The Cyclades Restaurants
Ammoudi Fish Tavern
Ammoudi Bay, Oía, Santorini
Hike down the steps to Ammoudi Bay at Oía’s port to find a pristine swimming area lined with family-owned tavernas. Ammoudi is the best of them, especially for the small plates, like the fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, salmon tartare, and prawns with ouzo and orange. The view is basically dinner theater, as sailboats and fishing vessels make their way back and forth across the water as the sun goes down.
A staple on the island since 1922, Aktaion is the place to feel cozy and familial. The menu makes use of the best local ingredients to serve up all the classic Greek hits (the moussaka, vegetable fritters, and homemade pasta are all outstanding). Make a reservation and ask for a table outside so you can watch the sun set over the Caldera.
Agios Sostis Beach, Mykonos
There’s no telephone, electricity, or Wi-Fi at this bare-bones taverna near Agios Sostis Beach, and that’s exactly the appeal. Nothing distracts from the unobstructed coastal views and the simply, perfectly prepared plates of grilled octopus, prawns, and chicken and super fresh Greek salads and artichokes kissed with lemon juice. Kiki’s is technically open only for lunch, but service lasts until early evening for those who’ve gotten a late start.
A jet-set hangout since the ’60s, Remezzo feels a little more refined than the average Cycladic taverna, with food to match. Even simple entrées are elaborately plated and colorful, like raw vegetable carpaccio with honey and citrus vinaigrette and roasted scallops with Aegean salt, sweet artichoke mousse, and Greek truffle. And the house rosé is great, which means you don’t have to spend a fortune on wine.
Agia Anna, Mykonos
Run by the same family for three generations, Nikolas is as local as it gets on Mykonos. All the vegetables and most of the meat comes from the family’s nearby farm, and Nikolas (the grandson of the original owners) catches the fish for the same-day dinner service. Tables are wedged right into the sand of Anna Agia beach, at the southern end of the island, but shaded patio and indoor seating is available, too, for those summer scorchers.
Panormos Beach, Mykonos
This restaurant and club on Panormos Beach looks straight out of a glossy design magazine. Smooth slatted wood covers every inch of this place, which helps to create the clean lines that frame the perfect ocean views. Big terra-cotta pots of greenery and succulents add to the sense of calm. It’s all rather Zen, though the spirited crowd keeps things lively. After lunch (try the crudo and squid ink pasta), stop by Principote’s boutique, which carries a big selection of locally made sun hats, shoes, and bags.
An open-air restaurant in a sunken courtyard right in the middle of town, Interni feels like theater—both for its physical setting and for the first-rate people-watching. The gorgeous crowd is here to see and be seen, so if you aren’t in the mood for a little peacocking, it’s probably not the best spot for dinner. Otherwise, it’s all good fun, and the food isn’t bad, either, especially the cuttlefish ink tagliatelle and lobster risotto.
Big, loud, and lively, Barbarossa is the place to come for first-rate people-watching, and the religiously observed sunset cocktail hour is the time to do it. Settle in beneath the strings of small twinkling lights strung above the tables for big platters of fish and pasta. Sure, there are better restaurants on Paros, but the buzzing ambiance and cosmopolitan feel at Barbarossa sets it apart, and the setting, alongside the old Venetian port, where you can watch the last of the boats come in is something special.
Ano Meria 840 11, Folegandros
People come to this eight-table hole-in-the-wall for the matsata—homemade ribbons of tagliatelle tossed with a rich ragu of slow-cooked rabbit or goat. But be sure to order one of the incredible cheese pies for the table, too. This tiny little place, on a slender road on the way to the Panagia church, is also a great roadside stop for a glass of ouzo. Image courtesy of the Cyclades Chamber of Commerce.
Platis Gialos, Sifnos
This tiny, rustic beach shack may not look like much, but as the name suggests, Omega 3 is the best fish restaurant on Sifnos.