Often called the ‘Bride of the North,’ Thessaloniki is a vibrant, young, and multicultural city, where good food is easy to find. It was recently picked by The Guardian as one of the ‘Top 10 alternative city breaks in Europe’ for its brilliant restaurant and nightlife scene along with its rich cultural heritage. Discover these ten favorite local picks, from casual bistros to elegant dining, for a genuine culinary and cultural experience in Greece’s second largest city.
Negroponte is located in the heart of the Ladadika district, a historical neighborhood by the port that once accommodated olive oil traders and brothels. Negroponte is the Venetian name of the owners’ homeland, the island of Euboea in southern Greece. The restaurant is hosted in a charming 1880s building and offers two lovely, decorated rooms and a terrace by the stone-paved street. The chefs here pick their ingredients fresh every morning and prepare an original daily menu for a more diverse experience. The fried-pork with yogurt and zucchini cakes are absolutely delicious, and the tahini cream yogurt desert is the perfect end to a great meal. What’s more, it’s on the house!
Molyvos restaurant and mezze bar invites you on a flavorful trip to the beautiful island of Lesbos in north-eastern Greece. The restaurant was named after the charming village of Molyvos, known for its stunning natural beauty and traditional architecture. The owners did their best to reflect this in their space. It is situated on the first floor of a handsome neo-classical building, and its warm and cozy decor is reminiscent of a 1900s Greek nobility house. Lesbos’ cuisine is influenced by delicious oriental flavors that find their way into your dish. The ‘chunkier bejendi,’ small pieces of veal on a bed of eggplant purée, and the stuffed onions are absolute favorites. The menu offers a huge selection of island cuisine specialties and a few ethnic food choices. Do not miss the dessert, as Molyvos serves what are probably the city’s best honey beignets with sesame.
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If you wish to immerse yourself in a real traditional Greek cuisine experience, look no further than Sempriko. It was founded as a co-operative restaurant and grocery shop and occupies a beautiful space by Thessaloniki’s old Byzantine walls. There is a heavy focus on island specialties, especially cheese and delicatessen products, and it offers a surprising selection of local craft beers and wine from small, local producers. The concept of the menu is based on original mezze plates, including some not-so-mainstream choices such as the smoked eggplant salad with tahini and the old-fashioned ‘manti’ dumplings with lamb meat and yogurt, a dish with intense flavor. All of the ingredients can be purchased at the little store that is attached to the restaurant.
Mageires, which simply means ‘cooks,’ is rather new in town, but is steadily winning people’s hearts with its warm atmosphere and homemade food. This traditional cook-house offers a typical but wealthy choice of vegetable and pulse-based Greek dishes, which are made exclusively from Greek products. Healthy, fresh, and in generous portions, the food also comes at a very affordable price. If confused by any particular menu items, the staff are more than happy to give advice, and are happy to explain the menu choices and prices. What’s more, Mageires stands out due to its strong social responsibility management, either by hiring staff from vulnerable groups or cooperating with charity organizations for food rations. One thing is certain – you’ll eat well and feel good about it!
Mia Feta Bar is a unique establishment; half restaurant and half grocery store. It was opened in 2013 by the Kourellas family, who also run a famous dairy and farm business. The restaurant is hosted in a modern, minimally decorated space with window displays of traditional dairy products and a central, communal bar-table. Most of the dishes include or are based on feta cheese, and there is a comprehensive wine list that comes with suggestions from the friendly staff. Creative culinary surprises are to be expected, such as the gorgeous feta with wild black truffle and the homemade bread with zea or emmer wheat.
Ouzeri Lola is a traditional tavern, owned and run by the same family since 1990. Here, good old-fashioned ouzo and raki, or local favorite tsipouro, a Greek version of eau-de-vie, are served with a rich variety of mezze and – mainly – fish and seafood dishes. Lola is always full of loyal regulars who enjoy the hospitable environment and great quality, fresh food. Amongst its delicacies, enjoy the salad with fried salmon and fig and Mrs. Lola’s legendary shrimp pasta with garlic and tomato sauce. For the indecisive, all dishes come in small and big portions so that you can choose more than one.
Thessaloniki is known for its ‘pita gyro’ sandwich, so this list couldn’t be complete without a restaurant that serves spectacular gyro. Diavasi, or ‘crossing’ in Greek, has made quite a name for itself thanks to its mouth-watering, juicy gyro and its flavorsome soutzoukakia, beef meat balls, which are among the best in town. They are accompanied by a decent variety of creamy salads and delicious, handmade crispy fries. Service is quick and the staff pleasant, in spite of the crowds. Its modern and clean design is a definite plus.
Paparouna, named after the poppy flower, opened its doors in 2004 in the historical building of the ‘Banque de Salonique,’ with its emblematic clock that stopped turning in 1978 after a violent earthquake. It is situated in the old Frankish neighborhood of the city and is surrounded by stunning houses and unique architecture. Like the poppy flower, Paparouna is stylishly decorated in all shades of red, in stunning contrast with its black and white checkerboard floor. The menu focuses on fusion Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, and there is a bar attached to the restaurant that serves amazing cocktails, enjoyed along with the sounds of jazz and soul music.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19
With its superb location right on the waterfront and next to the city’s beautiful Aristotle square, Agioli is an excellent and convenient choice for a midday break or a romantic dinner. This simply decorated but elegant brasserie-bistro has won many gourmet awards since its opening in 2007, but its prices remain truly competitive without compromising on quality or variety. Famous chefs have visited Agioli and left their mark on its menu. In addition to the fine restaurant on the first floor with splendid sea views, the ground floor hosts a stylish brasserie, which exclusively serves craft beer from small Greek breweries.
Nea Folia is a lovely Greek tavern located in a small alley on the north side of the city center, not far from the Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki. It is an old-fashioned haunt, very popular among locals, who come here for the relaxing, alternative atmosphere and the gorgeous food. The decor is reminiscent of the 1960s, with a characteristic jukebox next to the entrance and a few traditional cooking utensils hanging from the walls. The menu successfully marries Greek regional cuisine with modern influences, such as the veal with caramelized pears and the grilled chicken chops with honey and thyme. The food comes in generous portions at affordable prices. There is also a large selection of cheese and delicatessen products from all over Greece, as well as some excellent wine and raki from small distilleries.