Eat like a local in Thessaloniki

Mark asked me a long time ago to write something about the city I was born, raised and still live in. I have been finally able to find some time to keep my promise.

Thessaloniki is an ancient city. It is named after the sister of Alexander the Great, who was, among other things, the King of this specific geographic region (Macedonia) between 336 and 323 BC.

 

Nevertheless, Thessaloniki has a distinctive byzantine character since it was a very important commercial center during those centuries. So the modern traveller must be prepared to see a lot of byzantine Greek Orthodox churches. Evidence of all the city’s conquerors (Romans and the Turks) can be easily spotted during a walk through the center of the town.

But enough about the historical and other “boring” stuff!!

But mostly I’m here to give some tips to any traveller who is willing to explore the city like a local.

It is very important to remember that we - the Greeks - like to eat, drink and have endless conversations with our friends.

Also, drawing from my personal travelling experience, I came to realize that getting to know the local cuisine is as important as visiting the museums!

With that in mind, I decided to combine some of the most interesting places anyone can visit in Thessaloniki with some great places for food, drinks and coffee.

Thessaloniki has a wonderful water front (paralia, in Greek) which stretches from the city port to Kalamaria.

Truth be told we, the locals, do not particularly enjoy the massive Cafes which are found in the city center (note: in Greece the cafes are open all day long.

They serve coffee until the late afternoon and then they serve drinks. Usually they do not serve food).

We prefer the smaller ones which have some character. One of my favorites is “Thermaikos” .

Another choice especially for drinks is the bar “on the road” .

If you are looking to enjoy the sea view and have a decent meal, although not a very cheap one, you can visit the “Kitchen Bar”, which is located inside the Thessaloniki’s port.

I personally take all first time visitors there and they all seem to enjoy the place.   

The main city’s square is named after one of the greatest Greek philosophers. Aristotle’s or Aristotelous (in Greek) square is filled with cafes and restaurants.

Once again I am going to suggest some places we like to go.

For a quick coffee stop and some shoe shopping head to Toms Flagship Store.

The owners took the old post office building and created a really unique place not only to sell the famous “one for one” shoes but also great coffee (they also serve food but if you are not very hungry I wouldn’t suggest it since it takes forever to be prepared and it is quite expensive).

If you do want to have a drink in the square I would suggest the bar “room with a view” which is located on the fifth floor of the Olympion building.

The last couple of years the area, which has been revived, is exactly above Aristotelous Square, around the ancient Roman Market.

Our favorite place for traditional Greek meze (small platters that accompany ouzo or tsipouro, our traditional alcoholic drinks) is called Salumeria del Greco.

In general this particular part of town is filled with small bars. Our favorites are “φρειδερικο - αγάπη μου” , which translates “Federico my darling” and is named after the owner’s beloved dog.

But if you want to enjoy the Ottoman period head to “Aigli Geni Hamam” a famous Hamam which used to be a cinema and now is a bar - restaurant.

            If you ever visit Thessaloniki you must visit two of the hundreds of churches.

The church of Agia Sofia, that is a smaller version of the famous Agia Sofia church in Istanbul and the church of Saint Dimitrios, the Patron Saint of the city.

After visiting Agia Sofia, head to one of the greatest places to have seafood “Mourga” (it used to be called pezodromos but it changed in September 2016 and it may have become even better).

One of the city’s best kept secrets is a very small but exquisite restaurant called “Nea Folia”.

It combines traditional Greek food with modern ingredients and eating there is an experience one must not miss. It is somewhat hard to locate, but if you walk straight up from Agia Sofia you will find it tucked away in a small side street.

           

Last but not least you have to visit Igglis or the English Café, which is located in a very old neighborhood, close to the city’s byzantine walls, that are a “must-see” for any visitor! Again it is hard to find but trust me when I say it is worth the trouble. 

We always like to say to visitors that, unlike Athens, you have to try really hard to find bad food in Thessaloniki.

But I still hope I was helpful to all the people who think about visiting my city!

Zoe Mihalopoulou

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