Article by David Rochelle

Foreword: David Rochelle is a food-and-travel-obsessed ex-professional chef who has lived in the Kardamyli area for over 20 years. He believes food is life and life is food. “Eating and drinking in the sun with friends may not bring about world peace, but it’s a start!” His gorgeous wife, Gill, runs the well-known, highly-enjoyable Happy Beads boutique on Kardamili high street.

Kardamyli has some of the best food and drink in the Mani. Here is a selection, it’s not exhaustive, so if you come across a bar or taverna not on this list please don’t rule it out. It’s also not in any order just what springs to mind.


Dioskouri sits at the south end of the village overlooking the pretty port and Meropi island, so it has the most beautiful views in the village. It’s classic taverna fare but done really well. They have a fantastic selection of fresh fish and seafood. My favourite dish on the menu is Spaghetti with Shrimps. The Octopus Carpaccio is also to die for.

Kritamos, opposite the town hall on the main street, looks like a place to get coffee, but don’t let that fool you! It has some of the best food in the village and a good selection of Greek wine. You can find pasta such as Mamas with Meatballs, grilled meats and killer burgers. The Wild Mushroom Risotto is the best I have tasted outside Italy. It also has live Greek music a couple of nights a week. Great staff.

Elies is set in a beautiful olive grove a few metres from the sea. Classic Greek taverna by day, goes a bit more Mediterranean by night. Everything is good here and you can tell that by the fact that people do the 5 hour drive from Athens to eat here. No fancy dishes, no nouvelle cuisine, all the classics of a Greek menu cooked to perfection. A friend who is a well-known British food critic said to me, ‘if this place were in the south of France, it would be three times the price and it would have a 3-month waiting list.’

Psaras If you could describe the perfect Greek fish taverna, this would be it! Set on a pretty jetty looking out to sea, the fresh fish and seafood is always good here. They love to show you how fresh the fish are, but they also do classic Greek really well and have an excellent grill chef for the likes of lamb chops. Try the Fried Aubergine with Chopped Fresh Garlic, it’s a revelation!

Tikla is a trendy lounge café restaurant and wine bar overlooking the harbour. You will need to book here in the high season. Light dishes such as the Tartar of Salmon and Tuna served with avocado and a lime dressing are balanced out with dishes like the Tomahawk Pork Chop. The Chuck Rib Eye is a must for meat lovers. It also boasts a climate controlled wine cellar for the wine buffs amongst us.

Lela’s has a beautiful setting overlooking the sea—especially at sunset. This famous Kardamyli taverna is now booking-only and it’s upped its game with a new chef using free range produce. Try starters such as Hummus with Truffle Oil, Beetroot with Cherries and Spearmint, or Seabass Tartare with Chili and Coriander, as well as classic Greek cuisine with a spin such as the Deconstructed Moussaka.

Kiki’s is a classic Greek taverna with a real following, tucked away just off the main square. All the old favourites can be found here: Stifado, oven-roasted goat, Hòrta (locally-picked wild greens). If you want to step back in time, this is the place for you.

Harilaos Beautiful setting for this smart restaurant overlooking the port which has a raw bar with the likes of ceviche and carpaccio as well as more substantial fare such as a Tagliata of Beef served with a grilled vegetable stack. The Shrimp Orzo is also good, and an excellent wine list.

Gialos is a classic beachfront taverna. You will find all the usual suspects here: Moussaka, Pastitsio, Lamb and Lemon Potatoes, perfectly-cooked sardines, all a few metres from the sea. What’s not to love? Look out for the lime-green scooter parked right in front of the establishment!

Galazio This used to be just a beach snack-bar, but now serves taverna-style dishes, fresh salads and good mezé. A great place for a sundowner.

Ta Ritsa Good Greek food, sometimes with a Mediterranean twist, at this snack-bar set in its own garden by the sea. Has its own sunbeds for customers.

Pizza Manina It’s hard to describe any pizza joint, it’s the world’s favourite food. All I can say is “it’s the best pizza I have eaten outside Naples”, and I travel a lot! It’s situated just north of the village next to the supermarkets. The two stand-out dishes for me are the Burrata and the Neapolitana. I am told they will be adding pasta to the menu this year.

Androuvista Set in a pretty alley off the main street with painted tables. Anna and her brothers run the café, an institution for locals and tourists alike. Try the Greek salad under the grill or the courgette pie with a hint of chili. A laid back atmosphere makes this a perfect place to chill at breakfast, lunch, or for a gin and tonic as the sun sets.

Lola Frozen Yogurt Sat in Kardamyli’s prettiest square opposite The Bead Shop, playing cool jazz and blues. They produce their own yoghurt on a daily basis, as well as a selection of patisserie style desserts. They also serve good breakfast and lunch dishes, but the place really comes to life in the evening when people head here for an after dinner dessert and digestif.

Aquarella Always in vogue, this stylish café cocktail bar probably gets more Instagram space than the rest of the Mani put together.Set on the rocks above the sea it’s a perfect location for its mixologists to serve interesting cocktails and homemade snacks.Hosts live music events in the summer.

Bar 1866 This romantic little bar in a pretty street leading to the sea has a jazz blues soundtrack, serving beer from all over the world, and has a hidden garden where you can try their famous burgers. The beating heart of the village when the jazz festival is in town.

Psaltiras Parisian-style wine bar and cellar where you can sample a range of Greek cheese and charcuterie with a glass of vino in hand. The owner, Nikos, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Greek wine, which you can buy by the glass or bottle. You can also purchase their award-winning organic olive oil to take home.

Yioryitsa’s Backyard Set in the Old Town, this welcoming café is a great place to relax with coffee, wine or something more substantial. Everything is prepared in-house. The establishment is also an art space and cultural centre.

Bonatsa Family-run café set on the high street, popular with both tourists and locals. Their pasta dishes have a real following.

Aloni This café has an extensive selection of mezé and is much-loved by local residents and tourists alike.

And, finally, no Greek village would be complete without a souvlaki grill house. Kardamyli has two: Kalamaki and Babis. Both have a good selection of grilled meats and the usual delicious suspects like Pita Gyros, Souvlaki, local sausage. They both offer takeaway or dine-in options at their pretty gardens.