_DSF8022 Lunch at Aleka's House-adj

Pelion foodie guide: where locals eat, drink, and shop

If you’re looking for the best places to eat and drink in the north of the Pelion peninsula, in central Greece, head to the historic villages on the flanks of lush Mount Pelion. Here you can try garden-to-fork cooking at its best, with many ingredients home-grown or foraged in the region’s sweet chestnut and beech woods

Looking for places to eat in the Pelion peninsula? Here are our favourite restaurants, bars and bakeries in the Pelion peninsula, Greece. The best foodie spots include high-end restaurants, best cookery schools and best guesthouse breakfasts. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in the Pelion peninsula, Greece, here.

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Archondiko Karagiannopoulou, Vyzitsa  – best guesthouse breakfast in Pelion

Relax in the guesthouse’s airy top-floor lounge, with its low cushioned benches, ornately painted ceiling and stained glass windows, and you could imagine yourself in the Middle East. The breakfast here, though, is properly Greek and spitiko (homemade) and, weather permitting, served on its peaceful garden-fringed terrace. Kick off with freshly pressed orange juice, then tuck into owner Mahi Karagiannopoulou’s homemade pies – which depending on the season could be filled with foraged greens, apples or curd cheese. Finish with yoghurt, bread, village honey and homemade quince jam.

karagiannopoulou.com

Breakfast room at Karagiannopoulou guesthouse in Vyzitsa
Breakfast room at Karagiannopoulou guesthouse in Vyzitsa

Six Keys, Afyssos – best high-end restaurant in Pelion        

High-end modern Greek cuisine might sound like a contradiction in terms, especially in rustic Pelion. But this boutique hotel restaurant, on a beach half way down the peninsula’s west coast, knocks the stereotypes for six. Dishes here, devised by Greece’s superchef Ioannis Baxevanis, showcase unusual local (often foraged) ingredients while providing creative twists on traditional Greek favourites. So you could get things going with sea urchin served with chives and a tarama mousse, then follow with seabass stuffed with wild greens and ouzo, washed down with organic white Xinomavro from the local Patistis winery. Beachside dining doesn’t get much more refined than this.

sixkeys.gr

Six Keys, Afyssos
Six Keys, Afyssos

Amanita guesthouse, Tsagarada – best mushroom foraging in Pelion

As the Amanita’s name suggests, this guesthouse’s owner is mad about mushrooms (Amanita is a large mushroom family) and you’ll spot ceramic versions throughout the stone-walled house. In season, Filaretos Psimmenos will take you through the local beech and chestnut forests to forage penny bun, black porcini, parasol and Caesar (known locally as neratzoula – meaning ‘little bitter orange’ – for its orange-like shape and hue.) Fill your baskets then return to the guesthouse to enjoy your pickings with a glass of local wine or tsipouro (the local firewater). Mushrooms cooked every which way also star on the breakfast table, along with homemade breads, apple pie, preserves from garden fruits, and local cheeses.

amanita.gr

Breakfast at Amanita
Breakfast at Amanita

Lost Unicorn hotel, Tsagarada – best Anglo-Greek cooking in Pelion

The chandeliered dining room in this wonderfully quirky eight-bedroom hotel, housed in a 19th-century neo-classical mansion on the edge of Tsagarada’s Agia Paraskevi square, could be in a British gentleman’s club. It’s stuffed with antiques (including a baby grand piano and numerous ‘unicorns’) and eccentric charm. The hotel is run by English ex-professional dancer Clare and her Greek husband Christos, who trained as a chef in London, so it’s no surprise that its restaurant dishes also fuse Greek and English. Mains might include slow-cooked lamb with rosemary and garlic, or chicken breast with sun-dried tomatoes and ouzo sauce. In summer, you can choose al fresco dining on the terrace and watch the action on the village square, which boasts the country’s oldest plane tree.

lostunicornhotel.gr 

Exterior of Lost Unicorn hotel in Tsagarada
Exterior of Lost Unicorn hotel in Tsagarada

