Humble Ioannina, the capital of the Epirus region, may not be a famous destination for tourists, but this university town has a lot to offer. With a picturesque historic centre, plenty of cafés and bars and a few landmarks worth discovering, it is a great destination for a weekend getaway. Here are the top restaurants and eateries to try in Ioannina, Greece.
Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
Hidden in a backstreet inside a house with a cute backyard, Mpoukia Mpoukia (pronounced Boukia Boukia) is a cosy mezedopoleio (a restaurant specialising in small platters or mezes) where visitors will have a good time. From the open kitchen comes plates of colourful salads, tasty grilled meats and more elaborate dishes that prove the chef’s top-notch cooking skills. Simple, delicious and to the point – what more could you ask for?
Stoa Louli, established in 1875, sits in a former inn that used to welcome people from all horizons coming to town for business and trade. Today, this favourite hot spot for many locals is part restaurant, part bar and coffee shop, part exhibition space and part venue for concerts and live gigs. Stoa Louli is the best place to sample local tsipouro brands and delicious mezes, and it has live traditional music performances on the weekends.
Housed in a beautiful mansion near the Ioannina Castle, Mystagogia (or mysticism in English) is a well-known tsipouradiko (an establishment specialising in selling tsipouro) among locals. Here, you will enjoy local recipes and authentic flavours thanks to a well-stocked menu. Meat dishes rank high, but you should try several kinds of tsipouro; however, if you are not into that, the beer and wine menu has some unique options.
With a convenient location opposite the main gate of the castle, Balsamico celebrates Greek cuisine. The wood and stone elements, the warm décor and the welcoming atmosphere will enchant you. Offering a wide selection of traditional recipes, along with some original choices, Balsamico serves meat dishes, pasta and seafood, as well as a few vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. Wine and tsipouro are definitely the drinks of choice at this charming old-time eatery.
If you want to try something different, then Brothers in Law may be what you need. This restaurant specialises in American flavours, with burgers (beef, chicken or veggie) being the star of the menu. But you will also find quesadillas and nacho platters, as well as pint-sized portions for children.
A taverna situated in the heart of the city, Fysa Roufa is a homely place where you can eat heart-warming dishes. Don’t expect to be wowed by the décor; at Fysa Roufa, all of the attention went into the humble yet delicious food. From stuffed vegetables to roast lamb, soups and daily specials, this place offers great value for money, without sacrificing quality – no wonder it is a popular joint among students and locals.
Metsovian Nest, Ioannina | Courtesy of Metsovitiki Folia
Travel back in time at this charming taverna. Metsovitiki Folia, located near the castle, is a little steakhouse decorated with old Greek tapestries and trinkets. The menu is equally unpretentious, but don’t be fooled by this. It contains a few gems, and portions are big enough to share (although you probably won’t want to). You can usually drop by without a reservation, but you might want to book a table since Metsovitiki is quite popular.
Perched on Agios Triados hill, right outside Ioannina, Frontzou Politia is a pleasant hotel that offers panoramic views of the city and the lake Pamvotida. The property, built in the Epirotic style, boasts some character and is a perfect retreat during summer when the temperatures rise. But the highlight is the restaurant, where local cuisine and Mediterranean flavours seamlessly blend in an inviting menu. Try the pork medallions with prosciutto, Metsovone cheese, saffron and wild mushroom sauce and pair it with one of the many enticing wine bottles in the cellar.
Near the castle, you will find a refreshing joint that brings Italian flavours to the Epirotic capital. No Ties is a casual and warm restaurant where visitors can sample Italian cuisine, complete with a selection of cheeses and sausages from Italy, mouth-watering pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven and tasty salads. Find a seat at one of the monastic tables and get ready to dive in. If you drop by late, make sure to try one of the many cocktails.
Bistro, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Mediterranean, European
Z HOTEL - CAFE BISTRO - ΙΩΑΝΝΙΝΑ | Courtesy of Z Hotel
Part of Z Hotel, Z Café Bistro is a delightful space with a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere and just a stone’s throw from the lake. As it’s open from morning until the evening, it is a perfect place to savour a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner cooked with local ingredients. Serving pasta, salads, meat dishes and lighter options, this minimalist yet warm bistro has everything to become one of your favourite places.