Siri Kay Jostad
Santorini Greece: Best Places to Eat in Oia
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
This post is highlighting places to eat in Oia. If you want some insight about places to stay, click here.
For this trip to Greece I was traveling with a friend who is vegetarian, so since I like to eat mainly meat-free anyway, I just decided to commit fully to eating alongside her and forego meat and fish--and it turned out I ate as well as ever!
Greece is a VERY easy country in which to eat vegetarian and still eat really well. Man, we had some good food. In fact, I sort of loved being vegetarian because I tried some things I would have otherwise glossed over on a menu jumping straight to a main dish. I discovered there was a lot of emphasis on locally grown things so I felt like I was experiencing life on the island in a more slow, non-touristic way. Often times with vegetarian, we made up our meals of a combination of multiple appetizers.
We shared everything so we could amplify the flavors we got to try. I highly recommend this!
In Oia, there are a TON of places to eat, both along the main path and off it. Clearly, the main path offerings capture more tourists than those more hidden gems. But don't assume because a spot is in the more populated areas of town that it will be junky tourist food. Some is. Some isn't.
Our concierge at Armeni Luxury Villas had Roka at the top of her recommendation list for us. But when we went by and read the menu...nothing caught our eye, so instead we ate at Pelekanos (see just below).
When Veronica checked in with us and we told her we bypassed Roka, the look of disbelief on her face was so pronounced, we kinda felt like we needed to go back and eat there just so that we could report back to her that we had! 😆 Boy are we glad we did. During our 4 night stay, we ate dinner twice at Roka and made sure it was our last meal on the island so we would go out on top.
Let me just say, the restaurant location is not on the 'caldera view' side of the path, so we anticipated terrestrial views if any at all. We had to laugh at ourselves when escorted through the patio to our table only to be met with an expansive sea view...just the other direction. Of course! It's an island. You can view the sea on both sides.
The atmosphere of Roka is just charming. Brightly painted walls and cheerful blue chairs lend it a very homey, and bit of a boho vibe. Relax in the courtyard or the patio (where we sat) and you will find yourself hidden and private and completely shielded from the din of the crowd outside in Oia town.
The food here is spectacular quality.
You are started with a complimentary appetizer of marinated olives, some kind of yummy spread and something the Greeks call 'rusks'--like croutons but not like them at all and waaaay better.
I am going to recommend you try their Santorini Salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, capers, caper leaves, xynomyzithra cheese--don't ask me but its like an elevated version of goat cheese according to our waiter) and those crazy good Carob rusks. Have you ever eaten caper leaves? Turns out they're yummy. It feels exotic to eat new foods on vacation.
I would also direct you to give a go at their Skioufikta Greek Handmade Pasta (cherry tomatoes, garlic, spring onions, olives, basil, more of the xynomyzithra cheese). It has a spicy kick to it and the pasta is the freshest you will ever have.
Get dessert. Always get dessert. We had something chocolate, that was like everything else, to die for. 💙 (blue heart for the colors of Greece)
Exceptional food. Comfortable atmosphere and an alternate view to the caldera. Plus a sweet sweet waiter. We had the same waiter both times.
A great first dinner in Santorini. We climbed some stairs to sit and eat sitting on a covered patio with a gorgeous unobstructed caldera view. Service was great. I got to try haloumi cheese, which is something I've eyed for awhile. They grilled it, served with slices of watermelon, drizzled with honey and lavender/rose water. Oh it gave my mouth a moment of ecstasy!
We had a veggie pasta with tomato sauce, to which we asked for and added chili oil to kind of amp up the flavor. My friend travels with an Indian masala spice mix which we add to everything that needs a little oomph. And this made it delicious.
The pomegranate green iced tea was too sweet. So much so, that I couldn't stand to finish it.
Dessert was a moist, dense and very chocolatey chocolate cake. I recommend it.
And can I say, I love that all the sparkling water comes in blue glass bottles...it just fits.
Overall a very interesting menu, good service, great view.
