Small plates have become a huge culinary sensation, and with good reason. Instead of settling on one type of food, you can try tinier portions of numerous dishes.
In Greece, “meze” describes the small plate dishes you will often find served before meals, or as their own meal — usually with wine or ouzo. Typical meze found throughout Greece include the cucumber-and-yogurt dip tzatziki, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and keftedakia (meatballs).
If you are planning on a Greek holiday anytime soon, we’ve rounded up 23 fantastic meze restaurants in the most popular destinations across the country.
Meze in Athens
Fisherman’s Taverna (Ταβέρνα του Ψαρρά)
Fisherman’s Taverna is one of the restaurants in the Plaka neighborhood. Tourists come for the fresh Greek food prepared here, as do local artists, businesspeople and politicians. Able to accommodate more than 150 people inside and another 300 outside, this stop is renowned for its tzatziki salad and its dolmades, which are brimming with a spicy, flavorful cheese.
Very close to the Acropolis is Thanasis, a popular steakhouse and kebab restaurant in the city. However, you don’t have to chow down on a huge steak here when the appetizers are just as mouthwatering. The souvlaki, which feature a skewer with vegetables and meat, are beloved.
Taverna Karavitis (Ταβέρνα Καραβίτης)
Since 1926, Karavitis Tavern has been a preferred spot for Greek diners and tourists alike. The ambiance here is gorgeous, with simple white walls in the dining space featuring carved hideaways, wooden support structures and dressed tables with white tablecloths. The meze options are all great, whether you want tzatziki or keftedakia. You can even try a small plate dessert like real Greek yogurt.
At some establishments, you have to select your own meze from the appetizers or special sections on the menu. At Restaurant Scholarhio, these dishes come to you. You and your guests will be delighted when the staff delivers a huge plate that contains nearly 20 different authentic Greek mezes, ranging from appetizers to meals. These small samples let you get a feel for what the food is like here, and if you particularly love a dish, you can request more.
Specializing in Mediterranean fish, Kastelorizo is one of a trio of restaurants owned by the Kastelorizo Group (the other two are Horizons and Omikron). Start your meal off light with tzatziki salad or tirokafteri, a flavorful cheesy dip. There’s also live music on some nights if you’re there late enough, so you may want to plan a dinner here to get the full experience.
Meze in Corfu
Avli has quite a varied menu, including seafood, salads, meats, and of course meze and appetizers. If you can land an outdoor table, there are plenty of gorgeous sights to take in, including the Old Fortress of Corfu, which looks all the more majestic surrounded by water. Tirokafteri, melitzanosalata (an eggplant dip) and tzatziki are all on the dips menu and make a perfect start for an enchanting evening.
Kerasia Beach Taverna
Sit down to seaside dining at Kerasia Beach Taverna and take in the best of Corfu’s stunning island surroundings. The full restaurant menu offers plenty of fish plates, meat dishes, gyros and salads, but you can fill up on the multitude of appetizers, too. Burdini, a type of fried sliced sausage with onions and pork blood, and numbolo, a smoked ham, are Corfu exclusives.
Imagine arriving at a restaurant by boat all the way across the Agni Bay. This romantic service is offered by one of Corfu’s best eateries, Taverna Agni. The tavern’s tzatziki contains delicious dill, slivers of garlic, Greek yogurt and cucumbers. There is a bigger, fuller menu, too, but the appetizers here suffice for dinner.
Hosting weddings and other special events, Cafe Kanoni is another place worth a stop on your travels. Its appetizer menu is sure to satisfy, as you can enjoy keftedakia, gyros and miniature sausages. Eating small portions leaves room for dessert, which is ideal because Cafe Kanoni has fruity sorbets, banana split ice cream and the cool Kanoni special, which has wafer cookies and ice cream.
Since 1991, Mouragia has been a primary nautical eating spot in Corfu. Make sure to sink your teeth into the vegetable tzatziki or the bourekakia, which are eggplant rolls that are covered in one of four cheeses (kefalograviera, parmesan, ricotta or anthotyros) plus sun-dried tomatoes for a creamy, tasty dish.
