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.
Atsonios Handmade Ceramics
In the port of Vathi at Tsopos beach, the Atsonios family is continuing the tradition of making the terra-cotta pots that are the foundation of traditional Sifniot cooking. Ceramics was the major industry on Sifnos before tourism overtook it, and this spot is one of the few remaining kilns on the island. Anthony Atsonios has continued the craft and tradition of his father and grandfather, firing the pottery still used by many of the island’s kitchens. Book a private workshop to get away from the sun for an afternoon and to have something special to bring home. These are beautiful keepsakes made to last. Image courtesy of Sifnos-island.info
Theodorou’s Sweet Shop
In the charming village of Artemonas, Theodorou is new by Greek standards. It opened in 1933 and is still a family-run business. This is the spot to pick up the most delectable Greek sweets like amygdalota, ground-almond treats in cookie form, supposedly shaped to mimic a Roman nose. The shop also sells the most divine tubs of sugar paste, fragrant with bergamot and rose water, as well as pasteli (sticky honey-and-sesame bars), which are the traditional treat at weddings and baptisms. All these beautifully packaged goodies are made from scratch in ginormous, shining copper pots behind the counter. Bring a box of bourekia—ground spices, soft ricotta, and island honey encased in a sugar-drenched flaky pastry shell—back to your hotel for a midnight snack.
Botzi is a lively, lovely spot to park yourself on hot afternoons, retreating to the bougainvillea-strewn terrace for a small glass of cold white wine. Or come for dinner, when Botzi becomes Sifnos’s center of gravity from midnight until the wee hours of the morning. Inside you’ll find a warren of rooms kept cool with stone floors and walls, illuminated with candles, and scattered with colored stools and benches, which are moved out of the way once the impromptu dance parties get going. The music skews toward funk and electric, and the drinks are expertly made and–don’t say we didn’t warn you—very strong.
A pair of emerald-green double doors is the second indication that you’ve arrived at Drakakis café. The first is the line snaking around outdoor tables heaving with locals and visitors alike on this narrow street. While waiting, you can’t help but read the menu scrawled on a chalkboard tacked to the wall outside. Traditional dishes, like honey chicken and chickpea stews, are on every table, but really there is nothing more satisfying than stopping in for a glass of tsipouro and a salad of thick-cut ruby-red island tomatoes with wedges of salty feta and a good glug of local olive oil.
There are many things to love about Verina Astra. The location—hovering above Poulatis beach, with an ancient church next door and the gorgeous village of Artemonas just a short walk away—is hard to top. The accommodations are a series of small cottages, beautifully outfitted with smooth, brushed-concrete walls and floors and furniture in woven fabrics, like rattan and straw. The palette is all soft greys, white, and taupe with striped Turkish towels in the bathrooms, and each cottage has its own terrace. Those on the upper level offer the best views, as you feel like you’re somehow floating on top of the Aegean. For some—okay, maybe all of us—the infinity pool is the real draw, sheltered by stone walls on three sides: All you see is blue, blue, and even more blue.
Tsipouro is a type of brandy made from the grape residue left over from wine production. It may not sound too appealing, but we found ourselves drinking it a little too easily. And this is the first thing you should order when you claim your pastel-painted seat in Mosaico’s intimate courtyard for the evening. The chef here turns out especially good Greek mezze, like eggplant and lamb meatballs smothered in tomato sauce and baked into stews in little terra-cotta pots that are traditional in the Cycladic kitchen. The way to go: Sit outside while enjoying the cool night air but be sure to pop your head into the bar before you leave. Shelves heave with a mishmash of crockery, bottles of booze, the odd ancient urn, and a television so old, it may be the first version ever released. This is an ouzeri with personality. The food is always good, and sometimes (if you’re lucky) a few local musicians strike up during the meal.
Vathi Beach, Sifnos
You’ll probably recognize the ochre terra-cotta pots and plates here as the handiwork of the nearby Atsonios kiln (the island’s best ceramicists). And just like the tableware, the food hasn’t changed much since the place opened decades ago. Herbs and vegetables still come direct from the owner’s garden and the day’s catch is pulled up by fisherman a few feet from the tavern door. Every salad is topped with a mound of mizithra (a local cheese with a loose texture and a milder flavor than the more popular feta), and even the lamb for mastello (a traditional Sifniot dish in which lamb is marinated in red wine and slow-cooked for hours) is roasted atop a pile of vine branches pulled from nearby trees.