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24-08-2023

Dining in the Greek islands: our guide to the best restaurants in the Aegean pearls

Holiday mode is still on? If you are planning a trip in Greece, dive deep into our selection of the best restaurants to visit for a serious gastronomic island – hopping

Cantina, in Sifnos, it's one of the restaurant

Cantina, in Sifnos, it's one of the restaurants you'll find in this guide 

Greece is a stone’s throw from Italy and a kaleidoscope of interesting modern cuisine eateries aligned with international trends or with a more classic approach. We’ve formed a gastronomic “chart” covering highlights which combine the triptych of sun-sea-taste revealing venues where Greek chefs sharpen their knives offering high-standard culinary experiences.

Ettore Botrini

Ettore Botrini

Starting from Corfu, a destination restaurant you can’t miss when visiting the island is Etrusco at Kato Korakiana, which is operating every Summer season since 1992. The establishment is helmed for the past 23 years by Greek-Italian chef-owner Ettore Botrini, son of Mr. Etrusco Botrini, a Tuscan chef for many years at “Club Mediterranee”, who settled permanently in his wife's homeland, Corfu and opened the restaurant. Chef Ettore’s culinary approach is open-minded, focused on Corfiot dishes, but also traditional recipes of the Ionian islands, served in modern interpretations. The menu samples, among others, their signature herring ice cream with corn cream, leafy vegetables and dehydrated corn bread, the swordfish carpaccio with Corfiat sour orange salad and the octopus “stuffed” with multiple kinds of seafood.

Pomo d'Oro, Corfù

Pomo d'Oro, Corfù

At Pomo d'Oro in Skaramaga, chef-owner Aristotelis Megoulas stocks his kitchen with locally sourced ingredients or from the Ionian and meats (rabbit, ewe, pork) from Epirus serving brilliant examples of modern Corfiot cuisine using his craft as a motivating tool packed with stories, memories and “head to tail” sense. The bistronomy-style menu may include dishes dedicated to a special local producer, reformed recipes dredged up from the island’s food history and ideas referring to Corfu’s connection with the Venetians like the “letter from Murano”, including ingredients from the Venetian and Corfiot lagoon. But despite the modern profile of the kitchen, Aristotelis highlights traditional cooking perfectly synchronized with new age techniques such as ultrasonic food treatment. The octopus carpaccio, cooked in the oven is a “simple” example, served with “savoro” style condiments. 

Prosilio, Zante

Prosilio, Zante

In Zakynthos, Krystalia Karageorgou, along with Giorgos Kambitsis, created Prosilio seven years ago and gradually managed to transform it to a dining destination. The young cook of the elegant restaurant “embroiders” in her cooking pot a cuisine with empathy, traditional taste patterns and experiential selvage and Giorgos is the wine cellar’s guardian and the front of house soul. The menu delves deeply into the island’s cuisine sampling familiar recipes but with a modern rendition technically, aesthetically and culinary such as “Zakynhian avgolemono” with poached, turnip risotto and smoked herring caviar, and “pork ragu” with slow roasted pork neck, “tavla” cheese foam and “pasta” in pork broath, to name a few.

Fiore, Zante

Fiore, Zante

Fiore, also at the “Fiore di Levante” -as Zakynthos is called- the fine dining restaurant concept of Lesante Cape Resort and Villas, is Executive chef’s Agelos Bakopoulos culinary sanctuary. Inspired by several dishes such as onion pie, stews, savoro or stifado that stand out for their deep flavor and at the same time for their complexity, Bakopoulos cooks tradition in refined menus based on the history of the Ionian cuisine. At the same resort, interesting is “Bostani”, offering the authentic culinary culture of Zakynthos at a “farm to table” casual experience with ingredients coming from their garden straight to your table. Try out “gemista”, classic summer specialty with stuffed vegetables, and their tender roast lamb.  

