Santorini cuisine is characterized by dishes containing ingredients that are inextricably linked to the Mediterranean diet. The agricultural production of the island, due to the volcanic soil, offers unique culinary delights and satisfies even the most demanding palates.
In fact, Santorini leads the way in flavors and is another example of the richness and variety of the amazing products of the Greek islands and the best restaurants.
After you arrive in Santorini, you will probably be hungry. If you are wondering which delicacies to try before experiencing Santorini's nightlife, we have prepared for you a list of traditional local foods to enjoy during your stay in Santorini, breaking away from the usual tastes and a variety of eateries to try.
Read the ultimate Santorini food guide below and eat your way through Santorini in the most delicious way possible!
The History of Santorini's Cuisine
Until the 1960s - when Santorini got electricity - and before the beginning of the development of tourism and the integration of the Cyclades into the economy of Greece through their more frequent connection with Piraeus and Athens, the Greek islands, including Santorini, were forced to live self-sufficiently.
Eating habits remained the same and unchanged as centuries ago. Fishing, bird hunting, raising pigs and sheep, and exploiting agricultural products such as tomatoes, capers, and fava beans.
The volcanic soil endowed Santorini with an extraordinary range of local vegetables, including white aubergines, tiny courgettes, anchovies – local dehydrated cucumbers, capers, and fava beans which are all characterized by their particularly strong taste.
After cultivating the product, the battle to preserve these foods over time with the preparation of pastes, cheeses, nuts, and pastes began.
And, of course, the struggle of housewives with these limited materials, using their imagination to break the monotony to create as many delicious combinations as possible.
Until then, most of the inhabitants lived basically on barley bread or barley cakes that were fermented and baked every month because there was no firewood on the island but only vine branches or fig wood.
The main legume of the island is the fava bean. One reason why fava beans were grown in Santorini is that compared to the other legumes of the Cyclades (beans, chickpeas), they cook much faster and thus do not need fuel which was so rare.
The cuisine of Santorini is delicious: famous and delicious fava beans in all its versions, fluffy tomato meatballs and pumpkin meatballs, delicious, spicy eggplant salad, juicy sun-dried tomatoes and tasty tomato paste, fried white eggplants, seafood, lounge in Visanto with sugar and fennel seeds.
Despite its humble past, nowadays, when we talk about modern Greek cuisine or high-end gastronomy and island cuisine, the mind immediately goes to Santorini. And, of course, the use of local products to create unique combinations of unmatched tastes.
Santorini's local products
If you're wondering what to eat in Santorini, look further than its local produce. Here are the stars of the Santorinian land.
Santorini fava beans
Santorini's fava beans make by far the most famous local product and one of the most popular Greek products in general.
Their uniqueness lies in the fact that this extraordinary variety of beans has been grown only on the island for more than 3500 years, as the excavations at Akrotiri have proven.
The particularly fertile volcanic soil is what makes this variety one-of-a-kind.
Ceramides are greens that are collected mainly in the spring from the vineyards and meadows of the island.
They are served boiled, mainly as an accompaniment to fish. They are considered an excellent natural anti-cholesterol remedy.
White eggplants are another of Santorini's traditional local products, with -yet again- the beneficial effect of the volcanic soil making them unique.
They are sweeter than regular eggplants and don't absorb as much oil when fried. The most famous dish to taste them in is the traditional eggplant salad, served as an appetizer.
It is a fresh cheese with a creamy texture. Although it is very tasty, you will hardly be able to order it in a restaurant as it is made in small quantities.
It is mainly for home use and not for commercial use, your best bet in order to taste it is to try and make friends with the locals! (When Santorini is better at connecting people than Nokia)
Santorini cherry tomatoes
Last but not least, the small cherry tomatoes of Santorini. They are delicious and sweet but also very juicy.
They were, for centuries, one of the main export products of the island. The local cherry tomatoes are served as an appetizer.
They can also be found as spoon sweets, while the most famous dish is the tomato fritters, which were once the food of the poor who made croquettes with tomatoes, not having money to buy meat. Today it is considered one of the finest meze dishes.
Greek wine is one of the best gifts of mother earth. The production of Vinsanto is an ancient tradition for Santorini, with a history of thousands of years. As the name of Italian origin (wine of the Saints) suggests, this wine is also produced in Italy.
Still, since 2002, by the decision of the E.U., only the producers of Santorini can use the name 'Vinsanto,' as it has been proven to be a local product of the island.
