Looking for the best tavernas in Santorini? You’ve come to the right place. This guide runs through nine of the most fantastic, most taste-bud-tingling, most belly-filling of all the eating spots on the famous honeymoon hub of the Greek islands.
It hops from the sandy shores of the southeast to the rugged caldera of the west, delving into family-owned kitchens and chicer fusion tavernas alike. Get ready because there’s more souvlaki and grilled octopus than you can shake a stick at!
Our criteria for the best tavernas in Santorini are simple. We look for the places that are not only exceptionally highly rated, but also the ones with a long history of serving great food here, and a menu that really encapsulates the earthy and traditional side of the Cyclades isles.
The folk at Aktaion claim that their taverna has been at the “foundation of Santorinian gastronomy” for nearly 100 years. It’s hard to argue that. The joint has been serving since way back in 1922 and it’s now unquestionably up there with the most visited and best tavernas in Santorini.
Dishes are traditional to the T but come with just a whisper of culinary edge. You get the fava bean paste with a topping of fried capers and crisped onions. There’s the braised veal in eggplant puree. A lamb shank is perched on a bed of perfectly turgid orzo pasta and sprinkled with wild Cycladean herbs.
Oh, and then there’s the location…Lucky diners will manage to score one of the seats right on the edge of the caldera. They are limited (there’s about four or five) but offer fantastic sunset views. No matter if you have to go inside, though, because that’s a symphony of whitewash and blue paint; typically Greek; typically Cyclades.
Casual, affordable Taverna Tzanakis sits amid the narrow backstreets of Megalochori village just to the south of the buzzing island capital of Fira. It’s a top place to go to get a fix of proper local cooking without any frills. You know, that pure blend of freshness and simplicity that the land of the Aegean is all about?
Cue an a la carte selection of mezze dishes that are sure to check the boxes. They include wrapped dolmades vine leaves packed with herby rice, griddled sardines, Greek chips (yes, they are different!), fava paste, Greek salads, and pastillo pasta in rich minced meat sauce.
Tzanakis is about shedding the chic vibes you get in other eateries right on the side of the Santorini caldera and eating your way through honest, homey local foods. The setting reflects that. It’s a stone-built taverna with open windows that let the chatter spill onto the pavements and reveal occasional glimpses of the boat-dotted sea in the distance.
Fish Tavern o Perivolos
Just as the name implies, Fish Tavern o Perivolos is all about the fresh seafood of the Aegean. The joint makes its home literally on the beachfront of Perivolos town on the far southeastern side of Santorini. That’s a region where the coastline mellows out into pebbly runs of shore with lapping waves and you can actually swim and sunbathe.
What better, then, than a long, Greek fish lunch to break up the day? That’s precisely what’s on the menu here. You can pick the broiling fisherman’s soup for a warming broth. There are the roasted sardines, salted and doused lightly in butter and lemon juice. Others love the roasted calamari, a specialty of the BBQ chef at the tavern.
The feel of the place is Cyclades isles through and through. On one side you’ve got the cobbled roadway and a cluster of dimly lit tables under and ancient olive tree. On the other, you can hear the Aegean kissing the pebbles on the coast.
Anemomilos Traditional Greek Taverna
Anemomilos Traditional Greek Taverna is a fantastic place to dine out at both lunch and when the sunset creeps in. It sits on a cobbled plinth on the clifftops just along from the uber-romantic village of Oia on the northern half of Santorini. That means cracking views of the village itself, and visions of the craggy volcanic islands out across the bay.
The food is forever fresh and hearty. There are Greek pastas with white cheese toppings, pulses stewed in stock, crispy pitas with all manner of dips, and fish cooked over fragrant risotto rice. The chefs here also do one of the most celebrated restaurant souvlakis around. It’s big and flavorsome, and always served over a healthy (or not so healthy) stack of olive-oil-fried chips.
We also love to drop by Anemomilos Traditional Greek Taverna in the morning. They have strong coffee and fantastic pastries (especially those croissants), along with fresh-pressed juices that are the perfect accompaniment to that view!
