Table of Contents
- History Comes Alive in Rhodes
- Rhodes Food Culture
- Rhodes Restaurants
- Rhodes Desserts
- Rhodes Food Experiences
- Things to Do in Rhodes
- Rhodes Logistics
- Hungry for More Greek Food?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
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And who can blame them? Rhodes (also known as Rodos) is big enough to absorb the annual ambush of summertime visitors and varied enough to satisfy a range of travelers.
Many choose Rhodes as a destination for its rich medieval history and all-inclusive luxury hotels. Others crave the chance to enjoy fire-like sunsets over the island’s beach-filled western shores.
Then there are the hoards of cruise passengers who flood ancient lanes during their Mediterranean sailings. Many of these visitors spend their brief time in Rhodes shopping for souvenirs in Old Town or across the island in picturesque Lindos.
As for us, we journeyed to the Island of The Knights specifically to explore the Rhodian food scene. Since our trip coincided with the island’s autumnal shoulder season, the tourist volume was manageable. We can only imagine the crowds during peak summer months.
History Comes Alive in Rhodes
Though our primary goal was to experience Rhodes cuisine, we couldn’t help but fall for the island in its totality.
When we weren’t eating Rhodes food favorites and chatting with local culinary professionals, we strolled pebble paved ancient lanes in Old Rodos (Rhodes city) and dug deep into a past filled with intrigue and UNESCO-worthy artifacts like the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights.
We shouldn’t gloat. It’s hard to miss the history that permeates throughout Rhodes.
A stroll along the cobblestones in Rhodes’ Old Town follows the path where knights literally marched in ancient times. On the other end of the island, the Acropolis of Lindos dates back two millennia. Its remnants caught our eyes from kilometers away.
Local villages offer a different type of history lesson. In Apollona, we met two generations of female bakers who religiously bake recipes passed down by their grandmothers. This seemingly sleepy enclave is also the home of one of the most authentic food experiences on the entire island where visitors can taste centuries of Rodos tradition.
Previously conquered by the Ottomans and controlled by the Venetians, Rhodes has a tale to tell with each rock lining its roads and every crest carved into its walls. And food is an integral part of the Rhodes story.
Rhodes Food Culture
Rhodes has a food culture that embraces its storied history without ignoring modern gastronomy. We explored this culture at Noble Gourmet Restaurant, the island’s most lauded restaurant, as well as at more casual eateries like chef-driven Paraga.
Our main takeaway? Food travelers can eat some of the country’s best traditional Greek food on Rhodes. They can also feast on unique local dishes like the savory pitaroudi and sticky-sweet sesame honey melekouni.
It doesn’t hurt that Rhodes chefs have access to fresh products from bulgar wheat to caper berries. Olive trees are so prevalent that locals often press their own oil at home. Wine is also readily available, with winemakers producing varieties like Mandilaria, Athiri and Assyrtiko by the liter.
Many Rhodes dishes get their flavor profile from previous conquerors who brought exotic spices to the isle. In fact, top chef and culinary authority George Troumouchis wrote a definitive Rhodes food book whose Greek title translates to Frangrance from Far Way in a tribute to the melange of Rhodian food traditions.
Assisted by a team of culinary explorers, Troumouchis systematically researched food in 42 Rhodes villages over four years, breaking bread with farmers who still dry their vegetables on strings before dipping them in the sea and frying them in butter.
He now serves modern Rhodian cuisine at Noble, celebrating ancient food traditions while using cutting-edge gastronomic techniques. As Troumouchis confided in us, “if you have flour and olive oil, you are rich.”
With this in mind, we felt like millionaires in Rhodes.
Travelers dine at Rhodes restaurants to sample local cuisine honed over centuries. We were no exception to this rule during our visit when we dined at some of the very best restaurants in Rhodes.
Some Rhodes restaurants are upscale. Others are more casual open-air affairs with families filling tables and affordable local wines flowing from big carafes.
We typically started our days early in Rhodes so that we could enjoy epic sunrises and satisfying breakfasts at our hotel before driving from one end of the island to the other. Let’s face it – we needed the energy infusion to fuel our culinary quest.
