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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Where to eat in East Macedonia and Thrace

As we launch our Green Traveller's Guide to East Macedonia and Thrace, Sarah Baxter selects a range of places to eat and buy quality local, seasonal food in this beautiful part of northern Greece.

Το Oneipo is a lovely restaurant-cafe but also a hub for live music in the silk-making village of Soufli. Photo: Richard Hammond

Meltemi, Kavala

The meltemi is the north-westerly wind that blows during the summer in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s an apt name for this family-run taverna, which sits on Kavala’s small Perigiali harbour and beach, just to the east of the centre, tickled by the sea breeze. In the summer the large outdoor terrace, right by the water’s edge, is the place to be; come winter, retreat to the cosy restaurant, which is warmed by an open fire and bonhomie, with live Greek music played on Friday and Saturday nights. The dishes on offer – all generous portions – are a mix. Start with appetisers such as unctuous tzatziki, saganaki (fried cheese) and crisp courgette fritters. Then move on to meat (maybe zesty loukaniko sausage flavoured with orange or spicy soutzoukakia meatballs) and super-fresh seafood (spatchcocked sardines, grilled shrimp, red mullet or whatever is in season), washed down with local tsipouro, ouzo or wine.

Chrisanthidis Delights, Kavala

Mention ‘kourabie’ to anyone from East Macedonia – indeed, to anyone from Greece – and they may come over misty-eyed. These buttery, crescent-shaped biscuits, traditionally made with whole almonds and liberally dusted with icing sugar, became a Christmas classic when the Chrisanthidis family started baking them in 1924. Now, people crave them year-round, so the company has evolved in the past few decades, upscaling production not only of the original kourabie but numerous flavour variations too, from chocolate to caramel, honey to praline. The main bakery is in Nea Karvali, 10km east of Kavala, but there are Chrisanthidis outlets in the city. Visit the bright shop-cafe at Venizelou & Dagkli St Corner, where you can buy packaged biscuits, sweet tsoureki (Easter bread) and pretty pastries to takeaway or order pies, cakes and other snacks to eat at the pavement tables outside.

Breaking open a kourabie at Chrisanthidis Delights, Kavala. Photo: Richard Hammond

Το Oneipo, Soufli

“Made with love and passion, we created Το Oneipo – ‘Dream’ – because we were looking for a place to house our dreams.” So say the couple behind this lovely little spot in the silk-making village of Soufli. Because it’s not only a restaurant-cafe but also a hub for live music, performed by both the talented owners and any patrons who feel like bringing along their bouzouki and belting out a tune. Inside, the walls are hung with old photos of Greek musicians but on summer evenings the back terrace, looking over Soufli’s seldom-used railway tracks, is the place to be. The food is rustic, homecooked, generous and good value, with plenty of East Macedonian specialities including thick babos sausage and bligouri (made with nutty bulgar wheat) served alongside classic souvlaki, well-sauced meatballs and big hunks of bread to dip in garlicky tzatziki and melitzanosalata (aubergine dip).

two musicians playing by a table at night
To Oneipo is a hub for live music. Photo: Richard Hammond

Zourafa, Alexandroupoli

With its tables spilling out into flower-filled and fairylight-strung Platia Kyprou square, Zourafa is the connoisseur’s Alexandroupoli choice. The port city’s seafront promenade can be rammed and raucous on hot summer nights, but here, just one block back, there’s a calmer, more laidback feel. The food is reliably good too. The catch of the day, fresh from the Samthraki-Aegean Sea, sits on ice in a cabinet out front if you want to pick your own – friendly staff are on hand to help. Other top choices include the house Zourafa salad (a zingy mix of rocket, lettuce, figs, pomegranate, raisins and parmesan cheese), traditional trahanoto pasta made with Greek yoghurt and served with fresh shrimps, and tangy feta baked in a crust of sesame seeds and drizzled with herb-infused honey.

outside tables in a restaurant by a street
Zouraga Platia overlooking Kyprou square. Photo: Richard Hammond

