August 30, 2009

Where to Dine in Santorini: Perissa and Perivolos

I know, I know. I've been a delinquent food blogger. All I have to say is: you try moving and starting a new school year in the same week (and learning the names of 63 new students). My closet is a sea of clothes, my books are all in boxes, and my life is, in general, a mess.

The one thing I did immediately set up? My kitchen. And I've made my first real meal, which I'll blog about after I
finally share my eating and drinking guide for Santorini!

I'd like to suggest two things to keep in mind when you travel to Santorini. First, nearly every restaurant has a greeter, and the greeter's enthusiasm and/or the intensity of his puppy dog eyes is inversely proportional to the quality of the food. Second, the most crowded restaurants are not necessarily the best.

OK...enough talk. I'll go through this guide more in less in the order that we ate or drank. These places are all in either Perivolos or Perissa, as we were staying in Perivolos and walked to dinner every night but the two we spent in Fira and Oia.

The first night, a greeter ushered us into The Best. I was apprehensive but starving. We got Dolmades, Lamb Kleftiko, and Chicken Souvlaki (Tucker ordered Chicken Souvlaki almost every night). It was...the best. The Dolmades were creamy, the Lamb Kleftiko was rich, and the Chicken Souvlaki...well, Tucker's was done in about 3 seconds.

I've talked about the glory of Popeye Tavern's delicious Greek Salad before, but I can't resist bragging a little bit more. Sure, the restaurant was 5 feet from our hotel in Perivolos, and sure, we could have branched out for lunch, but why branch out when the first day is so good? I loved everything I tried here, from the Greek Salad to the Tomato Balls to the Fava. After lunch, we walked about ten steps back to the pool and slept in the sun all afternoon. It was really tough.

Kelly's Beach Bar, in Perivolos, was our home away from home. The Ashes were on, and we both liked beer, so...y'know. Mythos is one of Greece's two major beers (the other being Alfa Hellenic Beer), and it's quite good. Almost every bar and restaurant serves Mythos, so it's hard to miss, but if you're looking for a great place to kick back and watch some British cricket or football on bright orange cushioned-couches, go to Kelly's.

I cannot say enough about this place. Ntomatini served us the best meal we had, three times. It's in Perissa, which is about a mile walk up the beach from our hotel, but Ntomatini was always worth it. This place serves the best food that we found. Their pastas are great, their Chicken Souvlaki is great, and their appetizers are out of this world.

These are the stuffed Tomatinis from Ntomatini. They're delightful. The taste of the baked tomatoes mixed with the fresh herbs in the rice stuffing is sweet, savory, and just altogether lovely. The only drawback is that the dish only comes with eight tomatinis.

Second best was Cayo, a small restaurant in Perivolos that was 100 yards from our hotel. While their meals were fantastic and their zucchini balls were perfect, our only complaint was the wine. Other than that, the meals were perfect--great pasta, great Chicken Souvlaki (of course), great appetizers.

I'd say that, other than Ntomatini, the best places we found for quality food were the two 24-hour bakeries in Perissa. Certainly worth the walk, these bakeries served hand-rolled, hand-made spanikopita. You can buy two ginormous slices for under 5 euros, and you'll never, ever, ever eat anything better.

That's about it for now, folks. We definitely ate more meals that I've shared here, but these were some of my favorites, and they're all worth visiting when you go to Santorini. Worried that the season has passed? Don't be. The New York Times suggests visiting Santorini in October, when the tourists are gone and the island is still awake and energetic.

We had a great time. Now that it's back to the real world, I'll be posting about my budget creations in the new kitchen. Stay tuned!

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