Read on to see our favorite Rhodes restaurants.
Noble Gourmet Restaurant
Noble Gourmet Restaurant provides a full sensory experience. While a team of talented chefs cook behind a glass wall, a pianist plays ‘classics’ by the likes of Abba and Robbie Williams in the dining room. Waves break against the shore just beyond the restaurant’s location atop the tony Elysium Resort & Spa.
Dining at Noble was a must after hearing Executive Chef George Troumouchis’ story and passionate commitment to preserving traditional Rhodian cuisine. His restaurant has twice won prestigious Toque d’Or awards and ranks as one of the top 25 restaurants in Greece.
Our eight-course Biotope tasting menu led us on a Rhodes culinary journey through the ages. We tasted dishes that originated centuries ago and experienced flavors both new and familiar.
Troumouchis has created a menu that starts “from the very beginning when flavours were real and aromas genuine” and celebrates the island’s raw, local products. Servers don’t just drop plates on the table. Instead, they deliver a story with each.
Our Biotope meal started humbly with a platter of simple products – caper leaves, milk skin and bread. Ironically, the milk skin reminded us of brunost cheese we ate in Norway. Everything was divine.
However, the following eight courses were the main event. Highlights included codfish finished on a tableside grill and served with a melange of leeks and tarama. Another star was Pispili, a colorful mixture of roots, almonds, pomegranate, horseradish and olives inspired by a nurturing snack enjoyed by village field workers back in the day.
Saving the best for last, our Biotope meal ended with a Rhodian ‘wreath’ adorned with fennel, yogurt, biscuits and melon. Fried dough provided a crunch to go with the dessert’s naturally sweet flavors. Petals from local flowers lent their scent to the meal’s sweet ending.
Noble Gourmet Restaurant is located on the top floor of the Elysium Resort & Spa.
Marco Polo Mansion
The food at Marco Polo Mansion skews Meditteranean with Italian influences. This should come as no surprise considering that owner Efi Dede spent time in Bologna before opening the charming hotel/restaurant. The operation, coowned by Dede’s partner Spiros Crysovergis, is a family affair. The couple’s son, Savvas, is also involved, helping to manage the restaurant dining room and providing expert Greek wine guidance.
Dede runs the restaurant garden-like dining patio with a quiet confidence that keeps things moving like a well-oiled machine despite crowds that fill the space each night. More than a business owner, she loves eating and cooking, finding joy in “making people smile through eating” her food.
Marco Polo’s culinary team shops daily at local markets. This is evident in innovative dishes like risotto topped with cuttlefish – a fun, harmonious yin and yang of spinach and squid ink risotto topped with a queue of tender cephalopods.
We also enjoyed shrimp encased in a hazelnut rosemary crust and complemented by red pepper sauce along with a crispy calamari fritter flavored with tomato sauce, almonds and pesto. As a surprise, Dede offered us a wonderful, off-menu dish featuring lamb, aubergine, bean stew cream, spinach cream, balsamic and feta.
Two years in the making – Dede is that obsessed – this lamb dish gets our vote to join the menu sooner than later.
Dede’s mission was successful. We couldn’t stop smiling as we finished our meal with ultra-creamy pannacotta and shots of homemade fresh mandarin liqueur. Although the restaurant’s namesake asserted that “the true sweetness of wine is one flavor” many years ago, this modern-day Marco Polo has enough flavors to color the rainbow.
Marco Polo Mansion is located at Agiou Fanouriou 40-42, Rhodes 851 00, Greece.
Tiny Apollona village is an unassuming mecca for food travelers in Rhodes. Just a short walk from the island’s first female-run food cooperative (see below), Paraga provided us with one of the best meal experiences we had on the island.
The restaurant is owned by burly, bearded Chef Yiannis Efthymiou, a living legend on the island who runs his restaurant with aplomb, serving age-old Rhodian classics in a rustic open-air dining space lined with long tables perfect for family feasts.
Efthymiou’s mezze dishes were among the best we’ve eaten in all of Greece. Horiatiki salad popped with the addition of caper leaves and housemade pickles. Eggplant salad reached next-level status with tahini and yogurt. And dolmades were prepared with grape leaves plucked from local vines.
