Eating Out in Zakynthos
A good way or the traditional way to start your meal is with a selection of “Mezze or meze” which roughly translates from Greek to English as “appetizers” or “Small Plates” but in this translation it does not do it justice to the fundamental role “Mezzes” plays in Greek Tradition.
Appetizers should be eaten slowly, they are very tasty and the sole purpose of appetizers is to make the drinking easier, (So say) Mezze’s means to share, enjoy, and live life to the fullest!
Lunch time is very good for trying a selection of mezes and is more than sufficient as a full meal!
One thing you will find is that in most Greek tavernas or restaurants there is a limited dessert menu which normally consists of fresh fruit, yoghurt & honey at times with walnuts, Ice cream and if you’re really lucky you might find some traditional Greek desserts like “Baklava or Kataifi” these are very very rich and served dosed with lots of honey or syrup, to many of these will have you pilling on the pounds!!
Mezze’s are served in the centre of the table so all the family or friends in your party can share and enjoy olives, calamari (fried squid) dolmades (Stuffed vine leaves) Tzatziki (yoghurt & cucumber dip) Taramosalata (fish roe dip) Keftedes (Meatballs), Saganaki (fried cheese) Feta cheese, Pickled vegetables, Melitzanosalata (eggplant salad).
Eating out in Greece is a way of life for the local Zakynthian people and they spend a lot of time socializing either outside their homes or in local tavernas / restaurants sharing a meal with friends and family.
You will find that Greek Tavernas or Restaurants are very simple and straight forward offering a selection of classic Greek or International and Greek food.
Eating out in Zante as in many other holiday destinations is totally different to eating out in the UK, so don’t expect to arrive at a taverna / restaurant be seated, food ordered all within half an hour as this just won’t happen because the Greeks don’t do the McDonalds style of serving food!!!
All I can say is when eating out in Zakynthos is be prepared for a little wait, relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant / taverna and the company you are with and rest assured that you’re not going to be kicked off the table to make room for the next person.
Greek tavernas / restaurants range from the very basic to small intimate places by the sea, so you can eat your meal with the waves lapping the shore or to the really large establishments with very large menu’s but one thing you can be sure of when eating out in Zante that the food is very good and fresh home cooked food.
Some tavernas specialise in fresh fish & lobster where you pick the fish or lobster you want from tanks or chillier cabinets / fridges others specialise in Casserole dishes and lastly grill rooms that specialise in grilled meat dishes.
If you’re a vegetarian you may find that the main courses are a bit limited but you will find some of the more modern will cater for vegetarians and if not then there is normally a good selection on the starter / mezes menu to satisfy.
Greek main dishes are lamb Kleftico both cooked slowly in the oven and then served with potatoes and carrots or served in a clay pot with feta cheese, vegetables and red sauce, Stifado with onions and in a tomato sauce, Moussaka made with mincemeat, aubergines, potatoes and creamy béchamel sauce and finally a favourite for Zakynthian people is Papoutsakia (Little Shoes), a stuffed aubergines with mincemeat and a creamy béchamel sauce.
Chicken or Pork Souvlaki, tender chunks of chicken or pork with vegetables grilled on skewers until golden
brown normally served in pita wrap or on a dinner plate, often with tzatziki chips and some salad.
Another thing you will find is that a lot of tavernas / restaurants will also have entertainment in the form of live music or at times Greek dancing or Greek party nights, these are great fun, with plate smashing, Fire dancing, traditional Greek dancers and not forgetting in some places Belly dancing so don’t forget your camera / video camera to capture that special moment oh and it is likely you will be dragged up to join in, I hear you saying I’m not doing that,
I tell you now it is Great Fun for all the family!