Meze in Thessaloniki
Full tou Meze (Φουλ του μεζέ)
Like many Greek restaurants, Full tou Meze (address: Katouni, Thessaloniki 546 25) focuses on fresh seafood. Try the squid in a lush green salad or a nice grilled octopus dish. No matter what mezes you’re looking for, this establishment probably has them.
Propyleon Piano Bar
You’ll be so taken by the sights around Propyleon Piano Bar, such as St. Paul’s Church and a few domes from the Byzantine era, that you’ll surely work up an appetite. Inside the restaurant, you will find a selection of mezes like cheese dishes, fried sausages and small fish such as sardines or mackerel. The coffee served here will fuel you up for an afternoon of sightseeing, too.
Palati is the restaurant for wine lovers. Sample olives and salads that go well with very flavorful tzatziki dishes. You can also try matching the food with local white wines. Outside, take in the beautiful fountains around the square.
The quaint interior of Ladokolla Astrofegia looks like the setting of an old Greek cooking show, with bright walls, shelves filled with all sorts of raw cooking supplies, and vegetables and grains as far as the eye can see. Breads come out with your small plates to keep your tummy full of Greek goodness.
While Ladokolla Astrofegia gives you bread with your meze, Xontro Alati mixes its small dishes healthfully with salads. There’s outside seating available, and you know if you get dolmades stuffed with fish — or any other seafood, for that matter — it will be perfectly fresh and flavorful.
Meze in Mykonos
As a restaurant, bar and cafe, Rouvera is open any time of the day you want to get a bite to eat. Scenic outdoor seating will offer you a slice of heaven as you sip on wine and sample luscious seafood. At night, the property comes alive with soft lights that allow you to eat peacefully as the waves roll in the distance.
On picturesque Fokos Beach, Fokos Taverna calls itself a “jewel of Cycladic architecture.” With white hot sands beneath your feet, you can try creamy tzatziki with yogurt dill sauce and cucumber, or a baked zucchini dip. Mussels, peppers and a variety of salads round out this small plate menu.
Sea Satin Market
With impressive dockside seating overlooking the ocean crashing into jutting rocks below, Sea Satin Market makes for one unforgettable dining experience. While you can certainly eat your fair share of huge seafood dishes here, smaller ones are also available. Veggie lovers aren’t totally excluded — you can find eggplant mezes such as melitzanokeftedes, which are Greek fritters, on the menu.
A happening spot for cocktails and live music, Appaloosa has its own specialized meze platter. On it, you get plenty of dips, pita breads and cheeses right from Mykonos. The plate comes with wine, beer or ouzo, depending on your preferences. There are also plenty of salads and meals from cuisines around the world to choose from, although the platter might be enough to share among friends and family.
Take a long, hard look at the menu at Kalita ahead of time because you might struggle to narrow down your options once you’re seated. Every last item on the menu is a small plate, from the deep-fried zucchini to the deconstructed spinach pie (with an egg and feta cheese) all the way to the tiny cheese-stuffed beef burger. You may want to bring a large group so you can sample most of what Kalita has to offer.
Meze in Volos
Some diners have been lucky enough to step off a cruise right onto the beauty of Greece, and then eat at Papadis in Volos. Naturally, the seafood here is caught right off the water, and the tzatziki is plentiful. It pairs very well with a nice tsipouro, a type of Greek brandy from the Thessaly area that is widely served in this part of Greece. Just watch out: This drink can be a whopping 45 percent alcohol.
Tsipouradiko Ta Kymata
Interested in trying more tsipouro? Then make sure to book a spot at Tsipouradiko Ta Kymata. Keep yourself grounded with some small plates filled with succulent and sweet crab. You do receive a plate of two mezes, chosen at random, for each tiny bottle of tsipouro that you order, so consider bringing a group here for a fun-filled evening.
Another tsipouro house is Tsipouradiko Dionysis, which was built in 1956 and has stood near the port on Argonaut Street ever since. You also get meze here with each bottle, which is pretty small. Although it may look a little intimidating, it’s worth it to brave the octopus meze, especially because many say that it pairs especially well with tsipouro.
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