Nafplio’s dining scene is the most varied in the Peloponnese, with everything from classic Greek tavernas to Mediterranean fine dining on the menu.
This seaport town, and former capital of post-independence Greece, sits on the Argolic Gulf – its strategic importance given away by the presence of three fortresses. As you mingle with weekending Athenians, you’ll want to give yourself time to take in the Venetian architecture, museums, neoclassical mansions, view-blessed Palamidi Fortress and narrow, pedestrianised Old Town. In the traditional tavernas of this popular town, servings of stuffed vine leaves and oven-baked lamb are offered up alongside local Greek music and regional wines. Here are the best restaurants in Nafplio to fuel your explorations.
Quirky light fixtures, a contemporary, blonde-wood bistro interior and a menu that reads like a carnivore’s paradise, together distinguish this restaurant from the rest. Bringing a similarly modern aesthetic to his dishes, the chef-owner pairs beef carpaccio with roasted hazelnuts, slow-cooked octopus with white fish roe and pickles, and handmade kritharoto orzo-style pasta with crayfish. The duck, of course, is the dish not to miss, paired with one of the regional Peloponnese wines. Sit inside or grab an outdoor table by the pier.
Inside the Fougaro art centre, on the eastern outskirts of Nafplio, this minimalist, industrial-style space with bright splashes of contemporary art frequently hosts exhibitions. It also serves seasonally-inspired Greek and Mediterranean dishes that make the most of ingredients from local producers, from grilled talagani Greek cheese with fig chutney to vegetable-filled savoury crêpes. In the evenings, there are occasional DJ sets or live music performances
With hand-written menus, and marine-themed art adorning the rough stone walls, this intimate family-run taverna, found down a narrow alleyway, specialises in hearty, home-style Greek dishes. Must-tries include “drunken” chicken (slow-cooked with red peppers and wine) and a good selection of regional cheeses. Desserts – from walnut pie to filo pastry baked with feta and honey – are equally hearty.
Overlooking Nafplio’s largest green space in the New Town, this cosy taverna specialises in plates that are best shared. True to its name (pidalio means “rudder”), many of this mezze restaurant’s best offerings, such as the tender grilled octopus on aubergine purée, grilled sardines, prawn orzotto and smoky taramasalata, are all sea-based, though meaty Cretan influences creep in as well, in the form of apaki (smoked pork). The wine list is extensive and big on Greek labels.
Make a note of this taverna’s name in Greek characters (Η ΦΩΛΙΑ) in order to find it along Nafplio’s waterfront. You’ll want to book ahead, since there are only 10 tables within the cosy, stone-walled interior. Friendly owners, Sakis and Maria, will tell you about the day’s specials. Fresh fish and seafood is supplied daily by their fisher friends, and other produce is also sourced locally, so you might be treated to cheese-stuffed squid with honey sauce or oven-baked lamb with lemon.
Whether you dine beneath the vertical gardens and contemporary chandeliers of the airy interior, or out on the terrace, your meal is bound to be a memorable one at Espero. The menu is a mix of old-school Greek favourites, such as octopus with caramelised onions and fava beans, and contemporary Mediterranean dishes, including handmade pastas with unusual ingredient pairings, all beautifully presented. Dress nicely, bring your date here, and finish off with a chocolate soufflé and hand-picked selection of international wines.
With an emphasis on seasonal dishes made from the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients, this family-run spot serves the likes of lamb with artichokes and stuffed vine leaves with lemon sauce in summer, while octopus in wine sauce appears on the menu year-round, as do traditional Greek stews. Ample portions are served with aplomb to the tune of traditional Greek music. Bear in mind that this restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so get there early.
Stepping into this stone-walled, fireplace-warmed taverna at the foot of Palamidi Hill is like stepping back in time. Run by three generations of the Koutelias family, this venerable place is as traditional as they come, with specialities such as home-made sausages roasted on the spit. The slow-cooked lamb in lemon sauce is equally satisfying. Courtesy of old-school Greek generosity, you get offered a free dessert by the convivial owners at the end of the meal.
As welcoming as its flower-adorned fence, inscribed with greetings in multiple languages, this friendly cafe is run by several indefatigable ladies. It’s a breakfast/brunch place only, and the traditional Greek options are the ones to go for. You can’t go wrong with home-made bread and a selection of jams, or the platter of local cold cuts, cheeses and pie of the day, washed down with a strong Greek coffee.