On the northern road to Kipos, a right turn and a steep climb through wheat fields takes you to the village of Ano Meria. The houses are far in between with large green gardens. The only inhabitants to welcome you in the hot summer days are the ever-present goats peaking cautiously through the fences. A short drive and you'll find yourself at the gates of an ancient plane tree forest. Old trees bent out of shape by age, wind and water stand guard over the now dirt road that climbs gently through the surreal landscape.
After one kilometer the woods open to a clearing, which doubles as a parking lot for the Karydies ("Walnut Trees") Taverna. It's one of the "hidden" tavernas of Samothrace, but only in theory, because in practice it's probably the most famous.
The establishment was founded in 1977 and functions in a large cat-filled courtyard. The restaurant made its claim to fame on the various goat dishes and the home style of the cooking.
It's hard to decide between goat with rosemary, goat with plums, goat with honey, goat with quince, goat with wine, stuffed goat, goat with bulgur and … you get the picture - there are over 20 types of goat dishes at Karydies, reasonably priced between 7 and 9€.
Another renowned dish is the traditional fasolada tsigaristi ("fried beans"). It takes two days to make, because it's based on a bean stew that has to sit for a day before frying.
There's no way to mess up, no matter what you order here, the dinner (or lunch) will probably not burn a whole in your pocket - appetizers are 2-5.5€, salads 4.5-6.5€. There's even something for the ones who don't enjoy goat (who are you people??) and for vegetarians.
The not so big secret for the tastiness of the food at this wonderful taverna is not only the way it's prepared, but also the fact that everything is fresh and sourced locally. Although it might look like the place is owned by cats, the real owners are the Aggelonias', who also run a nearby farm. Everything you see in the menu (meat, cheese and vegetables) is made and grown by them.
Usually you are welcomed by Giorgios - the owner, who, in time, has learned to speak a little bit of everyone's language. When we visited he was very eager to learn some new words and phrases.
The only problem with Karydies is that you don't have time to try everything the first time around, so it's a must that you schedule at least another visit. Did I mention that in 2019 it made it into the list of the 65 best restaurants in Greece in the Greek Cuisine Restaurant Awards?
How to get to the Karydies Taverna?
To get to Karydies, you must take the northern road from Kamariotissa to Kipos. About 20 km away from Kamariotissa, take a right turn to Ano Meria. Follow the road for another 3km and you're there. The last bit is a dirt road through the forest, but it's in decent shape. There are plenty of arrows and indicators along the way.
Taverna Karydies is usually open in the months of July and August and in the first half of September. It may vary slightly depending on the season.