There’s nothing quite like it. That delicious tender and smoky deliciousness that is grilled octopus.
The first time you ate it was probably with a squished unsure face but then, you fell in love. We all know no one does grilled octopus better than Greek restaurants. When it comes to Greek on the Gulf Coast, no one does it better than Tarpon Springs.
Here are our choices for the top 5 grilled octopus dishes in Tarpon Springs.
The Tradition of Greek Grilled Octopus
In Greece, the ocean is a way of life and the cuisine reflects that. Greeks have been eating octopus since ancient times. The octopus are caught and dried in the sun for a number of hours across a clothesline.
Then the dried out octopus are placed on a charcoal outdoor grill where they are tended and looked after for a long time. Sometimes 30 or 45 minutes before they become the delicious and tender meat we know and love.
If they aren’t cooked enough they are chewy and inedible, cooked too long they taste like a rubber tire, but, if the right combination of drying and fire time is found they are a delicious and authentically Greek delicacy.
Generally, they are served as an appetizer simply with a bit of lemon juice so that the beautiful oceanic flavor of the octopus shines through. Now, let’s get to where you can find the best examples of the Grecian delicacy in Tarpon Springs.
Mykonos is a Tarpon Springs institution having been opened for over 25 years. Renee and Andreas Saliveras take great pride in creating the most authentic Greek dishes fresh and in house every day.
Their charbroiled octopus is not to be missed. Served over a fresh salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, pepperoncini, and kalamata. Sprinkled with lemon and a vinaigrette. The octopus is perfectly cooked, tender, and smoky in all the best ways.
Also, not to be missed on the menu, is their souvlaki and greek salad with a large slab of authentic Greek feta.
Visit their Facebook here for more information.
2. Hellas Restaurant and Bakery
Hellas Restaurant is an institution in Tarpon Springs. Located on the strip across from the sponge docks they are serving up the best in traditional Greek food and pastries.
The broiled octopus is served simply with parsley and lemon and is always perfectly fork-tender.
Some other favorites are the avgolemono soup, a rich egg and lemon soup, and the housemade baklava.
They get seafood fresh daily and you can also order the octopus as a main dish served with a side of greek style potatoes, the vegetable of the day, rice pilaf, freshly baked bread, and a side of fresh fruit.
Visit their website here for the full menu and wholesale bakery options.
3. Jimmy’s Neighborhood Restaurant
Jimmy’s on Gulf Rd is not to be missed on a visit to Tarpon Springs. Their whole octopus is broiled and served with a fresh greek salad as a starter or with potatoes and veggies as a main.
Jimmy’s also offers a large assortment of calzones, pizza, and signature entrees that are a mixture of the Greek culture in Tarpon Springs and traditional Italian cuisine.
Visit their website here for the full menu.
4. Dimitri’s on the Water Greek Restaurant
Right on the water by the sponge docks, Dimitri’s is serving up the freshest seafood and Greek fare.
The chargrilled octopus is served as a starter or as part of a seafood medley with shrimp and scallops. It’s tender and smoky just the way we like it.
Some other favorite dishes are the Mediterranean seafood pasta and the huge greek salad topped with grilled chicken.
Sit outside and take in the view while you enjoy your meal.
Click here to visit their Facebook page.
5. The Original Mama Maria’s Greek Cuisine
This family-owned and operated restaurant brings its own spin on the Greek cuisine Tarpon Springs is known for.
Open since 1978, when Maria’s husband was forced to quit sponge diving, Maria has been cooking home-style dishes for the masses.
She prides herself on using the freshest ingredients and handed down recipes from generations before.
Their octopus is served charbroiled and topped with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, oregano, and fresh garlic. You can get it as a solo starter or in the combination appetizer, the Islander’s Feast.
This is a sumptuous combo of charbroiled octopus, pan-fried calamari, and pan-fried smelt. The seafood is served with lemon wedges for acidity.
This is where the locals come for the best in homemade Greek specialties just like mama used to make.
Click here to visit their website and learn more.
Visit Tarpon Springs for History and Delicious Octopus Today!
Come to Tarpon Springs to get a wonderful bit of Florida history. Explore the sponge docks and take a glass-bottom boat tour along the old fishing grounds.
After you’ve toured the history help yourself to the myriad of Greek delights in food and pastry. Beyond the octopus, you’ll find dolmades, pastitsio, baklava, and more wandering around this little fishing village.
The quaint little town will whisk you away to an earlier time and make you want to stay all day sipping ouzo and yelling, “Opa!” as the saganaki is lit once again.
Prepare to be delighted as you spend the day in one of the most unique destinations along Florida’s gulf coast and enjoy the culinary delights.
Want to learn more about culinary destinations in Florida? Check out the rest of our blog for the finsider tips to Florida.
Click here for the recipes that will also let you take a little bit of Florida flavor home into your own kitchen.