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. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Arapakos

    $$ | Seafood

    Nafplion locals are demanding when it comes to seafood, so it's a credit to this attractive, nautical-themed taverna on the waterfront that...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Paleo Archontiko

    $ | Greek

    Seating here is in the ground floor of an old stone mansion or on the narrow street in front. Tassos Koliopoulos and his wife, Anya, oversee...Read More

  • 11. Ta Fanaria

    $ | Greek

    Staikopoulou Street is one long outdoor dining room, with dozens of tourist-oriented tavernas serving night and day, and this popular place...Read More

  • 12. Takis

    $ | Seafood

    The fish and seafood, priced by the kilo and served at the water's edge in Limeni, are some of the freshest in the region—and best when simply...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Taverna Barba Petros

    $ | Greek

    A simple, high-ceilinged room and terrace are the settings for the traditional meals here. The kitchen uses only market-fresh vegetables and...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Taverna Kilmataria

    $ | Greek

    Many of the dishes that come to the table in this rustic room or on the flowery terrace are based on homegrown produce, so count on the freshest...Read More

  • 17. Taverna Kostas

    $ | Greek

    Grilled chicken is the main attraction at this psistaria (grill house) run by a hospitable Greek-Australian family, and regulars come from...Read More

  • 18. Taverna Thea

    $ | Greek

    Olympians flock out to the little village of Floka, about 5 km (3 miles) west of town, at dinnertime to enjoy traditional fare in this country...Read More

  • 19. To Kanoni

    $ | Greek

    After you roll out of bed, wander over to the Kanoni, which opens early for the day to serve breakfast on a terrace overlooking the square's...Read More

  • 20. To Katoi

    $ | Greek

    Once used as a stable, this vaulted, stone-walled room is pleasant and welcoming and extends to a terrace on the street in good weather. The...Read More

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