Exterior view of Spilia at 37 Enoplon Dinameon Street in Mykonos Town. Spilia has been getting rave reviews for its reasonably-priced home cooking and friendly, cheerful service. Photo provided courtesy of the restaurant.
Cheap and cheerful good eats
Easy on the wallet: Visitors often complain (and rightly so) that Mykonos is one of the most expensive Greek islands to visit — especially for dining out. The island abounds with high-end dining establishments, while even in budget-friendly Greek tavernas, meal prices tend to be higher than on most other islands. That’s really no surprise, considering that affluent travellers from around the world have been holidaying on Mykonos ever since the international “jet set” put the island on the world map back in the 1960s. Considerably more sophisticated than most other Greek islands, Mykonos has long appealed to — and courted — the upscale travel market.
But Mykonos has something for everyone, and still attracts legions of budget-minded travellers, too. So when someone discovers a restaurant that serves good food at fair prices, word gets around fast.
Last year lots of people were talking about Sakis Grill House at 7 Kalogera Street. One might expect the island’s many small gyros and souvlaki shops to serve similar-quality food, but Sakis sources most of its food products locally, and I found its meat tasted much less salty and greasy than similar offerings at other Mykonos fast-food joints. People are still praising Sakis this year. It was busy every time we went by in May, and most of the people at the hotel where we were staying had eaten there at least twice. They all commented favourably on the food, friendly staff, and the prices (you can get a sizeable souvlaki platter and a refreshing cold beer for under €10).
Also getting great word of mouth this year is Spilia, a family-operated restaurant on Enoplon Dinameon Street in the Tria Pigada area of Mykonos Town. Visitors say the town’s labyrinthine street layout makes the place difficult to find, but the delicious and reasonably-priced home-cooked food makes the treasure hunt well worth the challenge. As one reviewer remarked on TripAdvisor: “Stumbled upon this tiny eatery in the middle of Mykonos towns endless winding streets. For 4 tired, hot and hungry backpackers it was like heaven. Tasty authentic greek gyros and souvlaki for 2.50 euros hit the spot, and paired with a friendly owner and decor like you where sitting in your yiayia’s kitchen, it was a nice escape from the Mykonos heat.”
Spilia’s menu boasts a large selection of traditional Greek dishes, including fare that will satisfy hungry vegetarians and vegans, and features produce grown on the family’s local organic farm.
The small terrace in front of Sakis Grill House on Kalogera Street is a great spot for people watching while enjoying a delicious, inexpensive meal
The family that runs Spilia on Enoplon Dinameon Street is pictured inside the restaurant in this photo from the Spilia Facebook page.
Breakfast, coffee & sunset cocktails: I keep hearing excellent feedback about Malama Café-Wine Bar, situated on the ring road to Ornos in the Aggelika area of Mykonos. People have been heaping praise on Malama for its hearty breakfasts, good coffee, comfortable atmosphere, nice music and friendly staff. They also suggest the café for lunch and for evening cocktails (the restaurant has a sunset view). Besides the enjoyable coffee beverages, people have recommended the yogurt, lemon pie, home-made cakes and Greek salad in their Malama Café reviews on TripAdvisor.com. And thanks to the café’s reasonable prices, customers feel they get good value for their money.
Malama Café & Wine Bar on the ring road to Ornos has a sunset-view outdoor terrace, seen in this photo from the Malama Café Facebook page
Another view of Malama Café’s outdoor terrace. The restaurant is a great spot to have breakfast or lunch as well as coffee any time of day.
This photo from the Malama Café’s Facebook page shows the restaurant interior
Popular pizza & pasta places
Catari’s cozy courtyard: Travellers who love Italian food are spoiled for choice on Mykonos, where dozens of restaurants either specialize in pizza, pasta and other Italian cuisine or offer many of these items on their menus.
Last year Catari Trattoria captured the lion’s share of attention as the most-recommended pizza and pasta restaurant in Mykonos Town. (A second Catari operated at Kalo Livadi beach in 2012, but is not open this summer.) This year, it’s still getting good praise.
Situated about halfway between little Agia Anna beach on the harbourfront and Manto (Taxi) Square, Catari boasts a cozy outdoor courtyard sheltered by five towering palm trees. The menu includes starters, salads, pasta, meat and fish dishes, classic pizza combinations and Catari’s own “signature” pizza creations. Although I haven’t yet had the chance to eat there myself, I have spoken to many people who have dined at Catari multiple times during their holidays because they enjoyed the pizza so much. Everyone highly recommended the restaurant, and nobody had anything negative to say.
