Although waterfront restaurants in the touristed areas can be mediocre, you can most often find delightful meals, especially in the villages. Unless noted, reservations are unnecessary, and casual dress is always acceptable. Go to the kitchen and point to what you want (the Greek names for fish can be tricky to decipher), or be adventurous and let the waiter choose for you (although you may wind up with enough food to feed a village). Remember, however, that fresh fish is very expensive across the islands, €50 and up per kilo, with a typical individual portion measured at about half a kilo. The price for fish is not factored into the price categories below (and lobster is even more expensive). Many restaurants close from October to May.

On Lesvos, sardines—the tastiest in the Mediterranean, traditionally left in sea salt for a few hours and eaten at a sushi-like consistency—from the gulf of Kalloni are famous nationwide, as is the island's impressive ouzo variety. Apart from classic salads and vegetable dishes like seasonal briam (a kind of ratatouille), and oven-baked or stewed Greek-Turkish dishes, meat dishes may reflect more of a Turkish influence. Try soutzoukakia (meatballs spiced with cumin and cinnamon), or keskek (chopped meat mixed with wheat, served most often at festivals).

Local figs, almonds, and sun-ripened raisins are delicious; a Lesvos dessert incorporating one of those native treats is baleze (almond pudding). Besides being recognized for its mastic products, Chios is also known for mandarins—try the "mandarini" ice cream or juice in the main town. You'll also find a great variety of mastic-flavor sweets as well as savory foods.

Thyme-scented honey, yiorti (the local version of keskek), and revithokeftedes (chickpea patties), are Samos's edible claims to fame.


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