When it comes to types of eating establishments, the French are known for their bistros, Italians for trattorias, the Spanish for tapas bars, the British for their pubs, and the Greeks head out with family and friends to a great local taverna, which can be found in every city, village, and island around Greece.
Not to be confused with a tavern, a taverna is a small, authentic Greek restaurant, characterised by rustic décor, relaxed atmosphere, and a limited, seasonal menu that is reasonably priced.
It is referred to as the traditional public eating house of Greek cuisine and is known to be an integral part of Greek culture. The styling is simple (checkered tablecloths, rustic tables and chairs) and they are owned and run by local families.
Greek tavernas generally have a limited amount of food on the menu and serve up what the chef has cooked fresh on the day. Here you can expect to find Greek dishes such as Moussaka, Pastitsio, Dolmades, and Gemista. Most places also include a range of grilled meat, fish and seafood, some sides, and of course a variety of dips, salads, as well as homemade sweets.
As for vegetarians and vegans, you will be delighted with the range on offer, which includes Xorta (wild greens), Padzaria (beetroot), Kolokithia (zucchinis) Gigandes (broad beans), and other seasonal vegetables. Keep in mind the local taverna is also the best place to taste local dishes and delicacies from each region.
You will also find that many tavernas located by the sea specialise in seafood and are called Psarotavernas, or Fish Tavernas. Others on the mainland may offer more meat and there is also the Hasapotaverna (the butcher’s taverna) which specialises in meat only.
This is where you will get to meet and mingle with the locals, so it really is worth a try!