Fresh grilled fish and stuffed rabbit, alongside mountains of mezze dishes, characterise the cuisine of Zakynthos. These bar restaurants promise to dish up the finest Greek food accompanied by local verdea white wine and zesty fruit cocktails.
In recent years, Zakynthos, or Zante, has shrugged off its reputation as a “lads on tour” destination in Greece. Now, it attracts travellers looking for a more upscale experience, complete with luxury accommodation and excellent food. The beaches are lined with a variety of bar restaurants, from laid-back barefoot taverns to sophisticated hillside cocktail joints. Here, Culture Trip has selected the best spots for enjoying lazy sunny days that start with a lunch pitstop and roll into sunset cocktails.
A neon sign behind the bar at Movida says “think less, love more”. We can guarantee that won’t be difficult at this super-stylish elevated bar. It’s perched atop emerald Bohali Hill, overlooking the electric blue Ionian Sea and village below. Order an espresso martini and small plates, such as stuffed tomatoes with shrimps, tuna tartare and mushroom truffle risotto. Enjoy ambient tunes as the sun dips and the megawatt moon lights up the view for you.
Located on southern Zakynthos, not far from the little working port of Agios Nikolaos, this bar restaurant occupies a great beachside location with a paved terrace overlooking the sea. The Nobelos part of the name is linked to the family who runs it, while Bio refers to their preference for organic ingredients, which are mixed with fresh seafood. It’s a stylish but homely spot with dishes cooked in wood-fired ovens. The homemade ice cream is a must-try.
This is a vibrant yet chilled-out little bar restaurant located on Vasilikos Beach on the southeastern part of the island. It opens early, serving juices and coffee, and closes late in the afternoon. It’s the perfect spot for a long lunch punctuated with dips in the sea. The menu offers up risotto and pasta dishes, fresh fish and flavoursome salads. After lunch, grab a sunbed on the beach, and snooze as you listen to the clear water lapping on the shore.
It’s likely you will spot the big wooden boomerang sign outside from the sea. This laid-back family-run restaurant bar is located right on a Blue Flag beach in Tsilivi, a pretty village on the northeastern coast of the island, roughly 4km (2.5mi) from the capital Zakynthos. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; you’re welcome to stay for all three and move on to cocktails and dancing come nightfall. The chicken salad sandwich is an institution here.
This pretty and peaceful garden, in the seaside area of Kalamaki, is shaded by well-placed plants in the sun-drenched daylight hours. After the sun sinks below the horizon, it is lit up with twinkly lights and candles. Comfy outdoor snugs provide optimum privacy, while the friendly owner Nico and his family look after you. Enjoy a delicious seafood platter and Greek wine to the sound of a saxophone player before moving on to sipping drinks at the adjoining 111 cocktail bar.
A good beach bar can make for a memorable day in the sunshine. Fishalida Beach Bar, located on the sandy beach of Alykes, delivers on all counts. The owners are a local family of professional fishermen, so expect incredible simple seafood dishes and authentic Greek sides, from fresh olives to homemade bread and tzatziki with black garlic. Wash that down with a local beer or the house rosé.
You’ll find Freddie’s on the edge of the blue-tinged waters of Tsilivi Beach. The bar restaurant is open-air with uninterrupted sea views and a wraparound green lawn dotted with sunbeds that you’re welcome to use. The staff will always offer a warm welcome and a menu of delicious traditional Greek mezze plates, vibrant salads and beach staples such as burgers and pizzas for very reasonable prices. It’s also simply a great spot for a cold local beer in the sun.
First and foremost, Porto Zante offers luxury beachfront villa accommodation. However, the upscale Club House is open to non-guests and offers a menu of exquisite Greek and Mediterranean dishes. Fresh fish and lobster come from the in-house fisherman’s catch, and local herbs and organic products are grown on the restaurant’s own farm. The bar serves cocktails, from dry martinis to negronis, rare vintage spirits and local wines. Often, there’s live music. The view here is the real deal, spanning the sparkling Ionian Sea and the neighbouring island of Kefalonia.
Edging the pretty village of Tragaki on Ampoula Beach, this stylish fish tavern serves up a delicious menu of Zakynthian specialities, including kleftiko lamb, moussaka, braised beef with smoked eggplant puree, lobster spaghetti and fresh grilled fish. Enjoy with a chilled Greek white wine, a cool sea breeze and views of the blue-green Ionian Sea. Not far away are two more quiet, sandy beaches, Katragaki and Limanaki. The restaurant is open from May to October, from early morning until late at night.