Many monument-adjacent restaurants are blatant tourist traps but there are some that buck the trend. Ben N Yan’s Filipino cuisine in Junction City is one such place. Its no-frills restaurant serves everything from full fried tilapia pompano (panned for the right balance of crispy skin and juicy meat) to rich dinuguan blood stew.
The picturesque fishing village of Panormos is a favorite amongst families, couples and friends looking for an unspoiled coastal retreat. Less than an hour from Heraklion and Rethymnon it is a perfect base for exploring the island’s highlights.
The village stretches along a beautiful sandy beach and is lined with tavernas serving fresh seafood dishes and grilled meats. Local favorites include Porto Parasiris for genuine Mediterranean recipes and Vinzi Cafe Cocktail Bar for refreshing cocktails and stunning sea views. The beach is also home to a water sports center which offers a range of activities including jet ski, windsurfing and boat trips.
Despite its popularity, the village retains a peaceful atmosphere with the exception of high season. During this period, it is still possible to enjoy the beaches but be prepared for some crowding. Those with young children will want to take note that the water is deep enough for swimming but isn’t suitable for diving or snorkeling.
For those interested in learning more about the history of the region, the nearby church of Agia Sofia is an interesting place to visit. Dating back to the 5th century AD, it is one of the largest churches in the area.
While Crete gastronomy puts an emphasis on meat and vegetable dishes, Panormos’ restaurants and taverns are known for their super fresh fish and seafood dishes. A particular highlight is the local sea bream, which is commonly called tsipoura.
Staying at a hotel in Panormos can enhance your experience as the hotels are generally rated highly by guests. Guests particularly recommend the hotel for its breakfast options and restaurant, which is noted for its excellent service. The rooms at the hotel are contemporary and feature private terraces, clean lines and clear sea views.
The hotel is very family-friendly and is a great choice for couples, families with children and those looking for a relaxing stay with stunning sea views. The hotel also has a good selection of amenities, including a pool and a stylish bar.
2. Melina Patisserie
Located in the picturesque cosmopolitan town of Fiskardo, Melina Patisserie is a chef-owned restaurant serving breakfast and lunch with a menu of both sweet and savoury. The cosy spot, with its sea view and charmingly old-fashioned ambiance, is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike. The food is incredibly fresh, with dishes like ultra light calamari, punchy Greek salad, and the signature delicately flaky kataifi on offer.
Founded by Takis and Melanie, the pair’s love for their hometown of Fiskardo inspired the creation of this elegant place. The restaurant’s menu is a refined take on traditional taverna fare – sharing plates are standard, and portion sizes are generous. Dishes like lamb kleftiko, seafood spaghetti, and souvlaki make it easy to fill up on Greek classics while also trying something new.
The wine list is as impressive as the cuisine – a wide selection of Greek wines from different regions and grape varieties are on offer to complement each meal. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, ensuring guests have an enjoyable experience.
A few steps from the sea, this charming tavern is a great option for families looking for a fun, laid-back atmosphere. The tavern is family owned and operated, and they pride themselves on their high quality products and customer service. They also serve some of the best barbecue in Kefalonia, with their massive variety of meat dishes including grilled lamb chops and marinated chicken.
The interiors are reminiscent of an old-fashioned Greek home, and their outdoor patio is surrounded by trees that add to the relaxing atmosphere. The food at this spot is delicious and authentic, making it a popular choice among the locals. They serve dishes like stifado and moussaka as well as the traditional souvlaki. For dessert, try their bougatsa (dessert with phyllo and custard) which has been flavored with tonka bean to create a unique twist on the dish.
3. Aeolus Bar
If you love seafood and drinks, this restaurant is the best place to go. You can try delicious cocktails and the food is great too. The service is fast and the atmosphere is really nice. The price is also good. It is one of the best restaurants in Athens.
It’s easy to write off monument-adjacent eateries as tourist traps, and that’s sometimes justified. Proximity to attractions often leads to higher prices and crowds. But a few taverns in the immediate vicinity of the Acropolis manage to break that mold and deliver affordable quality food and an exceptional dining experience. Genesis and Thalassa are two of them. The latter has an edge over the former though: its larger size makes it a bit less hectic and more likely to have tables available even on busy nights.
At a time when the visibility of Greek food has never been higher, it’s worth paying attention to what’s being done with its ingredients and dishes. While it still ranks as a favored flavor, the cuisine is being reinterpreted, reimagined, and re-energized with otherworldly flavors. A prime example is Ama Lachei, a small plate restaurant in the heart of Athens’ trenchant Exarchia neighborhood. It’s a contemporary take on traditional meze that has earned it the Michelin Bib Gourmand.
The name of the restaurant translates to “smooth sea.” This tavern has everything that travelers look for in a coastal dining destination. You can sample the best local wine as you savor dishes like lamb kabobs and kleftiko. The menu is varied enough that it will appeal to all kinds of palates.
You’ll want to reserve a table at this restaurant in advance, as it’s popular with tourists. You’ll enjoy a range of Mediterranean and Greek dishes, including seafood, salads, and pasta. You can also order a variety of desserts to end your meal.
The views at this romantic, picturesque tavern are dazzling. Located on the east side of the island, you’ll be able to see the sapphire-blue waters and beautiful limestone cliffs. If you’re planning a cruise to the islands, this is the perfect place to stop for lunch.
The kafeneio, or coffee shop, is a cornerstone of Greek culture. Historically, it was a gathering spot where people would engage in political debates, chat, gossip, play tavli (backgammon) and drink coffee or ouzo. Today, there are still kafeneios all over Greece where patrons can enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while mingling with locals.
A kafeneion’s menu is typically filled with small dishes made from scratch with seasonal ingredients. These comforting tidbits can be enjoyed alone or shared as a starter or main course. The kafeneion also serves a wide variety of wines and beer. The owner of the taverna also operates a grocery store, Katalahou, in Exarcheia that sells organic vegetables and eggs, cheese, meat, honey, cold-cuts and artisanal products from local producers.
This seaside kafeneio in the Chania regional unit of Crete opened in 2020, but it quickly became a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike. The taverna offers an array of seafood and Cretan food at very reasonable prices. The menu includes a selection of handmade dolmades, pumpkin and tomato meatballs, Naxos fried potatoes, Pelionian pork stuffed with feta cheese and braised beef with red wine sauce. For dessert, try halvado pie with orange chocolate and almond ice cream.
For those who are in search of a kafeneio where they can sample some of Greece’s fine wines, a trip to central Athens is a must. Mary Pateras, an expert on Greek wines and restaurants, suggests starting at Brettos, which is a true Athens institution founded in 1909. The restaurant is traditional and colorful, and offers a large selection of Greek wines by the bottle and glass.
Another excellent option is a taverna called Dexameni, located in the foothills of Mount Lycabettus. This iconic kafeneio is the former meeting place of the Athenian intelligentsia. In addition to its mouth-watering mezedes, Dexameni offers a full bar serving ice-cold beers and carafes of ouzo and raki. The bar has plenty of outdoor space in a shady arcade, and the staff speaks excellent English. The taverna also features live music and dancing.