Food & Dinning in Chalkidiki

The Greek Taverna

You’ll find that the Greek taverna can cater for your every need! While some offer a huge menu featuring traditional and local speciality dishes, others may have a few daily specials announced by the waiter. All, though, will be equally accommodating if you simply want a beer and a plate of chips. Often you may be invited into the kitchen to actually choose your meal, in which case pre-cooked food will usually be reheated to a lukewarm temperature – unless you ask otherwise. Lukewarm seems to be the way the Greeks like it!

The Kafeneion

The kafeneion (café) in Greek villages is essentially a ‘men only’ experience where men go to meet their mates, read and discuss the papers and drink coffee over a game of backgammon. However, visitors of both sexes are usually warmly welcomed and it’s an ideal opportunity to meet the locals and try the coffee. Remember, sugar is added to Greek coffee (café hellenico) before it’s served at the table, so to specify how sweet you want it, ask for glyko (sweet), metrio (medium), or sketo (no sugar). Frappe (iced) coffee is a delicious alternative in summer.

Starters (mezedes)

You’ll certainly find typical Greek dishes such as tzatziki (a yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip), taramasalata (fish roe pureed with lemon juice, oil and either bread crumbs or potato)and humus (chickpea dip), which are now so familiar to us. Every taverna though has its own variation on the theme.

It’s Greek salads (horiatiki salata) which often make such a big impression on visitors. You may be able to make it up yourself from the bowls full of lettuce, slices of onion, tomato, cucumber, olives, and chunks of feta (a salty and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese), with oil and vinegar in bottles to drizzle liberally over the top.

Look out also for dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with minced beef and/or herby rice), melitzana (aubergine - fried or as a dip with tomato and onion), gigantes (giant butter beans in tomato sauce) and saganaki (fried or grilled feta cheese).

Main Courses

Staples you’re likely to see on most menus include moussaka (layers of minced lamb with aubergine and white sauce), sikoti (grilled liver fried with herbs and garlic), stifado (a casserole often based either on veal, rabbit or beef with herbs, vinegar, tomatoes, onion and garlic) and fricassee (lamb or pork pieces cooked in a lemon and egg sauce). Pastitsio is also frequently on offer - a minced meat pie including macaroni, tomatoes and cheese in a bechamel sauce. Meatballs come under various names - biftekia, soutsoukakia or keftedes - according to their shape. Again, you can expect variations on different islands or in different tavernas.

Barbecued meats and fish can be particularly tasty - look out for souvlakia (lamb, pork or veal grilled on a skewer), kotopoulo (chicken) and gyros, similar to a doner kebab.

There is usually excellent fresh fish available although it’ll probably be the most expensive dish on the menu. Frozen fish, however, should be cheaper with frozen prawns (garidhes) for example, around a third of the price of fresh ones. You’ll come across kalimari (squid), barbounia (red mullet), astakos (lobster) and marides (whitebait), a cheap option but very delicious. Fish is sold by weight, so make sure you know just how much money you’ll be coughing up when you order!


Vegetarians needn’t worry too much, as plenty of vegetables and fruits are used in Greek cuisine. Standard dishes include briam (aubergines, courgettes, peppers and tomatoes - ratatouille style), melitzanes fournou (aubergine baked with tomatoes and onion), kolokithea tiganita (courgettes fried in batter) and fassolia and bamyes (green beans and okra served in a tomato sauce with herbs). If you’re lucky, the taverna owner may even prepare something especially for you, from seasonal vegetables around at the time.


Pastries are the most common type of dessert, and it’s best to go to a kapheneion to find them or to the speciality shops called zacharoplasteio. Both serve delicious sweets such as baklava (filo pastry with honey and nuts), kadaifi (similar - but with shredded wheat instead of pastry), bougatsa (flaky pastry with a cream and cinnamon filling), loukoumades (doughnuts laced with cinnamon and honey), nougat and halva. A taverna may offer some simple fresh fruit to follow a meal, fruit salad, ice cream - or perhaps some creamy Greek yoghurt, again with wonderful honey.

Summer fruits include melon, watermelon, peaches, apricots and, later on, figs. If you come at Easter time you’ll find the huge juicy oranges which are grown and sold all over Greece - and at prices very much cheaper than we’re used to.


Retsina will undoubtedly be on the wine list in every restaurant – it’s flavoured with pine resin and is something of an acquired taste! House wines are much cheaper and vary greatly so it’s really a matter of experimenting wherever you go.

Greece is famous for two drinks in particular - Ouzo, and Metaxa. Ouzo is a strong aniseed drink similar to French ‘Pastis’ or ‘Ricard’ and normally served to mix with water, which turns it milky white. It’s also great with orange juice or lemonade, as fruity alternatives! Metaxa is a Greek brandy, which is graded in stars according to quality. While 7* can be drunk neat and 5* is fine as a mixer, it’s advisable to steer clear of 3* unless alcohol content really is your sole criterion!

Greek Takeaway

When that lunchtime moussaka was just too long ago, it’s time to make for a baker’s or a kiosk, where you’ll find delicious little filo pastry pies. Fillings can be sweet or savoury according to your craving, and include cheese (tiropitta), spinach (spanakopitta), minced lamb (kreatopitta), creamy vanilla custard (bougatza) or apple (milopitta).