditional cheese pies), stuffed courgette flowers, and wine-cooked rooster. The taverna also offers 15 different varieties of ouzo and serves excellent meze, including koukia (stuffed vine leaves) and grilled sardines.
Situated in Skala Kallonis, this kafeneio-ouzeri is a short drive from Eftalou Hot Springs and Panagia tis Gorgonas Christian Church. It is also a brief car trip from Molivos Castle.
This taverna is run by a mother, daughter, and granddaughter who are well-versed in English and serve some of the most authentic food on the island. This is a must-visit for anyone seeking local cuisine, especially fish and seafood. The fresh seafood spaghetti, grilled sardines and calamari, and stuffed courgette flowers are among the highlights here.
The first of its kind in the quaint village of Gavatha this Greek-Mediterranean fusion restaurant has an impressive menu with plenty of vegetarian options. The taverna is a little pricey but the food is worth it. The taverna is also within walking distance to a few cultural venues such as the village train store and Molivos Castle.
A family-run, rustic eatery near the entrance to the village of Platia this taverna has a warm welcome from owner Samis. The taverna is known for its tasty, generously sized portions. It’s best to come here early to guarantee a seat on the terrace overlooking the beautiful beach and mountains.
This taverna is the most popular in town and you can tell it’s a must-visit for everyone from families to couples and solo travelers. The taverna is located inside a beautiful old house and offers a variety of different meats, pasta, and salads. It also serves a number of different types of drinks including wine, beer, and cocktails. The taverna is open throughout the day and offers a number of different meals for all budgets.
2. Lignaria Paradise
Forget Santorini, Mykonos or Kos, Lesvos is the place for a recharge and relaxation. This island offers gorgeous scenery, sandy beaches and charming villages reminiscent of the ones you see in Mamma Mia. It also has delicious local food, grilled octopus and fish straight out of the fishermen’s basket.
Lesvos’ cuisine is very seafood oriented and most dishes are served with ouzo, the traditional spirit of the island. You will find a lot of grilled fish and meat, fresh vegetables, and salads and lots of dishes made with lakerda (salted cod). Almost all restaurants have a variety of ouzo and wine by the carafe.
The island’s capital, Molyvos with its beautiful harbor and tiers of red-tiled houses climbing up the hill overlooking the sea is one of the most picturesque places on the Aegean. The town’s old castle is flooded at night making it a truly magical place to visit. There are a few tavernas in the centre of town that specialize in traditional village food such as sardelles pastes, koukia (stuffed zucchini flowers) and grilled sardines.
One of the best is To Paradosiako which is a short walk from the port just past the church in the Platoia of Antissa. It is run by Pablo, the taxi driver formerly of Australia who has put together a high quality menu of grilled meat and vegetable dishes that go far beyond what you would expect from a traditional village restaurant.
The other great taverna is the Blue Sardine located on a dirt road just outside Eftalou. It is a family run business, a mother, daughter and grandmother who serve some of the best simple food on the island. The granddaughter speaks excellent English and the mother is a wonderful cook with a talent for creating delicious mezedes out of whatever is in the kitchen. They have a few tables inside but the real magic is outside sitting on the terrace under an old windmill with the sound of the waves lapping against the shore and a stunning view of the mountains of Turkey.
3. Vafios Taverna
This traditional taverna was the first established in 1987 and has since helped to establish Vafios village as a gastronomical destination. Its owners have a passion for food and the place is always packed with locals enjoying their home cooked dishes. Their menu is based on traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations, and they use their own produce which is grown on their farm. They have an outdoor space where you can enjoy the enchanting sunset while having your meal.
Their dishes are based on the traditional cuisine of Lesvos and offer an authentic taste of Greece. They have many different meat and fish dishes, but they also offer vegetarian options as well. Their grilled octopus is a big hit and the seafood spaghetti and fried sardines are excellent as well. Their koutsomoures (fried peppers), kakkavia (fish soup) and keftedes are all delicious as well.
If you want something to drink with your meal then try one of their ouzos or a bottle of wine from their cellar. They have a wide selection of both local and international wines that will pair well with your meal. They are open daily from lunch until late at night.
Located on the boardwalk in the south coast village of Skala Eressos, this ouzeri puts a creative spin on traditional Lesvos dishes. The owner, Yanni Soulios, has his wife Hereclia in house for the old-school butchery while Cordon Bleu trained daughter, Vivi, whips up innovative dishes such as giant grilled prawns, shrimp kritharoto (a local twist on risotto) and fava bean terrine with smoked eel.
While it is a bit outside of the town center, this place is worth a visit for its great seafood and fresh pasta. It is a small family-owned restaurant with a large menu and friendly service. It is the place to go if you are in need of a good dinner in Skala Eressos. Their seafood pasta is amazing, as are the fried calamari and stuffed courgette flowers. They also have a great selection of cocktails and wines that are perfect for a summer evening.
4. Samis Restaurant in Eressos
A great place to stop for lunch or dinner while on a hike or if you’re visiting the cliff-lined beach at Eressos. The food is traditional but with a creative twist. It’s one of the best places to eat in Lesvos, and some would go so far as to say in the North Aegean. You’ll see fresh octopus hanging on the walls, seafood spaghetti, grilled sardines and calamari, louloudia (stuffed courgette blossoms), house salad with dried figs, fava bean dip and tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip) to name just a few dishes. The drinks are great too including a few varieties of ouzo and the owner makes his own sardeles pastes(raw salted sardines), gavros marinatos (marinated anchovies) and lakerda fish sauces and smokes his own skoumbri mackerel. He also distills his own tsipuro which is a great alternative to ouzo and has more types of wine than anyone else in the island even some rare ones he brings from Macedonia.
The menu is huge and has many vegetarian and gluten free options as well. It is a great change of pace from the typical Greek-Mediterranean fusion restaurants you’ll find on the islands. A meal here costs a little more but it’s definitely worth it. It’s not too far away from the town of Gavatha on the northern coast of Lesvos.
Most people think that Greece has its best cuisine only in the big cities but the taverns of Lesvos prove them wrong. Seafood dishes served in fish taverns on the beaches and at the port promenades are heavenly, especially when they’re accompanied by ouzo. Lesvos’ cuisine includes dishes that accompany the drink like grilled octopus, fried vegetables, salted mackerel, smoked skoumbri and lakerda fish sauces as well as squid, mussels, anchovy, sardeles, smoked sardines and kozakia (meatballs). These are not just simple fish and shellfish dishes but are made with special recipes that make them unique. Most of these dishes are served with a variety of types of salads, appetizers and sauces. They’re complemented with local wine and fresh juices as well. Almost all taverns serve ouzo.