Local products of Chios : You’re missing out if you don’t try these 10+!
Chios can easily satisfy the most demanding traveler because of its diversity of the things that can be done and of course for the amazing beaches.
But it is also one of the best options for all those foodies that for the first time they might want to have a bite before taking a photo for Instagram.
Chios is actually one of the best examples of the wealth and variety of the amazing local produce of the Greek islands.
So, I made this list of delicious and unique products you must try when you are in Chios. It includes food and drinks, since mastic (the liquor) is undoubtedly the king here:
Confession: Making this list made me realize more than ever how blessed is this land. Almost everything you will eat in Chios is a local produce (no, bananas and avocados are not). So, I tried to put it as a proper 4 course meal with aperitif, starters, main course and dessert. And there were still some more to add at the end.
Try not to eat them all at once unless you are just on a day trip from Izmir to Sakiz (Sakiz = Chios in Turkish).
Let’s do this.
1. Greek Salad (Choriatiki in Greek, which means The Village’s Salad)
Why you should try it: Okay, guilty! A Greek salad is a… Greek salad and not a local product of Chios. However, the fresh vegetables used to make a Greek salad is what makes it so special. In Chios all ingredients used in this salad come from the island itself and that makes it so delicious. You will also find a few alternatives of the feta cheese used to top it up and that allows me to consider it as a local starter. Yes, starter. Unless you are on a diet this is not a main dish. Remember, you’re just starting your meal…
Where to find them: you can easily find them in every tavern / restaurant on the island of Chios. You can also find all the ingredients at any grocery store during the summer season and you will understand the difference with what you’re used to eat by the intense colours.
2. Yiaprakia (or Dolmadakia = Stuffed Vine Leaves)
Why you should try them: This is a dish with many influences from the Greek refugees of Asia Minor. Yiaprakia (dolmades) are vine leaves stuffed with rice and cooked in a pot. They have an extinct taste and despite the rice they will not feel you up but prepare you for those next dishes you ordered. Coming…
Where to find them: you can easily find them in every tavern / restaurant on the island of Chios. You can also find the vine leaves in local groceries in case you want to take some back home and try this amazing recipe. I know you won’t, but just throwing an idea.Ah yes, the rice is imported.
3. Mastelo (not just a brand of cheese but a myth)
Why you should try them: Oh God! Mastelo… I say it and my stomach is complaining I haven’t had it for a while (Sep. 2017 to be exact). Mastelo is a brand of cheese that comes in a few different products, so it is not exactly a type of cheese. The word ‘mastelo’ literally means the wooden bucket used for the milk collection and it has Venetian origin. But when you say ‘mastelo’ you mean… The Mastelo, nothing else. It’s like saying hoover (which was a brand) if you know what I mean…
So, Mastelo can be eaten as a normal cheese, but also grilled. Which is where the magic is hiding: Grilled Mastelo with lemon on top.
Where to find them: you can easily find mastelo cheese in every tavern in the island that wants to be called Greek tavern (or restaurant). 99% of the times they serve it the way I wrote a few lines above, so do not hesitate to order it if there is no other explanation on the menu. A must try. Repeatedly.
4. Fish and Seafood
Why you should try it: Aegean Sea; Mediterraneansea; crystal clear waters; amazing sea life. In addition, fresh herbs from Chios island. What else is there to say. Please make yourself a favour and try the variety of seafood available in any restaurant or small tavern (can I call it taverna? Come on, we’re on the main already…). In many places you can see the fresh fish on a window / case and select the ones you want them to cook for you. Try the boiled octopus with olive oil and vinegar (or grilled if you prefer), the seafood pasta or any type of fish on the grill. My best? Red mullets. Yummy!
Secret tip: On a nearby island (Psarra) you will eat a lobster pasta that you can only compare with a few around the whole of the Aegean. The elite of Chios (yes, lobster is expensive here too) actually does the day trip just for that dish…
Where to find it: Every fish taverna on the island has fresh fish and seafood. I love visiting a couple of them either in Pantoukios or Lagada, two fish villages. That says it all I guess… Secret tip: Don’t be shy and ask for the days catch!
5. Handmade Pasta (Herisia Makaronia in Greek)
Why you should try them: firstly because they are so unique. Handmade pasta is some kind of art. If you see how they are made by the older local women and tavern owners that realized the potential, then you will appreciate it more due to the hard preparation needed. They usually come with a red tomato sauce and you will never find it accompanied with a lot of ingredients since they are very rich in flavors already.
Where to find it: Not many tavernas use this method. There was a traditional one in the village of Pityos but that has now closed according to information they sent me. Where do I have it with my kids that get mad about it? Towards the northern side of the island, about 30 minutes drive from the main town you will find Kardamyla (Ano Kardamyla to be exact). At the traditional square of the village, under the plane trees, there is a tavern called ‘Geragides’. That’s it, you found it. If you’re there in the summer drop me a line and I’ll pop to say ‘hello’!
