From meat feasts to seafood so fresh it’s practically still swimming, these are our must-eat restaurants in the second-largest city in Greece.
There’s nothing Thessaloniki does better than food. A port city, it’s renowned for the freshness of its seafood, the variety of its restaurants – from the under-the-radar neighbourhood favourites to contemporary fine dining – and its always-warm hospitality. We’ve eaten our way across town to bring you a menu of the very best dining spots this vibrant city has to offer.
At first glance, Kanoula might not look like much. It’s small and simple in its design and decor, the atmosphere is mellow and it’s a little way out of town. Despite all this, you’ll struggle to get a table if you haven’t booked ahead, because the food here is so good it doesn’t need any other frills. Expect authentic Greek cuisine at reasonable prices – and in large portions, too. We’d suggest booking two nights in a row, as you’ll want to try the whole menu.
Straddling the line between homespun and rustic, and cool and contemporary, this city centre restaurant is all about balance. The menu spans the traditional Greek repertoire, from salads to souvlaki, as well as throwing in some Turkish and pan-Mediterranean classics. Dishes fly out of the kitchen in the arms of the impeccably trained staff, who’ll be delighted to talk you through the carefully selected wine menu until you find on the perfect pairing. Your bank balance will appreciate it, too.
If you’ve ever wondered what a Greek-German fusion restaurant looks like – no, us neither – then prepare to have your curiosities satisfied. Blackhaus is the sort of casual “burgers and beers” joint you might find in a Berlin backstreet, only with added souvlaki and Greek seasoning. They also do a storming selection of desserts – from “tiramisu” pancakes (basically a pancake stack layered in with boozy cream and cocoa powder, topped with berries) to crispy-hot waffles. The beer’s not bad, either.
Vegetarians, look away – Nea Diagonios is made for meat lovers only. From fillet of veal souvlaki, to grilled lamb chops or spicy, house-made sausage, you’re guaranteed a plate full of protein. But this is no rustic, cave man-style chophouse. The interiors are sleek, sophisticated, and the menu takes itself seriously. The grilled beef liver is served with a punchy pear and mustard sauce, while the veal fillet comes with summer black truffle carpaccio and porcini cream. This is one to push the boat out for.
One of the best things about Sourtoukw is that it’s about as far from a tourist trap as you can get. The interior is basic and it might appear more like a neighbourhood cafe than a restaurant, but this eatery specialises in super-fresh, sizzling-hot meze, coupled with top quality wines. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, too – which can be hard to find in such a carnivorous city – and the atmosphere is classic easy, breezy Greek.
This neighbourhood seafood restaurant is so traditional, you’ll pretty much only find locals and other Greeks eating here. Most of them come just for the fried feta, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds – salty-sweet, crunchy and dangerously moreish. But that’s for later. First, it’s all about the fish. From delicately crispy fried calamari, to creamy mussel bisques or simply grilled sardines, it’s all delicious – and zingingly fresh, as you’d expect in a seaside city.
This family-run restaurant up on the hill takes you back to a time when all restaurants were a family business. It’s quaint and charming, and authentically Greek – the family who run it will make you feel as welcome as one of their own. In an area that’s blooming with newer bars and restaurants, this is a lovely piece of nostalgia, and you’ll still get a complimentary drink or small dessert at the end of your meal.
You might feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you enter Giannoula, but this authentic Greek taverna is steeped in such nostalgia and tradition, it’s actually bang up to date. There’s an old style jukebox in the corner and the decor and tables are old school Greek. This is an amazing little place that’s a bit quirky – don’t be surprised if your waiter asks you to write down your own order – but the food and wine are the real deal. There are some good vegetarian options and the prices are very reasonable.
Not sorted your stay yet? Bag the best hotels in Greece’s second city by booking now through Culture Trip. For more to do whilst you’re there, explore the top things to see and do before relaxing with a well-deserved, delicious drink in one of Thessaloniki’s best bars. Whilst you’re there, why not take a trip to nearby Halkidiki? Stay in one of the area’s beautiful boutique hotels and discover the best things to do across its three peninsulas.
This article is an update of one originally by Margarita Akritidou.
These recommendations were updated on October 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.