The outdoor dining terrace at Catari faces onto the narrow cobblestone lane that leads from the Remezzo area of Mykonos Town to Manto (Taxi) Square. This photo is from the Catari Facebook page.
This photo from the Catari website shows the restaurant’s interior dining area
This photo from the Catari Facebook page shows the elegant tall palm trees that tower above the restaurant terrace
D’Angelo delivers: Although people continue to say good things about Catari again this summer (it’s currently ranked #15 in the TripAdvisor.com reviews for restaurants in Mykonos Town), it’s got some stiff competition from two other pizza places that have been commanding attention in their own right.
D’Angelo Pizza & Trattoria at Niochori Square, near the famous Mykonos windmills, has been getting great reviews all season and currently holds the #16 ranking on TripAdvisor (coincidentally, just one notch behind Catari). The restaurant features reasonably-priced Italian and Mediterranean dishes, including pizza cooked in a traditional stone oven. It has an outdoor dining terrace that’s shaded from the sun during the day and romantically illuminated by candlelight and lanterns at night. D’Angelo also offers live entertainment, with weekly evening performances by Greek saxophonist Sotiris Tatsis. The d’Angelo website says the restaurant offers a delivery service; however, the webpage with the menu and the delivery information is still under construction. The restaurant can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org in the meantime.
This photo from the d’Angelo website shows a daytime view of the popular pizzeria & trattoria at Niochori Square near the famous Mykonos windmills
A night view of the restaurant from the d’Angelo Facebook page
Neapolitan delight: Outstanding feedback also has been flowing steadily this summer for Marechiaro Pizza Restaurant, which opened May 1 in the former Gola restaurant premises on the ring road above the Mykonos Town center (in the Drafaki district).
Marechiaro promises “Verace Pizza Napoletana” (true Neapolitan pizza) prepared by master pizzaiolos and cooked in a traditional wood oven. Toppings and ingredients — including basil, peppers and eggplant — are grown in the restaurant’s own garden. Customers can enjoy impressive sunset and sea views from Marechiaro’s open-air dining terrace while sipping specialty cocktails and savouring the mouth-watering pizzas. (I would love to go there just for the freshly-baked bread; check out the videoclip below to see what I mean.) Marechiaro is open daily from 19:00 to 1 a.m.
The combination of superb food, service and views has already vaulted Marechiaro to the #43 ranking on TripAdvisor and, based on the overwhelmingly positive comments I’ve been hearing so far, the restaurant is bound to break into the top 20 or even higher over the course of the summer.
This brief videoclip of the restaurant’s freshly baked crusty bread was posted on the Marechiaro Facebook page June 4 by Walter Speranza. The bread looks (and sounds) so delicious, I’m sure I could eat an entire loaf all by myself. (Click on the image to start the video.)
This photo, also from the Marechiaro Facebook page, shows the scenic sunset view that diners get to enjoy from the restaurant terrace
Another photo from the Marechiaro Facebook page shows a night-time view of the open-air dining terrace
A view of Marechiaro’s colourful restaurant interior and cocktail bar, also from the Marechiaro Facebook page. Be sure to check out the page for dozens of photos that show the Marechiaro staff tending to the herb and vegetable garden and preparing pizzas and other dishes. There are plenty of pictures of the finished product, too — but viewing them will probably make you hungry!
Greek cuisine with a contemporary twist
Lakka landmark: During my Mykonos holiday in May 2012, I constantly heard people talk about how much they enjoyed their meals at Bakaló Greek Eatery in the Lakka district of Mykonos Town (just a short walk from the Fabrica bus depot). Many described the food at Bakaló as the best they had eaten anywhere in Greece that summer, singling out the delightful flavours they enjoyed in every dish. “You must go there” was a phrase I frequently heard when I chatted with other travellers, asking about their dining experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there — and when I kept hearing about Bakaló over the months that followed, I really regretted it. This year it was at the top of our list, and we made plans to dine at Bakaló our last night on the island, figuring it would provide a memorable send-off meal before we headed to Ios. An unexpected last-minute invitation to dine with friends elsewhere that night derailed those plans, and I keep kicking myself for missing out yet again.
