Prior to traveling abroad, I didn't realize how much of impact it would have on my perspective of food. Not only the taste, but also the experience. It is still amazing to me how the style of food and ingredients change so dramatically depending on what part of the world you are eating in. Culture is a wonderful thing and experiencing these differences has enlightened both my life and my palate.
With that being said, I still doubt that I qualify as a "foodie", but ever since having perfectly cooked duck in Paris, Florentine steak in Tuscany, or melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks in Greece, I can't help but have a new appreciation for what I eat. On our most recent trip to Greece, we had so many new culinary experiences at different restaurants. Below were our favorites. I hope you enjoy!
Liondi: This touristy restaurant in central Athens is located right outside the perimeter of the Acropolis. If it wasn't for a TripAdvisor find, reinforced by a recommendation from our apartment host, we probably would have looked for something more "off the beaten path". It is neighbored by many other outdoor eateries that are commonly found near major attractions in European cities. They are usually known for these prime locations, but generally have what I would call "standard" quality food. This was not the case for Liondi. Having just set our bags down after landing in Athens, we went directly to lunch. We all ordered tall local lagers called "Mythos" (except for Kailah, who was toting that baby bump), which were especially refreshing in the 90 degree summer day. For food, we ordered family style, sharing everything. We had souvlaki, stuffed peppers, mushrooms, octopus, calamari and on and on. Everything was absolutely delicious. For classic Athenian fare, I would go back to touristy Liondi in a second.
Aegean Restaurant: This was another TripAdvisor "find" backed by a local recommendation. Upon arriving at our caldera side hotel (Zenith Blue), we prodded our host for where we should eat. It just so happened that his recommendation was the place we had made reservations for. A five minute walk lead us to one of the best restaurant views in the world and absolutely the best lamb shank I have ever had. The air was warm, the sun was setting, the beer was cold and the food was fantastic. If you stay in Imerovigli, this place is a no-brainer.
Candouni: I always try and ask the locals where we should eat and am definitely not afraid to cancel a reservation to switch gears and eat somewhere that is recommended to us. This is exactly what happened with Candouni. We were riding in our hotel shuttle after arriving in Santorini, when we slowed down and picked up a woman carrying four grocery bags. She was a friend of the driver and needed a lift. We got chatting with her and she told us about her friends restaurant that had great food and live music on Tuesdays. Since it was Monday, that was pretty much all I needed to give it a shot the following evening. When we got to the hotel, I asked the owner to make reservations for us the following night (Tuesday) and go figure, he too was a friend of the restaurant owner. It turned out to be an amazing experience. We sat outside in the warm evening air, with ivy covering the trellis overhead, and live Greek music being playing in the background. The service, meals and wine were absolutely superb. One specific detail that stood out to me was the Meze. In Greece, Meze is a group of small plates served before a meal. We ordered a house selection for the entire table and all of us got to sample the cheeses, dipping sauces, breads, olives and other small dishes. This was an amazing way to finish out a relaxing day on the beautiful island.
Lets Eat: How did we discover this on our second to last day? This place was simple. They served fantastic gyros for $6. Chicken, or lamb, stuffed with tzatziki sauce, veggies and french fries. I could have eaten lunch here every day, but despite finding it in the waning hours of our trip, we still managed to go for two rounds at this little eatery.
Oroscopo: We're walking around Athens on our last night of the trip in search of food. I had this restaurant that I found on TripAdvisor called Oroscopo in my mind, but I wasn't sure we'd find it. If we did find it, I doubted there would be a table open for six people. By the time we were in its vicinity (based on my phone's GPS), we were really starting to get hungry and I decided it was best to end the wild goose chase and sit down anywhere to eat. Then we came upon a square with several restaurants, so I told the ladies to walk to the right and see if they could find anything, and the two of us guys would check the left. That's when Oroscopo literally fell right into my lap. I asked the host if he had a table and as fate would have it, he did. To make a long story short, the food was amazing (as I'm sure you expected), the service went above and beyond and the value was tremendous. In addition to our meals, we were treated to fresh breads, delicious soups and decadent desserts, which were all completely "on the house". On top of that, after "the moms" and I drowned our second carafe of wine, the waiter offered to bring us a third free of charge. We thanked him, but waved the white flag, as we had struggled to finish the previous carafe. So what did he do? Marches right into the kitchen and comes back with six shot glasses, a bottle of limoncello and a bottle of a clear liquor! Needless to say, it was a joyous walk back to the hotel. If you visit Athens, go to Oroscopo - they will not disappoint!