Thessaloniki: Sidewalk Dining at To Tarti
As soon as it’s warm enough to eat outside, the owners of To Tarti close the doors of their restaurant. Of course, they only do this after they’ve moved all of the tables and chairs outside and operate solely out of the kitchen and on the shaded sidewalk of Ioannou Deliou.
The first time we tried to eat at To Tarti, it was a Saturday afternoon perfect for dining outside, and everyone else had the same idea. This time, though, we wouldn’t be deterred and arrived early. Early meaning we were the second group of patrons there on a blue-skied Sunday afternoon.
The menu at To Tarti seems to focus on seafood, but many diners were also ordering meats. When we tried to order octopus, the owner said he didn’t have it grilled that day, so we asked what he would recommend. Grilled or fried, he asked. Anything, we said. Whatever you think is best. He looked at us for a second and wrote something on his notepad. In addition, we ordered tirokafteri [a spicy cheese spread], the salad “Tarti,” and kolokitholoulouda [squash blossoms].
The tirokafteri had chunks of feta and built a slow heat. The salad was a cool welcome against the cheese and the heat of the day. Lettuce, sprouts, chicories, pansies, nasturtiums, onion, cherry tomatoes, and smoked fish were tossed with a pale green dressing, with hints of mustard in a mayonnaise-like base.
The kolokitholoulouda were stuffed, battered, fried, and came sprinkled with shavings of hard white cheese. And then, our fish arrived: two whole kolios [mackerel] grilled and topped with herbs. We picked the meat off the bones and sopped up the oil and juices with bread. All was delicious, and all, alongside white wine, was 22 euros.
To Tarti is a low-key, less crowded [depending on time of day], and simpler answer to an excellent nearby taverna, Lola. To Tarti is for when you want to sit outside and listen to the kids playing in the sidewalk, where the only fussy aspects of the day is the baby at the next table over.