I had a ball eating in Greece. I hadn’t eaten too much Greek food before visiting Greece, but realizing that the Greek cuisine pretty much consists of various forms of meat, I knew it would be a winner.
The next 9 or so days involved eating far more gyros than I’d like to admit. But when they taste that good and cost 2 euro (about AU$3.50!!), how could I pass it up???
The gyros in Greece (pronounced “iros” [… or something like that]) comprise your choice of meat, some salad, tzatziki and chips in a delicious pita bread. I always ordered the chicken, because, to my surprise, lamb gyros weren’t all that common in Greece. I had to leave out the tzatziki (because of the lactose), so it probably wasn’t quite as delicious as it otherwise would be, but it was still pretty darn good.
I found that wherever you went, the gyros were amazing. You don’t need to go to some fancy restaurant to get good food in Greece – and in fact, I think the less fancy, the more authentic.
The two best gyros I had in Mykonos were at Tropicana (surprisingly, given it is essentially a bar) and at Saki’s Grill House (which is known to be the best gyro in Mykonos). The Saki’s Grill gyros were huge and the pita bread, in particular, was to die for. I’d definitely recommend a visit! The Tropicana gyros tasted delicious and could be enjoyed while lounging on the beach soaking up the sun!
We also decided one night to splurge a little. The BF and I met up with 2 other friends and we went to a restaurant for a feast. Many of the restaurants offer these giant mixed plates to share between 2. We got chicken shashlik, chicken wings, sausages, hamburgers, pita, dips, chips and more. It was 26 euro for 2 people (about $38 for 2) which was pretty good value because we were popping afterwards! Apologies for the awful photos and, no, this wasn’t the full platter.
The thing I loved about this restaurant [and sorry I can’t remember the name], apart from the delicious and never-ending plate of food, was the ambiance. I remember it so clearly. You sit outdoors in the heat in a giant space cluttered full with tables, people, food and chatter. It was a hullabaloo, an organised chaos, an exciting pandemonium; it was wonderfully atmospheric.
Let me talk a bit about my allergies in Mykonos.
I don’t think that allergies are particularly common in Greece. Generally, when I gave my beautiful Greek nut translation sign, people thought I was a little bit crazy. I’d say that Greek people had a bit more of a blasé attitude towards allergies as compared to those in Italy and Spain, but that was possibly because of the nature of the food, in that there was probably no way that there would be nuts inside a gyro and therefore they thought I was crazy for asking. I wouldn’t say that they were careless about my allergies, but just that it wasn’t taken quite as seriously. I did, however, usually get a better response to my allergies when I was eating at hotel restaurants/bars (eg at Paradise Beach), where the staff are probably more accustomed to dealing with allergies.
This being said, however, I felt like I didn’t need to worry as much about my allergies because it was always pretty obvious what I was eating. You could see the gyro meat being cut off the spit in front of you, or you knew that you were eating plain meat without any sauce. There wasn’t anything snuck in there. I had also done a bit of research with my Greek friend, who gave me the low down, and so I knew that nuts are not particularly common in the Greek cuisine, but are quite common in Greek pastries/desserts (eg Baklava).
What I did love about Mykonos was that I got to enjoy dessert. Say what? OK well not dessert, per se, but let’s just call it that. You’ve all (hopefully) read about my disappointment in not being able to enjoy the exciting desserts in Spain and Italy, which generally consisted of nutty or potentially nutty delights. In Mykonos, when lying on the beach in the scorching sun, a delicious ice cream is exactly what one craves. Paradise Beach has a lovely little set up where you can get just about anything (there are restaurants, bars and also a little canteen-ey type place where you can get all sorts of snacks). I went to go look at what ice cream options they had and unfortunately faced a whole lot of gibberish (Greek) ingredients. Until I found the packaged Häagen-Dazs ice cream tubs – complete with English ingredients. Woohoo!
These were mini tubs and there were heaps of different options to choose from. Whilst there were 1 or 2 that contained nuts (but not peanuts), most of the flavours were nut free. The first one I had was crème brulee, which was beyond amazing. The ice cream had chunks of caramel inside, dripping with crème brulee sauce (which tasted a lot like real crème brulee). The second flavour I tried was the chocolate fondant. Wow was it good! It was chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownie, drenched in chocolate sauce. It was definitely worth cheating on the lactose intolerance front! Who needs an Italian hot chocolate or some sort of delicious Spanish pastry when you have Häagen-Dazs ice cream!? Ok I realise that for most non-Allergians, this isn’t all that exciting and it’s probably no comparison, but I’ll take what I can get.
Generally, the biggest dietary challenges in Mykonos would be 1) vegetarian and 2) dairy allergy / lactose intolerance.
For the vegetarians – I’m sure you would know to expect (almost) nothing but meat in Greece. There’s always the salad option though, and of course lots of cheese. Being an island, I’m pretty sure there were some fish/seafood dishes/restaurants on offer, but meat was the overwhelming majority.
For those allergic to dairy / the lactards – the Greek cuisine is full of dairy – between the tzatsiki, the halloumi, the Greek yoghurt and the feta, there’s plenty of it. That being said, however, it is easy to avoid these things and you can almost always leave the dairy out. There’s always something else to eat.
Some final words about Mykonos:
Ouzo. It’s the Greek specialty liqueur, more particularly, an anise-flavoured aperitif. AKA, if you don’t like liquorice, do not try this. My friends and I bought a bottle and were told to drink it 1 part ouzo, 3 parts water. I smelt the bottle and (as an avid liquorice-hater) could not bring myself to drink it [I think I was still scarred from the limoncello and grappa in Italy]. The far more daring 3 guys I was with took on the challenge and drank their shots of Ouzo and I got to enjoy the looks on their faces once they were downed. Classic!
That’s all from me folks. Next stop: Ios!
Until next time…
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The Allergian Abroad