Dive into Flavor: Exploring Greek Islands Through Gastronomy

Greek islands foodies 2024

Prepare your taste buds for a delightful journey as we explore the Greek islands from a unique gastronomic perspective.

This adventure is dedicated to those who meticulously plan their Greek holidays, seeking relaxation amidst the wonders of the Greek summer. Every seasoned traveller understands that true exploration involves indulging in a destination's delectable tastes and flavours.

Greece Foodies

Prepare your taste buds for a delightful journey as we explore the Greek islands from a unique gastronomic perspective. This adventure is dedicated to those who meticulously plan their Greek holidays, seeking relaxation amidst the wonders of the Greek summer. Every seasoned traveller understands that true exploration involves indulging in a destination's delectable tastes and flavours.

Indeed, the Greek islands are a haven for the finest local delicacies, making this article a treat for those yearning to be captivated by both natural beauty and local gastronomy. Here, we'll take a closer look at six islands renowned for their culinary excellence, highlighting the most beloved dishes and recommended spots to satisfy your appetite and tantalize your taste buds!

Important note: Choosing only six islands was challenging, but a selection had to be made.

Let the exploration of the Greek Isles through gastronomy commence!

Screen Shot 2017 08 25 at 12.05.20 pm

  1. Crete

The biggest island of Greece is, of course, the first on the list. So many delicious local specialties!

What to taste:

-Dakos salad, made of hard bread (paximadi or rusks, lightly soaked in water so that they are softened), accompanied by tomato pieces, mizithra cheese and olive oil.

*Cretan Dakos
*Cretan Dakos

-Gamopilafo is the famous Cretan wedding rice. ‘Gamos’ in Greek means wedding; this kind of rice is served at Cretan weddings and at traditional taverns around the island.

Kaltsounia is sweet mini pies served with honey or filled with cheese. They may seem similar to other cheese pies you can find around Greece, but taste them, and you’ll see they are unique!

-Also, Sfakianes pites, pies from Sfakia, a mountainous area in the southwestern part of the island. They may seem like the common pancakes, but they are not. The main ingredients are flour, cheese, honey and raki (the traditional Cretan spirit).

-Bougatsa, pastry filled with cream and dusted with powdered sugar.

-Hohlioi boubouristoi (fried snails).

-Kserotigana, the honey-dipped spiral or butterfly-shaped pastries sprinkled with crushed almonds.

gamopilafo crete
*Gamopilafo

-Cretan Cheeses. Well, I have been to many parts of Crete (Chania, Rethymnon, Sitia, Hersonissos), and it seems that every part has its own cheese. The most famous, though, is graviera (a hard cheese made of sheep’s milk), anthro from Sfakia (white and soft cheese made of goat’s or sheep’s milk), signals from Sitia (creamy textured cheese with rich and slightly sharp taste). There are many others, as well, that can be found in many places throughout Greece, but even these were primarily produced in Crete, such as mizithra, kefalotiri, staka, pichtogalo of Chania.

*Bougatsa
*Bougatsa

-Lamb with stamnagathi. Cretan people have their own lamb, and they serve it with stamnagathi, a wild leafy green. This Cretan variety has become famous internationally as a food ingredient.

- Apaki (smoked pork). It is a dish of pork made in a traditional Cretan way and not easy to recreate outside Greece, at least not as the Cretans do it!

Last but not least, there is tsikoudia or raki, the famous Cretan spirit.

Remember that when Cretan people offer you raki, you must drink it!

*Raki
*Raki

Where to eat

Important notice: There are so many restaurants and tavernas worth mentioning, but unfortunately, I cannot include them all!

Elounda

  • For the best taramosalata and slow-cooked lamb, visit the Ferryman Taverna in Elounda. It’s been running since 1974.
  • You reach the village of Mochlos by boat approximately an hour from Elounda. You should eat there at TA Kohilia Taverna. It serves the best mezedes (bites) ever! Try the dakos salad, the mizithra cheese, marinated sardines, and saganaki.
  • For delicious snails, go to Taverna Kroustas.

Chania

  • For traditional food, go to Kouzina. Try the kaltsounia, dakos salad, lamb with stamnagathi, and gemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers).
  • Try the calf in the oven with anthro (soft cheese), kalitsounia and Pataki in Tavern Strata.
  • In Maridaki, you will taste the freshest fish.
  • For delicious bougatsa, go to Iordanis in the centre of town.