Katina Fish Tavern
The Katina Fish Tavern is another Oia favorite. It’s a seasonal restaurant that opens up in the salt-washed bay of Ammoudi Port, a walk of about 15 minutes down the zigzagging coastal paths from the center of the town up above. The location is spot on for a joint that specializes in seafood – the waters slosh into the quays just meters away and you can even see the boats that brought in the catch you’re about to devour!
The taverna is actually one of the oldest in Ammoudi. Over the years, it’s made a name for itself with a couple of trademark dishes. You’ve got the grilled octopus, drizzled with citrus and olive oil. The lobster spaghetti is also wonderful. So are the BBQ fish fillets served with a caper-rich salad of olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
If you get in while there’s still some sunlight around, then you can enjoy views of the rugged northern end of Therasia island just across the strait. That’s a stunner, revealing dramatic cliff landscapes of brown-paper rocks that tumble down into a frothing blue Aegean.
Roza’s, recently rebranded from Taverna Roza, sits up between the narrow alleys and lanes of little Vourvoulos village. That’s a short drive inland from the caldera and the east coast alike, although the best access point is via Imerovigli on the main Fira-Oia road.
The joint itself is fronted by a wide, open terrace that’s plumed in pockets of bougainvillea and green lemon-leaf plants, crawling vines and jasmine. It opens just before lunch and is usually bustling most of the time – Roza’s is widely considered to be among the best tavernas in Santorini and has the loyal following to match the rep.
The cuisine here draws on the rich traditionalism of the Greek islands and adds a touch of zing and flair to it all. There are dolmades with sea-salt foam. You can pick ravioli pasta packets topped with marinated Cyclades prawns. There’s a scented risotto rice with edible foraged flowers. Oh, and oily fava with fried bay leaves. It’s a little like New Nordic meets the Aegean islands.
Triana Tavern has been catering to the booming tourist crowds of Fira – the uber-lively capital of Santorini – for some time. Its focus is on the food that everyone wants to eat when they come to Greece. We’re talking mezze platters of tzatziki and garlic dip, pitas and griddled cheese, dolmades and Greek salads – that sort of thing.
The location could hardly be better for folk staying in the main town. The port is just below and the roadway linking up to Oia and Imerovigli passes on right by the entrance. The seating is spread between a table-packed interior and a breezy terrace that has intermittent views of the Aegean sparkling in the island caldera.
Look for Taverna Danas on the eastern haunch of the island. It sits close to the long, sandy-pebbly beaches of Paralia Kamari, behind an elaborate archway on one of the main streets leading out of the resort. Granted, you don’t get the caldera views of the western coast, but there are high cliffs looming above and a swimming beach is only a short walk away.
A truly family-owned eatery, Taverna Danas is all about trademark Cycladean dishes. They’re invariably ridiculously filling and good fun, like the sprawling seafood platter that includes a whole BBQ fish, calamari, king prawns, and mussels. You can also grab grandma’s moussaka (not a euphemism!) and hearty plates of souvlaki kebabs with grilled veg.
The best place to sit is the big, covered verandah area. That’s often filled with eaters, both traveler and local. It’s decorated with vaguely nautical paraphernalia and has bursts of flowers popping out of the pots and trellises to keep you company.
The sole option on this list down in the southern town of Akrotiri (which just so happens to be one of the most ancient parts of the island), Aeolos Tavern is a purpose-built restaurant plonked on the clifftops. Because it was designed specifically as a place to eat, you can enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows that offer 180-degree panoramas of the caldera and even Oia village in the distance.
The food and the vibe are distinctly regional and relaxed. Big souvlaki kebabs are served on sprawling wood boards with garlic dips. The calamari is crispy, sourced from the local boats. Veggies get stuffed peppers and tomatoes with a classic mezze offering on the side, including tzatziki and chips and more.
We’d put this one down as a great lunch option after visiting either ancient Akrotiri or the famous Red Beach further south. But it’s also a fine option if you’re staying in one of the lux hotels on this soaring southern shoreline.