Bakaló’s owners, Nikos Nanou, Egidio Guerreri and Vicky Hatzidakis, established the eatery with the vision of serving “traditional Greek cuisine in an authentic and aesthetically pleasing environment,” as they explain on the Bakaló website. “Our menu is made up of dishes served in a Greek household, recipes that mothers kept secret from friends and relatives. The ingredients used come from all over Greece. The dishes are carefully prepared, respecting the taste buds of those that quest for authentic Greek cuisine served in a stylish environment and relaxed mood, the stuff that treasured memories are made of,” they say. (Nanou and Guerreri, by the way, happen to be co-owners of Catari with partner Oscar Gibertoni.)
By all accounts (and I have heard and read many over the past two years), Chef Yiannis Gavalas has more than delivered with the menu he designed. Bakaló is currently the #4-ranked restaurant in Mykonos Town on TripAdvisor, and it was named one of the “Top 3 restaurants in Mykonos with grandmas’ best kept secrets” by aluxurytravelblog.com. With luck, I’ll finally get to experience the Gavalas culinary magic next time I visit Mykonos.
A street view of Bakaló Greek Eatery in the Lakka area of Mykonos Town. The restaurant is only open at night and can be hard to find in the maze of narrow lanes and alleys. Watch for the green wishing well under the tree out front.
This photo of the outdoor dining terrace and the restaurant’s trademark green wishing well appears on Bakaló’s Facebook page
From the Bakaló website, a photo of the restaurant interior
Another photo of the restaurant interior, also from the Bakaló website
Good eating at M-eating: During my Mykonos holiday in May 2012, I noticed that a new restaurant called M-eating had opened in the 10 Kalogera Street building that Avra Garden restaurant had occupied for years until moving a block farther down the street. The M-eating menu described traditional Greek dishes prepared with a contemporary flair, at reasonably moderate prices, but I didn’t meet or speak to anyone who had dined there yet. A number of travellers told me they were curious to try it, but by the time I left the island I still had not heard any feedback about the food or service. Less than two months later, M-eating was the talk of the town, and the resulting rave reviews propelled it into the #1 ranking for Mykonos Town restaurants on Trip Advisor (a position it has maintained so far this season).
The restaurant is owned by its chef, Panagiotis Menardos, who had experience working at five-star restaurants but wanted to create his own culinary calling card by melding local flavours into his unique interpretation of Greek and Mediterranean dishes, which are served in a distinctive contemporary presentation. His restaurant recipe was a huge hit from the time M-eating opened, and the outdoor veranda and courtyard dining terraces — plus a private dining room inside — have been packed regularly ever since. Customers compliment the impressive food presentation, flavours and quality, and also highly praise the M-eating staff for superb service.
M-eating is open from 19:00 to 01:00 every evening. The restaurant menu — with prices! — can be viewed on the the M-eating website, while photos of some of the exquisitely arranged dishes (from the 2012 travel season) can be seen on the M-eating Facebook page.
This photo of the restaurant’s outdoor dining veranda along Kalogera Street is from the M-eating Facebook page
Kalogera Street view of the veranda at night. Photo from the M-eating website.
A M-eating Facebook page photo of the cozy courtyard terrace
A website photo of the romantic lighting on M-eating’s courtyard terrace
Noteworthy Nautilus: Just a few steps up the street from M-eating is Nautilus, another restaurant that has been receiving considerable recognition for the creative flavours of its own contemporary Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and seafood. A chic, stylish venue with an indoor dining room as well as several tables outside on Kalogera Street, Nautilus is co-owned by Vasili Theodorou, who three years ago told Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine: “We want to promote regional Greek products but we don’t have strictly Greek cuisine like pastitsio or moussaka.”
The formula works — Nautilus has become the #10-ranked Mykonos restaurant on TripAdvisor, thanks to dozens of reviews complimenting the staff, service, atmosphere and delicious dishes, especially the seafood. Surprisingly, it’s one of only a few top Mykonos eateries that doesn’t have a website or Facebook page, yet continues to fill its seats from consistently positive word of mouth.
A daytime view of tables on Kalogera Street outside Nautilus restaurant (right)
This photo of Nautilus appeared on the Mykonos Life blog
This videoclip of Nautilus has been posted online by YouTube member irenegigini
Hotel haute cuisine
Meze with marvellous views: I thought something looked quite different — and better — when I passed the Olia Hotel in Tourlos, near the New Port, several times in May. Sure enough, there were some major changes I noticed after comparing photos I took of the hotel this year with some from 2012. The dark wood trellises and handrails have been painted white, while the dark blue doors and window frames have been repainted with a subtle shade of green, giving the hotel a fresh, sophisticated look. Even more significant, though, is the addition of a brand new restaurant at the front of the hotel, right beside the port-view swimming pool terrace.
