Any suggestions for classic greek food in the Cyclades?

I am kind of playing it by ear, but right now I think I will stay here on Naxos for 3 or 4 days and then return to Athens. I saw a SeaJet ferry try to dock here today, it dropped anchor in the port area and waited for 20 minutes, apparently for the winds to drop down a bit, then turned around and took off. Blue Star docked no problem. Not sure what that means. But Ikaria is probably not going to happen this trip.
I am not sure if this much wind is normal, I have been hearing about Beaufort 8 and 9 fairly frequently, with some Beaufort 10, which is pretty intense. I have seen 5 or 6 days of ferry service being cancelled in the past 13 days and that SeaJet looked like it was not a ship I wanted to be on. I am kind of thinking that I may stay closer to Athens than my previous plan. I don’t want to get stuck on Folegandros the day my flight home takes off.

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Santorini was a real lesson on how tourism can really damage the beauty of an island, and on how tourists quite frequently inadvertently increase demand for cafes to the point where bad food becomes commonplace. On the good end of the quality spectrum, I really liked the slightly touristy El Greco Tavern on Santorini. It is near the center of Fira and is a bit overpriced but they offer 10% off if you have one of their business cards, and the business card is next to the cash register downstairs as you hit the stairs for the dining room, which is upstairs. Staff was a bit hard sell at first but I just talked about food for a while and they started to give me good tips. I had 3 meals there and 2 were very good and 1 was pretty good. The best one was Lahanodolamades, or minced beef and pork in a cabbage roll with an Avgolemono sauce of chicken stock, eggs and lemons. Delicious! I always thought dolmades meant rice rolled in a grape leaf, but that is just one type of dolmades. The next meal was the traditional roast of lamb and boiled potatoes and it was pretty good. Finished up on the third day when I had the giovarlakia/pork meatballs in avgolemono sauce with rice on the side. Loved this dish! The odd thing about Cafe Greco is that I ordered from the prepared dishes that were in the steam table as I went in. I always went in just before noon when everything was fresh and it worked well for me. Cappuccinos were only fair, but the food was really good.
Second place I hit was the No Name Tavern on the North end of Fira for grilled calamari and it was really good as well. The feta salad was big and had a better variety of vegies than most.
I won’t name the touristy places that were pretty mediocre or down right bad if they are Mom and Pop places. But there were more misses in Santorini than anywhere else I went, probably due to the heavy reliance on tourists.
I have to get to write about my favorites on Naxos, there were several really good places there that I haven’t mentioned yet, places that were definitely worth returning to!


Haven’t contributed to this thread because it’s been far too long since I visited many islands there as well as spent time seeing other parts of Greece. It sounds as if the food has improved in the long interim. I will say we had very few really good meals during our 3 weeks there. So many things would have been good if not cooked to death, swimming in excess olive oil and terribly over salted. Our best meal which was at a mom & pop was very memorable. Excellent home-style cooking. The owners didn’t want us to leave so kept bringing us wine on the house & a delicious coconut roll. We were w/my late FIL who spoke fluent Greek, so this scenario happened to us quite often! Such hospitable and generous people. We hope to go back soon and know where we’d like to spend more time.

Oh & there was a fab Vietnamese place, the only one in Athens. It was so good, especially since I was craving veggies. There are probably scores of Viet and Thai places now & I found it to be a great antidote to mediocre Greek food burnout.