Sitia

  • In Rakadiko Inodion and Vai Tavern you will eat the best fava, kaltsounia, dakos, ksigalo cheese and pies with honey.

 

Sfakia

  • Dialeskari Marmara offers the best Sfakiani pita.
  • Taverna Vatalos in Fragkokastelo serves all possible local Cretan food. Cheeses, lamb cooked in many ways, apaki, kalitsounia, and the bonus is the galaktoboureko at the end of the meal.
*Image by Mulberry & Pomegranate
*Image by Mulberry & Pomegranate
  1. Naxos, Cyclades

Naxos is located in the South Aegean, and it’s the largest of the Cyclades complexes. When I hear the name ‘Naxos, ’ one thing that comes to my mind concerning the food is - potatoes! They are very famous and consumed throughout Greece. However, there is more.

*Graviera
*Graviera

What to taste

  • Kitron liqueur is made of citron tree leaves, which is widely consumed.
  • Pig, pork and goat are used in various Naxian dishes. Among the most known is the ‘pig rosto’, which is pork leg stuffed with garlic and braised in wine and wild rabbit.
  • Also, ‘batoudo’ is a dish served during Easter consisting of lamb stuffed with fennel and aromatic herbs. Local vegetables, such as the Naxian sweet tomato, accompany all dishes.
  • Various local cheeses. ‘Arseniko’ is a hard goat cheese with an intense flavour. ‘Graviera’ of Naxos is also widely known, whilst ‘ximomizithra’ and ‘kopanisti’ are must-try.
  • In Naxos, locals combine potatoes with onions. Give it a try.
  • Moving on with desserts, ‘melachrino’ is something like a ‘karidopita’ (walnut cake).
*Flisvos
*Flisvos

Where to eat

rividia sifnos
*Rividia

3. Sifnos

The island of famous chef Nicholaos Tselementes couldn’t be off this list! Sifnos owes its reputation to this local chef, who wrote the first Greek Recipe Book in 1910. His name has been synonymous with Greek cooking and recipe books; it’s also important to mention that locals cook in traditional casseroles, which makes their dishes taste unique and authentic!

*Mastela
Mastela

What to taste

  • Mastela is a slow-cooked lamb dish with red wine.
  • Revithokeftedes or revithada. These are chickpeas fritters or chickpeas soup.
  • Caper salad.
  • Local cheeses such as ‘ximomizithra’ and ‘chloromanoura’.
  • Orange and anise biscuits, almond macaroons and scones.
*Amygdalota
Amygdalota

Where to eat

  • Chrysopigi is a tavern that makes delicious Greek salad topped with mizithra cheese and caper salad.
  • For the best fish food, go to Ω3 in Platis Gialos and don’t miss the tuna tartare and sea bream ceviche. Make sure to book in advance!
  • Local cheeses in Kambourakis or Meropi in Kamares.
  • Breakfast in Rabagas, at Apolonia.
  • Mizithra cheese and imam baildi in Tsikali tavern in Vathi.
  • For the best mastelo go to Argiris in Kamares.
  • In Exambela village you will find many places to taste revithada.
  • You should definitely have a drink at the famous local bar named Kavos Sunrise. It’s run by a distinctive man known as ‘Che’, as he is obsessed with Cuba.
  • For the best sweet delicacies, visit Theodorou Sweet Shop. Try the amygdalota and the bourekia.

 

fava santorini
*Fava

4. Santorini

Santorini, the undisputed queen of the Cyclades, reigns supreme as one of the most romantic destinations throughout Greece, offering breathtaking views. Into this scenery, add the vast array of delicious food, and there- you have it all!

*Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

What to taste

  • Fava (split peas)
  • White aubergines
  • Cherry tomatoes that only grow here.
  • Chloro cheese (made from goat’s milk). It’s similar to feta cheese, but the taste is milder.
  • Domatokeftedes, tomato-fried balls, are very popular on the island of Santorini.
  • Caper
  • Roasted lamb
  • Spinach pie
  • Brusco, Nichteri and Vissando are the best varieties.
  • A type of sweet pie made with mizithra cheese, sugar and mastiha powder.
*Domatokeftedes
*Domatokeftedes

