Off the Beaten Trail: Restaurants of Tripoli

Greek cuisine, To Hani tis Kandilas. Photo by Christos Macarouni.
Greek cuisine, To Hani tis Kandilas. Photo by Christos Macarouni.

Every region creates its tradition and future. Arcadia respects and honors tradition. Her products are authentic. Arcadian wines are internationally famous. Honey from the forests of Mainalos has a distinctive flavor. Potatoes from Tripoli are of the finest in Greece. A healthy Greek diet has potatoes as a major part. Tripoli’s delicious apples are becoming popular. Garlic has been cultivated for centuries. Grapes of Mantinea are made into the finest wines.

 

Homer said it was a region of sheep, cows and goats. The art of cheese making is practiced in the smallest household. It is a staple of economic activity. Feta, graviera and mizithra of Tripoli are in demand in the market by persons who want authentic, natural products from the traditional cheese making trade. We have great memories of restaurants we visited in June 2015.

Greek cuisine, To Hani tis Kandilas. Photo by Christos Macarouni.
Greek cuisine, To Hani tis Kandilas. Photo by Christos Macarouni.

Moschofilero grapes of Arcadia are one of the top four varieties of Greek grapes. The soil of Mantinea gives Muscat grapes an aromatic character and essence. The temperate climate, low temperatures and early ripening enhance its distinctive taste. Muscat grapes are protected by the European Union.

Owner Niko Xiroyannis (center) greets guests. Photo by Christos Macarouni.
Owner Niko Xiroyannis (center) greets guests. Photo by Christos Macarouni.

Near our ancestral home on the road to Levithi and Kandila, is a traditional taverna known all over Greece and overseas. “To Hani tis Kandilas” is a family tavern restaurant operated by Niko Xiroyanni. His wife, Tasia cooks with organic foods from their gardens. Their specialty is a rooster with noodles, charcoal grilled beef, lamb, pork, homemade bread, and Arcadian Moschofilero wine. Weekend groups stop at the Taverna on the way to the Caves of Kapsia and ruins of Ancient Orchomenos.

Grand Chalet restaurant with Dr. Alexios Vardouniotis family.
Grand Chalet restaurant with Dr. Alexios Vardouniotis family.

Our mornings in Tripoli opened with a country breakfast in Mainalos Hotel, at Areos Square. Arcadian honey, village yogurt, homemade spanakopites, tiropites and bougatsa began our day. The Grand Chalet restaurant in Areos Square was highly recommended. The menu said “we are here to cook whatever you desire with unforgettable flavor.” Twelve salads, different dishes with pork, beef, veal fish dishes, omelets, sandwiches and 10 different varieties of coffee were offered. Ouzo Plomari from Mytilene were included with Arcadian wines. An unforgettable evening was spent with Dr. Alexios, Kanella and Clint Vardouniotis.

To Hani tis Kandilas tavern.
To Hani tis Kandilas tavern.

Our last evening in Tripoli was spent with Charalambos Gerou, a member of the parish council and retired philologist/educator Pitsa Gerou Macarouni.  “I sponsored the mosaics of the Panagia with Child and St. Charalambos in memory of my family at the chapel,” said Mr. Gerou. We went to the Touristiko Plateias Areos Restaurant for appetizers of octopus, dips and wine. The owner and staff came out to welcome us to their restaurant.

Grand Chalet coffee menu
Grand Chalet coffee menu

“In hospitality, the chief thing is good will”, says a Greek proverb. Hospitality came from the Gods, according to the Ancient Greeks. The host was expected to make sure the needs of his guests were satisfied. In Greek society, a person’s ability to offer hospitality, determined nobility and social standing. This concept has been woven into Greek culture for thousands of years.

Touristiko Plateias Areos Restaurant staff (standing) with Mr. Charalambos Gerou (right sitting) and guest.
Touristiko Plateias Areos Restaurant staff (standing) with Mr. Charalambos Gerou (right sitting) and guest.