Friday, 11 August 2017

Of tavernas and souvlaki shops and ouzeries

Taverna - a simple eating place serving homemade food with local olive oil, wine, greens from the fields nearby and traditional dishes.  You'll find these full of local Greeks enjoying long nights of wine, fine basic fresh food and conversation.  This is the sort of eatery where retsina used to be sold, the traditional wine of Greece flavoured with pine resin. They'll probably have paper tablecloths and small heavy wine glasses.

Our favourite taverna by the sea.  Good Greek cooking.  The paper table cloth, held down at the corners by metal clips 

Typical Menu ..

Greek salad
Stewed dried beans with fresh tomatoes (gigantes)
grilled sardines
feta served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of oregano
Meat stewed with tomatoes and cinnamon served with spaghetti, orzo or local pasta
boiled mutton
split peas puree
salt cod
heavy sourdough bread

Estiatorio (restaurant) -  similar to the taverna but usually only open during the day.  Often they'll have big pots of food cooked fresh in the morning.  If you're lucky you'll be able to go in and choose from the pot, presuming you can tell what you're looking at!

Psistaria - a grill house where  you'll probably find all kinds of meat and sausages being BBQed over a charcoal fire.  All of it is served with greek cheeses, fried potatoes, tzatziki, greek salad or in the winter lettuce or cabbage salad

Ouzeri -  shop which sells ouzo by the glass or the small bottle with small plates of snacks known as meze.  The traditional snacks for ouzo are slices of  grilled octopus on a toothpick with a dash of lemon juice and slices of cucmber.

Souvlatzidiko -  souvlaki shop.  Souvlaki can either be a pita bread wrapped around pork gyro with lashings of tzatziki, raw onions and tomato or pieces of meat (pork or chicken) on a skewer and grilled.

Tsipouradiko - here you buy a raki (also called tsipouro or tsikoudia) by the small 1/4 litre bottle or by the glass accompanied by small plates of mezes which are traditional to eat with this drink.  Small meatballs, feta cheese or olives

Upmarket eating places call themselves a Bistro or Ristorante, serve salads with salmon and pomegranite seeds, call the dressing vinagrette and using long stem wine glasses.  



  1. I must visit Greece again before i am realy too old to eat all that wonderful things.

    1. Come in May or September! And bring big clothes!

  2. Interesting description of all the different eatery styles. Thank you. I know which ones I would like, the most basic!

    1. The basic is definitely best? Good food and you can relax and take your time

  3. Replies
    1. and I know I'm a rarity, because I love Retsina!

    2. Retsina is making a comeback though I haven't noticed it here. The island is having tonight. Biggest holiday of the year. Wish I could go to a deserted Greek island and enjoy a glass of very cold retsina

  4. Taverna mainly, but the smell of lamb chops cooking has a huge pull, oh and souvlaki a lunch mmmm, walking along a water front. Would skip the Bistro/resturante.

    1. Sometimes it's nice to have good service and a clean white tablecloth.
      Lamb chops are delicious, but expensive now

  5. Replies
    1. Those simple eating places are good to relax and just enjoy a bit of conversation with wine and good food which won't break the bank

  6. Your posts make me so hungry (for food I do not have here). I think I would eat everything except the octopus - is it chewy? I'm not sure I could handle all the alcohol. I'm pretty much a light weight now, no more than two glasses of anything.

    The tavernas sound absolutely perfect. I'm quite certain my husband would like the grill house with lots of meat. -Jenn

    1. Octopus if cooked properly is really tender and not too fishy.
      I always water my wine either with soda or water. Can't take nearly as much as the locals....local men.

  7. Talk about over labelled lol
    We just call them all cafes or restaurants lol
    But my favourite would be the ouzo and octopus. And if I can see the water from my table. Even better. Bliss

    1. All much the same except for the newfangled bistros with gourmet portions. Only one of those around here.
      Simple and relaxed, that's how we want it, and with a sea breeze even better

  8. You should have your own Greek Island television programme LA. How much is a large glass (pint) of beer over there?

    1. One litre of beer is 8 euros down at our beach bar. Smaller one, 300 ml is 3 euros ... From a plastic barrel.
      3 euros for a 300 ml bottle.