Vincanto wine is known for its orange-gold color and sweet taste and is produced with very specific and strict specifications that certify its uniqueness.
Assyrtiko is the main grape variety of Santorini, and the wine produced from it is today the main export product of Santorini, famous all over the world for its excellent quality and taste.
Assyrtiko, like the other wines of Santorini, owes its unique taste to the fact that the volcanic soil of the island does not favor the growth of the phylloxera pest, thus allowing many of the roots in the vineyards to be hundreds of years old.
The Best Local Dishes you Can Try in Santorini
It is impossible to get to Santorini and not try the most well-known Santorini food, its famous fava.
This local legume "dresses up" various dishes, where you will find its classic version to the very gourmet as a filling in meat fillets.
The vegan movement may have been more talked about in recent years, but Santorini has had tasty dishes for everyone for centuries now.
The famous tomato fritters of Santorini have pure, local products and such an incredible taste that you will feel like you need nothing more than one more portion.
While Atherina, which is the Greek name for smelt fish, is most commonly served plain-fried in Greece, in Santorini, it is combined with flour and onion, creating the famous Atherinopita.
Try it when you visit Santorini and are after a delicious meal consisting of fresh fish.
It is the Santorini version of the apaki and the convergence of Mani, except that the apochti is not smoked. It is essentially a leg of pork, which is salted and put in vinegar to dry in the air.
It contains pepper, thyme, and cinnamon, and it is a part of local food to remember.
With a Santorini salad, you will taste almost all the famous products of the island. The base of the salad has Santorini cherry tomatoes, capers, nuts, chlorotyri, while you will find variations with even more local products.
The famous Santorini sfouggato is nothing but fried vegetables, which are included in the classic omelet. You will taste eggs, courgettes, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes in one bite.
Another traditional dish of Santorini is the skinned cod, which is usually eaten uncooked, cut into small pieces, and served with Santorini tomato.
If you want to avoid the very tasty but foreign sweets that you will find in Oia and the colorful gelato of Fira, then it is worth trying three sweets of Santorini, which have been lost in the years.
Kopania is one of the oldest sweets of Santorini and got its name from the way it is made. These are barley rolls, which are ground and mixed with raisins, honey, and sesame.
It is a classic Easter dessert in Santorini, but you will also find them at other times of the year. It is essentially the Santorini version of the mizithropitakia and lychnaraki of the other islands, which means it is a type of sweet cheese pie -yeap, you read that right.
Perhaps the tastiest dessert of Santorini, which is made with semolina and milk. You will also find its chocolate version in many places in Santorini.
It is ideally served with Visanto wine and plays a big part in the glory of Santorini food.
The Best Santorini restaurants
Great Santorini Restaurants
- Nektar Lounge
- Marinera Oe
- Kapari Wine Restaurant
- Selene Restaurant
- Red Bicycle Restaurant
- Sabbia Nerra
- La Maison
- Lycabettus Restaurant
- Aroma Avlis
If you find yourself hungry in Caldera, there is no better restaurant than Nektar Lounge to eat and enjoy the view.
Nektar Lounge is located in the region of Fira, in the center of the Caldera, directly opposite the volcano, offering its guests a breathtaking view.
Whether you find yourself there in the morning or at any other time of the day, the choices of dishes are delicious.
Not to mention that Nektar Lounge is known for having the best cocktails in the area, as well as very good local wines. The cherry on top is its prompt service and very polite staff.
Not far from Nektar Lounge, in the same area in Fira, you will also find one of the most famous Santorini restaurants, Marinera Oe.
Marinera Oe is a restaurant that has it all: impeccable service, cool and original cocktails, and of course, a balcony with the best view.
We recommend it mainly for afternoon and evening outings where you can enjoy the sunset with your drink!
Just 6 kilometers away from the Firostefani, you will find the delicious and sophisticated Onar restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Santorini, with a view. In fact, the view from its balcony will simply enchant you, and the welcoming attitude of the staff will impress you.
Onar's dishes cover a wide range of scrumptious options for all tastes. The prices of the dishes are reasonable and affordable, especially if you compare them with those of similar Greek restaurants.
Be sure to make a reservation before you go, as there is rarely a table available. One of its best assets is its excellent wine list, which focuses on local Santorini wines.
The collection has been curated with great care, so ask the waiter to make suggestions to suit your taste preferences!
Kapari Wine Restaurant
Kapari Wine Restaurant is one of the restaurants in Santorini with timeless quality in its dishes.