Eliá, Xanthi

There is a fresh-faced, contemporary and artistic edge at Restaurant Eliá. The decor – minimalist white with dashes of green, and grey-white marble tabletops spreading onto the pavement outside – feels modern and crisp, while the staff are young, bright and friendly. But it’s the innovative menu that really pops. A savoury cheesecake with cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, edible flowers and herb oil sitting on a biscuity base of carob nuts, is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Accompany this with other creative, flavoursome dishes: first-rate paella, pappardelle with shrimps, squid, mussels, octopus and a cheeky dash of ouzo in the sauce or traditional Thracian horseshoe-shaped soutzouki beef sausage, spiced with black pepper and cumin. Wash it all down with a decent list of Greek wines – perhaps a new-generation retsina from nearby Domaine Apostolidi, made with a blend of assyrtiko and malagouzia grapes.

salad on a plate
One of the delicious salads at Elia in Xanthi. Photo: Richard Hammond

Krokodeilos, Kavala

This small family tavern, central yet tucked away, with a view of the aqueduct, serves some of the best grilled fish in town. The menu is limited but what they do, they do well – and for a good price.

Address: Amerikanikou Erithrou Stavrou 2, Kavala

To Koutoukaki, Kavala

There’s an appealing atmosphere about this traditional, friendly, no-frills taverna in the heart of the old town. Fat steaks, well-charred souvlaki, fish fresh from the sea, all served simply and bountifully with good olive oil and huge bowls of salad. Address: 29 Poulidou Theodorou, Kavala

Evangelou Pastries, Kavala

Charis Evangelou’s award-winning pastry shop is famous for its bespoke profiteroles – choose from eight different types of chocolate and over 50 toppings to make them exactly to your taste, served with one of his 20-plus flavours of handmade ice cream.

Aparto Bistro Cafe, Kavala

This classic European-style bistro, overlooking the castle and the port, has elegant decor, relaxing music and a welcoming vibe. Hangout here all day: come for morning breakfast, coffee and cakes, light snacks and lunches, a range of afternoon teas or cool evening cocktails.

Apiko, Kavala

With its blue-and-white palette and wide windows looking out onto the port, this is a charming spot to eat seafood (or meat or vegan) with sea views. The chefs use the best fish caught daily, which is expertly cooked and served with quality tsipouro and wine, mostly from local producers.

Gorgones & Magkes, Kavala

Nestled between the aqueduct and the port, down one of the maze of narrow lanes cloaked with the awnings of competing tavernas, you’ll find Gorgones & Magkes. Stop here for the lively vibe, great service, quality tsipouro and ouzo, and good-value meze.

Omen Deli & Wine, Alexandroupoli

Located on one of the city’s busiest streets, this hip space is a hub of top local and international flavours. There’s an impressive cellar stocked with Greek wines and microbrews. There are also cheeses, deli meats, honey, olives and more from small producers. Try before you buy in the little courtyard.

Kelesenlis, Serres

Find this grocery shop en route between Kavala and Thessaloniki. Its shelves are stacked with quality products, all from small local producers, including cold meats from Lake Kerkini, peanut butter from Ammoudia Serres, award-winning aged tsipouro and high-grade balsamic vinegar made of Serres aronia berries. Address: 14 Mela Pavlou Street, Serres

Siris Microbrewery, Serres

This modern microbrewery produces quality, non-pasteurised beers, made with love and full of the flavours of northern Greece. Try the strong, herb-fragrant Voreia IPA, the delicately bitter Voreia Pilsner or the award-winning Voreia Smoked Amber Ale. The brewery is open Monday-Friday; staff are happy to show visitors around.

Sardeladiko, Keramoti

Sardeladiko is arguably the best place to eat in the seaside resort of Keramoti. Pull up a table at this unpretentious spot while you’re waiting for the ferry to Thassos; service is quick, portions are big and the fried and grilled fish – sardines, monkfish, sole, shrimp – delicious. Address: 64011 Keramoti


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Google map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to East Macedonia and Thrace:

Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities


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