On the Verandah, Spetses

On the Verandah, Spetses

When popping up to Spetses, you’ll definitely head up to the emblem of “the island of the aromas”, the aristocratic and cosmopolitan Poseidonion Grand Hotel. The hotel's restaurants are timeless destinations with executive chef Theologos Amiras curating menus that offer a modern perspective on Greek gastronomic culture. At the award-winning “On the Verandah”, Mediterranean cuisine does the honors with well crafted dishes taking the center stage crafted with fresh ingredients from the “Bostani” (small herb garden). The two-coloured carrots glazed with cumin, coriander, tahini and pomegranate, the tuna spaghetti with prasosselino sauce, bonito flakes, rocket and Mesolonghi avgotaracho and the lamb with cauliflower puree, roasted artichoke and lamb broth sauce are some of the highlights you will enjoy at an idyllic setting. You may also have a taste of the “Bostani” experience, a special location out of the hotel which offers an authentic farm-to-table experience, bringing to the guests' plates the freshest produce from the farm's production. 

Iliovasilema, Syros

Iliovasilema, Syros

The elegant Iliovasilema (which means “sunset” in Greek), in Syros, at Galissas beach is a “must” when you arrive at the Cycladic island. Chef Kostas Bougiouris has made an extended research on the local produce and brings out its freshness to the fullest with creative combinations and stylish presentation balancing tradition with modernism. Standout dishes include orzo with braised beef cheeks, fresh fish with smoked eggplant and sea urchin ladolemono (olive oil with lemon), barilla plant with sea urchin and fresh tomato, “kakavia” combining a bunch of fish -any catch of the day-, rooster with and pasta and xinomyzithra cheese and courgette pie with herbs and wild greens, baked in open fire.

Marathia, Tinos

Marathia, Tinos

When you get to windy Tinos, Marathia is a destination restaurant created about 20 years ago by Marinos Souranis who cures, fillets and processes fish, the soul and centerpiece of the cuisine, with award-winning and known for his culinary values, chef Michalis Marthas, in charge of the cuisine and Evripidis Apostolidis on the restaurant management sharing their expertise in a super creative alliance. “Whatever Tinos produces is served up on our tables. Its fish and cheeses, vegetables, herbs, using old varieties that had once almost been forgotten. At Marathia, together with skilled growers, we are reviving what past generations made, and what they grew. We are keeping local traditions alive, but with a contemporary, creative twist”, Souranis notes. At “Thalassaki” (+30 22830 31366), a family business in the beautiful bay of Ysternion, operating for almost 25 years, owners Antonia Zarpa and Aris Tatsis offer delicacies packed with flavours and aromas of Tinos. Antonia, at the helm of the kitchen, creates authentic recipes from all over Greece with subtle creative touches. The menu emphasizes on fish, but there are also noteworthy meat options.

Vezene Santorini

Vezene Santorini

The stunning vista of the Santorinian caldera is a good reason to spend a few days at the popular tourist attraction but in terms of gastronomy, the thriving food scene and the exceptional volcanic wines are definitely a (big) plus. Among the dining highlights is Vezene Santorini, hosted in “Cavo Tagoo Hotel”, overlooking the breathtaking caldera and sharing a new gastronomic aspect of Greece that is essentially modern but with a “primitive” elegance. The center-point of the restaurant is the “Hestia” (fire pit), a custom-made, three-meter-long open fire that Chef Ari Vezené had been planning for years. The Hestia features multiple cooking levels and heights in order to cook fish, meat and vegetables in perfection placed in a menu where land and sea are equally intertwined: well-fed côtes de bœuf and onglet steaks, chops and roasted lamb juxtaposed with shrimp, crayfish, lobster and seafood from the Aegean and the Ionian seas, all seasoned with the aroma of the embers. 

