My all-time favorite place in Greece to have a meal or drink or coffee (especially on a weekend) is in a revamped old area near the port in Thessaloniki called Ladadika.
Historically, Ladadika was a market district with many shops selling olive oil. It also had a high Jewish population. Before WWI, it was transformed into the city’s red light district hosting many brothels. A song by legendary Greek singer Dimitris Mitropanos chronicles this period of Ladadika’s history.
Since the 1980s, the area has undergone a transformation into an entertainment district. There are several tavernas, cafés, bars, clubs, and restaurants packed into the 19th century buildings along its narrow streets and small squares.
The best days I’ve visited Ladadika are on the weekends, no matter what time of year. Obviously in winter, there are less people and the outdoor seating isn’t there, but the atmosphere, great food, and entertainment still exists.
There are two main streets in Ladadika, Katouni and Egiptou. I noticed most of the traditional tavernas are located along Katouni while the bars are on Egiptou. Two small squares, Plateia Morichovou and Plateia Katouni are also surrounded by cafés and tavernas.
There is one traditional taverna I always look forward to visiting in Thessaloniki – Taverna 1901. I went there on my first visit, drawn in by the live music, and I’ve ended up eating there on each trip after. I’m alway treated to grilled octopus and fried calamari that melt in your mouth, fresh salads and vegetables, and ouzo to wash it all down while listening to unbelievable live Greek music. All of this comes at very reasonable prices.
Other than Taverna 1901, I have tried two other places nearby. The only one that compared in food quality was Palati. It’s located on Plateia Morichovou, which can be a lively square at night.
The other place I tried is Mpoukia Mpoukia. It’s located near Taverna 1901. I was thrilled with the entertainment but not so much with the food. I ate there on a trip with Martin and had several different mezedes, such as fried smelt, fried zucchini, Greek salad, and grilled octopus.
The entertainment was great. It was two men playing the bouzouki and guitar and singing classic Greek songs. Simple and perfect for a late night meal with a friend.