Naxos: Traditional charm at Taverna Lefteris

If you read up on the town of Apiranthos, most travel guides that mention this tiny village in the hills of Naxos will point you toward Taverna Lefteris for food and drink. While exploring the village, we decided to ask a few locals: “What really is the best place to eat around here?” Their answers all matched: Lefteris, indeed! So we couldn’t leave Apiranthos without dropping by this taverna off the teeny-tiny main square for a late lunch.

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Inside, we discovered the most appealing combination you could ever ask for in a traditional Greek taverna: zero tourists (except us, sorry!) and loads of traditional charm.

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A few clues leave an impression of the taverna’s regular patrons…

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… and make you wonder about the characters and conversations that must have filled this taverna for generations.

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This is halfway around the world from where I grew up, but I found something comforting and familiar about the straight-backed hardwood furnishings and old-world details.

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They simply bring you back to a different time, and pull you into a different world.

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Outside: a lush cascade of grapevines, a flood of sunlight, and a sweeping view over the hills make a beautiful spot for an afternoon coffee.

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Further down, a tree-shaded terrace paved in rough chunks of marble provides cool shade in the baking heat.

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Our lunch of huge, cheese-stuffed beef burgers and rooster in red wine disappeared too quickly for me to take pictures. Oops! But we did linger over the ending of our meal long enough for these photos. I enjoyed way too many Greek iced coffees, or frappes, during our trip, but the one at Taverna Lefteris is exactly how I want to remember this creamy, thick, sweet, cold treat.

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And this is just how I want to remember baklava, the quintessential Greek dessert: paper-thin sheets of pastry baked till crisp and golden, layered with nuts and soaked in honey until it’s so thick, slicing into it is trying to cut a duvet with a butter knife. Best with a strong, bitter Greek coffee on hand to counter its intense sweetness. 

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A sense of family tradition, old-world charm and damn awesome food. What more could I want in a Greek taverna?

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