This summer I was lucky enough to head back to what I otherwise class as my second home, the island of Rhodes. If I have counted correctly, it was my sixth time back to this beautiful island situated in the Aegean Sea and I couldn’t have been happier to be back.
As you may well know from reading my other posts, Greece is my absolute favourite place on Earth. I have spent many happy holidays here throughout my childhood and it seems to me to be the one place that never changes. Even if the year is 2070 and technology has moved on heaps and bounds, I’m sure that if you visit a tiny Greek village in the mountains called Siana, the men will still be sat around a table drinking Ouzo or Souma and playing backgammon. Not to mention the crystal blue waters and beautiful coast lines have, in my experience, been enough to make even the most far flung of travellers fall in love with Rhodes and the lifestyle.
Thankfully for me, the freshly prepared meat, fish and vegetable dishes that are typical of Greek cuisine has meant that I have never had much of a problem when eating out in any area of Greece. However, I do have a few favourite restaurants that I have gone back to time again when staying in Rhodes and also a few newly discovered ones that I would like to recommend as they are real winners for anyone who adores food as much as me.
Hellas Restaurant, Pefkos
Hellas restaurant is located at the bottom of the Pefkos strip and offers traditional Greek dishes with a traditional, more courdon bleu spin. Sadly for me, I only got around to dining at Hellas on the last night of my holiday, but boy was I glad that I hadn’t missed out on this little gem of a restaurant.
The thing that stood out for me on the menu was the fact that they offered gluten free. In all my years of visiting the Greek islands I have never actually come across a restaurant that advertised this. As it happens, the menu only specified that they could do gluten free pasta, but after a conversation with the very helpful waiter, a few minutes later the chef came out and asked me what I would really like off the menu, to which I said ‘calamari.’ As you can imagine, although I absolutely love calamari the fact that it is cooked in breadcrumbs or wheat flour means that it is always off-limits for me, so you can imagine my joy when a big plate of gluten free battered squid arrived at my table.
The lamb dish was just as delicious and although I was absolutely stuffed to the brim, I was so impressed by the quality of the food that I finished every single mouthful. To sum it all up, if you’re ever in Pefkos you have to check this place out, if only for the gluten free calamari that can be cooked on special request.
Artemis Garden, Pefkos
Artemis is set in a beautiful garden restaurant in the middle of Pefkos village and it’s a lovely little place to settle in for the night with its colourful tree lanterns that glisten as the night sets in. The menu here was extensive, so much so, that I really couldn’t decide on what to order. In the end I opted for Gigantes Plaki (giant butterbeans in a tomato sauce) and a fillet of seabass.
The Gigantes Plaki was wholesome and tasted much like the traditional dish that I have had at many a tavern, although the seabass was the complete opposite and came out looking like it had gone through a laboratory before being served, as it was accompanied by a lemon foam with two very colourful sauces on the side. If you’re looking to take yourself away from traditional Greek cooking for a night and to try something a little more modern and experimental then I would definitely recommend Artemis.
Village House, Lindos
When in Lindos it can be difficult to find a nice restaurant that is affordable but still has great views over the acropolis. In the past I had frequented the same rooftop restaurant with my family, but over the years it had gone downhill while still being overpriced for what you get, so I was really pleased when I discovered the Village House whilst mooching around the cobbled streets.
A great sign when sitting at the table was that everyone that was coming through the door knew the waiters. For me I know that a restaurant must serve great food when people come back so many times that they know the staff well. The menu is very traditional and they change their specials menu each day – I opted for the octopus which was really tender and the daily special of pork with courgettes and carrots with roasted potatoes and cooked in a delicious apple sauce. Washed down with a nice glass of red, I had a fantastic night gazing out at the white washed Lindian houses under the stars.
This must have been my third or fourth time back to Valentina’s in the village of Lardos. We were told years ago to go to this restaurant as it is a favourite with the locals and even the taxi driver that ferried me around for some of my holiday told me that he often ate there with his family. You know you’re on to a good place when the locals quote it as being a personal favourite. The great thing about Lardos is that every couple of weeks during the summer they host festivals whereby Greek dancers and musicians celebrate late into the night. It’s definitely worth a visit if only to immerse yourself in a bit of Greek culture.
Valentina’s again prides itself on serving up local cuisine that looks and tastes like it has just been pulled straight from the oven without much fuss. I opted for mussels with crispy bacon for starters followed by a delicious pork dish served with potatoes, veg and a lovely, delicate gravy which soaked up the meat well. I really like Valentina’s because they don’t go overboard with the presentation like some restaurants do, they just serve great, home cooked food that will satisfy your tastebuds.
Flyer’s Café, Pefkos
Why have I gone back to Pefkos I hear you ask? Simply because I saved the best until last. Flyer’s Café is owned by my good friend Nikos who we actually met on our first visit to the island back in the early noughties. His hospitality and generosity means that most people who visit his café leave as friends and if you mention his name in and around Pefkos and Lindos, most people know him due to the fact that he flies a bright orange plane and his mother lives in the oldest house in Lindos, which happens to be a major tourist attraction. Over the years Nikos has taken us out for meals to sample local dishes and even hosted my cousin’s wedding reception in 2013 – Nikos’ mom made the best slow cooked lamb dish that I have ever tasted in my life!
Flyer’s has a wonderful selection of traditional Greek dishes such as stuffed vine leaves, moussaka, and souvlaki, as well as more traditional village specialities such as locally caught octopus and a Lindos salad which incorporates walnuts and figs with honey on a bed of salad. If you check out both the website and the menu then you will see a beautiful photo that my Dad took of Nikos’ plane taking off at sunset. I have been up in the plane a couple of times which was an amazing experience and he does offer rides up over Lindos and Pefkos if the weather is okay. Sitting at Flyer’s with a cold beverage in hand and a little Mezze overlooking the glittering ocean, I can most certainly say that you will feel like you’ve actually entered paradise.