Any suggestions for classic greek food in the Cyclades?

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(Ziv) #1

I will travel for good food and a view worth taking a picture of. I am going to spend 3 days in Athens and then 3 weeks hitting 4 or 5 islands in the Cyclades. I like locally owned, small cafes that are priced low enough that I am happy to keep coming back. Lunch entrees under 10 Euros and dinner entrees under 15 Euros are my aim, though I will go over that price for seafood or a really good dish.
I am thinking that I will start by traveling to Syros where I want to visit Laoutari and then on to Kastri. I figure I will spend 2 or 3 days in and around Ermoupoli, then get the ferry to Paros because there is a place in Naousa I want to visit called Itria and Mylos Traditional Grill in Marpissa looks good, as well. Then I will probably visit Naxos for Delfinaki, but I am wide open for suggestions for good food and vistas worth seeing. After that I want to hit 2 smaller islands, again looking for vistas and feasts. I would like to go to smaller islands more, but the cafes that are open in February tend to be on the larger islands. I think that the cafes I named will be open, but I can’t read Greek and may be disappointed a time or two.
Any advice on favorite cafes or walks would be greatly appreciated! I don’t leave for 5 weeks so I am just beginning to plan my itinerary. I will post here with my favorites and not so favorites starting mid-February.

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#2

Sorry that you get no help here. Hope you will have some great meals.

Will be looking forward too see your adventures.

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(Ziv) #3

No worries, naf! It is a relatively specific area to ask for advice on, so I wasn’t too surprised to not get a lot of responses. I fly into Athens on the 11th so I will post my hits and misses so that there will be some reviews and pictures for the next traveler. I have a couple Greek colleagues and I use TripAdvisor as well, so I am soaking up info from whatever source I can find!

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#4

Bear in mind that Tripadvisor is NOT a good resource anymore. Many of the “top” places are simply tourist traps. Beware.

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(Ziv) #5

I have been in Athens a little over 24 hours and really like the food scene! I have hit a place that was recommended to me by a friend and got a few off of Google dot maps and/or Tripadvisor.
My favorite was Montakiou at Stadiou 30, fresh baguette type bread with super fresh fillings. I got the Keffalonia, just an excellent sandwich and the people were super cool. I also got a double cappucino and the total bill was around 8 or 9€. Great atmosphere and very good food.
I had roast lamb with potatoes and a side of olives and pita at Liondi on Makrygianni St near the Acropolis Metro stop. Manuel greeted me as I was reading the menu streetside, the chef came out to chat about food and what was fresh, the waitress was a sweetheart, my neighboring table struck up a conversation, the lamb was outstanding, fall of the bone tender, the olives were just right, the pita was fresh out of the oven, the Vergina beer was served in an icey mug, just a really good meal. My neighbors had the moussaka and it looked fresh and really tasty. The waitress brought me a complimentary slice of lemon cake that was lightly dusted with powdered sugar. I am not a desert person but this was a really good cake, you could taste the real lemons in it. Around 26€ if memory serves.
Atitamos was really good too, though I probably walked there through a less than desirable neighborhood. It is at Solonos and Kapidistrou. Great outdoor eating area, waiter and bus girl were cool, got the Plevrota Mushroom app and the bream. Both were pretty good. The waiter offered me a free desert and I said thanks, but I don’t eat sweets, which was a bit of a fib. So he brought me a small glass of liqueur that was outstanding. Nice place. 19€ wasn’t bad, considering how large the bream was.
Finally, my first day in Athens I was starving and was wandering around Monastiriki, some of the places looked expensive and some touristy, other touristy and bad, so I walked into a touristy place that I had heard about on Tripadvisor. Waiter was cool, the Mythos came with a cold glass, I ordered Moussaka and it was fairly good but not great. It was not served fresh, I can’t think of the name for a made dish in Greek but I think moussaka is usually prepared in advance and hotted up when the customer arrives. I am cool with that but this dish was a bit dried out on the bottom, though it was still tasty. Not a bad meal for just 15€ but with all the really good places I visited, I might not go back.

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(Ziv) #6

Just found a place called Το Στεκι της Αγορας, which translates as The Shopping Steak or The Steak of the Market. It is just a block south of the Central Athens Market, which is pretty cool as well. The Shopping Steak is a great place, host was welcoming and allowed me to order a salad and two half the regular size main dishes. If I had known how large the Greek salad was, I wouldn’t have ordered two, but it was worth it.
The Greek salad was fresh and had the usual suspects, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, capers and a huge chunk of feta cheese on top all covered by a Greek salad dressing. Really good. I ordered the meatballs with rice and the stuffed cabbage leaves. Both were really good and in hindsight, both used a fairly similar meat preparation, so I should have ordered something else. But both were really good and the half loaf of crusty bread that came with them was a treat. Just 12.50€ and it is a bargain at that price.
And I can’t edit the above paragraph for some reason, but Montakiou cost me just 6,90€ for that big sandwich and a double cappucino! Another great meal and a bargain to boot!