Why you should try them: still hungry? Well, it doesn’t matter when it comes to loukoumades, the amazing donuts with honey. In pure honesty, these are also great for breakfast if you don’t mind having something deep fried early morning. There is also a special day that loukoumades are served (for free) outside churches. Interested to know the exact date is this year? Join our newsletter or ask on the comments below and I’ll let you know when it is announced.
Where to find them: you can find them in specializing cafes or sweet shops. There are quite a few, all decent, but my favourite is the most traditional one called ‘Manaras’ in the Chios town and only a minute from the port. Secret: If it is actually for dessert then one portion should be enough for two since they are quite generous.
Digestive (‘The King’)
7. Mastic (Mastiha in Greek)
Why you should try it: This could have easily been number 1. But I left it late since it is a drink (category liquor) drank by locals to digest food more easily. Actually it is not just locals, Mastic or masticha, the ingredient, has been approved as having pharmaceutical abilities. Chios Mastic, the drink, has been researched for years and it was recently confirmed that it holds digestive abilities. It also contain alcohol, so don’t underestimate it as a drink…
The mastic business in Chios is massive and it is not an exaggeration to say that this is the only land in the world that the evergreen tree of mastic grows.
Secret but not so secret: There is a brand new Mastic Museum in Emporios (Things to do in Chios). My favourite one is the one with the Greek letter ‘Ψ’ on the bottle, but really you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Where to find it: You will find it served in most taverns, restaurants and bars. You will want to make some space in your luggage to take it with you. Most sweet shops hold all the branded mastic to make a choice from. Secret: Don’t buy it last minute at the airport. The price is double!
Fancy a beer… or two?
8. Fresh Chios Beer
Why you should try them: Guinness… who? Fresh Chios Beer is a special brew coming from the Kampos area, produced in small quantities. It is handcrafted, unfiltered and unpasteurized. It is a beer gaining recognition all over the country and beyond. Among the different labels you can taste, there is the original and blonde Fresh Chios Beer, the dark Smoked Robust Porter (like Guinness, just better…) and the smoked Chios Beer BBQ. Try it because it has a unique taste as a mixture of light taste with a bit of bitterness. You’re in Chios at the end of the day, so why try the same beers you know?
Where to find it: you can find it in most bars / cafes / restaurants around the island.
What about breakfast?
9. Chios jam (marmalade)
Why you should try them: in the recent years, there have been a few new companies that came up with innovative ideas in the gastronomy sector. This is not an advertisement but one of them in Chios was Citrus, who have their own beautiful factory, including a shop to buy your products and a cafe to rest from your tiring day. Companies like Citrus really improved the way the game of jams was played coming up with some great ideas of local products. Some are not that unique, but… oh, should you try that fig jam and let me know if you’ve ever eaten anything like it? There are many flavours of course and a huge amount of different things you can up your breakfast with. Sometimes I have it for my first meal of the day with local cucumbers (xylaggoura in Greek, meaning literally wooden cucumbers) and fresh eggs from the farm next to my house. And hey… don’t think I’m just lucky. I told you everything in the island is fresh, so try not to buy eggs from the supermarket if you’re willing to cook.
Where to find it: Citrus is located in the Kampos area, close to the port and Chios town. The rest of products you want can be found in most grocery shops. You will see them going around the area. They scream ‘fresh’. If you’re not sure, just ask.
10. Fresh Juice Kampos
Why you should try them: Fresh fruits in the family of oranges (mandarins to top the list) are yet another produce of Chios you need to try. In case you are not a fruit type, then surely, a freshly squeezed juice is equally good. But Kampos juices are more than what you are used to call fresh juice. They contain 100% fruits and no other ingredients, a reason why it is considered the healthiest juices in Greece. They made it slowly to go mainstream in Athens and elsewhere, so they’re becoming more and more popular. Luckily without changing that unique local feeling. So, next time you want an orange juice, try the local brands Kampos or the alternative of Papaleonidas. Try the mandarin flavour. Kids love it.
Where to find them: everywhere really. In all cafes (usually in small bottles) and super markets (in carton boxes) on the island. Hard to miss.
11. Products of Chios including mastic
As mentioned above, mastic is king. There are a few companies and associations that use mastic as an ingredient of many different final products in the sector of cosmetics, health and skin care etc. While you are in Chios you will find a handful of shop dedicated in products that come from mastic and when you use them they will prove better than your every day products back home.
So, this is just a… short list of Chios local produce. There is definitely more to include because this Greek island is definitely a foodie’s destination. That would make it longer than needed though, so I’ll let you explore it and discover more tastes yourself. The only long thing you need here is a trip to Chios.