On islands as well-travelled as Santorini, you might expect to sacrifice substance for style in local restaurants. But between the traditional tavernas and smart supper spots, travellers can find fresh seafood, family-run restaurants and modern Mediterranean dishes. Many tables are angled just so to watch the sun set over the caldera, making every evening meal something quite special.
This restaurant and beach bar on bustling Perivolos beach wouldn’t look out of place in Ibiza, with its Moët and oyster bar in the black sand. Waitresses in cut-offs deliver elaborate fruit platters and Champagne cocktails to the cabanas; in the airy restaurant, the volume is loud and the focus is on Med-Asian seafood.
Address: Seaside, Perivolos, Thira 847 03, Santorini, Greece
Telephone: +30 22860 82801
At the pinnacle of Pyrgos, Santorini’s prettiest village, is a medieval fortress where people flock to Franco’s, a classic spot for operatic sundowners. Now there’s another reason to venture up the meandering alleys. In a 19th-century mansion, Botargo has original frescoes on the ceiling, modern art on the walls, Cole Porter on the stereo, and white linen tables scattered across the candlelit square, balcony and roof terrace. The team have triumphed with the Mediterranean menu: marinated octopus with fava bean, marjoram oil and pickled carrots, John Dory with beetroot cream and fennel sauce, and a sensational chocolate cake with hazelnuts and sea salt.
Address: Botargo, Pyrgos, Thira 847 00, Santorini, Greece
Telephone: +30 22860 30070
One of the loveliest hotels on Mykonos, Cavo Tagoo opened an offshoot on Santorini last year – a ritzy little number with 11 rooms poised on the caldera. But the accommodation is almost an afterthought: the star attraction is the clubby poolside restaurant, Ovac, where a glamorous crowd gather at night for the island’s best sushi and cocktails (my favourite, the Aegean Julep, is a refreshing blend of gin, cucumber, ginger, lemon and green-apple liqueur topped with Aegean tonic). At first, the Greco-Asian menu is confusing. You’re not sure whether to order king-crab tacos or halloumi saganaki. Whichever direction you take, you can’t go wrong. Spanakopita gyoza, sea-bass nigiri with sriracha, lobster and black-truffle giouvetsi are outstanding. Even a simple dish of broccolini charred on the wood-fired grill is heaven. But none of it comes cheap.
Address: Ovac at Cavo Tagoo, Imerovigli, Thira 847 00, Greece
Telephone: +30 22860 28900
Sophisticated Selene is part of the scene in Pyrgos, with its fresh ingredients such as octopus and tomatoes; the offshoot, Selene Meze and Bar, is more casual. In season, try sea urchin and artichoke salad and choose at least one dish that includes the local wild capers. Greek favourites – rabbit, quail, kid and lamb – all find their way onto the menu, though the brodedo (a fish stew) should not be missed. Yogurt or ice cream with honey makes a perfect finish.
Address: Selene, Fira, 847 00, Greece
Telephone: +30 2286 022249
Having opened in 2018, this yellow and blue bistro just outside Pyrgos is a cheery pit stop for excellent coffee or brunch. Pick up beautifully packaged sandwiches for a picnic and some of the herbal tea blends as souvenirs.
Address: Agaze, Pirgos, Thira, Cyclades, Pirgos Kallistis 847 00, Greece