The Peloponnese Restaurants

While you can enjoy elegant and nouvelle dining in some of the finer restaurants of the Peloponnese's beauty spots, such as Nafplion and Monemvasia, one of the great pleasures of traveling in this region is enjoying a meal on a square or seaside terrace in a simple village. In fact, villages here were the source of such international favorites as avgolemono soup and lamb fricassee. There are several other local specialties to watch for: in the mountain villages near Tripoli, order stifado (beef with pearl onions), arni psito (lamb on the spit), kokoretsi (entrails on the spit), and thick, creamy yogurt. In Sparta, look for bardouniotiko (a local dish of chicken stuffed with cheese, olives, and walnuts), and, around Pylos, order fresh ocean fish (priced by the kilo). In the rest of Laconia, try loukaniko horiatiko (village sausage), and in the Mani ask for ham.

Vegetables are almost always locally grown and fresh in this region famous for its olives and olive oil as wells as figs, tomatoes, and other produce. Seafood is plentiful, though sometimes frozen—menus will usually indicate what's frozen and what's fresh (and frozen usually hails from beyond Greece). A fresh catch is usually available at seaside tavernas, and an octopus or two will usually be drying out front. Inland, many tavernas serve grilled pork from local farms, as well as chicken and roosters plucked that morning. As for wine, beyond those varelisio (from the barrel), there are great reds from the region around Nemea and a top light white from Mantinea. After dinner, try mavrodaphne, a heavy dessert wine, or dendoura, a clove liqueur, as a digestive. Dress is casual and reservations unnecessary, although you might be asked to wait for a table if you're dining with hoi polloi (the masses) at 9 pm or later.

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  • 1. Antica Gelateria di Roma

    $ | Café

    Traditional Italian gelato (ice cream), in many flavors and dished up in colorful old surroundings, supplies a tempting excuse for a break....Read More

  • 2. Kardamo

    $ | Greek

    Greek comfort food is the order of the day here, albeit that does Kardamo a bit of a disservice. This isn't just fries and kebabs, but the tenets...Read More

  • 3. Labyrinthos

    $ | Greek

    Labyrinthos is an old favorite of locals and visitors alike. This stonewalled setting, tucked away off the main drag, sets the perfect pace...Read More

  • 4. Lela's Taverna

    $ | Greek

    The late Mrs. Lela, once housekeeper for author Patrick Leigh Fermor, was famous for her simple, old-fashioned cooking using fragrant homemade...Read More

  • 5. Aegean

    $ | Greek

    Don't let the garish signs depicting the menu put you off: the far-ranging offerings are excellent. You can eat lightly—a gyro or pizza—but...Read More

  • 6. Blossom Owl Coffee Shop & Roastery

    $ | Café

    Greek cities live and breathe coffee, which pretty much makes Blossom Owl the lungs of Kalamata. This hugely popular café sprawls from one side...Read More

  • 7. Diethnes

    $ | Greek

    Locals claim this is one of Sparta's best restaurants, but then again, most head out to village tavernas for a big meal and leave this place...Read More

  • 8. Elies Hotel Restaurant

    $ | Greek

    For a lot of travelers a perfect day in Kardamyli includes lunch beneath the olive trees in the Elies garden, which stands directly across from...Read More

  • 9. Kalimera

    $ | Café

    A cute little breakfast and brunch spot just up from Syntagma Square. Organic produce and homemade jams and cakes make this a great little find...Read More

  • 10. Kastro Taverna

    $ | Greek

    The friendly welcome of owner Petros is just the appetizer for a traditional Greek taverna where much of the produce served comes from the owner...Read More

  • 11. Krini

    $ | Greek

    The sloping streets heading up to the Kastro are the setting for this oinopoleia, or wineshop, which sells wine from barrels to a loyal clientele...Read More

  • 12. Marianthi

    $ | Greek

    You'll feel as if you're dropping into someone's home at dinner here: family photos of stern, mustachioed ancestors hang on the walls along...Read More

  • 13. Nikos's

    $ | Greek

    The only time this kitchen closes is if I'm sick," says Nikos Vile, who insists on cooking everything from mamboulas (a moussaka made with...Read More

  • 14. O Thiasos

    $ | Greek

    A well-kept secret bandied around by expats and locals. This ebullient street-side café-ouzeri in the old town bustles of an evening under the...Read More

  • 15. Salumeria

    $ | Italian

    A likeably bobo take on modern Greek and Italian fare. A huge bar dominates the interior, wrapped in stone and with a roof of upturned glasses...Read More

  • 16. Ta Fanaria

    $ | Greek

    Staikopoulou Street is one long outdoor dining room, with dozens of pretty, tourist-oriented tavernas serving night and day. There isn't much...Read More

  • 17. Takis

    $ | Seafood

    The service is legendarily churlish but the fish and seafood, priced by the kilo and served at the water's edge in Limeni, are some of the freshest...Read More

  • 18. Taverna Bacchus

    $ | Greek

    The best restaurants in Greece are often in small villages, and this appealing family-run taverna and inn set amid fields, a favorite among...Read More

  • 19. Taverna Barba Petros

    $ | Greek

    A simple, high-ceilinged room and terrace are the settings for the traditional meals hosted here in the oldest tavern in town. The kitchen uses...Read More

  • 20. Taverna Byzantio

    $ | Greek

    Charcoal-grilled meats are the specialty in this snug, high-ceilinged old room tucked away in the backstreets off the harbor. The cuisine strays...Read More

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