This turned out to be a wonderful, if somewhat accidental, find for us. I'd done some research on a place for dinner, so after our spa treatments at Canaves, we decided to walk by and check out the menu. We didn't realize how far the walk was and unfortunately our timing coincided with the beginning of the mass migration of people along the path to watch the sunset...and we were heading that same direction since this restaurant is located under the iconic 3 windmills at that end of the island.
Luckily, we took a path to the right of the split and wove ourselves down side streets using phone navigation and missed getting stuck around most people hunting for a wall to lean up on for the spectacle. Eventually, you will begin seeing signs for Fenari.
All along the pathway, we stopped to read menus in case we came across something great-sounding...that was closer. Since Fenari was further than we thought, my friend, Vaishali suggested that if we got there and it looked good, we should just sit down and eat in the moment. So that was our plan. And it gave us the fortunate experience of eating precisely at magical sunset time.
Fanari Restaurant is part of a villa complex it turns out, so our stop at a small front desk to ask where the food was, was met by a man who asked us "you are going to eat a full dinner, right?" Honestly, we were perplexed at the questioning which he delivered at least twice in spite of our answering 'yes' before he would give us directions upstairs to be seated.
When we came upon the balcony, we understood why. It is an intimate patio with a clear, unobstructed, possibly best view on the island of the evening's sunset. Ahhhhh...No doubt tourists come, take up a table and order a bottle of water or something. (Not us! We were famished.)
I felt truly blessed to be here at this time. Our own villa concierge had told us to put our cameras down at sunset and to just be there with it; smell it, feel it, get lost in our thoughts. On this partially empty patio (we were one of 3 occupied tables) was the first place and time we could do that and it was moving and magical. I finally understood why people gravitate towards sunsets.
Below us in the sea, boats and catamarans out for a sunset sail, paraded by us.
Now for the food.
Wow. Totally elegant presentation by a chef who knows what he's doing. This is no tourist food stop.
We had zucchini millefeauille filled with cheese mousse dressed with a sauce of fresh lemon, dill, garlic and olive oil.
Then we had a Spicy Salad (yep). It included vegetables like endive, rocket lettuce (arugula), radishes, sweet red peppers of Florina, grilled brown almonds, pomegranates, all covered with sauce made of Dijon mustard, yogurt, thyme, olive oil and pepperoncino. It lit our mouths on fire in a good way.
For dessert, we went what I found out IS a little touristy, with a Volcano Surprise. We did it because it was chocolate. What they brought was a chocolate soufflé's with a lit sparkler on top! We smiled and it was delicious.
Based on our sampling, I am confident all the lamb, seafood and pasta on the menu is equally elevated and worth a try.
This quaint little spot with the best balcony view of the caldera, quickly became our favorite breakfast spot in Oia. It's located next to the Atlantis Bookstore on the main path. The charm will jump right out at you.
Here, you will discover Goran, the owner, behind the bar serving up whatever delights you want. He's happy to customize orders, so when we asked for some affogato for breakfast (this is a scoop of ice cream with a shot of hot espresso poured over it), he welcomed my teaching him how to make it.
And when I asked for my turkey roll sandwich without cheese, it was no problem. (I honestly think I ate more cheese these 3 weeks in Greece than I have EVER eaten in my ENTIRE life!)
There are maybe 10 seats total in the place and the little juliette balcony overlooks the sea and may be the only place in Oia where you can get a picture of yourself without other people in it! 🤣
Lots of good egg dishes, including a good veggie omelette. As I said, I had a turkey pesto tomato sandwich which was rolled in a yummy homemade tortilla...more like a cigar than a sandwich as Americans know them. I had mine for breakfast since I don't eat eggs and it was no problem for Goran.
The coffee is really quality. The only downside is they don't offer alternative milk. They must think we Californians are SO weird.
On the bar counter are covered some wonderful homemade local desserts.
I heartily promote visiting Meteor Cafe and supporting this local's business.
Spotted this cute cafe with a sandwich board promising avocado toast and matcha lattes (tastes of home!) when I came out of a massage at the spa at Canaves. I was so excited. They have a small upstairs patio with great caldera view.
Well let me tell you:
DO NOT EAT HERE!
By far the most expensive breakfast: $20 each and what we ate was so crap that we actually left and spent another wad eating breakfast somewhere else.
