Naxos is the largest and most fertile island of the Greek islands of the Cyclades. An island where you will find beautiful landscapes, wonderful beaches, and fantastic food.
Those who arrive from Athens to Naxos are impressed by the local products as well as the delicious traditional food, as it is one of the top culinary destinations of not only the Cyclades but the whole of Greece.
Many people are unaware that Greek cuisine is far more than the typical souvlaki. Its best expression takes place through gourmet fine dining restaurants, taverns, and 'magereia,' which are not precisely taverns but rather eateries that serves homemade traditional Greek dishes at cheap prices, usually to go.
But what should you try if you find yourself on Naxos island? Here is our food guide for Naxos to ensure you taste your way through Naxos like a local!
The local product of Naxos
Naxos is famous for its cheese products, and this is because thousands of goats and sheep are raised in the mountains and the semi-mountainous areas of the island, giving their precious and nutritious milk to the production of cheeses.
One of Greece's top and best-known cheeses is Naxos gruyere, which has won many awards and distinctions. In all parts of the island, you will find authentic local gruyere to try. Arsenio is also a famous local cheese of Naxos island, popularly known as Kefalotyri. It is eaten either as is or in various recipes giving a buttery taste.
Other cheeses that you should also try are goat cheese which -surprise, surprise- is made from goat's milk and has a spicy taste, xinomyzithra which has a creamy texture and a slightly sour taste, and white brine cheese, similar to feta cheese, which has a slightly spicy taste, and a strong aroma and you will try it either plain either in salad or eggplants.
Potato cultivation began in Naxos at the end of the 18th century. It quickly became a staple product of the island, contributing to the economic development and prosperity of the area's farmers.
Today, the Naxos potato is known throughout Greece and stands out for its taste and quality. In the lowlands and almost to the sea, the seed potato of the Spunta variety from Holland is planted, and the island supplies the whole country with this excellent potato.
If you happen to be in Naxos in August, you will have the added advantage of seeing the 'potato festival,' where thousands of visitors taste the delicious Naxos potato in various versions/recipes with passion and imagination. There, you will counter -among other things- the best vegetarian dishes you've ever tasted!
The Festival is organized by the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Naxos. It includes plenty of food, wine, and feasting until the early morning in honor of the Naxos potato.
Thousands of animals are raised on the island, which, apart from benefiting the production of dairy, is also useful in many traditional recipes with meat.
In Apeiranthos and the surrounding villages, the main ingredient for the family table is meat. In the traditional taverns, you will find delicious food such as boiled zola with goat meat and patudo stuffed slow-cooked lamb with vegetables, rice, liver, and raisins.
The wine rooster, the lemon rabbit, the goat with spaghetti or potatoes, the kalogeros (veal with eggplant and cheese), and the melanitis rooster with thick spaghetti and plenty of cinnamon are some dishes that will make you appreciate the island and its Greek cuisine.
Seafood and fresh fish
The meat dishes may steal the show in Naxos, but since we're talking about a Greek island, the fish dishes do not cease to have a special place in the island's gastronomy.
Gouna is the most famous seafood dish on the island and is usually made from oily fish such as mackerel or pollock, smeared with dry oregano and other herbs, plenty of salt and pepper, and dried in the sun for hours.
It is then grilled over coals or in a cistern and served with lemon and mustard. Other fish dishes worth trying are salatouri (salachi), marinated anchovy, and charcoal-grilled octopus.
Zamboni is Naxos' prosciutto. It is a local cured meat with an appearance and taste reminiscent of Italian prosciutto.
Its production process is not simple as it needs proper salting, specific wind direction blowing, and proper cutting.
A slice of Zamboni will be an unforgettable culinary experience that will leave you asking for more!
The trademark of the island is the Kitron and its liqueur. The liqueur is distilled and bottled on the island. The cultivation of citrus fruits in Naxos began in the 17th century, and until today, Kitron liqueur is one of the most popular products on the island.
Citrus production begins with the harvesting of the Kitron leaves from October to February. The leaves are cleaned and placed with stem, fruit peel water, and alcohol in traditional copper vats. After 12 hours, the distillation takes place.
Depending on the quantity and aroma, a second and third distillation occurs. Kitron liqueur comes in three colors: The green version is sweeter and has less alcohol. The yellow version is the strongest (at 36 degrees of alcohol) and has the least sugar. The clear version of Kitron stands somewhere in between the other two colors and is mostly recommended for new consumers to try.