Elements, Santorini

Elements, Santorini

Elements, the elegant and multi-awarded fine dining establishment of “Cananaves Oia Epitome”, delivers a high-end experience with the impeccable frame of the sunset view. Executive chef Tassos Stefatos creates a menu consisted of signature restaurant dishes and three menus, “Taste the world”, “Taste Greece” and “Taste the nature”, offering different aspects of his culinary mentality and skills in nine stages each.

Panigyri, Santorini

Panigyri, Santorini

Panigyri is a unique modern Greek cuisine concept created by chef Fanis Maikantis, who eloquently narrates culinary stories packed with eclectic local products sourced in Santorini, the Aegean islands and Crete, delicately seasoned with an exquisite selection of extra virgin Greek olive oils and Greek wines. “Panigyri” in brief means “Greek feast” and this is the exact definition of what they do. They smoke and sun-dry fish, grow and ferment their own vegetables and introduce the local gastronomic idiom in a la carte and tasting menus where each dish is accompanied by different kinds of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure you finish your meal with a “melitini” ice cream, mastic cream and caper spoon dessert.

Gastronomy Project, Mykonos

Gastronomy Project, Mykonos

Mykonos is a party island but also a destination for obsessed foodies looking for exquisite restaurant projects. You will find though exceptional tavernas if you search for the “low” profile of the island, while walking at the white-washed alleys, which are amazing by the way. For a not so low profile food travelers, the award-winning “Gastronomy Project” of Bill & Coo is a wise choice and a “must try” culinary experience inspired from classic Greek recipes, served with a fine crafted modern touch. The project, curated by Chef Ntinos Fotinakis, serves refined dishes with an enchanting view of the Aegean and intends to remind the diners how food can bring people together, evoke memories and awaken our senses in the most delightful ways. Options include the Chef’s counter for up to 2 people who will be hosted by the chef and his team, or for parties of up to 8 seated. 

Botrini's Mykonos

Botrini's Mykonos

Following up Botrini's, in Santorini, in questa stagione è stato inaugurato il nuovissimo Botrini's Mykonos, this season welcomed the brand new “Botrini's Mykonos”, located at the luxurious “Katikies Mykonos”, which remains true to all the values that form the flagship Michelin starred “Botrini's” restaurant in Athens. Ettore Botrini is pretty active so, besides “Etrusco” (Corfu) and “Botrini’s” (Athens), as a chef-owner, his name is behind a bunch of interesting fine dining concepts under the umbrella of Katikies Group.

Cantina, Sifnos

Cantina, Sifnos

Last-but not least- stop, Sifnos, the small Cycladic island, where you will first head up to Cantina. Chef-owner Giorgos Samoilis strikes a balance between rustic finesse and modern Greek eating using top-drawer local ingredients. Dive in his hyper-local and seasonal zero-waste cuisine, which is anything but boring -menu changes in a daily basis- and have a bite of the crunchy and creamy polenta sticks served with smoked home-made ketchup, the okra souvlaki in fava tortilla with roasted tomato sauce, smoked eggplant and herbs, or the lionfish cooked in open fire, served with spicy “bourdeto” sauce, made using its intestines. The dry aged brisket, smoked with sea weeds they collect from the beach, is an absolutely “must try”. Don’t miss Bostani Bar and Restaurant at boutique hotel “Verina Astra”, in the heart of a garden with fragrant herbs and plants, chef Nikos Thomas serves simple, unpretentious, bistronomy menu in a location overlooking the deep blue Aegean Sea. The dishes pay homage to fine Greek cuisine with a creative approach to the culinary heritage of Sifnos and the Aegean region, so, when leaving the island, you’ll absolutely have a super herbal afrtertaste...


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by

Eleftheria Vasiliadi

Born in Athens, Greece, in 1981, freelance food journalist and photojournalist with professional experience as a cook for almost a decade. She's a contributor at several magazines, and, when she doesn't travel, she works on culinary video concepts and digs in anything that has to do with food science. LinkedIn: @eleftheria-vasiliadi. Instagram: @eleftheria_vasiladi

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