Due to the fact that Thessaloniki remained under the Ottoman rule for about 100 years more than southern Greece, it has retained a lot of its Eastern character, including its culinary tastes. Spices in particular play an important role in the cuisine of Thessaloniki, something which is not true to the same degree about Greece's southern regions. Greeks consider Thessaloniki a gourmet city - but bear in mind that this refers to the excellent local specialties and cheap-and-cheerful ouzo taverns rather than to haute cuisine or a range of foreign restaurants. The latter are best avoided in Thessaloniki.
Sweets and pastries
For any traveler to Thessaloniki, a Greek will usually mention how they expect you to bring back sweets from the city, as it is known for having some of the best in the country. Throughout Thessaloniki anyone can find a variety of places that sell: Tsoureki, a plaited sweetened bread, desserts such as Baklava and Galaktoboureko; and Bougatsa, the most famous pastry of Thessaloniki, with cream (sweet) or cheese (savoury) filling, which was invented in the city and has spread around other parts of Greece and the Balkans as well.
Some shops, where you can find the best sweets and pasties the city has to offer, include "Nikiforou" on Venizelou street, "Terkenlis" famous for its Tsoureki and "Chatzis" famous for its Baklava, but fame has not made it any better - it has become overpriced and not as good as in previous years.
- Chatzis is famous for its collection of Greek Asia Minor sweets (politika glyka) originating from Istanbul.
- Terkenlis is famous for its variety of "tsoureki", a sweet bread much like brioche but containing spices too, covered and filled with several combinations of chocolates/creams/nuts, etc.
- Elenidis is considered the expert in "trigona" (triangles made of sfoglia, filled with cream).
For a carnivore's treat, places that serve Gyros and Souvlaki with pork and chicken, are scattered all around the city. This is the best calories per money option. Some of the best souvlaki meals at very affordable prices can be found at a place called "Derlicatesen".
Local specialties include Soutzoukakia, minced meat pellets that are either grilled (at the central market or rotisseries) and topped with chili pepper flakes or cooked in tomato and cumin sauce (Smyrna-style); and Patsas, a tripe soup, best tried late at night (or early morning). For seafood, in Thessaloniki, you can find Gemista kalamarakia (Stuffed squids), Mydopilafo (rice with mussels) or Mydia saganaki (mussels in tomato sauce).
Fast food and snacks
- The traditional fast food of Thessaloniki includes sandwiches with Gyros (pork meat), Souvlaki or Soutzoukaki, offered in many stores.
- Goody's. is the Greek fast-food chain, actually preferred by Greeks over other fast food restaurants such as McDonald's. There you can find classic hamburgers, also Gyros, pasta, and salads.
- Crepes can be found in many stores all around the city. The best can be found at Gounari street, near Navarinou square, that is popular with the city's student population.
- During the winter you can try roasted chestnuts (Kastana in Greek) that are sold from carts.
- During the summer one can buy boiled or roasted corn on the cob that is sold from carts.
- You can try Stafidopsomo, a small bread with raisins, or Koulouri a donut-shaped small bread with sesame. You can find them sold in bakeries or on carts.
- For breakfast, Bougatsa, can be found in nearly every pastry shop around the city and can be accompanied by cacao milk or coffee.
Most tavernas and restaurants located all around the city of Thessaloniki offer very affordable prices. Most can be found concentrated in areas listed below, that also serve as points of interest for any traveler into the city, where you can experience a lively atmosphere at night with the local population.
- Pentaraki (ΠENTAPAKI), Sintrivianu sq.2 (Near Kamara). Small tavern with raki & meze at local prices.
Thessaloniki's Ladadika borough is a particularly busy area in regards to Thessalonian cuisine, with most tavernas serving traditional meze and other such culinary delights. Right next to the port and around Morichovou square, it is full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
- Ellinikon, Ladadika (Morichovou Sq.). Offers 'appelation d'origine' local delicacies.
The area between Athonos square and Aristotelous street is full of taverns of which many are frequented by mostly young Greeks and tourists. Prices are usually low and the quality can vary greatly from tavern to tavern. Several restaurants have a small band playing local live music. Better to move around before sitting to eat, not only to choose the place but to take a look at the old shops in the area selling fruit, spices, handmade small furniture, etc. Many of the taverns in the area are tourist-traps, so choose a tavern where you see locals and preferably older people.
Bit-Bazaar and nearby streets
- Vrotos, (Near Athonos). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri). 25% more expensive than others in this region, but top quality.
During the day the area hosts antique shops and cheapjacks selling anything useful or useless one can imagine. In the evening it turns into a lively (and noisy) student hang-out and can get very crowded on warm nights. Most of the shops offer cheap wine, ouzo, beers and Mezedes, appetizers that accompany your Ouzo or Tsipouro with a battery of small dishes - by far the best way to eat in Thessaloniki.
- Evi Evan, Olympou 68-Bit-Bazzar.
- Glykia Symoria, Ioustinianou and Zaliki 1.
- Selini, Bit-Bazaar, +30 2310 221778.
- To floro ke to laio, Baltadorou 11 and Benizelou.
Kastra (Ano Poli)
- Agora, (Off Ionos Dragoumi). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri) in one of the most interesting old downtown areas.
At Ano Poli (also called Old Town and literally the Upper Town), the heritage listed district north of Thessaloniki's city center, many quality restaurants can be found next to the Byzantine walls, and some with views overlooking the city.
Tsinari (Ano Poli)
- Yenti (the name of the old Byzantine castle) there you can find one of the most popular kai traditional small restaurant (koutouki) that serves homemade ouzo and tsipouro, handmade mese (small traditional gourmet dishes for ouzo), fresh seafood and handmade Greek food. Τhere usually meet Greek musicians of all ages and sing together Greek songs.