My vegetarian breakfast sandwich had not a smear of avocado or the promised hummus and was basically grilled eggplant in toast with a toothpick. When asked she said they'd run out of avocado but there was a smear of it in there somewhere. Not on mine. There was a vague hint of some on my friend's. She btw doesn't like eggplant. haha. My matcha latte, whilst I was delighted I could order it with alternate milk, tasted like water.
Bright spot: the fresh squeezed orange juice was fresh and not overly sweet like you get in the US. And the view was good. But otherwise so disappointed. So much promise....Where we went afterwards was Meteor Cafe...a true winner (see above)
At the sunset end of the town path in Oia is a set of wide stairs. I nicknamed these the 'Donkey Stairs'. Approaching them we had the distinct scent of animal urine and so were not surprised to discover that at the bottom of these 225 stairs is a 'donkey taxi station'. People get to the bottom and don't want to bear the walk back up, so inventive locals allow you to hire them to guide your return to the top of the hill on the back of their donkeys.
We didn't bother. Firstly, while I honor the entrepreneurship, and suspect these donkey taxi drivers who bill their steeds as 'Ferrari's' probably make a good living, I feel bad for the animals. They aren't mistreated, but really? Big 200 lb men on these hard-working beasts? Locals will tell you not to rent the donkeys. They know. We may be on vacation but I love, love, love and actually relish walking stairs to get my heart pumping and replace the exercise I'm missing when I travel. Granted, it was quite the walk back up. So much so that Vaishali took off her sandals and braved dodging the donkey dung in order to get a better footing on the cobbles. I was horrified...but halfway up, I joined her and carried my shoes all the way back to our villa.
Back to the stairs:
We ventured these stairs which drop you at Ammoudi Bay, just for curiosity's sake. We wanted to see Ammoudi Bay for whatever it was. It is known for the rock where people jump off into the sea during the hot days.
And once again, we found ourselves here at sunset. Seriously...every sunset we saw was an unplanned serendipity.
Having already eating a full and satisfying dinner, we stopped at Sunsets for dessert and had an AMAZING baklava! Baklava, for the majority of restaurants is a sickly sweet, sometimes almost inedible treat. At Sunsets it was like grandma made it in the kitchen. And it was served with some special kind of cream. Yum!
At the entrance you can see the octopi drying in the sun and a fish tank full of other still living seafood fare. If you eat seafood, I'll bet that Sunsets serves up a delicious menu of it and the service was class A.
Reservations are normally recommended.
If you can't get in here, there is the Ammoudi Fish Tavern on the other side of the stairs. Reservations recommended there too.
Terpsi n Oia
Terpsi came highly recommended and I can see why: they source locally and endeavor to use organic ingredients. Those values ring my bell.
Located conveniently smack in the middle of the the town path, with spectacular patio views on the caldera side, it is popular and feels a little bit catering towards tourists. The place can accommodate a large volume of people.
The menu is so extensive as to be almost overwhelming. That said, there were lots of offerings that reminded me of home, so I ventured to have an açaí bowl. Weeeeeell, not so much really. It was more like a giant bowl of smoothie with relatively few flakes of granola on the top and a single strawberry and half a sliced banana. The coffee was so-so. I say so-so, but I disliked it so much I didn't finish mine. They do however offer alternate milk. I think it was soy. ☹️
Sometimes a girl just needs pizza! Skiza is a little place with upstairs and downstairs seating. Only about 3 tables have completely unobstructed caldera views, but the upstairs patio is the place to be regardless. It's tight though. Our waiter was sweet and accommodating.
The pasta was is said to be homemade but I'm thinking it is made, dried and not served 'fresh' because that's how it tasted to me. It's still delicious and so was the pizza. You can customize. Since it was slightly bland on the taste scale, we sprinkled both pizza and pasta with our Indian masala spice blend we brought. It made everything wonderful. I feel like I've talked about this masala blend so much, I should get post the recipe. Click here for the Achaar Masala recipe or simply buy it pre-made from Amazon here.
If you like spicy or flavorful food, bringing your own spice blend is a magical trick for turning foreign food that is so-so, into great food that you love.
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