We scooped it all up with fresh Rhodian bread, sprinkling Greek salt and local olive oil for extra flavor.
A stickler for tradition, Efthymiou cooks much of his food low and slow in wood-fire ovens including a melt-in-your-mouth goat stifado. The showstopping stew is literally cooked overnight in a bread-sealed clay pot that Efthymiou dramatically smashes open at the table.
Ingredients like red wine, cinnamon, garlic, allspice and lots of olive oil, of course, give the tender goat meat its rich flavor. Rhodians have been cooking this dish in Apollona for generations. However, watching Efthymiou attack the clay pot with both glee and a hammer was almost as exhilarating as tasting the lovingly prepared goat stew.
We ended our comforting meal with a surprisingly sophisticated dessert of kadaifi and rose ice cream served with cream, grains and pistachio.
Eating at local restaurants like Paraga defines the food and travel experience we crave – a bridging of cultures that allows food travelers to taste the best, most unpretentious cuisine the world has to offer. Though Efthymiou’s food could never be defined as gastronomic, his flavors convey a true taste of Rhodes.
Paraga is located at Epar.Od. Apollona 13, Apollona 851 06, Greece.
We hadn’t planned to eat at Piatakia on our last night in Rhodes. We had targeted a highly-rated Rhodes restaurant instead. But a well-timed recommendation at our afternoon wine tasting planted a seed that was destined to bloom into a flower. That flower was Piatakia.
Truth be told, we didn’t know a lot about Piatakia before we arrived other than it serves an eleven-course tapas menu for €24 (price subject to change) and that Jasonas Zafeirakopoulos, a local wine professional, considered it to be worthy of our attention.
Still not 100% sure, we got a good vibe when peeked into Piatakia and immediately encountered two dancing chefs who directed us upstairs toward a terrace table with a view of busy Leontos street. This restaurant is fun with a dining space that’s both intimate and romantic, capturing the energetic, positive vibe emitted by the kitchen.
In many ways, our meal was like an edible parade. Instead of clowns and musicians, the stars were halloumi and mushrooms. Seafood risotto, tuna tartare and lamb loin completed the savory procession of tiny saucers, followed by refreshing lemon yogurt parfait.
Piatakia is a terrific Rhodes restaurant for adventurous diners who want to eat the entire menu, though pickier eaters will easily find a handful of dishes to order. Although the head chef and our server are Swedish Greeks who speak excellent English, the experience still felt Rhodian.
Piatakia is located at Leontos 13, Rhodes 851 00, Greece.
Walking around tourist-friendly Lindos created a hunger as we literally climbed steep hills and dodged other travelers while exploring the historic Rhodes village. Mavrikos, primely located in Lindos’ main square, abated our hunger with its varied menu of elevated Rhodes dishes.
Chef Dimitris Mavrikos helms the kitchen while brother Michalis manages the dining room at the family eatery. Their grandfather opened the restaurant in 1912 and moved it down the hill to its current location near the entrance to the old town of Lindos in 1933.
As Michalis shared with us, the Mavrikos brothers are “very happy with what we do” at the restaurant. And what they do is cook a unique menu influenced by their mother and grandmother as well as by Eastern Mediterranean flavors.
With a chalkboard menu listing a dozen creative options, the restaurant’s kitchen hummed at a steady pace during our visit. Featured dishes include orange zest- infused chickpea puree and creamy white tarama flavored with sweet pumpkin.
Ironically, Mavrikos’ most famous dish wasn’t written on the handwritten menu during our meal. Featured in a 2007 New York Times article, black butter beans cooked in carob syrup remain popular more than a decade after the article was published. Don’t worry – Michalis wrangled a normal-sized plate of gigantic beans for us to sample. We likened them to baked beans on steroids.
Meal highlights included bulgar with minced octopus and baked fennel cooked in sweet Moscato wine. Apparently, Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour was a Mavrikos regular when he lived in Lindos. While we’re not rock stars (at least not yet), Mavrikos’ hospitality made us feel entirely welcome.
Mavrikos is located at Lindos 851 07, Greece.
