Places to eat in Zagori and the Epirus Coast
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Zagori and the Epirus Coast, here's our pick of places to eat.
Like its landscapes, Epirus is a split-personality when it comes to cuisine. Watchwords in Zagori are local and homemade – food here is organic by default. Quiche-like Zagori pies come in as many flavours as there are households. Lush pasture yields a panolpy of cheeses, especially sheep’s, and bread is homemade. Restaurant menus feature wild mushrooms, fresh, flavoursome salads, stews of beans and greens flavoured with herbs, and always meat; typically lamb or veal, generally charcoal-grilled. For a digestif there’s tsiporou, like a light grappa, and sweet homemade liquers flavoured with local delicacies like walnuts, cherries or mountain herbs. There’s grilled meat on the coast, too, but fresh fish, seafood and light meze dominate.
Either way, this is Greek cooking at its most best – unpretentious and delicious. We’ve hunted out those venues that let their food do the talking, from that of a family smallholding or a fisherman’s taverna to a restaurant that serves fine dining without the fuss.
Astra, Megalo Papigo, Greece
The vine-covered terrace looking to the Astraka Towers is idyllic, the barn-like stone dining room is beautiful. Even so, the food stars in this family restaurant. All ingredients (organic, naturally) are produced by the owners, many coming direct from the allotments that surround the restaurant. The results are delicious, simple dishes curated from whatever is freshest: on our visit, chanterelle mushrooms picked two hours earlier, zucchini flavoured with nothing more than olive oil, lemon and salt, homemade sausages and veal. Highly recommended. astra-inn.gr
Sterna, Kapesovo, Greece
The inn of an owner who’s passionate about Zagori culture, this is a rustic charmer full of tradition and tasty fare. A simple, daily menu offers up plenty of local dishes – organic veal with foraged porcini mushrooms or vegetarian options such as a rustic stew of giant beans with greens and herbs. Then out come the homemade digestifs, displayed like trophies in a wonderful snug dining room of mismatched furnishings. A lovely place to while away an afternoon. thoukididis.gr
Salvia, Aristi, Greece
Salvia is Zagori’s gourmet restaurant and while it’s far more sophisticated than anything else hereabouts, the seasonal, modern European menus remain rooted in regional flavours. All ingredients are sourced within a 40-mile radius and herbs and salads come from the hotel’s garden. Dishes on our visit included smoked trout with dew-drops of local honey or pork pancetta with hazlenut pesto on a bed of mash. The airy stone dining room is a beautiful place for a lazy meal and the terrace opens in summer for astounding views. aristi.eu
En Aristi, Aristi, Greece
Villagers thought the owners were crazy to abandon professional careers in Athens to resurrect this 200-year-old bar on their village square. Not so now. Today, they come alongside tourists. Whether for morning coffee, a light lunch, an evening drink or a full meal, you’d be hard pressed to top an informal venue that looks like a set from a Fellini movie. Expect rich local fare like Zagori cheese pie, salads from the owner’s garden and local grilled lamb at reasonable prices. A lower terrace looking towards the Astraka Towers is stunning at sunset. artsista.gr
Taverna Stefanos, Parga, Greece
The residents’ choice for a family meal because the fish comes straight off the boat of its fisherman owner. So, the menu not only varies by the seasons but also by the previous night’s catch – expect snapper, dorade and sea bass, simply grilled and served with a wedge of lemon and chips. Classic Greek dishes and pasta are also available. Views from its hillside position above Valtos beach are spectacular. The bad news is that location means a walk uphill. The good is that a swim waits 100m below.
Apagkio, Parga, Greece
A well-respected side-street restaurant that’s been around for as long as anyone can recall, this lets its home-cooking do the talking. Simple and tasty dishes like zucchini balls, grilled octopus and anchovies make fine meze to start, mains include lamb in juniper berry sauce. Choose between tables in the alley or an enjoyably old-fashioned dining room. Given its proximity to the port, it’s popular with tourists. Yet this is also popular with surrounding shopworkers for a late dinner – always a good sign.
For nearby places to eat, and local places of interest and low impact activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Zagori and the Epirus Coast