With its location so close to Italy and Sicily, as well as mainland Greece, the island of Corfu is a wonderful spot for the foodies of the world to visit. In fact, gastronomes from all parts of the world make a point of visiting Corfu because of its diverse and unique cuisine. As one of them recently wrote, it is untouched “by the Ottoman Turks and conquered instead by the Venetians, French and the English, Corfu’s gastronomic offerings reflect its rich history.”
The Must-Try Dishes
If you are headed to Corfu, and staying in a luxury villa, chances are you have access to a full, gourmet kitchen. That is a wise choice because there are some native ingredients and foods you will want to purchase and prepare on your own, as well as some wonderful treats you’ll savor from local markets. Before we start exploring some of the best eateries on the island, though, let’s familiarize you with the dishes that are considered iconic in all areas of Corfu.
They include stifado, which is a unique Venetian recipe that involves a slow-cooked meat (including rabbit, octopus or beef) and tomato stew. It will feature spices and wine an be serve atop pasta, and should be considered a dish that is representative of Corfu and a “must” when you sit down at any of the best restaurants.
A runner up to stifado is the fish and tomato dish known as bourdeto. If that is not on the menu, you are quite likely to find some sort of fish that is served alongside tsigareli. This is a remarkably spicy dish made with wild greens and very reflective of the “Corfiot” love of hot and spicy foods.
The Telegraph’s food writers noted that you will want to try the Corfiot versio of sofrito (made with veal), pastitsada (which, unlike the sound of its name, is actually a veal, beef or cockerlel casserole), bianco (a local variant of fish or seafood stew), and any spot that describes itself as a mezedopolia, because that is where you’ll enjoy tons of bite-sized edibles.
As another foodie traveling in Corfu said, the native diet is “one of the healthiest and tastiest on the planet. Fresh, locally grown ingredients are key to Corfiot cuisine,” and so anything that features ingredients “in season” is likely to be delicious. The average menu is heavy with game, fresh seafood, and lots of lamb. There is a common love for “shared” platters and “mezze” like options. You will see that most menus feature a lot of local olive oil and wine, and if you look closely, you’ll see that the influences on the menu are mostly modern Greek innovations.
There are also a lot of regional influences on the cuisine. As those same writers from the Telegraph explained, “on the coastline, waterfront tavernas specialising in fish and seafood naturally reign supreme. Inland is where you’ll find no-frills slow food joints focusing mostly on meat.”
And where are some of the top spots? Let’s consider them by location:
Avli is a local favorite that specializes in Greek dishes and classics. Their “bouyiourdi (baked feta with spicy peppers tomatoes and paprika) and agioritiki tigania (a chicken and pork sausage dish with onions and white wine)” are some of their biggest hits, and you will be able to dine outdoors and take in views of the nearby fortress as well as the sea.
The Venetian Well is a bistro along Kremasti Square and emphasizes creative takes on classic Mediterranean. There is slow baked lamb with smoked eggplant, as well as a fresh pasta with summer truffle sauce. The cellar is also a widely-kept local secret and one to try.
Another Old Town favorite is Corfu Sailing Restaurant, which we suggest whenever you are enjoying a special event or celebration. It is on the northern end of the Old Fortress and sits directly at the water’s edge. It is a Mediterranean restaurant that focuses heavily on seafood and fresh fish.
Pomo D’Oro is home to a formally trained chef and sits along the edge of Skaramanga square. The dishes “reference” classic Greek items, but reflect the chef’s international training. As an example, one dish mentioned in The Telegraph is the chef’s “take on a now-rare local salad is a divine blend of beetroot, orange, almonds, spring onion, olives, saffron mayonnaise and olive oil.”
Marina’s Tavern is also another popular Old Town favorite and has only five tables set out along the cobblestones in a quiet alleyway in the town’s old Jewish quarter. Focused on fresh fish an island produce, the eggplant casserole is described as a must.
Toulas is a widely celebrate eatery on the northeast coast and a choice of the British royal family as well as the jet set crowd. The food is distinctly Corfiot in style and emphasizes the very best of the daily catch and the finest island produce. Views of Albania across the water and a constantly changing menu of elegant dishes make it a must.
Heading south, you find Sirens Beach Bar that has a dramatic setting and views, a garden surrounding it, and the beach to enjoy. The menu features unique dishes that include walnut and chocolate soaked pancakes, unique burgers served with oregano potatoes, and more.
In the charming former fishing village along the southern coast, Klimataria Bellos is an island institution. It is all about Corfiot cuisine and yet it also emphasizes seasonal fare. One of their most famous dishes is the octopus macaronada full of spices and flavor.
At the base of Mount Pantokrator is the Merchant’s House. This is a guesthouse that serves amazing breakfasts to guests and visitors alike. They have homemade sourdough baked goods that draw larger crowds, and they serve it up alongside preserves mae with local honey and produce.
There are so many other eateries you must enjoy during a visit to Corfu. Don’t forget to stock your luxury rentals with some of those tastier ingredients to bring home, and give as the most unforgettable souvenirs.