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#7

Thanks for sharing. I love food in Greece. Affordable and healthy.

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#8

Thanks for the write up. Looking forward for more adventures.

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#9

Hope you are having fun! I was in Greece last fall. Limited by the usual cruise ports, but with good personal guides. I’ll look through my pics to see if I have reccommendations.

Nothing too helpful, I’m afraid. These pictures have a few clues to their location, and they have location tags I might be able to add, but the pictures are of “typical” things we ate there.
Mikanos?



Athens


The one in Rhodes was particularly memorable, although that dish with the pasta was too heavy on the pasta.


Great wine tasting at this place “Oia and Thera”

Good mussels that stop too.


And cheese!

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#10

Love Greece, its people, and its food. I can give you some suggestions for Paros. Not sure about other islands.

Sadly, most restaurants on the caldera side have become total tourist traps. To have great food, one needs to venture out to the less popular spots on the island.

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(Ziv) #11

Shrinkrap and DD, thanks for your posts and info! I have finally gotten to the islands, spent 3 days on Syros and couldn’t post due to the high winds (?) messing up my hosts wifi. The best food was at Laoutari Kafenio. I visited early the second day I was there and the bar was open but the cook hadn’t gotten there yet so I asked for a tea and was chilling. The bar tender asked if I wanted something simple and I said that if it wasn’t a bother, sure. He said he made good “Greek Toast”, kind of like French toast but better. So I said it sounded great. He took out a loaf of farmers bread with seeds and stuff on it, and cut two thick slices, put some olive oil in a pan and fried them up with some sort of ham, thin sliced tomatoes and some sort of white cheese and a bit of oregano and maybe some rosemary or thyme. Delicious! I went back a day later and the cook was there so I ordered one of the specials of the day, a kind of made dish that looks like moussaka but instead of potato on top it had the same crust as spanakopita does. It was really good too, tho a bit salty.
I also hit Mikpaki Tavernia a block down from there and had the sausage platter. Really good but too much of a good thing. 3 different types of sausage with pita on the side. Definitely a locals hangout, the highlight of the place was the backgammon board and the old guys were telling the players what they were doing wrong.
Finally, I also hit Diogenes Hotel’s cafe for a late breakfast early lunch of a Greek Salad. Pretty good but not great. Cool hotel, relatively good service for a quiet time of the year.
So Laoutari is definitely a keeper and Mikpaki is good too in Ermoupoli.

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(Ziv) #12

Naxos. Wow! Just a phenomenal island, and the food is good too! I started off with Maro’s for meatballs with rice, fairly good but the tomato sauce was a bit bland. Went back a few days later and the first 4 things I tried to order weren’t available, so I ordered drunken pork. Kind of a saucy roast pork with cream sauce, not so great but filling. The place felt like it was being run by the second team, maybe there is a different chef/cook in high season?
The hit Bossa for breakfast and cappuccino, so so breakfast but a GREAT place for a coffee in the morning, they have an outdoor seating area on the south side of the marina that is very cool! And the cappuccino comes with two small croissants, one butter, one chocolate for 3.5 Euros. Nice!
Visited Soulatso on the Protodikeiou Square for breakfast, nice Naxos omelet with a ton of local fixings. Very much a locals meeting spot. Good, not great.
Had two souvlakis at To Souvlaki tou Makr on Sokratous Vasiliou. Both very good, combo chicken and pork was best! Simple, hot fresh, with fries/chips in the wrap. Olives were excellent for an extra Euro and a half.
Hit Caffe Greco for a crepe, which is just about all they make at this time of year, the cook put all the veggies he had into it plus some local cheese and deli sliced ham, Delicious! And it wasn’t that the hiking built up my hunger it was a very good crepe! Nice walking paths and the ArtExperience Bar nearby are very cool! Nice town to visit and use as a base for walking.
Also visited Amorgino’s Tavern in Apeiranthos. Beautiful hill town with a labrynthic system of sidewalks. The food was ok, had pasta with red sauce and pork with a Greek beer, Vorveira?
Also hit Su e Giu on the marina walking center, mussels were boring and over garlic’y and faintly metallic tasting. House wine was ok, bread was mundane. I fed a feral cat half my mussels, hope they did him well.
Had a spinach pie at Pi & Phi, ok, nice lady, cluttered cafe.
Visited Boulamatsis overlooking the Marina, only 6 or 7 made dishes, I chose poorly. Nice view though!
Most of the seafood cafes I wanted to visit were closed. So much for calamari and octopus…
I will enter more if I remember any I missed.

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(Ziv) #13

Is there an edit function I am missing? I want to add that Caffe Greco is in Halki/Chalkio, not in Naxos Town, but not sure if I can add that. Halki/Chalkio is a really cool hill town for walking and eating.