- Pyrgos, Kastra (Ano Poli). A brasserie.
- Makedoniko, Kastra (Ano Poli).
An old district of Ano Poli hosting the eponymous tavern, along with some others.
- Ano Poli, Tsinari-(Ano Poli). Tavern.
- be*restaurant, Komninon 10, 2310 021010. stylish bar-restaurant in the heart of Thessaloniki, serving American comfort food in a relaxed environment.
- Pire kai vradiazei (Πήρε και βραδιάζει), Omirou 7 (Off Theagenio Hospital). Great Taverna, unique style, good food and some days (Thur-Sun) live music.
- Tombourlika (Τομπουρλίκα), Navmachias Limnou 14 (Off Vardaris Sqare), +30 2310 548193. Great traditional ouzeri, with fresh fish and meat dishes and live rembetico music.
- Tsarouchas (Τσαρούχας), Olymbou 78 (Off Ancient Forum). all night and morning open. is for those of you with adventurous tastes, preferably to go after a hard night's drinking, for a "patsás" (tripe) soup - a delicious way to prevent a hangover.
- Toicho-Toicho, Polydorou 1 (Ano Poli (Kastra)). A hipster hang-out, nice atmosphere, very expensive for the quality provided.
- Kamaras, (Near Rotonda). Great traditional dishes.
- Lila Cafe Bistro, Diogenus 23 (Ano Toumba district), 30 2310 947377. Traditional pies and sweets, croissant and dishes accompany the coffee or your drink. Porcelain miniatures and collective drinks are available for originally gifts.
- Pizza da Pepe, Stefanou Tatti 10 (side street of Egnatia, near the Aghia Sophia Church), +30 2310 242407. For the best pizzas in town head here.
- Myrsini, (behind the State Theatre Etairia Makedonikon Spoudon). Good Cretan restaurant.
- Apo Dyo Horia, (Navarinou Square). Cretan and Pontian restaurant. Here, order raki rather than ouzo or tsipouro.
- Odos Aristotelous (Lepen), Odos Aristotelous. Most Salonicans know it as the "Lepen".
- Krikelas, Ladadika (near Morichovou Sq.).
- Zythos-Dore, (White Tower Square). An upmarket brasserie with a wide range of specialties and interesting ambiance.
Thessaloniki has a very active nightlife scene and only recently it is starting to become exposed internationally, with Lonely Planet listing Thessaloniki as the world's fifth-best "ultimate party city".
Cafe-bars are scattered throughout the entire city, which create a lively atmosphere everywhere you step and you can have a drink whenever you want, while trendy bars line up along Thessaloniki's entire waterfront from the old port, along Nikis avenue and down to "Krini", a southeast coastal district of the city.
Thessaloniki also offers a wide variety of nightlife, from small to huge nightclubs with dance music, bars dedicated to rock music, jazz clubs and Bouzoukia, where you can experience Greek music and dancing. Large entertainment venues of the city include Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka (which are housed in converted old factories). During summer, one can also find beach bars with lively music and serving drinks throughout the whole day and night, located at the city's southeast suburbs. The city's most known nightlife district is "Ladadika
", there together with the many tavernas and restaurants, you will find the most known nightclubs and bars housed in old warehouses next to the port, while in the area around the Kamara (the Arch of Galerius) is home to many cheaper cafe's and bars, popular with the city's student population. Areas were most of Thessaloniki's nightlife is located at are listed below.
Aristotle Square (Aristotelous)
Being the center of the city, some of the most popular cafes and bars are located there. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones that usually preferred by younger people. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.
Thessaloniki's central seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drinks at night. Many bars also feature balconies with views towards the sea.
At the west side of the center lies the picturesque district of Ladadika (meaning: oil stores). Named this way by the many stores selling oil arriving from the adjacent port of Thessaloniki. Formerly a notorious district, it is today the city's most lively and vibrant areas, were renovated old stone build warehouses host some of the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music, including traditional Greek bouzoukia. Although not the favorite by Thessaloniki’s highest class (modern bouzoukia are not considered a classy kind of entertainment), they are definitely worth a visit for any traveler. Delicate restaurants and Greek taverns serving drinks are located around Morichovou square and are also popular during lunch time.
Proxenou Koromila St
Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Proxenou Koromila street and at night many cafes and bars spill out on to the streets. A few trendy jazz clubs can be found here.
Another place in the city with cafes, bars and a couple of restaurants, that spill out onto pedestrianized streets. A popular hangout by many Thessalonians.
Aretsou is located in the southeast part of the city, in the suburb of Kalamaria. Home to high-end bars, cafés, and entertainment venues, most notably on Plastira street, along the coast; featuring loud music and hosting many young people.
A place in Kalamaria with delicate bars, restaurants, and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street, right next to the seashore and nearby the Thessaloniki Concert Hall
. "Shark", one of the most exclusive nightlife venues of the city is also located in this area with views of the sea and central Thessaloniki.
For a drink on a boat, there are many "floating bars" that depart every 2hrs or so from the White Tower and make a short trip around Thermaic Gulf, where you can enjoy the evening views of the city. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.
Mylos and Vilka
A set of high-range café, bars, restaurants, ouzeris some with live music located at the city’s west. Also hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous Greek artists, etc.
Valaoritou and Syggrou
Over the last 2 years, a lot of Thessaloniki's nightlife has moved in these areas of the city center. The old industrial center has become a place for entertainment for everybody, with many bars, clubs, and cafes that may remind you of Berlin, or London.