Ta Petaladika screams Greece with cats wandering through its outdoor dining room and festive music filling the air. Tree-strewn lights sparkle at full force while fans sit dormant during cool autumn evenings.
Unlike many Rhodes dining establishments, Ta Petaladika stays open all year. This Old Town restaurant provides a festive meeting place for locals when tourist throngs disappear during the quiet winter months
Chef Georg Likopantis mans the busy kitchen at Ta Petaladika. The restaurant’s multi-page menu specializes in fish and seafood, though vegetarians and carnivores will find plenty to order during their meals.
Popular mezze options include hummus and salads featuring eggplant, smoked beetroot and white taramasalata. We sampled all of these before dipping our toes into the deep end with seafood dishes including tuna carpaccio, grilled octopus, smoked mackerel and scallops topped with orange roe.
We enjoyed our dinner at Ta Petaladika though we found some of the dishes overdressed with vinaigrette muting the food’s pure flavors. To us, the beauty in Rhodian food lies in its simplicity. Like the rest of Greece, the products here are among the best in the world.
Ta Petaladika is located at Menekleous 2, Rhodes 851 00, Greece.
After arriving in Rhodes well past sundown, a simple dinner at our hotel’s restaurant seemed in order. With this in mind, we meandered through the Rodos Palladium‘s spacious outdoor area until we found Thalassa and requested a selection of mezze, which we assumed would be a few small plates and a couple glasses of wine.
Instead, Executive Chef Athanasios Kotsis and his team sent out a bottle of Atheni wine and a barrage of dishes that started with amazing salads and spreads. The unrelenting onslaught continued with grilled octopus, orzo with shrimp and feta, cuttlefish risotto and smoked mackerel.
Each dish exceeded our expectations and set an excellent start to our Rhodes food exploration. If it weren’t so late, we would have tried some main dishes too.
We somehow stayed awake long enough to share a selection of sweet treats – orange pie, baklava and ice cream topped with mastic. We thank and blame Kostis for sending the desserts to our table.
We encountered Kotsis several hours later at the hotel’s morning buffet. Though he was busy slicing mackerel and serving hungry guests, he kindly took time to show us the best local foods on offer and share a few tips about the island’s trendiest bars.
Thalassa is located at the Rodos Palladium hotel.
Considering its Aegean location and history with the Ottomans, Rhodian desserts feature many of the ingredients we typically associate with Turkey – primarily filo dough and honey.
While in Rhodes, we often started and ended our days with sweet treats. Though we’re not typically fans of melekouni, a bar made with sesame, honey and spices, we adored the local version in Rhodes.
You won’t have to look hard for dessert during your meals in Rhodes. You’ll find tempting options at your hotel breakfast and on most Rhodes menus.
However, you may need an extra pick-me-up during the day. For those times, we recommend the following dessert spots:
Hiding in plain sight on an Old Town sidestreet, Phornariko is a formidable Rhodes bakery. Phornariko employees bake a tempting selection of bread, pizza, baklava, kalouri and other treats in the bakery’s brick-covered wood stove. This bakery also stays open all night long.
Yes, you can start your day here with coffee and cake and end it with comfort food after a night at the bars. After you visit Phornariko once, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll return for more Rhodes cheap eats and sweets. At least that was the case for us.
Phornariko is located at Dinokratous 1-9, Rhodes 851 00, Greece.
Gelo Blu provides a sanctuary from the bustling crowds that fill Lindos’ cobblestone alleys. It also serves artisan gelato, freshly baked cakes, sandwiches, salads and smoothies.
Although Gelo Blu’s menu featured no less than 10 cakes during our visit, including a gluten-free option, we stuck to our plan and shared a cone topped with chocolate and amarena cherry gelato.
We later found out that Gelo Blu’s owner is part of the family that owns Mavrikos (see above), a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. Or in this case – the ice cream cone.
Gelo Blu is located at Lindou – Lardou, Lindos 851 07 Greece.
Rhodes Food Experiences
Beyond restaurants, Rhodes has a thriving food scene that food travelers will want to explore. Much of the culinary action occurs in villages throughout the island.