Naxos traditional dishes; What should you order at a modern Greek restaurant in Naxos?
Because it is surrounded by water, the island provides its visitors with plenty of fresh seafood: shrimp saganaki (shrimps served with feta and tomato sauce), fried calamari, and marinated anchovies are cult-classic dishes you will find everywhere and are worth a taste.
As already mentioned above, Naxos is also famous for its high-quality meat. Rosto is one of the local dishes and includes garlic-filled pork legs served in cured wine alongside pasta and potatoes. You cannot leave the island before trying it!
Other common meat-based dishes include rabbit braised in lemon, goat served on potatoes, or slow-cooked chicken breasts.
Among the local sweets, melachrino stands out. It looks a lot like a traditional greek walnut pie, contains lemon, and is served with creamy ice cream. The island is also famous for its spoon sweets and citrus-based jams.
The flavors you can try in Naxos are countless and certainly unique. The food is one of the reasons that will attract the interest to visit the picturesque Aegean island, which is the ultimate Cycladic gastronomic destination.
The best eateries in Naxos for classic Greek dishes
The best restaurants
Antamoma Cuisine Deli Store
Obviously, when you go to one of the best restaurants in Naxos, you go to eat local and tasty food. ''Antamoma Cuisine Deli Store' offers both with the bonus of some of its own touches to the food.
On the port of Naxos overlooking the sea, it wins the impressions of passers-by. One try of the moussaka croquette (yes, you read that right, moussaka croquette) will teach you that although some recipes are incredible, there is a way to make them even better.
The delicious food combined with the local wine and the fast and friendly service will convince even the most thoughtful traveler.
One of the things that catch the eye in the narrow streets of Naxos is 'Lithos' restaurant. Its all-white decor uses lighting to create an incredible atmosphere for night outs and family outings.
The presentation of the food satisfies the eye, and the taste satisfies the mind. The specialty of the restaurant is barley with sausage, a taste that you will not find in any other restaurant in Naxos.
Lithos restaurant leaves every one of its guests impressed, so giving it a try is a must!
'Oasis' restaurant is truly an oasis in the land of Naxos. Not because the restaurants in Naxos aren't worth it, and that's the only thing worth it. It's an oasis because once you enter, you won't want to leave.
The restaurant offers a wide range of food. However, its seafood and grilled fish dishes are unbeatable. We highly recommend you try the stuffed squid with a little white wine from the generous wine list as an accompaniment.
Everything is fresh and, above all, cooked with love and respect for the island's products.
'Scirocco' is located in the lively Protodikiou Square and lures in the locals and visitors of the island for an unforgettable culinary journey.
From the start, you will be impressed with its wonderful appetizers. With something as simple as dipping some bread into the Greek salad and tzatziki while you will understand the high-quality of Sciroccos ingredients.
We highly recommend you order the meatballs and the saganaki to whet your appetite and have a juicy steak cooked to perfection as your main course.
For dessert, you can choose between fruit, halva, or several kinds of spooned sweets.
How can you say no to one of the best restaurants in Naxos? There is no reason to even try!
Barozzi Restaurant & Cocktails Bar
If you enjoy cocktails and are looking for unique culinary adventures on the island, 'Barozzi' is the one for you!
Barozzi is both a sophisticated restaurant and a cocktail bar located in Naxos Town that opened its doors in July 2017. The restaurant is highly regarded for its gastronomic experience, which has led it to become one of the preferred dining places for visitors and islanders.
Its contemporary aesthetics, exceptional service, impeccable flavors, fancy setting, high-quality raw ingredients, and world-renowned chefs and mixologists make 'Barozzi' the place to go to relish the most well-rounded Greek food experience.
The tavern of 'Axiotissa,' in Kastraki, 18 km south of Naxos Town, is one of the must-visit places if you want to taste excellent Naxos cuisine.
On the beautiful terrace of 'Axiotissa,' you will enjoy all the dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The herbs come from their vegetable garden, the meats are local, and many of the products are organic.
Try the fresh salads, the eggplants with sweet and sour sauce, and the goat wrapped in parchment paper. Of course, you won't miss the handmade sweets. Just make sure to make a reservation before visiting!
