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While you can enjoy elegant and nouvelle dining in some of the finer restaurants of the Peloponnese's beauty spots, such as Nafplion and Monemvassia, 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
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 sometime frozen—menus will usually indicate what's frozen and what's fresh (and frozen usually hails from waters 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.