Where to eat

  • Chloro cheese in Psaraki. Also, fish (try the octopus with caper) and the local beer named Red Donkey.
  • Roza's prepares the best local food. Try domatokeftedes, tomatoes and aubergines and don’t miss the rabbit dish.
  • Tasty Greek food with a gourmet twist at the fantastic Laokasti.
  • In Melitini you will enjoy cold beer with meze platters. Wide variety starting from cheese and fava to desserts. Bonus: The rooftop. Make sure you go there and enjoy the sunset.
  • 1800 Floga Restaraunt in Oia a must option for discovering all kinds of local flavors accompanied with local Santorinian wine.
  • Selini and Kukumavlos are two of the best restaurants in the island, offering local food with gourmet twists.
Wine in Santorini
*Wine in Santorini

5. Folegandros

Folegandros lies on the Southern Cyclades. A small, charming island, with a wild beauty.

*Matsata
*Matsata

What to taste

  • Matsata is the best-known local food. It’s a fresh pasta dish made with red sauce and served with chicken or rabbit.
  • Tarama spread
  • Souroto cheese is a salty, soft white cheese.
  • A delicious cheese pie made with ‘souroto’.
  • Karpouzenia is a local dessert made of watermelon.
  • Honey and pasteli
*Karpouzenia
*Karpouzenia

Where to eat

  • O Kritikos is one of the oldest tavernas in Folegandros, famous for its meat.
  • Sinadisi in Ano Meria has everything you need! Unbeatable matsata, cheese pies with souroto, local meat and at the end the owners bring you desserts.
  • Eva’s Garden is the one for you to taste gourmet Mediterranean flavours.
  • Goupi has the best mezedes.
  • To enjoy a relaxed evening or night with rakomelo, wine or homemade desserts and mezedes, go to Kafenion Lotzia. Yannis and his mother become your best friends and create a cozy atmosphere.
  • Don’t miss the local pies and bougatsa from The baker.
evas gard fole
*Eva's Garden

6. Lemnos

Lemnos is a large island in the North Aegean, still undiscovered but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps its pure beauty. Lemnos offers a wide variety of things to do, namely presenting the beaches, cultural and historical sightseeing and of course, the food. This is a story in itself!

*Kalathaki cheese
*Kalathaki cheese

What to taste

  • Can I start with the local wine? Lemnia Gi is one the most famous and widely produced wines in Greece. There are other varieties as well, of course, and you can perfectly explore them through a wine tasting evening. A perfect place to do that is Ktima Chatzigeorgiou. Polina Chatzigeorgiou will show you all about wine. From production to consumption.
  • Melichloro cheese, made of sheep and goat milk, hard cheese with rich flavor.
  • Kalathaki cheese, a white and soft-medium cheese. Its flavour may remind you of feta, but you will taste the difference.
  • Virgin olive oil. ‘Ktima Olon’ is the perfect place to experience the production of pure oil. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Laskaridis will guide you through and will also show you the production stages of the above cheese.
  • Fish mezedes (bites). Sardines and anchovies marinated with vinegar and salt.

Screen Shot 2017 08 25 at 12.06.59 pm

Where to eat

  • Visit the Kotsina village and there you will find the Mouragio tavern. Try everything!
  • Man tella in Sardes for the best local food.
  • The tavern Metaksi Mas in Myrina harbour. The friendly owner, Yiota, welcomes you always!
  • Flomari is a traditional yet new age place, close to Amothines.
  • Ennia Po'chs (meaning ‘sense’ in Greek). This is modern kafeneion, which serves simple dishes with gourmet variations and is always based on local produce. Don’t miss the octopus and lamb dishes.
  • Last but not least, don’t miss visiting the Pezoula- Home of Taste in Moudros. You can try a brunch menu featuring local dishes, such as omelette with melicloro, lalaytes, Mediterranean crab with tomato and eggs, local cheese pie with kalathaki and peppermint. It also offers coffee and drinks, as it’s an all-day place!
*Taverna Mantella
Taverna Mant Ella

OK! Who else is hungry? Kali Orexi! 

Alonissos honoured on National Geographic's 'Best of the World' List 2021

Advertisment
Maria Petropoulou

Contributor

Maria Petropoulou is a Greek journalist currently working in a leading Greek news site. She loves culture, travelling and writing and she has combined all these in order to create her own key to happiness. She was born in Athens, studied there and continued with a Master’s degree in UK. London. She also owns the travel blog My Landing Runway, where you can find all her travel stories and wanderings. Now she begins her trip with GCT as our European cultural correspondent; she would like to welcome you all on board.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024