From roast suckling pig, to rovitsa (mung bean), and from duck ragu to artichoke chips, in the capital of Messenia, with the big olive oil producers, surrounded by orchards of products that travel all around the world, historic cookshops, grocery shops that serve food, stylish restaurants and ouzeris (ouzo taverns) light their hearths, sharpen their knives, and turn the land into flavour.
The gastronomic story of Oinopantopoleion Chrysomallis began in 1958, and today, Panagiotis, the son of the original owner is in charge. Located on Ipapanti street, it stands out for the emphasis it places on local ingredients, and seasonality. We recommend the tsouhti, the Maniot spaghetti with grilled mizithra cheese and hot olive oil, as well as the beef ribs, simmered for 6-8 hours, and then baked in the oven, served with carrot pure and seasonal vegetables.
The green salad contains dried figs, anthotiro cheese and locally grown lola lettuce. They serve lovely velvet soups that change daily, pies with homemade filo dough, and sourdough bread, and, depending on the season, you can also find great asparagus.
32 Ipapanti str, tel.: 0030 2721082759
Giannis’ experience, in combination with Maria’s persistence and smile, together with their shared love for food, created a culinary hot spot on the Kalamata marina, in a historic 1922 building. In the past 4 years, the two of them have been running the cookshop Versallies, on Evangelistria street, and if the name (Versailles in Greek) sounds strange, we should mention that humour and self-deprecation are features the two share. Pots, trays, and pans work non-stop using quality local ingredients to create unique recipes, tasty and innovative. We tried the balanced and delicious salad with rovitsa, beet, wheat and walnut, as well as the salad with artichoke chips. The daily specials include baked cauliflower with tomato sauce, meatballs with basil and tomato sauce, lamb and potatoes baked in the wood-burning oven, dolmadakia (rice stuffed vine leaves) and many more. Versallies is open for lunch till early in the evening.
46 Evangelistria str, Kalamata Marina, tel. : 0030 2721081858
The new gem on Ipapanti street is called Foino and serves the high gastronomy with passion. Dimitra Poulopoulou and award-wining chef Giorgos Horaitis, two renowned Messenians, partners in business and in life both in Greece and abroad, decided to return to Kalamata, found an amazing space next to the church of Ipapanti, and set up Foino. Giorgos is in charge of the food, and Dimitra of the wine.
Their bravery, expertise and talent have been rewarded, and they’ve already received awards. The restaurant was included in the 20 best new Greek restaurants by the Restaurant 100 Awards. Fava with smoked olives from Mani and pickled onion, avocado, raisins and octopus couscous, fresh pappardelle with duck ragu and graviera cheese cream, mussels and squid spaghetti. A menu based on seasonal ingredients, organic when possible, from local producers, sophisticated tastes with a twist, incredible desserts, and a strong wine list with a focus on organic wines from the Peloponnese.
35 Ipapanti str, tel.: 0030 6940886536
Ouzeri Thiasos is located on Ipapanti street, in the centre of Kalamata. It serves nice traditional meze made with local ingredients. The Messenian suckling pig, served in small pieces, each one with crispy crackling, is a trademark dish. Their menu also includes a variety of fresh salads and many more dishes like courgette flowers stuffed with rice, aubergine loaf, sardines and anchovies, offering great combinations to complete your meal. The space is simple, nice and warm, while a large plane tree dominates the yard.
7 Ipapanti str, tel.:0030 2721088407
Kardamo first opened 12 years ago, and it has been in the location next to the, out of service now, train station for almost 10. Classic, traditional flavours, ideal ingredient combinations, local products and all served simply and with great professionalism. Rich, unpretentious food and great service. We tried the Mani tsouhti pasta, with handmade hilopites pasta, smoked pancetta, dry mizithra cheese and fried egg. The burger also has a local air, since instead of a patty it has local pig suckling, while the salads are fresh and served beautifully.
Kardamo Comfort Cuisine, 21 Sidirodromikos Stathmos square, tel.: 0030 2721098091
Souvlaki at Nikitas’ or Tzimis’
To be honest, there are many spots with good souvlaki in Kalamata, but we recommend two that we think serve especially good souvlaki. The first is Nikitas, located in the covered market (Skepasti Agora). They make their souvlaki daily, using great meat and oregano picked at Taigetos.
The second choice for souvlaki is Tzimis, located next to the historic church of Agioi Apostoli, in the historic centre. Tzimis’ and his mother’s love for quality food, results in everything that comes from their hands being the best.
Nikitas, Skepasti Agora, tel.: 0030 2721026766
Tzimi, 25 A. Stratiotou str, tel.: 0030 2721023999
The best restaurants in Preveza