Not sure where to start? We suggest the following spots:
Anastasia Triantafyllou Estate
Visiting an authentic winery is one of the best things to do in Rhodes for food travelers.
Continuously produced in Rhodes for more than 2,000 years, Rhodian wine varietals include Athiri, Amorgiano and Mandilaria. Not even Muslim conquerors or Phylloxera could stop wine production and trade on this Greek island.
Harvest season is early in Rhodes, typically starting in early August and finishing in September. This timing is due to the island’s sunny, dry climate.
Located near the Valley of the Butterflies, Anastasia Triantafyllou offers guided vineyard visits and wine tastings for both individuals and groups. Jasonas Zafeirakopoulos, passionate winemaker and son of the owners, showed us the winery’s impressive vineyard located on a former olive grove before leading us on a tasting of five signature wines.
We sampled whites and reds including piney Retsina and sweet Muscat. Overall, the wines impressed us as did the artwork decorating each bottle. Plus, the tasting was fun.
Anastasia Triantafyllou Estate is located at Epar.Od. Kalamonas-Psinthou 6, Paradisi 851 06, Greece.
Apollona Women’s Agrotourist Cooperative
Leave it to women to preserve Rhodes’ baking traditions. A crew of diligent female bakers have been doing just this at the Apollona Women’s Agrotourist Cooperative since 2005 with recipes handed down by their grandmothers.
A visit to the coop quickly reveals a busy operation. After welcoming us, mother/daughter duo Maria and Katerina Palaze quickly us to work in the operation’s daily melekouni production. After they boiled honey on the stove until it caramelized, we helped with mixing and slicing. Our reward? The best melekouni we’ve ever eaten.
The workday starts early in Apollona. The crew’s first priority is baking bread which they cover with a blanket while it rises. Coated with seeds, this bread is sweeter than typical loaves and is available for purchase. If you arrive around noon, you can buy hot bread straight out of the oven.
The industrious women also make koliva, a Greek superfood with grains, spices and sugar, and takkakia, nut-filled baklava that fried and dipped in honey. You can buy both to enjoy later, preferably after your lunch at nearby Paraga (see above).
Apollona Women’s Agrotourist Cooperative is located at 68 Apostle Paul, Ascension, Apollona 851 06, Greece.
Things to Do in Rhodes
Eating is just one thing to do in Rhodes. Consider the following activities between meals:
Now that you know where to eat in Rhodes, the next step is planning transportation and accommodations.
Getting to Rhodes
Since Rhodes is closer to Turkey than it is to most Greek destinations, ferries aren’t a quick or cost-effective option for most international visitors. We flew Aegean, the country’s largest airline, during our trip and recommend it for transit to and from Rhodes.
We stayed at two awesome hotels during our time in Rhodes. Read on to see which one better meets your needs:
Elysium Resort & Spa
The Elysium Resort & Spa is a full-service hotel that caters to an upscale international clientele. Located on the beach near Kallithea Springs, this hotel has a gorgeous pool with plenty of space to lounge. The hotel also has multiple restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy all appetites and needs.
We stayed in a junior suite during our stay at the five-star hotel. We highly recommend this room level both for its comfortable decor and view. As a bonus, this suite provides access to the hotel’s Elite Club and exclusive roof-top breakfast.
Click here to research rates for Elysium Resort and Spa.
Rodos Palladium is a family-friendly deluxe hotel just a short walk from the Elysium Resort & Spa. Visitors can expect excellent service at this hotel as well as one of the biggest breakfast buffets we’ve ever experienced. During the day, guests choose between the hotel’s sandy beach or a lagoon-style pool.
We stayed in a junior suite during our day. We especially enjoyed the suite’s comfortable bed and epic balcony view.
Click here to research rates for Rodos Palladium.
Rhodes Rental Car
You’ll need a car to get around Rhodes if you want to dine in villages like Apollona and Lindos. We rented a car from Rodos Cars during our visit. We were able to pick the car up at our hotel and return it to the airport with minimal muss or fuss.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We thank Discover Greece and its partners for sponsoring our trip to facilitate this article. #DiscoverGreece #BlogTrotters
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.