Aleka’s House, Tsagarada – best restaurant with rooms in Pelion

Yes, the usuals (stuffed peppers, giant beans…) are there. But at every turn the dishes, cooked by Theodoras Tzembetzis who runs this friendly place with his wife Eleni, are given an extra twist, whether it’s a secret spice or a garnish of pickled, locally foraged rock samphire. And the decor, from the cosy modern dining room (with a fire in winter) to the vine-draped courtyard, is several notches above your average Greek village restaurant too. In autumn, standout plates are veal with locally foraged chestnuts or stuffed mushrooms, while year-round pleasers include chicken with homemade pasta and tirobourekakia (fried cheese pies). There’s a cafe next door, and six simple rooms upstairs, too.

Alekas-house.gr

Veal with Chestnuts on the table at Aleka's House
Veal with Chestnuts on the table at Aleka’s House

Kritsa, Portaria – best cookery school in Pelion    

Kritsa hotel-restaurant, overlooking Portaria’s village square, is renowned among Greek foodies for its gutsy cooking and convivial atmosphere. If you’re wowed by the dishes (and you will be) the good news is that you can learn how to make them by enrolling at Kritsa’s cookery school, based on its organic farm (which also supplies the restaurant). Pick your ingredients before having a stab at making pumpkin pie or spetzofai (Pelion’s famous casserole of local sausage, green peppers and grated tomatoes). Or try your hand at easier classics like strapatsada (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and olive oil) or greens with eggs.

peliongastronomy.gr; hotel-kritsa.gr

Spetzofai cooked up at Kritsa's cookery school
Spetzofai cooked up at Kritsa’s cookery school

Aggelika, Mylopotamo – best fish restaurant in Pelion     

Perched above the turquoise waters of Mylopotamos beach, on Pelion’s rocky east coast, this restaurant was set up by a fisherman and named after his daughter. Aggelika now runs it, but her father still provides the fish, so you eat whatever he’s landed that day. Grab a table on the terrace and drool over the views of neighbouring Skiathos and Alonissos as you try stuffed calamari, grilled bream, or the hearty fish soup. Starters are equally good – standouts are the home-cured anchovies and the grilled aubergine with tomatoes, feta and parsley.

aggelikapelion.gr (note, website still under construction but they say it will be live soon)

Mylopotamo beach - Aggelika restaurant which overlooks it
Mylopotamo beach – Aggelika restaurant which overlooks it

Taverna Meintani, Zagora – best home cooking in Pelion

The locals know this no-frills street-side taverna as Niki’s, a reference to its affable owner who has been cooking in this sizeable village on the northeast slopes of Pelion (famed for its apples) for over two decades. Eating here is like being invited into her private home. Niki grows pretty much all of her fruit and vegetables, before stuffing, stewing or preserving them in sugar syrup. Visit in summer for stuffed courgette flowers or vine leaves. In autumn, check out Niki’s pork neck with apples, quince and chestnuts, or stuffed cabbage leaves. Watch her making the latter at breakneck speed – 200 in under 40 minutes, which must surely be a record, even by Greek standards.

meintani.gr

Sea view from the balcony of Meintani (Niki) in Zagora
Sea view from the balcony of Meintani (Niki) in Zagora

Apolafsi, Makrinitsa – best restaurant with a view in Pelion

Makrinitsa, whose stone houses and churches tumble down the steep mountainside above Volos, is one of Pelion’s prettiest villages and, as in all of them, the square is the place to sit and watch the local goings on. So Apolafsi’s location on the edge of the square, under the shade of its obligatory plane tree, is hard to beat. Come here for a hearty rendition of Pelion’s classic, spetzofai, made with olive oil and tomatoes produced by owner Kostas Chatzigiannis and his wife Maria who does the cooking. Or in autumn, try Maria’s Home-reared boar with honey, mustard and chestnut puree.

