Mykonos + Santorini Restaurants
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71800
One the poshest (and priciest) restaurants on the island, architect/owner Ioannis Zagelidis's refined renovation of a sea captain's house makes for a grand evening out. 1800 was one of several pioneers of evolved Greek cooking that emerged on Santorini in the 1980s, and the food is still fascinating: roasted fillet of red mullet wrapped in grape leaves and served in a tapenade sauce; white grouper with a celery mousse; baklava with sweet olives and pistachios. There's also a great list of wines.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71413
The Santorini sunset is best observed from here, at what has long been one of the centers of summertime village life. While the magnificent terrace view is one reason to come, so is the exquisite taste of co-owners Tony Mosiman and Panayiotis Vassilopoulos, who are also responsible for the hotel 1864 The Sea Captain's House and Ambrosia & Nectar (30-22860-71504). So if it's dark or (God forbid) raining, you can take refuge in pretty interiors with antiques, candlelight, and mirrors. The food is excellent contemporary Greek, try the tender beef fillet, fresh truffles, and sweet-pumpkin puree, or the pan-seared duck in red-wine–and–cherry marinade with grilled mango and jasmine rice with walnuts.
Open daily 7 pm to 12 am, April through October.
School of Fine Arts District
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 25122
You know a hotel takes its food seriously when both of its restaurants feature celebrity chefs, as they do at Mykonos's most fashionable roost, the Belvedere. A few summers ago, Nobu Matsuhisa's eponymous eatery, Matsuhisa Mykonos, which many consider to be the island's top restaurant, was joined by the revamped Belvedere Restaurant; it is under the creative direction of George Calombaris, a Greek-Australian culinary star whose Melbourne restaurant, the Press Club, is among the most lauded in a city with one of the largest Greek populations outside of Greece. In a lantern-lit, poolside setting, Calombaris takes traditional Greek cuisine and makes it seem like something new—which means you'd better enjoy eating your vegetables, because local produce (tomatoes, caper leaves, lentils) is at the heart of all he does. That and pairing everything with the right Greek wine and ouzo.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 82210
In the tiny port of Amoudi, below Oia, where waves slap against the fishing boats, don't be tempted to stop at any of the fish tavernas until you get to Captain Dimitri's, at the far end of the seawall. Not only does Dimitri's have a better sunset view than the others, and less foot traffic passing by, but the captain's Canadian wife, Joy, can serve up the local news along with octopus right off the outdoor grill. Linger over an ouzo and you'll discover that what makes Dimitri's such a good place for news gathering are the many locals in the know (hoteliers, restaurant owners, shopkeepers) who hang out here.—Bob Payne
Open March through October.
Agios Sostis Beach
Mykonos , Cyclades
If this place sounds familiar, it's because you've read about it in a travel magazine, heard a honeymooning couple raving about it at your hotel, or maybe seen it in your Greek island dreams. Kiki's is the embodiment of laid-back Mykonos: no phone or sign, a limited menu, and only one meal (lunch) served daily. To find it, follow the road to Panormos Bay, then keep heading north to Agios Sostis beach; you'll see cars parked on the shoulder and a trail of smoke rising from a white cube house shrouded by the gnarled branches of an ancient tree. Order a glass of chilled Greek rosé, sit on the shaded terrace overlooking a textbook white-sand beach, and help yourself to a choice of salads—perhaps artichokes with lemon, beets in yogurt sauce, or white beans with parsley and olive oil. Entrées come from the grill; the marinated pork chop, chicken thighs, and supremely tender octopus are our favorites. Kiki's is a good choice for a windy day, since the cove (and the perfectly blue water, of course) it sits above are more protected than the southern beaches. But regardless, everyone on the island makes it to Kiki's once during their stay—or ought to.
Closed mid-October to mid-April.
Tel: 30 22860 23807
Koukoumavlos, an award-winning restaurant housed in an elegant 18th-century captain's house, is where chef Nikos Pouliasis combines unexpected flavors to create dishes that range from imaginative to…weird. Eggplant tiramisu? Grilled beef with Parmesan ice cream? Fried cheese with cucumber jelly? But even diners who decide the adventure goes too far can console themselves with a caldera view that's as fine as any on the island.—Bob Payne
Open daily 7:30 pm to midnight.
Tel: 30 22869 82783
Before or after spending time on the beaches on the south side of Santorini, a must-stop for lunch is Psaraki, a fish taverna overlooking the boat harbor at Vlychada. Its ordinary look, at least in a country of white cubes trimmed in blue, will have you wondering why seemingly half the people on the island have pointed you toward it. But a taste of its red snapper, perhaps, or its sea bass, selected by you after a wander through the kitchen, will provide the answer. Psaraki is about simple, traditional Greek dishes done extremely well—and washed down with wine from the assyrtiko grape, given its distinctive taste by Santorini's rich volcanic soil.—Bob Payne
Open daily noon to 11 pm, March through October.
Imerovigli , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 28018
It has no view, so this deceptively traditional-looking eatery (where every chair seems to be mismatched) is not as crowded as the restaurants along the caldera. But the food, beginning with homemade olive-, caper-, and tomato-flavored breads, is exceptional (pan-fried cod in a corn-flour crust, caramelized beets, and garlic fava beans; grilled grouper in red-onion and fish fumet). The chef, Dimitris Lazarou, is a growing talent who studied under his uncle Lefteris Lazarou, the owner and chef at Varoulko in Athens, one of only three restaurants in Greece ever to receive a Michelin star.
Open daily 7 pm to 12:30 am, March through October. Closed Mondays in October.
Tel: 30 22860 22249
After 25 years at the edge of the caldera in Santorini, Selene, one of the island's premier restaurants, has moved to the traditional village of Pyrgos. Owner Yiorgos Hatziyannakis says the move has brought him closer to the farms and vineyards whose produce he has long championed and made a focal point of Selene's award-winning menus. The new location, in a 19th-century mansion, is shared with a folk museum illustrating how that produce—cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, fava beans, grapes—traditionally was grown and prepared. Dinners, perhaps sea bass with fava risotto or piglet with orange comfit and apple purée, are served on the mansion's terrace or beneath the vaulted ceiling of the dining room. If that seems overly formal, the wine bar and café downstairs serves—along with salads, sandwiches, and a selection of Cycladic cheeses—some of the island's best burgers and fries.—Bob Payne
Open daily 7 to 11:30 pm, April through October.
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 24020
The success of this Argentine steak house may be a sign of the increasingly international scope of Mykonos gastronomy. Or it may just be that the draw is the really big bar. Half the space here, in what was once an open-air movie theater, is dedicated to the lounge, where a reliably lively crowd has discovered something rare in Mykonos—nearly enough tables for all. The menu is straight from the Pampas, so if a juicy, giant T-bone isn't to your taste, try another specialty of that grassy region: ostrich.
Firostefani , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 25631
This 19th-century windmill has a terrace of fairy lights, pale-yellow wooden chairs, bountiful bougainvillea, and heart-stopping vistas over the Aegean. It looks like the essence of taverna—and so it is. The food, though, is a step up, with dishes such as green long peppers fried with mizithra cheese; flowerpot chicken with smoked local tomatoes and balsamic-onion relish; and madi, a veal ravioli in yogurt-garlic sauce.
Open daily 7 pm to 12:30 am.