In most countries when heading out to eat, you tend to think of finding a good restaurant for an enjoyable meal, but not in Greece. Here, the most common place to eat at is the local taverna, which is a more casual place that serves delicious and traditional dishes cooked on site and mostly includes grilled meats, seafood as well as simple ingredients and flavors that compliment the season.
The dining experience is a lot more laid back and perfect for couples, families, and groups of friends who can order a variety of food that is all meant to be shared. At a Greek taverna, there are always salads and sides that are placed in the center of the table for all to saver.
The popular Greek taverna
Of course, there are many types of eating establishments in Greece, including many fine dining and Michelin star restaurants, street food joints (mostly Souvlatzidika) and some fast food chains. Nevertheless, none are as iconic or popular as the Greek taverna.
While restaurants usually have an extensive menu, tavernas, on the other hand, specialize in particular dishes and local produce. Depending on location, those by the sea in summer are normally open for lunch and dinner, whereas others in town are only open at nighttime.
Whereas a restaurant is simply a place that you eat at, a taverna provides not only food but also a positive vibe.
It doesn’t matter if you are in a city, village, island or remote town, you will always find a taverna in Greece, nonetheless, depending on where you are, they may serve different types of foods.
For example, the ones by the sea may specialize in seafood and are called Psarotavernas, or Fish Tavernas. Others may offer mainly meats and there is also the Hasapotavernas (the “butcher’s” taverna) which truly specializes in meat. Cut on the premises, the meats are generally of excellent quality, served in good portions and at a great price.
Specialties of Greek tavernas
Foods that are typically served at Greek tavernas include salads, grilled meats, seafood dishes, and various mezes, such as Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) Xorta (old greens), Gigandes (Lima beans), Padzaria (beetroot), Saganaki, Tiganites Patates (homemade chips) and dips.
When you’re in a traditional Greek taverna don’t be surprised if there is no printed menu, it may simply be written on a chalkboard, or your waiter will brief you orally on the day’s specialties and availabilit,y.
Of course there are tourist traps and some taverns in extremely busy spots may lack authenticity but if you find yourself a good local tavern, you won’t be disappointed with the food or prices, as they offer really good value for money.
One thing guaranteed is that at a traditional local Greek taverna, you will be served the freshest and most delicious food available in the country, and you won’t be going home hungry.
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