@apolafsi.makrinitsa

Spetzofai with menu at Apolafsi
Spetzofai with menu at Apolafsi

Archipelagos, Volos – best small plates taverna in Pelion

Fed up with the stress of deciding what to choose when you eat out? Then a tsipouradiko (taverna specialising in tsipouro) like this one on the harbour front in Pelion’s port city of Volos, is your place. For every 50ml bottle of tsipouro (choose with or without aniseed) you order, you get a tasty meze of whatever the local fishermen have caught that day. What the dishes are is left to the discretion of the chef – so it could be anything from mussel risotto to grilled octopus, deep-fried prawns, whitebait or sea anemone.

archipelagos.com

Supper spread at Archipelago in Volos
Supper spread at Archipelago in Volos

Theofilos cafe, Makrinitsa – best historic bar in Pelion

Pelion’s best known painter, Theofilos, famed for his naive frescoes and eccentric dress, was often strapped for cash so painted in return for meals. This tiny kafeneion off the village square was one of the places whose walls he painted to keep the wolf from the door. So as you perk yourself up with a tsipouro or coffee, you can admire scenes depicting Greek independence leader Katsandonis with his soldiers as invading Turks loom on the horizon. It’s a little worse for wear, so savour this precious remnant of Pelion’s cultural history while you can.

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Theofilos painting and table in kafeneion in Makrinitsa
Theofilos painting and table in kafeneion in Makrinitsa

Women’s Agritourism Cooperative in Vyzitsa – best place to buy jams and preserved fruits in Pelion

Visit any Greek home and you’ll be offered a ‘spoon sweet’ – fruit preserved in a sugar syrup – a tradition thought to have been started by the highborn ladies of Constantinople. Over recent decades, Pelion’s women have formed cooperatives making spoon sweets and jams, and visitors can buy them, while also watching how they’re made. At this cooperative in the historic village of Vyzitsa, on Pelion’s west coast, the speciality is a preserve made from the firiki, a small apple unique to the area.

no website

Firiki apples being turned into spoon sweets at Vyzitsa
Firiki apples being turned into spoon sweets at Vyzitsa

Korbas, Milies – best bakery in Pelion

Think you’ve tasted some great olive foccaccias? You haven’t tasted the best until you’ve tried the eliopsomo (olive bread) at this bakery, run by the same family for three generations. Squidgy and solid yet light, people come from all over Pelion to buy this meal-in-the-hand, along with the bakery’s cheese bread, biscuits, pies, trahana (cracked wheat) and homemade pasta. A definite must-try.

Kormpas.4ty.gr

Olive bread at Korbas bakery in Milies
Olive bread at Korbas bakery in Milies

Myrro, Portaria – best herb shop in Pelion  

Greek poet Hesiod dubbed Pelion “rich in herbs” and today medicinal and culinary herbs still abound on its lush, wooded hillsides. Buy teas, herbs and spices – sourced from Pelion, small Greek suppliers in the rest of Greece – and abroad, from this well-stocked shop in Portaria.

Myrro.gr

Herbs on sale at Myrro in Porteria
Herbs on sale at Myrro in Porteria

Anna na Ena Milo, Milies – best bar/cafe in Pelion   

The name of this cosy cafe/bar on the main street of Milies, on Pelion’s west coast, means “Anna, there’s an apple.” It’s a phrase taught to Greek primary school kids to teach them their alphabet, but it could also be a fruity reference to the village’s many orchards (Milies means ‘apple trees.’) With its art-plastered walls, single-origin coffee, and sixties music, it’s the closest you’ll get to a hipster cafe in Pelion. Cakes and pies are also a draw – try the grated-apple pie, the lemon mousse or the cheesecake. Sit in the glass-roofed verandah for a spot of people-watching.

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Interior of Anna na Ena Milo in Milies
Interior of Anna na Ena Milo in Milies

Discover our best Greek recipes here, including:

Spanakopita Recipe

For more information on the Pelion region visit volosinfo.gr and livelikelocal.gr

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Words and images by Clare Hargreaves