Maria’s taverna, celebrating 50 years of existence, is the hub of Ermionida ’s social life in the harbour of Ermioni. It is known for its tasty food, meze, traditional Greek cooking, desserts and coffee, but above all for its homely, friendly atmosphere.
Maria Staikou’s clientele is special. Honouring its history of a ‘kaffené’ of long date, Maria’s place is crammed from the early morning for a first cup of coffee and chat (the German Kaffeeklatsch). Pensioners, fishermen, professionals, start their day there. After 11 o’clock it is time for a sip of ouzo with the usual accompaniment of a few tidbits, and at noon it’s lunchtime. By now the customers are holiday-makers and naturally visitors, paying their respects. This routine of coffee/food/coffee lasts till midnight.
The accompaniment for a beer or ouzo is a food lover’s dream: charcoal-grilled octopus, tiny fried shrimp, squid and sardines or anchovies.
The cook is Antonia, Maria’s sister, who has been to cooking school and is helped by Paraskevi, Maria’s mother. Yes, it is a purely family business.
On the menu you’ll also find moussaka, stuffed vegetables, fava, oven-baked eggplant as well asbaked meat balls, roast pork, and fresh red mullet, shrimp and fried tiny fish, cooked to order.
“I like it best in winter, the interior is in good taste and warm, reminiscent of the cafes of old. Maria’s presence makes all the difference. As she told us, she took over in 1990, starting work very young. The shop has been nominally hers since 2015, with her name on the sign. It was once called the Aktaion, a nice name meaning ‘coastal’, echoing a time when it was used as part of a film set.”
Maria is liked by all, strangers or locals and is there all year round – she once went away for ten days in winter and on her return was assailed with complaints about her absence. She is truly Ermioni’s good will ambassador.