Kefalonia is the biggest Ionian island, so there is plenty to keep you occupied here – from awe-inspiring views and amazing historical relics to quaint villages and whisper-quiet shores. And, then, there is the sheer variety of delicious food on offer, whether you opt for taverna simplicity or something a little smarter. Here’s our choice of the best spots to wine and dine on Kefalonia, Greece.
Off-the-beaten-track Fiscardo is a charming fishing village with a handful of lovely sea-view tavernas. One of the best is this relaxed affair, with a curve of elegant cream parasols wrapped around the picturesque seafront and tables right on the shingle. Settle here in the late afternoon to sample squeaky grilled halloumi, lemon-soaked calamari and blackened roasted vegetables before pottering across the bleached-white beach to cool your feet in the clear shallows.
A modern twist on the Greek taverna by the water in Argostoli, Ampelaki attracts couples and young families with its switched-on service and crowd-pleasing menu. The stuffed vegetables are a must, as is a taster of the kreatopita, a Kefalonian speciality pie filled with marjoram-spiced mince. The restaurant team is young, and everything is super-fresh and zingy – there’s no feeling of dishes sitting for hours warming under lights – and chatty servers are happy to give tips on the local area.
About an hour-long drive from the main resorts, sleepy Vatsa Beach in the island’s southwest has vivid golden sands, a scattering of thatched sunshades and a handful of apartments nearby. Those in the know come just for this traditional, scenic terrace overlooking the dense forest and sparkling sea. Sitting among pots of bright geraniums, you’ll tuck into produce you can see growing in the gardens around the restaurant, such as fat watermelons, sweet tomatoes and fresh greens. Families are welcome, and there’s a play area for kids as you wait between courses.
The oldest taverna in the picturesque northern port of Fiskardo, this joint has been around since the early 70s. With a scattering of powder-blue-painted tables in front of a smart terracotta building, it has lovely views of the fishing boats in the bay – these perfectly complement dishes such as slow-cooked veal, prawn-topped ouzo spaghetti and rosemary-scented pork. Like what you taste? It’s such a local institution that you can buy TV chef Tassia Dendrinou’s cookbook to take home.
This candy-pink cottage with a lush, vine-trailed patio is a local favourite in the popular southern beach town of Lassi. Families, big groups and watersports fans all pile into this informal taverna for its festive atmosphere and heaped plates of chicken souvlaki, lamb kleftiko and Greek salad. Birthdays are celebrated with fanfare by long tables of sunbaked diners indulging in a few too many glasses. Come back in five years, and the hosts will remember you.
Lorraine’s Magic Hill
The shingle beach at Lourdata (also known as Lourdas) is backed by uninterrupted green, shelving down to smooth sand and swimmable sea. On the slopes above it is the long stone patio of Lorraine’s, a family-run restaurant, where the lady herself will recommend upmarket specials of chicken in white wine or goat with lemon and herbs. It’s not trendy fine-dining stuff, but rather strong home cooking with plenty of fresh veg and salads. Linger late for wine and desserts, and get chatting to the sophisticated crowd that comes in.
This sultry courtyard of stone pillars and lush vines is an atmospheric place for a good old-fashioned Greek feast. It’s in one of the busiest resorts on the island, Skala, which thrums with twentysomethings, package-hol couples and families in high summer. Handily, it’s close to cocktail bars and ice cream parlours for your next stop along the strip. An informal crowd in maxi dresses and khaki shorts pours in for plump grilled prawns and butterbean stews, frosty pints of Mythos beer and banter with the dashing young waiters.
On a wooden pier jutting out into the water in Argostoli, this friendly hangout brings Kefalonia fans back year after year. Share unfussy platters of grilled sardines, fried red mullet and charred octopus tendrils, while you sit feet above the waters they were fished from. Frank staff will help you order and tell you how much is too much, and the protruding deck gets a lovely sea breeze in the evenings. All in all, one of the classiest spots along the waterfront in Argostoli.
Want something well off the beaten track? Head north for the remote, unspoiled cove of Porto Atheras, a 20-minute drive from popular Lixouri. Here, you’ll find this foodie oasis, known for its fish fresh off the boat. This is, for many visitors, the best meal on the island: simply-prepped barracuda and red snapper, accompanied by salad leaves and tomatoes grown on site. The views of pines and pink blossoms framing the boats in the shallows are just as delicious as the food; afterwards, a dip in the cliff-sheltered bay is an absolute must.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Michelle Schmid.
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