Greek Food and Wine Guide
Avoiding Greek Restaurant Tourist Traps
- Please where do the Greeks eat? ~ "Parakalo, oi Elleenees, pou tro-ne?"
- I don't want a tourist place ~ "Den thelo touristiko magazi"
- I want authentic food! ~ "Thelo authentiko fa-gee-to!"
- Is there a koutoukaki near by? ~ "Koutoukaki eparhee edo koda?
- Do you have barrel wine? ~ eheite varel -eiso Krasee?
Traditional Greek Tavernas or Koutoukakias are where to eat!
Its almost the only Grecian sit down food worth eating in a touristy locale ... unless you know the chef personally, or a restaurant has been recommended to you by someone whose culinary tastes you respect & share.
WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT HARRY?
BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF TOURIST TRAP RESTAURANTS OUT THERE!!!
The key to good Greek sit down food is not price or expensive decor. Its eating in low key places where Greek locals eat. They are everywhere if you know how to spot them.
Trust me on this folks, if you are a tourist here, on your own, without a local to guide you to superior nouvelle cuisine, which does exist, stick to unpretentious tavernas. Greeks may hate me for this, but most (not all) of them don't know how to cook anything well but traditional Greek food. Which they do quite satisfactorily for their fellow Greeks. If they didn't they'd be out of business in a twinkle! Greeks know their own cuisine and are passionate about it too! However all tavernas are not created equal! So if you see locals eating in a place, odds are its good! Of course there are exceptions both good and bad, but in the main, to you, the tourist, visiting those touristy spots with your tour group or trusty guide book in hand, less folderol means better food!
My tips aren't fool proof or guaranteed but they are free and easy. Some might think that I am a nit picker and making a big deal out of nothing, these people are kindly invited to go write their own guides, its a big Internet.
The whole point of this guide is to know what is going on so you can enhance your trip, of which, the dining experience, is an integral part.
Tipping in Greece: tips are included in the price but tip 10-15% anyway.
FINDING TRADITIONAL GREEK TAVERNS & KOUTOUKAKIA AT A GLANCE
From the outside, i.e. from the street, there are certain things that will let you differentiate between a tavern that's been in business for years with a happy repeat clienteel and one that was thrown together last year to suck in the tourists. My Greek friends call these types of tavernas. "Neo Plouti" or "nouveau riche" tavernas and try to avoid them as much as possible. I have lived in Greece for 17 years so these tips work pretty well.
Rule one: If you see a cloth tablecloth it will cost you more and the food quality will suffer! Not always, but 95% of the time! (Some better hotels are excepted from this rule) They won't have barrel wine either! Varreli is Barrel in English.
Eh-Heite Varrell-E-Si-os Krasi? Do you have barrel wine?
If No, Move on! Tourist Trap!
Paper table cloths, even over a cloth one, are what to look for and peek to see the barrels themselves.
Rule 2: Look for real Greeks eating there!!
Rule 3: If you are on a budget: the closer to the main drag you are the more it will cost. Head away from the Harbor/Limani (on islands), Central Square/Platea (on mainland) a couple of streets and eat better for less.
Rule 4. If there is a charmer outside on the side walk exhorting you to enter and partake of the provender, 9 times out of 10, pass.
Rule 5. If the place looks brand new, it doesn't mean the food is bad or the chef stinks, it just means you're taking your chances if you go in. Look for places that appear well established.
Rule 6. If the place looks expensive, it may be the best restaurant in Greece. But is it a Taverna? If it has fancy cloth table cloths and fluted wine glasses, its not a typical Greek taverna. You can usually see this from the street because a lot of people like to eat in the open air. A lot of these fancy places serve similar food to the plain taverna, usually its not as good, it just costs a lot more.