All of Thessaloniki’s gastronomical traditions can be savored at its numerous purveyors of meze (mezedopolio), laid-back eateries where diners spend several hours nibbling at a smorgasbord of small dishes over conversation and quantities of wine, ouzo or tsipouro. Famed pilaf preparations, spicy soutzouki meatballs, pork and leek casserole, mussels or spicy baked bougiourdi with feta cheese, tomatoes and hot peppers are also served. The city’s large student community has ensured that prices remain low, the wine abundant and portions quite robust, without discounts on quality.
Massalia is a modern taverna serving good old-fashioned fare with this philosophy in mind. Among the city’s musts is the soutzouki at Diagonios, around since 1969, also famed for its stuffed vine leaves (dolmadakia). For well-cooked fish and seafood, Miami in Krini and Epta Thalasses (Seven Seas) are recommended. In the Ladadika district, which has been experiencing a second heyday in recent years, you will find numerous tavernas that take Greek classics and present them with a modern twist, such as the elegant Sebriko, which looks a bit like a traditional grocery store and makes excellent use of fine, traditional ingredients. Very interesting local dishes based on the grandeur of fresh ingredients can also be enjoyed at Fri, inspired by the island of Kasos.
A walk to Ano Poli (the old, upper quarter) and to Kastra, where you can enjoy a view of the entire city, is best topped off with a visit to Toicho-Toicho, a traditional-style meze place with a rather sophisticated crowd. Nearby is Igglis, a historic taverna that has been serving its loyal patrons under the shade of ivy for decades. Heading down from Ano Poli and just before you reach the Church of Aghios Dimitrios, look for Nea Folia, tucked away on small side-street, a diamond in the rough and one of the most honest gourmet eateries in town, catering to a small clientele.
Near Aristotelous Square and serving 24 hours a day, Tsarouchas is a more hard-core option, slightly dingy but famed for its restorative tripe (patsa) as well as a selection of other hearty dishes.