The restaurant overlooks the rock at Imerovigli, which seems to be just a breath away. The shop lives up to its name by offering personalized wine recommendations even for the most demanding customers.
Each dish is a new visual, and taste experience since the setting of the dishes and the quality of the ingredients are excellent. Although the prices are a bit on the high side compared to other eateries, they are perfectly in line with what is on offer.
Selene is one of the highly luxurious and best Santorini restaurants to enjoy the view in Santorini. The restaurant building was once a monastery and is in a magical location.
With the well-known Greek chef Hector Bottrini in the restaurant's kitchen, the dishes feature unique and original flavors that can satisfy even the most demanding palates. It sets the bar high, and your experience there will undoubtedly be unforgettable.
Red Bicycle Restaurant
Located in a 19th-century mansion on the side of a cliff in Oia, Red Bicycle is one of the best Santorini restaurants with a warm atmosphere. The so-called red bike is among the musts to see the view of Santorini and enjoy your meal at the same time.
The classic Greek dishes offer a unique journey through Greek flavors, and the wide variety of wines impresses. The menu really does include everything from Santorini fava beans with capers and caramelized onions to grilled sea bass.
The best asset of the restaurant is, of course, the amazing Caldera views, which makes you feel like you're hanging over it.
The view from the balcony of Idol Santorini restaurant impresses you at any time of the day you visit it. Idol is a place with casual touches and exemplary service.
There, you will find local dishes such as Santorini salad and smoked eggplant, as well as many fresh seafood dishes. The dishes, in addition to being delicious, are also filling. Apart from the amazing meat and delicious appetizers, it also has a special menu for vegetarians and vegans.
In addition, if you are there in the morning, you will enjoy one of the best coffees on the Greek island. Not to mention that both the setting and the menu are friendly to visitors with children.
Its amazing location, but also easy access, combined with the passion of the staff for service, highlight that Idol is one of the best restaurants in Santorini.
Sabbia Nera, as its name suggests, has a wide variety of Italian and Mediterranean dishes. In particular, pizzas are one of their most sought-after dishes since they are made from fresh ingredients imported from Italy.
However, Sabbia Nera does not neglect to honor the local flavors as well, as among its specialties is the Greek salad with Santorini tomatoes that are served in a watermelon!
The modern aesthetics and decoration of this sit-down restaurant, combined with the breathtaking view, is something that you will not easily find in other shops in the area, making it the ultimate spot for a romantic dinner.
La Maison has a menu full of tasty dishes and a simply spectacular view. The restaurant's chefs are at their best, creating imaginative dishes served even on volcanic stone.
The friendly staff and the good local wine will complete your beautiful experience in one of the most beautiful Santorini restaurants. Also, the romantic lighting at night will relax you and put you right in the spirit of holiday leisure.
Among the best local restaurants is, without a doubt, Character. Character is located in the island's capital and offers sophisticated tastes on a balcony with an outstanding view, perfect for romantic lunch or dinner. The restaurant's Italian cuisine is exquisite, with fresh pasta and incredible cheesecake.
Although this Santorini restaurant has a modern style, through its dishes, it maintains a very Mediterranean and mainly traditional Greek character.
It is worth noting that the staff is extremely kind and helpful with the wide selection of wines that are so many you might as well consider Character a wine bar as well!
One of the most recognized travel magazines worldwide for the extraordinary experiences it conveys to its readers, National Geographic Traveler hosted in its pages the Lycabettus Restaurant, the Santorini restaurant of the Andronis Luxury Suites hotel. It is no secret that it is considered by many one of the best restaurants in Santorini.
It is located in one of the most enchanting locations in the world, on the most beautiful and enviable balcony of Santorini.
There, Lycabettus Restaurant has offered magical moments to those who have dined under its starry sky, enjoying the incomparable view of a relaxed and elegant environment.
In the kitchen of the award-winning Santorini restaurant, plenty of imagination prevails as the chef prepares masterpiece dishes inspired by traditional Greek cuisine and international gourmet gastronomy.
Also of great interest is the annual Andronis Gastronomy Event, where renowned chefs from all over the world create evenings of unique charm, among others, at the Lycabettus Restaurant.
The Santorini restaurant of the winery of Artemis Karamolegkos is one of the must-taste recommendations when you visit Santorini.
It is the only winery on the island that also has a restaurant, thus creating a culinary experience combined with a wine bar of dreams.
At Aroma Avlis, you will enjoy authentic Greek cuisine dishes based on seasonal products of Santorini food, such as tomatoes, katsounia, fava beans, white eggplant, and dehydrated zucchini.
In fact, most of the vegetables and fruits you will taste are produced in the gardens of the Karamolegko family.
Don't miss the chance to try local recipes such as crab, production sausage, cod with Santorini pelle and garlic sauce, and some more creative twists.
Local products are combined with excellent quality meats, and every taste blends harmoniously with the wines produced by the winery.
- The Cave of Nikolas
- kali Kardia
- To Psaraki
The Cave of Nikolas
On the south side of the beautiful Akrotiri, next to the Aegean sea, for many years, there has been a small traditional cave carved by the hands of someone named Nikolas. Made with love and care, it offered shelter to him and his little boat.
His open heart, the fresh fish he caught, and the local wine he had always made the small cave a refuge for his company. At his side was always his wife, Efstathia, who drove everyone crazy with her magical cooking.
The late Spyros Marinatos, head of the excavation project of the archaeological site of Akrotiri, suggested to Nikolas to turn this small shelter into a tavern for the hungry excavation workers, always offering delicious traditional delicacies such as tomato meatballs, fava beans, green cheese, garlic pasta and plenty of fresh fish.
Over the years, the cave became more and more well-known to the island's visitors, as after visiting the archaeological site, they resorted to the beach to try the famous mezes of Mrs. Efstathia and the richly aromatic wine of Barba Nikolas.
In 1981, they gave the reins to their daughter, Margarita. With a richer cuisine and always in a traditional way, Margarita continued, in the footsteps of her ancestors, to enchant her customers.
Her love for the cuisine and local products, which she and her husband, Nikolas, produce, earned her the Gourmet award as the best traditional tavern in Santorini.
Traditional cuisine by the Aegean sea. An exceptional environment where the landscape will enchant you. From tomato croquettes, stuffed zucchini flowers, marinated anchovies, fava beans to cheese that he made himself a few hours earlier, the dishes that will fill our table will be an eye-opening experience for Santorini food!
From the name (which translates to 'Good Heart'), one can understand that Kali Kardia tavern will serve you great food with love and care. So will the head cook of the kitchen, who wants everything to be perfect.
Each dish had a unique taste. The eggplant puree with veal, the kleftiko, and the Santorini salad, from the onion to the capers, were products of their own production.
We promise that everything you will eat there will be delicious.
Permanently on the list of favorite eateries in Santorini and, at the same time, one of the most welcoming places on the entire island, Anogi is a traditional tavern with recipes and influences from all over Greece and a particular -and expected- love for Santorini products.
Its menu is long, making you want to return to the tavern again and again in search of the variety that is generously offered to you. Bestseller dishes, as you will understand from your very first visit, do not exist. They are all one and the same.
Chef Daniel Burca marries traditional flavors and a new-age approach in a harmonious way, and the result is definitely delicious. In addition, the impeccable service and authentic Greek hospitality will make you feel right at home and will elevate your overall experience!
The tavern overlooking the fishing port of Vlychada serves some of the best and most fresh seafood dishes on the entire Greek island of Santorini.
Along with grilled octopus and fish, we highly suggest you order urchin salad, sardines stuffed with fresh herbs, and for dessert, poached pears in local Assyrian wine.
Be sure to book a table with fantastic views of the harbor and the Aegean sea. While you're there, check out the Santorini Arts Factory, an old tomato canning factory turned Museum, Gallery, and cafe, with a funky shop selling ceramics, totes, and sarongs by Greek designers.
What foods is Santorini known for?
While the variety of amazing food pairings and creations is countless, like in most places in Greece, the two fantastic food dishes that stand out are the world-acclaimed fava, and the juicy cherry tomatoes.
Fried cheese, Greek salad, and many other delicious dishes of the local cuisine follow closely; however, these are the culinary offerings that first come to mind of even the locals when they hear the name of the island.
What is the high season on Santorini island?
If you're asking about the best time to visit Santorini, the answer is one: in the summer! In the summertime, Santorinians experience the peak of the high season and enjoy the best swimming conditions.
Tourists flock to this Greek island for an unforgettable holiday at the beach. Those who have decided to go through crowded streets are advised to book their hotel two months before to ensure availability, and of course, learn useful Greek words and phrases for your trip to Greece and check our Greece travel tips.
Of course, to upgrade your trip to Santorini, you can always add to your itinerary our Santorini tours:
- Santorini sunset cruise
- Santorini private bespoke tour with local driver-guide
- Santorini highlights a full-day tour
- Santorini sunset wine tour