One of the most charming parts of being on Paros is the feeling of leaving my familiar world behind. For me, it’s a seven-hour time difference, a pretty impactful geographical one, and an outstanding food difference. The food here is spectacular but doesn’t always get its due credit. A lot of restaurants on the island offer pizza and at quite a few of the restaurants this pizza is delicious, I’m looking at you, Cuore Rosso. At other places though, the pizza just isn’t the way to go. The pizza is ordered anyway. Globally adored and known pizza is a safe choice, whereas the lesser known but stellar moussaka gets passed up.
At other places though, the pizza just isn’t the way to go. The pizza is ordered anyway. Globally adored and known pizza is a safe choice, whereas the lesser known but stellar moussaka gets passed up. I don’t know how many bad Paros restaurant reviews I’ve read for restaurants that serve outstanding food. On further investigation, the reviewers have typically ordered pizza at a taverna specializing in seafood and Greek cuisine. Small reminder: many of the restaurants here on the island have fresh octopus drying on sawhorses right outside. When in Greece, eat as the Greeks eat.
I’ve been in Paros, Greece for four weeks now, which is amazing for two reasons. The first is that I feel I’ve been here a lot longer than that. The second is that I feel I haven’t been here anywhere near that long. I have used my time as wisely as possible, though, and visited several (but still not all!) of my favorite restaurants here in Parikia and Naoussa. I’ve kept notes to share my favorite dishes with you.
There’s at least some truth to the adage that humans want what we can’t have, or that our desire is heightened when we are made to wait for something. The fact that I can’t easily eat at these fantastic Parian restaurants makes me miss them, think of them fondly, and really pig-out during my first meals.
I’ll be dividing my Eating Elsewhere: Paros Restaurants into a few different posts. So without further ado, my favorite restaurants on Paros Island.
- Mouragio: This beautiful taverna is right by the Aegean and the perfect place to watch the sunset. I hadn’t tried Mouragio until this trip and I had such a good experience it was the first restaurant I took some of my family to when they visited. Mouragio is run by a wonderful, friendly staff and a kind owner. Back by the sea, I was craving calamari and was delighted to find a set menu including Greek salad, bread and tzatziki, calamari, and dessert. The cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers in the salad were fresh and drizzled with the perfect amount of olive oil. There’s nothing to be said about the wonders of feta in Greece, and I couldn’t stop collecting the perfect bite. When I went back with family, we tried the marinated seafood, a mixof octopus, shrimp, squid, and mussels; and the moussaka. I’d order each and every one again. The marinade on the seafood was a sweet and tangy balsamic and olive oil reduction. I loved every bite.
- Ephessus: The first time I ate here was in 2011 and the restaurant didn’t have the show-stopping, seaside location it does now, but the welcoming owner and head chef were so warm and the food so good, I would have gone the darkest alleyways to eat their food. Now the restaurant is at the center of Livadia beach with tables situated right at the shore. Waves literally lick your feet while you’re eating homemade moussaka, tzatziki, falafel, and hummus. The ambiance is seriously out of this world. The meze here is what keeps me coming back. Order the hummus, tzatziki, and the phenomenal chicken salad. I’m so in love with this chicken salad, I mimicked it here. It has little in common with the American version, made with Greek yogurt, dill, and cucumber. Stay away from the pizza, there are better offerings on the menu and truer to the Turkish inspiration behind the beautiful cuisine.
- Levantis: I love being able to claim a personal connection to this phenomenal restaurant. The co-owner and the artist’s whose killer work is displayed across the restaurant was previously a teacher and is now a friend. This gem has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor, and Lonely Planet, among others, and every mention is still not enough accolades for what the chef and staff establish. The meal begins with bread and three small meze platters. My most recent visit included a cucumber-wrapped olive and feta, an olive and anchovy spread, and a crab spread. They were small dishes, loaded with flavor, and I would have been happy if they’d been my entire meal. But there was more to come. A seabass, baked to such perfection it literally melted on my tongue, served with bulgur, pomegranate seeds, olives, capers, and pine nuts. Paired with the Ktima Tselepos Blanc de Gris, a wine that I plan on keeping in my repertoire, it was the perfect celebration dinner (for what? you might ask… *sneaky grin*).
- Kakao: You won’t get a bad view at any restaurant on Paros, but Kakao may have my favorite on Paros. Up a flight of stairs from the main street by the water is this beautiful, tiny cafe. Since you’re above sea level the view is even more spectacular for sunset viewing. If you’re really lucky, the small balcony for four will be open and you can enjoy the salty air and watch one of Paros’ stunning sunsets. Kakao is best for drinks, serving everything from cappuccinos to cocktails and fresh juices.