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(Ziv) #14

Just got to Santorini yesterday. Got a really cool AirBNB on a hill in Exo Genio, figured that the bus next door would be sufficient. But I can’t figure out the winter schedule, so I walked 3 km to Kamari instead of waiting for a bus. Probably just as well, I have only seen one bus in 3 or 4 hours. Kamari has around 30 or 40 restaurants in high season, so I figured 5 or 10 of the 15 or so that look open on Google Maps would actually be open. Wrong. LOL! I walked another 2 km in a loop of most of Kamari, every restaurant was closed. So I got a crusty loaf and some cold cuts and mayo, headed for the road home. And of course the last 2 cafes on the south side of the bus stop were open. LOL! Take a Wok and the Italian restaurant kitty korner are open at 5, pretty much nothing else. Another reminder, never assume.

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#15

Thank you so much for taking the time and care to write these!

I can usually see an edit option for at least an hour after a post. It looks like a pen, one of three pictures to the left of reply in the bottom right corner.

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#16

You can edit only within 1 hour after posting. After 1 hour, contact mod for edit post.

Ouch for the closed restaurants. Is there at least a food shop or market open that you can buy things to cook?

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(Ziv) #17

Ah, an hour. I should have paid more attention, sooner. No worries.
It is funny now, how I walked 5 km and went past 30 or 40 cafes, all closed, then bought a loaf of bread and some so-so cold cuts and as soon as I left the store I saw two restaurants open, just 100 meters south of the circular route I had used to search the town. But when I had to walk another 3 km home on a darkening road with no sidewalks, I wasn’t as amused then! LOL!
Had lunch at Mike’s Grill House at the cross roads in Mesaria. Ordered the grilled calamari and a Mythos. The mug wasn’t chilled but the Mythos was cold, nice start. The grilled calamari was good but not great. The ends of the tentacles were blackened and dry but the rest was fresh and crunch. The fries and pita strips were good. Not bad.
I hit Thira later, and though they had more cafes open, it was still the so-so ones that were open. Came home and finished my crusty loaf with cold cuts…

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#18

Your story reminds me of the gyro incident my hubby and I had on Santorini several years ago. We also went to Greece during off-season (April), which honestly was great - we didn’t miss the crowds. On Santorini, we stayed on the “other side” of the island. We didn’t have a car so we were dependent on the city bus to get us home. Our first night, we were trying to catch the last bus back to our hotel when B decided he needed to get a gyro since there would be no food options open around the hotel. This was the slowest gyro order EVER. And B got complacent since we’d gotten used to ferries being late or cancelled, slow/casual service in restaurants, etc - “it’s the Greek way!” Well, not for this city bus - it left exactly on time, just as B’s gyro got handed to him. The image of him frantically running after the bus, waving his gyro in the air was too much for me to handle, I couldn’t breathe much less run, I was laughing so hard. He dejectedly ate his gyro (which he did say was delicious) and spent $50 on cab fare home…the most expensive gyro in history. We still laugh about it to this day.

PS Sorry I couldn’t contribute more to this thread. I looked on Chowhound, where I would’ve posted back then but I guess I never got around to it. Sounds like you re doing just fine, though.

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(Ziv) #19

Digga, you just touched on one of my paranoid traits. I almost never allow myself to get into a situation where I am relying on the last bus of the day to get home. Because I know I will miss it somehow! LOL!
I loved my AirBNB in Exo Gonia which is in between Mesaria and Kamari, but it was too far from everything so I moved, first to Antonia Hotel in Fira/Thera then to Tataki Hotel in Fira/Thera. Both were clean, simple, welcoming 2 or 3 star hotels that were a pleasure to stay at.
But on to the food! I had two favorite places and wish I could have returned to both of them again before I left. First, though it is a bit of a tourist trap, I really enjoyed El Greco Tavern. I went with the made dishes in the steam table by the entry all 3 times, and all 3 times I got there shortly after they opened. I had lahanodolmades/stuffed cabbage w/minced beef (pork?) served in an avgolemono sauce of lemon and egg mixture. Very light and tasty. I really liked this dish a lot. Then I had the obligatory lamb served with lemon, oregano and roasted/boiled potatoes. Delicious. The final day I had giouvarlakia meatballs of minced beef and pork mixed together, again served with the avgolemono sauce and a touch of dill. Really a treat. The cafe is a bit of a tourist trap, grab one of the business cards as you are going upstairs, they all offer 10% off the price. But both the host and the waiter really seemed to enjoy the fact that I liked the food.
My second favorite I discovered late in my stay, so I only got to try the grilled calamari, but it was really well prepared and fresh. Just a bit crispy and very good. Good service.
Vithos served a very good cappuccino and the owner was willing to talk coffee, which is pretty decent of him since English is like his 3rd or 4th language.
Hit Asia Club for a change, got Beef Chow Mein one day and Cantonese Fried Rice the next. The results were not surprising, mundane food, but it was a bit spicier than I had expected which was a bonus.
Hit Bakalivaraka for calamari, they couldn’t grill it so I had it fried. So so. Had a bit of fried cod there on a rainy night, again so so. Nice host, but just not great food.
Time to return to Naxos!

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#20

Good to know that you have eaten some better food.

Will you be going to Ikaria?

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