Matina and Stavros
It is worth going all the way to the village of Koronos, located 30 km from Naxos Town, to eat at the tavern of 'Matina and Stavros,' a place that has had loyal friends for years for the classic Greek dishes it impressed its guests with.
In a courtyard in the village square, you will taste homemade stews, stuffed dumplings, lemony lamb with potatoes, braised goat, omelets with local greens - all made with products of their own production, including the vegetables, meat, and, of course, cheese.
If you visit Naxos, you must also take a walk in its most famous mountain village, Apeiranthos. There is the famous tavern of Lefteris, which spreads its tables in a wonderful courtyard with tall trees.
A must dish is a juicy burger stuffed with Naxos gruyere, but whatever you choose will not disappoint you.
The local greens, the cheese pies, and the beef steak are some of our top recommendations.
'In Vasilarakiou' is an excellent butcher's tavern - a destination for discerning gourmets in the small mountain village of Kynidaros.
At 'Vasilarakiou,' you will find a wide variety of meats that come from the owners' own butcher shop and are expertly grilled on a huge grill. Delicious lamb and goat ribs, juicy beef steaks (various cuts), homemade sausages, delicious kokoretsi, and kontosouvli. A meat eater's paradise!
Add to your order well-fried local potatoes, greens, and country salad with sour cream, and you won't regret it!
Away from Naxos Town, at the entrance of the Naxos village of Eggares, you will find the family-run taverna of 'Haris' that serves traditional Naxian recipes made with thought and care.
The tavern's most famous dish is the huge and hearty omelet with -at least- ten eggs, local potatoes, and Naxos gruyere cheese.
In "Haris,' you can also taste nice roasts; the lemony veal melts in your mouth! Accompany the food with the tavern's own wine for the ultimate Greek food experience.
'Delfinaki' is located in the settlement of Lyons and is one of the main reasons why people will visit the area. Right next to the small port of the area, it first wins you over with its picturesque views and stays forever in your heart with its mouthwatering flavors.
All the ingredients are local, and the owner, Mrs. Vasiliki, knows how to serve them. If you try the octopus stew, you will lick your fingers, and of course, the tzatziki is a must. A sweet treat will be complimentary served at the end of your meal, so look out for it!
Most restaurants in Naxos offer seafood and fresh fish. However, there are only a few shops that know how to honor the fish, like 'Sarris Tavern.'
Right in the center of Naxos Town, 'Sarris Tavern' welcomes foodies worldwide and promises to serve them the meal of a lifetime.
The fish soup is worth a taste, while the freshest option is the day's fish. There is nothing fresher than the fish that was in the sea a while ago. To accompany it, you can choose a wine from the store's full cellar, although its rosé has made people come back just to drink it again.
Bearing the country's name, 'Elliniko' is a Naxos tavern that makes Greece proud.
The space is traditionally decorated, and a warm atmosphere embraces you as soon as you sit down.
The food is always cooked perfectly while certain choices steal the show. As is the mushroom pie and also the kleftiko in the oven. No matter what I say, I cannot do 'Elliniko' justice, so all you have to do is visit it for yourself and taste its excellence!
If you are on the island of Naxos and looking to eat delicious traditional delicacies, 'Platia Tavern' is the one for you.
One of the best restaurants in Naxos, it uses hand-cut vegetables from the garden right next to the shop. In addition to the vegetables, the local meat you will taste gives a special taste to all their dishes.
The traditional dish of soutzoukakia meatballs is worth the 15-minute journey from Naxos Town, while the dessert at the end of the meal is always a treat!
Clear blue seas, diverse landscape, hospitable people, unique local products, and delicious food. These are some of the reasons why thousands of travelers spend their summer holidays every year in Naxos, one of the most interesting islands of the Cyclades that you will love without a doubt.
What is certain is that Naxos has a huge wealth of local products, the flagship of which are dairy products and, more specifically, the precious Naxos Gruyère. Of course, we could not overlook the Naxos potato, perhaps the best potato that our country produces, and a multitude of other products such as lambs, calves, liqueurs, and the vineyards and olive groves of the island.
Visitors and foodies, both from Greece and abroad, arrive every year on the island with the sole purpose of discovering the local cuisine and its goodies.
Now it is time for you to dive into the culinary culture of greek food on this majestic Greek island. See you there!