A short guide to traditional food restaurants in Santorini
As it is well known, Santorini island is famous for its unique caldera and volcano, amazing sunsets and some of the most romantic views a lover’s heart can ask for. Along the cliffs of the island’s caldera there are many upscale restaurants serving amazing, but sometimes not as “traditional” Greek food. So, what to do and where to go if you’re looking for a proper, “the way grandma used to cook it” meal while on vacation in Santorini?
Here are five of my dining choices, without any particular order:
“Tzanakis Family Tavern”
Tzanakis tavern is located in Megalochori village, just off the main road. It can be easily found following directions on Google Maps and it has free parking, which is always a plus in Santorini.
Decorated in traditional white and blue colors the place is clean and the staff is super friendly. Local fava, tomato fritters and stuffed tomatoes and peppers (gemista) is a must try in this family run tavern.
Meat eaters will find many options as well.
A restaurant with a view! Situated on a cliff overlooking the harbor of Vlychada, this place should definitely be on your list if you love sea food. It sources its ingredients locally and you will be offered dishes that are “in season” – traditional Santorinian cherry tomatoes, fava, capers and white eggplant will compliment your sea food dish perfectly!
“The Chatíri-at Kostas”
Just off the main road to Kamari, in the village of Mesa Gonia you will find this little gem of a place. It can’t get any more “family run” than this, the owner is the waiter and his mother is cooking. There is no set menu, whatever is freshly made on that day, that’s what you’ll get. Most ingredients are brought in every day by local farmers. The setting is very home-like, so you won’t feel like you’re in a restaurant, but at your Greek friend’s house. Must try local wine.
On the main square in Firostefani you will find “Aktaion”, the restaurant that has been run by the same family for almost 100 years! It’s very small, so there is an option to get a table outside, literally on the street, and enjoy your meal while watching the famous Santorini sunset. The prices are friendly, the staff is even friendlier :))
Don’t leave without trying their homemade moussaka freshly cooked in a clay pot.
“The Cave of Nikolas”
In Akrotiri, right there on the beach, built into the cliff, is “The Cave of Nikolas” tavern. And, you guessed it, it’s a cave. Built by hand as a shelter by “Uncle Nikolas”, this place was turned into a tavern to feed the workers of the Akrotiri archaeological excavation site nearby. Passed from generation to generation, loved by the locals, this restaurant serves food mostly produced by their own farm nearby. Meat, cheese, vegetables and wine are all produced locally and the traditional way.
So, wherever you are on the island, now it will be a little easier for you to find and enjoy the true traditional Greek food. The way your Greek grandma used to cook it! :))
A photo of a donkey in the Pyrgos village by Anna Sulte, photographer on the island of Santorini.