Likewise, the greatest memories are unplanned. They happen when you get lost in a series of winding side streets draped with bougainvillea trees and paved with cobblestone. When you discover the little taverna with the best ouzo and the crispiest, most perfectly seasoned French fries with tzatziki. Or when you end up spending the afternoon drinking coffee on a local family’s porch while your kids play together.
Authentic restaurants off the beaten path
For one thing, we’ve found that the best restaurants and cafes are always tucked away on side streets. You’ll never find the really good ones if you stick to the overpriced tourist traps. If you venture off the beaten path, you might run into a few misses, but you’re much likelier to find the true gems.
You might stumble upon a little pasty shop off of Ermou Street in downtown Athens that serves a hundred different pastries; or a taverna on Naxos with the rich, sweet, red wine; or even a seaside stall that makes the best crepes you’ve ever tasted. The possibilities are endless.
One thing to keep in mind when you’re exploring is that you want to order like a Greek – in our humble opinion, the best places to eat don’t usually have an English menu (they cater to locals, not tourists). If you want a souvlaki wrap, order a pita gyro with hirino (pork), kotopoulo (chicken), or go meatless with a touristiko.
If you want something a little more substantial, get a gyro merida (sort of a deconstructed souvlaki with little piles of gyro meat, tomato, and French fries). Know the difference between tzatziki (a traditional yogurt sauce with cucumber and garlic) and sos (a mayonnaise-based sauce that goes well with chicken). If you’re at a seafood taverna, the kids might enjoy a garidomakaronada (shrimp pasta – pricey, but the portions are typically huge) or a big fish like a fagri.
For more ideas on kid-friendly food, check out here our article.
The best thing about getting lost in Greece is discovering the hospitality of the Greek people. The last time we were lost in Heraklion, a friendly local family invited us in for a cup of strong Greek coffee and juice for the kids. We still visit them every time we travel to Crete. It’s these chance encounters that truly make your vacation special.