Besides vathres, waterfalls, mountain and beaches, food is one of the things you'll always remember Samothrace by. With very few exceptions, there are no fancy restaurants on the island, but rather family tavernas and coffee shops. The owner is also the manager, the cook and the waiter. Very often there is no menu, so ask what's cooking and trust your host's recommendations.
Food here is simple, but tasty, made out of local ingredients, just like your typical Greek grandma would cook it.
When you take a seat at a taverna the white paper cover with the map of the island on it will be promptly laid on the table. Water will be brought, usually in the carafe, on the house. Don't be afraid to drink it, as the water of Samothrace is one of the cleanest in Greece. Sometimes they bring a 1,5 liter water bottle which is to be paid at the end of the meal (it usually costs 1.5€).
The appetizers are the ones you typically find everywhere in Greece, but thanks to the natural local ingredients they are extra tasty. If you are a cheese lover then try the tyrosalata (cheese salad) or tyrokafteri (spicy cheese). It is a cheese cream (sometimes a little spicy), blended with fat yogurt, finely chopped peppers, olive oil and spices. It costs 2.5-3€ and is amazing in combination with fresh bread. Other traditional cheese dishes are feta saganaki and bougiourdi (cheese with tomatoes and other veggies baked in the oven).
Also give the row fish salad, the eggplant salad and the fried zucchini a try.
Unsurprisingly, the most common salad is the Greek one. You'll find it in the menus as horiatiki, which means "peasant", for about 5-6€. It consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion and one or more large feta slices on top, together with olive oil and some oregano.
Of course, don't ever forget to try the tzatziki (yogurt with chopped cucumbers and garlic)!
Katsikaki, the trademark of Samothrace
As you'd expect, on an island where the number of goats is about 20 times bigger than the human population, the star dishes will be made of goat meat (katsikaki). Goat is cooked in various ways – on the spit, in a pan, in parchment, stuffed with rice, entrails and spices (gemisto), with wine, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini or even with honey, quinces or plums. A special dish made of goat entrails is called kokoretsi. A portion costs about 8-9€, while the stuffed goat or the goat on the spit is 25-28€ per kilo.
As most of the goats live freely on the island, the meat has a special taste.
Also famous for its culinary tradition and the goat based dishes is Karydies Taverna in Ano Meria, 20 km away from Kamariotissa.
Fish and seafood
Katsikaki is good, but don't forget that you're on an island after all, so the seaside tavernas offer fresh fish (psari) and seafood. Most often, the owner will invite you inside to show you the catch of the day. Try the different kinds of fish, grilled or fried, with lemon and olive oil sauce. Squids or octopus (htapodi), grilled or cooked in vinegar, are served as an appetizer.
The price is between 25 and 50€ per kilo, depending on the fish, and the most famous seafood taverna is Akrogiali in Lakkoma.
Other main dishes
If you're not into goat or seafood there are plenty of other choices. The menu of the tavernas includes chicken, lamb or pork meat, grilled or cooked in the oven, meatballs, sausages, musaka, pastitsio (a pasta dish), stuffed zucchini or eggplants, manti (homemade pasta filled with minced meat and onion).
Oven cooked eggplants or other vegetables and the traditional fasolada tsigaristi (pan cooked beans) are among the vegetarian options.
Most common are maruli (green salad) with olive oil and lemon or tomato, cucumber, roast pepper or ruccola salad, for about 3-5€. Many tavernas offer horta, which means sauteed green beets.
The local fruit is called praousti. It's a prune type (prunus domestic syriaca), also known as "mirabelle prune". The fruits are round, yellow-orange in color and sweet when they are ripe. As they usually ripen in August, the Greeks called them praousti (from pro augustu). Marmalade or the traditional spoon sweet (praousti koutaliou) is made out of them.
Spoon sweets can be prepared from all sorts of fruits, by boiling and then preserving them in sugar or honey syrup. They're usually eaten with a spoon or a teaspoon (hence the name), from small glass bows, accompanied by a Greek coffee and a glass of water.
Another dessert characteristic of Northern Greece and especially of Samothrace island is called haslama and it is a syrup cake made out of wheat flour and semolina.
There are also all kind of crepes available (go to Trapeza or Stenaki in Chora or to Kentriko in Kamariotissa), baklava, kataifi, galaktobureko (a milk and semolina syrup pie), chocolate cakes (try the pissa ke poupoula, which means "tar and feather" at Lefkos Pirgos in Chora), fresh fruit, ice cream (try the goat milk ice cream at the Trapeza Coffee Shop in Chora) and the delicious Greek yogurt with marmalade.
At tavernas desert is usually on the house, at the end of your meal.
Pair your meals with local drinks - tsipouro (40 degree alcohol spirit, with or without anice), preferably homemade, the Fonias craft beer produced in Kamariotissa or the wines from the Melmar Winery (if you're into red wines I highly recommend the Mistiko Monopati Syrah).
As for refreshments, you should know that the lemonade is usually not homemade, but a bottled soda drink. Also, vissinada is a sour cherry syrup, not an alcoholic beverage.
Probably the most popular drink on the island (and in the whole of Greece) is the frappe (in its original Greek version – with instant coffee, sugar, milk, water and ice – no whipped cream, no chocolate syrup). The price is between 1.5 and 3€. Very often you can see the locals meeting at a coffee shop for a talk with a frappe in front of them. If you want your frappe medium sweet ask for metrio. If you don't want sugar at all, ask for sketo (which means "pure"). You can use the same expressions when asking for a Greek coffee (which costs 1-2€). The local coffee variety is darker (skouros) and usually stronger that the one from other parts of Greece.
If you want to find out more, also check out our personal reviews of tavernas and coffee shops around Samothraki.
Kalì òrexi! = Enjoy your meal!
Yia mas! = Cheers!