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I hear you about the salt issue, Lambchop! Some of the misses on my trip were dishes that were salted to death, like the lamb chops, no kidding, at Yasouvlaki on the promenade/marina at Naxos town. Not a great cut of lamb and it was nearly inedible due to the salt.
On the up side, other places in Naxos Town served really good food! I think my favorite meal of my two stays in Naxos was at Kozi on the North side of town. I ordered Sheftalia, a kind of pork sausage with onions and parsley that is prepared in a loose wrap of pork caul. I knew it might be a bit rich so I ordered roasted peppers that looked a lot like Anaheims but had just a touch of spicy heat. Together with the rice and the mini spanakopita, the sausage and the peppers were really outstanding! It is a real locals place, I was the only non-Greek.
Plinthos was a bit further up the same road on the way out of town. I had drunken pork in red wine sauce, with some spanakopita that was fresh out of the oven. Just a great meal. Then the owners wife (?) brought me a free desert of yogurt lemon cake (yiaoutopita) which is slightly lemony but super rich due to the use of yogurt instead of milk. I complimented her on the desert and she blushed because she tops it with coconut and her Mom and her Aunts all top it with a traditional sweet syrup.
For a light morning bite and cappuccino, Bossa on the south end of the marina/promenade is great! For €4 you get a cappuccino that is pretty good, and two mini-croissants, one butter and one chocolate. Plus a great view of the promenade, the kastro and the fishing boats coming back.
One of the other hits for me was To Souvlaki tou Makr up on Socratous Papasouvili. Husband and wife team, great souvlaki and even better service. And the souvlaki are just €3 or so, so they are a bargain. When I went back the third time they were all smiles to see me again and when I finished my meal they insisted that I have a small cordial of Sour Cherry Liqueur with them that they made themselves. Just a really nice treat, despite the name it was slightly sweet and barely any alcohol, just a subtle taste of cherry. It was so good I got a couple 100 ml bottles of the store bought version as gifts. I hope it is at least half as good as the home made version!
I didn’t have as good an experience at Maro’s, Boulamatsis or Su e Giu. Respectively they were smokey and bland, empty and boring and snooty and a horrible mussel dish that was the special of the day.
In the hill towns there are some really good choices as well. In Halki I would start out by walking one of the trails for an hour and then hit Caffe Greco for some really outstanding crepes. The one I liked the best was full of local vegies, a soft cheese and a small amount of ham. The cappuccinos here were really good and the stonework of the building was beautiful. It has 3 different seating areas, two of which are outside.
Art’ernative Bar served me a nice tomato based fry up of tomatoes, feta and vegies and on the second visit they served me a great cheese, olive and meat starter dish. Really good! And they gave me a glass of Kitron over shaved ice that was a lemony treat. Kitron isn’t lemon, it is more like a feral cousin of a normal lemon, bigger, chunkier and rougher with less fruit and more rind.
Finally up further in Apareinthos, it is really easy to get lost on the stone paved passages that substitute for streets in most of the town. I found Amorginos Tavern and ordered a pork and pasta dish that was good not great. After I finished up I went out on the balcony to take some photos and judging from the dishes of the other patrons, I just ordered poorly.
All in all, Naxos really has some nice places for real Greek food! Not surprisingly, the best food was not on the promenade/marina area, it was back off the tourist area.


Ziv just wondering if you speak Greek or if you cook Greek style food at home? If not, are you inspired to do so after this trip? It’s really pretty easy as they don’t use a ton of spices or even ingredients. So it’s not like an Ottoleghi recipe; it’s fun to cook with other people since it can be tedious rolling a bunch of dolmathes or tyropita/Spanikopita. I’ve enjoyed your travel and food reports & will save your reccos if we return in the near future. The half moon Cretan cheese pastries (savory) are truly drool worthy. I’ll send you a recipe if you’d like.

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That would be cool, DeMarko! I haven’t prepared any Greek dishes yet, but it would be cool to try Cretan pastries would be a good start. I did notice that the Greek dishes were relatively mild, the spiciest one I got was the roast lamb at Liondi in Athens. Liondi is a bit touristy, but their lamb was spectacular and it was spiced noticeably with lemon zest, parsley, rosemary, and oregano. Almost all the other dishes were a lot more subtly spiced.

Be sure to buy some Greek wine, olive oil, and spices. Everything is fresher there!

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OMG, I spent a summer in Kamari in the 80s. Loved it there, and it was before Santorini was completely overrun with tourists.

I remember one taverna roasting a whole lamb on the beach, and picking up a loaf of fresh bread from the local bakery.

I plan on visiting Greece again next summer – it’s been far too long. Saloniki & Crete are def on the agenda, maybe more if time allows.

Love reading about your experiences :slight_smile:


welcome back, tash

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Aw, thanks John!

Can’t promise I’ll be posting regularly – I have enough trouble keeping up with our WFD Facebook group, but I thought I’d check back in here. Happy to see you’re still around :slight_smile: