After touching down on the Greek island of Santorini, you’ll be hungry, so it’s off to the nearest taverna for you. Wondering which delicacies to try? Fear not. From fava (the island’s famous split-pea purée) to, ahem, ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters, to you and me), we’ve hunted down the best local foods to try on the volcano-moulded, crescent-shaped Cycladic island. Oh, and after you’ve mastered the local pronunciation, don’t forget to order a glass (or two) of assyrtiko wine, a local variety.
Fava is probably the most famous dish in Santorini, and while its name might suggest fava beans, it’s actually a yellow split-pea purée. The creamy dish is usually served warm with olive oil and lemon and sometimes topped with chopped onions or capers. For many people, it’s the ultimate island comfort food, perfect as a healthy main or side dish.
The best fava on the island is served at Feggera in Megalochori and Selene in Fira. Both restaurants offer cooking classes as well, so – who knows – you might even end up making your own delicious fava dish.
The island is home to a specific variety of tomato called, you guessed it, “Santorini tomatoes”, which are the size of cherries. Sweet and with an intense red colour, they form the centrepiece of ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters). The vegetarian appetiser is fried in a thick batter using hot olive oil with peppers and onions, mint, and other aromatic herbs.
The Cave of Nikolas in Akrotiri serves the most succulent ntomatokeftedes in Santorini; this family-owned restaurant is supplied daily with fresh produce taken straight from the family’s veg garden, which makes owner and cook Margarita’s ntomatokeftedes special. Try the classic version with plum tomatoes, fava, fresh and dry onion, feta cheese and basil, or order the fish version with cod – ideal for pescatarians.
The volcanic soil of the island makes a perfect breeding ground for another rare product: the white eggplant. This unique variety has fewer seeds than its purple counterpart and a sweet taste. Many dishes involving the vegetable, such as white-eggplant purée, are available in restaurants all over Santorini.
Don’t miss your chance to try it at Krinaki tavern in Finikia, Oia, paired with feta cheese and sautéed red Florina peppers, or in the form of melitzanosalata, a traditional Greek, smoked eggplant salad.