Local dishes in Santorini cover all the bases, from some of the most famous Greek foods to unusual yet absolutely delicious cuisine unique to this region. This island is commonly voted as one of the most popular destinations for travelers from all over the world, and it's more than a little about the food. Whether you're having a cup of strong coffee on the seashore or enjoying a savory dinner in a fine dining restaurant, you'll find unusual and tasty dishes to sample from one of the oldest culinary traditions in the world.

    Many of the dishes here are vegetable-based, making this a vegetarian foodie destination. Here are some of the best local dishes from Santorini.

    1

    Fava me koukia

    Enjoy a fava bean-based side dish or snack

    Fava me koukia, or simply 'fava', may be one of the simplest dishes you'll try here, being made from fava beans mashed up with a lemon sauce. The beans provide a meaty texture and bold flavor that's incredibly dynamic. The lemon sauce is spiced with fennel and parsley, which add a sense of bold herb flavor that creates a very bright taste. It's perfect as a snack or side dish and is a favorite among Santorini locals.

    If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you're likely to attack this dish like nothing else. Even if you're not a vegetarian, it's a delectable dish. Head for Feggera in Megalochori or Selene in Fira for fantastic fava me koukia.

    Location: Greece

    2

    Domatokeftethes

    Try a sweet-savoury batter-fried cherry tomato

    Domatokeftethes (also known as tomatokeftedes or ntomatokeftedes) are made from a specific variety of Santorini tomatoes fried in a thick olive oil batter with peppers, onions, mint and herbs. The tomatoes are about the size of cherries and have a sweet flavor that is bolstered by the herbs and spices used in the dish, as well as the olive oil batter in which they are fried. This is a bright vegetarian dish that's just as good for meat eaters due to its sweet-savoury flavor.

    If you're looking for the best domatokeftethes in Santorini, you might want to head for the Cave of Nikolas restaurant in Akrotiri. It's renowned as the spot for classic ntomatokeftedes.

    Location: Greece

    3

    Melitzanosalata

    Enjoy a traditional eggplant-olive oil dip

    Melitzanosalata is an unusual dish made from eggplant drizzled with olive oil, seasoned and slow roasted then mashed up, mixed with lemon and more oil and used as a dip. Like many Greek foods, it's completely vegan friendly and is served across Santorini. It makes for a wonderful snack or appetiser while you're waiting for other food, regardless of whether you're a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan.

    Each restaurant and tavern across the island has its own take on the recipe, and just about all of them are worth enjoying. One outstanding spot to enjoy melitzanosalata in Santorini is at Ombra at Esperas Santorini.

    Location: Greece

    4

    Apochti

    Experience Greek pork jerky

    Apochti is a meat eater's dream, a traditional sort of pork jerky made from salted pork loin brined in vinegar, then dried and seasoned with pepper and vinegar. It's both eaten straight and often as a companion to wine where it works as a palate cleanser between tasting different varieties and vintages. It's also used in many main dish recipes in homes and restaurants all across the island.

    If you're a jerky lover, this is one to taste. If you tour some of the best wineries in Santorini, including Ola or Sigalas in Baxedes or Vassaltis in Vourvoulos, you're sure to have this served up with the wine. It pairs outstandingly with red Vassanos wine.

    Location: Greece

    5

    Spanakopita

    Try a Greek spinach pie

    Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie known all over the world, but here in Santorini you can get some of the best from its very birthplace. This dish is a classic spinach pie that combines cooked spinach with feta, onions and a flaky crust made from layers of phyllo dough and baked golden brown. It's usually served hot, which brings out the flavor of the spinach and gives the feta a creamy and soft texture that perfectly balances out the spinach and spices.

    A popular pastime is to head to one of the region's many seaside cliff cafes and order up a plate of spanakopita while the sun goes down. It makes for a memorable (and delicious) date night activity.

    Location: Greece

    6

    Keftes/kofta

    Try a Greek hamburger

    Keftes, or kofta, are essentially Greek hamburgers that can be prepared in many different ways with baked, broiled and fried versions found across the region. They are made from ground meat, usually beef and pork, but sometimes lamb, and have an extremely versatile role in Greek cuisine. Sometimes they are rolled into meatballs and served as an appetiser called a mezes. They also can be the main meat portion of a meal or part of a gigantic Greek barbecue spread.

    Greek burger joints all over the world have keftes on the menu, but in Santorini they have their own flavor and character. Each restaurant spices them differently and uses a different meat blend, so try them at several spots.

    Location: Greece

    7

    Chlorotyri

    Experience a unique goat milk cheese

    Chlorotyri is a true delicacy in Santorini, a local goat milk cheese found only on this island and made in very limited quantities, and one you will never forget. It's usually served up either as a spread on bread or toast, or as an ingredient in a Santorini version of a Greek salad that includes local Santorini tomatoes. It can be a bit pricey, but it's worth it for the unique, creamy flavor.

    Places to find it across the island include Roza's in Vourvoulos and Red Bicycle in Oia. Red Bicycle has its own version of the 'ntakos salad', which includes chlorotyri, Santorini tomatoes, green olive oil and samphire.

    Location: Greece

    8

    Moussaka

    Enjoy a hearty Greek lasagna

    Moussaka is one of Greece's most famous and popular culinary exports, a sort of Greek lasagna made with eggplant and ground meat (usually beef) layered with a béchamel sauce. In many ways, this is a sort of Greek comfort food, with its hearty, warm and satisfying flavor and texture regardless of when you eat it. Like Italian lasagna, this is a very filling dish with layers of cheese, veggies, meat and sauce, but it really brings together all of the unique flavors of Greek and specifically Santorini cuisine.

    Because moussaka is such a common comfort food, it can be found at many restaurants across the island. Blue Note Restaurant in Imerovigli has a decadent variety.

    Location: Greece

    9

    Saganaki

    Indulge yourself in fried cheese and honey

    Saganaki is an appetiser that's a staple of local cuisine, made of a delicious melding of sweet and salty from fried cheese drizzled with honey. It's a very simple dish that is a favorite among cheese lovers. The dish is simple to make and cooks up in no time; a chunk of cheese is simply baked into a golden brown crust with a gooey melted inside, then drizzled with local honey to top off the salty and mildly pungent cheese with a natural sweetness that ends with a unique flavor.

    Saganaki is a popular and common dish. You can find it in many restaurants and cafes here.

    Location: Greece

    10

    Melitinia

    Try a traditional Santorini Easter treat

    Melitinia is a traditional sweet treat, especially around Easter, a cheese pie made with sugar and mastic powder in homes and traditional bakeries across the island. The recipe is deceptively simple but also difficult to master. It's made of mizithra cheese blended with sugar and mastiha to create a unique pastry with a soft, creamy consistency unlike anything anywhere else. Many bakeries across Santorini are happy to make it up and offer a whole box to go so you can take some with you.

    You can find melitinia just about anywhere on Santorini, but many locals consider Martha's to be the best. Stop by her bakery in Megalochori and grab a box to go.

    Location: Greece

    photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis (CC BY 2.0) modified

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