Looking for restaurants in Crete? Want to know the best places to eat in the Cyclades? Check out the best Greek islands for foodie island hopping…
Hotel Archontiko Angelou, Leros
Though Marianna doesn’t offer dinner at this sympathetically renovated old mansion, her al fresco breakfasts are worth a visit alone. She uses a glut of local ingredients (many grown in the hotel’s garden, where breakfast is taken), including freshly squeezed juices, yogurt, honey, home-baked bread, fresh cheeses, jams and a legendary lemon curd. There are also vegan, dairy- and gluten-free options, such as chia puddings and cashew cheese. If you want to explore Leros, Marianna will pack a picnic for you. If not, press her for recommendations, from the island’s best beaches and tavernas to boat trips for lazy days spent snoozing and swimming to remote white pebble beaches.
Rosy’s Little Village, Agistri
A cluster of whitewashed buildings splashed with bright bursts of bougainvillea, hibiscus and geraniums, Rosy’s perches above a small rocky cove (grab a kayak to explore sea caves nearby). A family-run hotel serving simple but excellent food, the extensive menu at its terrace restaurant includes marinated anchovies, zucchini pie, rosemary lamb and glasses of local retsina, a salty-sweet wine made using pine tree sap. Best of all, freshly caught fish (sold by weight) includes sardines, red mullet and swordfish, all of which is simply grilled and served with organic vegetables grown on-site. Eat looking out across the Saronic Gulf towards the neighbouring island of Aegina.
The Good Life, Syros
The villas and studios at this aptly named organic retreat each come with kitchens (help yourself to plums, peaches, figs and lemons from the farm to pep up your holiday breakfasts). Guests congregate around a large outdoor kitchen in the evenings to cook and share stories, and once a week they’re invited to join a (complimentary) communal dinner – think barbecued beef fillet with a range of pitta breads and salads – accompanied by generous amounts of Greek wine. Grapes in the vineyards are also used to distill juice for tsipouro (similar to Italian grappa), and guests are given a small bottle to take home with them.
Metohi Kindelis, Crete
This 17th-century Venetian estate, just outside Chania, has three gorgeously converted guesthouses, each with private pools. All come stocked with breakfast goodies, including homemade marmalade, crumbly sheep’s cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and freshly picked organic avocados and strawberries. If you’re inspired to cook, staff can provide further baskets of seasonal ingredients and recipes. If you’re feeling idle, they’ll sort a takeaway from a neighbourhood taverna, or arrange for a local chef to cook your dinner and serve it in the jasmine-scented garden. Travellers who want to delve deeper into the island’s culinary history should book the fascinating bread- and cheese-making class, led by a food historian.
Sensitively built within an ancient olive grove (not a single tree was cut down during construction), with views over the pretty village of Kastro and the Aegean Sea beyond, Kamarotí puts a surprisingly Spanish twist on its food (the hotel is owned by three Spanish brothers). Breakfast varies greatly: you might have Spanish omelette one day, and diced home-grown tomatoes with fresh local mizithra cheese and crushed melon seed juice the next. Dinner, served only in July and August, starts with a selection of tapas, and paella is on the menu once a week.
Villa de Loulia, Corfu
Named after owner Loukia’s grandmother, Loulia, who built this historic Italianate villa in 1808, Villa de Loulia houses nine elegant, colourful bedrooms and suites, plus a restaurant that serves old family recipes made from local, organic produce. Start the day by the pool with Loukia’s homemade zucchini pie or ravani orange and almond semolina cake, then explore the ancient village of Peroulades and its uncrowded beaches before heading back to Villa de Loulia for classic Corfiot dishes (including bourdeto: fish cooked in spicy tomato sauce).
Milia Mountain Retreat, Crete
Set amid chestnut trees with the rugged mountainous beauty of the Kissamos region as a backdrop, Milia is a beautifully renovated collection of 15th-century stone buildings. All rooms have thick stone walls and their own fireplaces, making it perfect for cosy off-season stays, and the retreat is surrounded by an extensive network of hiking trails. The restaurant serves traditional Cretan “humble gastronomy”, such as wild greens soup and grilled aubergine spread, as well as roast baby goat, lamb with herbs, and bureki courgette pot pie cooked in a wood stove. Every Wednesday, guests can join a four-hour traditional Cretan cooking session in the kitchen.
Levendis Estate, Ithaca
Aussie-Greek couple Marilyn and Spero Raftopulos – plus their (grown-up) children, Kate and Niko – run this collection of four cottages plus swimming pool on Spero’s family homestead. It overlooks a bay in the north of the island and has been going for more than 30 years. Bathrooms come generously stocked with Levendis’ own natural skincare products, while cottage kitchens are pre-stocked with delicious Greek wine, olives and pistachios for that first holiday sundowner. Plus peach juice, bread, homemade jams, local thyme honey, freshly laid eggs and own-recipe muesli for the first morning’s breakfast.
A stylish, four-suite guesthouse, Mèlisses is a favourite with foodies thanks to its culinary host, Allegra Pomilio, an Italian with a passion for all things Greek. Every season she hosts a selection of retreats and workshops together with guest chefs and other creatives. Sign up and, in between learning how to cook tahini chocolate cookies, you might join an excursion to nearby waterfalls or to Palaiopoli, the ancient, partly-submerged former capital of the island. Suites have kitchens and sea views and are so dreamily decorated in shades of greys and blues that you’ll want to move right in. Guests gather in the open-plan kitchen for breakfast before heading down to the private bay, glass of homemade sour cherry lemonade in hand, for a morning dip.
Ktima Lemonies, Andros
As the name suggests, the Ktima Lemonies estate on lush Andros is surrounded by lemon (and olive) groves. Start the day with syrup made from lemon tree flower petals (which owner Nelly carefully collects at dawn to avoid bees and to keep them fresh), served on bread or simply from the jar. Only breakfast is available, but making your own picnic lunch from the breakfast buffet is encouraged rather than frowned upon here, and you can enjoy a glass of the estate’s own wines or limoncello in the evening before heading out to one of the island’s many restaurants.
Words by Tatty Good