Corfu + the Ionians Restaurants
Agni Bay , Corfu
Agni Bay is a secluded cove with nothing but olive groves, a rocky beach—and three of the best restaurants on Corfu: Agni Taverna (30-266-309-1142; open daily 12–4:30 p.m. and 7–11 p.m.; closed Nov–April); Nikolas Taverna (30-266-309-1243; www.agnibay.com; closed Nov–mid-April); and Toula's seafood restaurant 30-266-309-1350; open daily 1–11 p.m.; closed May–Oct. 15 and from 4:30–7 p.m. July–Aug). Each has been operating for decades and is steeped in its own particular kind of history. Agni Taverna, whose signature dish is spaghetti with mussels, shrimp, and calamari, has been run by the same family for more than 100 years. Nikolas Taverna, known for wonderfully fresh salads and homemade Feta cheese, is housed in a building that's belonged to the owners' family for more than a century. And Toula, who serves one of the island's best light, summery desserts—fresh yogurt with lemon zest—is locally famous for her cookbook of traditional Corfiote recipes. For the best selection of dishes at any of these three places, it's best to come early (before 2 for lunch and 9 for dinner).
Kalami , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 309 1172
This charming spot above the village of Kalami in northeastern Corfu has the views you'd expect of a restaurant perched on the edge of a mountain—call to reserve a balcony table to ensure you take advantage of it. Dishes are none too adventurous and more Euro than Greek (there's a good steak), and while prices are a little higher than the norm, the cooking is reliable.
Dinner only; weekends only from November through May.
Fiskardo , Cephalonia
Tel: 30 267 404 1307
Up high on a bluff overlooking Fiskardo's port, Nicolas Taverna boasts a gorgeous view of the sheltered harbor. It's also got a bon vivant owner, Nicolas—who, along with his sons, leads guests in Greek dancing when the mood strikes him. It may be his outsize personality that has attracted celebrities such as John Hurt to the restaurant; the overall vibe is casual and laid-back, and the food, though reliably good, isn't particularly inventive. Apart from the salads and calamari dishes, a good choice is the Hunter's Chicken, smothered in onions and sautéed in wine.
Closed from mid-October through April.
92 Kryonerjioy Street
Zakynthos Town , Zakynthos
Tel: 30 269 502 6346
One of Zakynthos's unique local customs is its musical tradition of cantades—(serenades)—and arekia (folk songs sung in four parts). These are the soundtrack to any dining experience at Arekia, an old-school taverna where patrons (some of them in their 90s) sit on rug-covered picnic benches to wildly applaud enthusiastic local singers. The food here is almost secondary to the music, but the simple dishes—veal sofrito, fried zucchini balls—are welcome, especially once you've worked up an appetite singing (and drowned your inhibitions in the freely flowing homemade wine).
Closed November through March.
Town Hall Square
71 Gilford Street
Corfu Town , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 103 9031
The Corfu crowds may all head to nearby Rex for upscale traditional food—but that's because most of them don't know about this place. To Dimarchio (which means "Town Hall") has outdoor tables surrounded with bougainvillea and jacaranda, and views of Corfu's actual Town Hall—a Venetian mansion with carvings of angels floating on the walls. The food here is traditional and satisfying—try one of the homemade pasta dishes with fresh shellfish, or the delicate vegetable napoleon pastries. Just be sure you know what you're in for when you order the sliced lobster tail salad served on a bed of greens; it's delicious, but it sure ain't cheap.
Kinopiastes , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 105 6333
Since 1947, locals have been patronizing this taverna in the picturesque village of Kinopiastes, about a 15-minute drive from Corfu Town. The restaurant has also hosted some pretty notable visitors through the years—such as Jimmy Carter and JFK. The lure? Family-style servings of delicious, traditional dishes, such as spiced homemade sausages and pastitsada (pasta in a spicy tomato sauce with either beef or veal ragù). The prix-fixe option includes a folk dance performance in summers; guests are asked to join in, and dancing on tables is heartily encouraged.
Dinner only. Closed mid-January through mid-February.
Corfu , Ionian Islands
Tel: 30 266 104 4761
You practically need a guide dog to find it, hidden among the backstreets of Corfu Town, but after some 30 years this innovative eatery remains a place to discover dishes that go beyond the standard Greek fare. When have you last tried, for instance, drunken mussels with ouzo or red snapper with watermelon? (Not recommended, however, until they get a proofreader for their menu, is the "roasted lamp.") Not recommended, either, is going for lunch. The food is just as good, but the square where it sits is a rather unprepossessing place in sunlight, and there is some risk of a soccer ball belonging to one of the neighborhood kids ending up in your cheese pie. Better to wait until the evening, when candlelight turns all to romance.
Lunch and dinner daily; dinner only in August.