While you are in Volos, you simply must partake in tsipouro drinking, the gastronomic and cultural tradition of the city. In Volos, going to a tsipouro restaurant is way more than just an inexpensive way to fill your belly. It is a social ritual playing an important part in the life of the locals.
Rule 1: Bring friends
While you can go to a “tsipouradiko” (tsipouro restaurant) by yourself, this is not an experience for one. It is a meze dish (small plate) party for many. This is why Friday afternoon is the busiest time at a tsipouro restaurant. Colleagues and friends get together to celebrate the end of the work week by raising their little tsipouro glasses.
Rule 2: Learn the tsipouro lingo
The most popular way to order tsipouro is by showing a number with your fingers. The gesture communicates the number of tsipouro bottles that you want to come to your table. Immediately after, you have to define how many will be “with” and how many “without.” Just these words are enough for the waiter to understand what kind of tsipouro he should bring, with anise or without anise/plain. If you want to order more, you just say “one more round.”
Rule 3: Stick to tsipouro and the meze dishes
Most often than not, you do not order food. Food is free and comes with the tsipouro order. At the end of your meal, you only pay for the drinks. Ordering off the menu costs a lot and if you keep ordering drinks the dish that you were going to order will most likely come to the table as a free meze dish. Beer or wine are always available but do not come with free food! In this case you will have to order from the menu.
Rule 4: Share your food
The idea with meze dishes is to share! If sharing at restaurants gives you anxiety, then tsipouro restaurants may not be for you! The meze dishes are small and communal. Even if you are really hungry, do not order a dish for yourself. Sharing is part of the tsipouro culture.
Rule 5: Take your time
Take it slow, savor each bite, and enjoy the true essence of eating in Volos! Ordering tsipouro is a ritual, and there is no need to order all at once, but rather as you go. Tsipouro drinking is about spending time with friends and having a conversation in a casual atmosphere.
Rule 6: Do not limit yourself to one
The more drinks you order, the better the food gets. You may get anchovies or octopus in the first round of drinks and sea-bream or prawns in the second or third.
Rule 7: Embrace the surprise
If you do not like surprises and you want to know what will come to your table next, skip the tsipouro restaurants. But if you are open to culinary adventures, this is the best time to try something you have never had. Meze dishes at “tsipouradika” range from potato salad to clams and sea flowers. Remember, if a dish is not to your liking, you can always send it back by kindly asking for a replacement.
Rule 8: Stay for the dessert at the end
Every meal at a tsipouro restaurant ends with free sweets. They arrive after you pay the bill to sooth the damage! Ice cream in the summer and semolina halva with cinnamon and raisins in the winter are among the most common ones. But “portokalopita” (orange pie), and pannacotta are also favorites.