Kos is an island in the Dodecanese where eating and tasting the local cuisine is a real pleasure. The Greek gastronomy is characterized by being simple, colorful and healthy, because it is based on products of the land and the sea seasoned with olive oil, herbs and spices. Moreover, if some recipes incorporate the influence of foreign culinary customs such as Turkish, sitting at the table becomes a festival of flavors, aromas and colors.
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The Dodecanese is a group of about 20 inhabited islands located very close to the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey. Kos is the third largest, surpassed only by Rhodes and the Carpathians, with long beaches full of inexpensive sunshades and hammocks, no sailing ships or boats on the horizon and home to Hippocrates, the father of Medicine and Dietetics.
Eating well on Kos is not difficult. Greek salad, tzatziki and meze (or mésades) are sure bets, although discovering dishes far from the typical Greek restaurant menu is a pleasant experience. Besides, eating there is quite cheap and you won’t pay more than 20 euros per person (the average was about 15-17 euros), including drinks.
A tip: run away from the cafes and bars to eat. They don’t usually have local food and you’ll only find pizzas, hamburgers, pasta and a lot of those tourists who don’t know what a good bread dipped in oil is (although I have to point out that pasta is quite ingrained since the island belonged to Italy for 30 years in the first half of the 20th century)
Cafe Le Cafe
Located on the promenade that borders the city along the coast, with Turkey on the horizon, Le Cafe was the first place we went to calm our hungry stomachs. And we were right on target. So much so that we repeated and went twice more.
They have the typical classic breakfast of eggs and bacon (which I didn’t try) and a local version consisting of Greek yogurt with macerated grapes, filtered coffee, natural orange juice and a scrambled tomato, zucchini and egg served with a piece of cheese and sliced bread. Despite the failure of the type of bread, I repeated the same breakfast a few days later.
The next day we returned and I tried the tomato, olive and feta bruschettas, accompanied by cappuccino and a fruit smoothie. Very tasty but too much for one person (four generous portions are coming, so better ask for it to share), the cappuccino was “delizioso”, and the shake was just the way I like it. A good choice and the best place to have breakfast.
The Elia Restaurant is located on one of the busiest and most touristy streets in the centre of Kos City. Don’t be afraid if you come across a crowd of tourists and souvenir shops on the narrow street leading to the place.
The restaurant is located in a stone building from 1890 and has a charming inner courtyard. The service is friendly, although a bit slow (as in the rest of the island, I imagine something typical of the island’s character). There we tasted a rich and soft tzatziki, taramosalata, a moussaka that was to die for and a plate of pork fillet with sun-dried tomatoes, halloumi cheese and absolutely delicious rosemary.
Agios Theologos Restaurant
Agios Theologos is a beach and a restaurant. It is located on the Kefalos peninsula and arriving is a delicious journey through the hills that make up this area of the island. There we approached to see the sunset, since it was recommended to us for being one of the most beautiful of the island. And we were right.
But if you also add some kalamari and tzaltziki from the Agios Theologos restaurant to enjoy the show, then the day ends up being much better.
Platani, about 6 km from the city of Kos, is a small town where a Turkish community lives and offers delicious Anatolian-style food. Upon entering the village you quickly reach a square with an Ottoman fountain where there are several Turkish restaurants.
We had dinner at the Serif tavern, an interesting place where, when asking for information about the dishes, they invite you to go into an impeccable kitchen where they show you all the casseroles with the prepared stews (aubergines, artichokes, spinach, okra, stuffed zucchini flowers…) and a refrigerated display case with the different types of meat, kebabs and fish of the day.
Faced with our indecision, our host prepared us a varied dish of what those pans contained and some shrimp skewers. The meze, which is what they call this dish with different starters, was abundant and tasty.
Hotel Citi Cafeteria
A few steps away from Le Cafe, is the cafeteria of the Hotel Citi. We went there for breakfast because of the innovation and variety, but sometimes it is better to stay with what you already know rather than to expand your knowledge.
I tried the “domestic breakfast (Kos)”, as it said on the menu, which included bread, tomato, cucumber, olives, feta, “salami” and Greek coffee. A word of warning: never, ever try Greek coffee… I recommend you to spare yourself the experience.
In Zia, a small town in the middle of the mountain, you will find LA TAVERNA, so in capital letters. The Olympia is the only restaurant that is open out of season in the village and where the locals come to eat religiously on the weekends.
In fact, the man who rented the car told us that, after his mother’s meal, the Olympia was the best he had ever tasted. And the fact that a man in his 50s, who has travelled like him, tells you that you should put a pin in your mental map for Zia as a destination to visit. And that’s what we did.
We were at the Olympia 2 (there are two places), where there is a nice terrace with shade and views of the whole island from above. We ordered a meze to share (it had zucchini fritters, chickpea fritters, feta stuffed pepper, beans and spetsofai, a kind of sausage cooked with tomato, plus a meatball and a couple of dolmades), a moussaka and a grilled gilthead bream.
The mezze were delicious, the moussaka spectacular (with a rich touch of cinnamon) and the fish just right, juicy and tender. Great hit, yes sir!
Ideal Snack Bar
Near Eleftherias square, in the city of Kos, you can find this cafeteria where they prepare pitas. The one I tried was spicy kebab.
Pote tin kiriaki (Never on Sunday)
We arrived here by chance, while looking for a restaurant that turned out to be closed a long time ago. We loved it so much that we repeated our last night on the island.
The Never on Sunday (in Pisandrou street) is a place far from the tourist circuit of the city, with tables in a small terrace and a pleasant treatment.
Between the two nights we tried the tzatziki, aubergines with cheese au gratin, zucchini fritters (which appear as “croquettes” on the menu and are very good), grilled prawns, octopus salad, feta in filo pastry, aubergine with pork and feta and a stew of pork, feta and green pepper.
And don’t miss the menu, they are handwritten notebooks with beautiful phrases and pictures from magazines. An absolutely recommended place.