Called Meze on Port, the restaurant opened this past spring, and already has received eight 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor. The flavourful Greek cuisine gets top marks from the reviewers. “Brilliant! amazing authentic food, menu has a great selection of dishes, serving hot and cold meze, salad, and a choice of fresh fish and meat,” one visitor from the U.K. remarked. The restaurant terrace’s beautiful sunset and port views also get honourable mention. “Amazing, simply amazing. Go there in the evening and and you can glance over Mykonos’ new port into the sunset over the calm Mediterranean sea. You’ll wish you’d never have to leave,” wrote a reviewer from London, England.
I’ve heard other people comment favourably about Meze on Port, with one telling me: “It’s absolutely and definitely worth the walk or taxi ride from Mykonos Town — and the prices are really reasonable for the excellent quality.”
The Meze on Port restaurant is situated on the trellis-covered terrace at the front of the Olia Hotel in Tourlos. The terrace overlooks the Mykonos New Port area and boasts excellent sea- and sunset views.
This photo from the Meze on Port Facebook page shows part of the restaurant’s outdoor dining area, situated beside the Olia Hotel’s seaview swimming pool.
This image supplied courtesy of the restaurant shows some of the mouth-watering mezes and one of the poolside, seaview tables.
This photo, provided courtesy of the Olia Hotel, shows part of the Meze on Port kitchen area. The restaurant is open daily from 13:00 to midnight.
Finger pointing: The Andronikos luxury boutique hotel in Drafaki claims on its website that its Lady Finger restaurant “is the current hotspot in Greek gastronomy on Mykonos island.” Lady Finger’s #23 ranking on TripAdvisor, and four stellar reviews from so far this season, certainly support that claim.
The website says the restaurant’s summer 2013 menu, created by Executive Chef G. Venieris and Chef de Cuisine D. Aidinis, “perfectly portrays the great subtlety and refinement of the authentic Greek cuisine.”
“We believe that quality lays in authenticity, healthy life, in the use of fresh, organic ingredients and in understanding gastronomy as a main part of our culture and identity,” the website explains.
The travellers who reviewed the restaurant on TripAdvisor clearly agree. One heralded Lady Finger for “beautiful Michelin-style dining with neither the pretence nor the expense,” and noted the intimate, romantic setting is only a 5-minute taxi ride from Mykonos Town (for those who aren’t staying at the Andronikos and who may feel the restaurant is too long a walk away).
I’ve heard many more favourable comments about Lady Finger this season, and expect it will attract more accolades in the weeks ahead.
This photo of the elegant Lady Finger restaurant appears on the Andronikos Hotel’s Facebook page
A Lady Finger restaurant table setting photo from the Andronikos hotel website
This photo, also from the Andronikos Hotel website, presents an example of the Lady Finger restaurant’s acclaimed New Greek Cuisine
Veni vidi Vencia: One of the island’s top-rated restaurants offers exceptional views of Mykonos Town, the sea and sunset — and cuisine to match the stellar scenery.
The restaurant webpage claims that Karavaki’s culinary creations will “make you travel in new horizons of gastronomic delight … to the Mediterranean world of various and selected tastes.” That wording sounds rather awkward, but senior TripAdvisor contributor “travelzomby” from New York City offered a vivid and much better description in her July 5 review on TripAdvisor: “This place is enchanting! White linen table clothes, candlelit tables and lanterns adorn the terrace, fresh white linen curtains whispering in the breeze as you look out over the beautiful infinity pool at the Vencia Hotel, the white washed buildings of Mykonos and the Aegean Sea. It’s worth the walk up the hill if you are staying in town, or a taxi ride. The food is delicious, the wait staff friendly and attentive. This restaurant is a MUST DO if you come to Mykonos!”
I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by numerous other travellers, and hope to visit Karavaki on my next Mykonos holiday. If you happen to be visiting Mykonos this summer, consider calling ahead to book the special “sunset view dinner” at Karavaki. This “private dinner at the ‘sunset table'” features “select Mediterranean, Greek and local dishes” served in a romantic setting with candlelight and “soft atmospheric music.” Reservations are strongly recommended. The restaurant phone number is: +30.22890-23665.
This photo, from the Karavaki restaurant page on the Vencia Boutique Hotel website, shows part of the incredible view that diners enjoy during their meals
Part of Karavaki’s interior dining room, seen in a photo from the Vencia Boutique Hotel’s Facebook page. The Karavaki Facebook photo album contains 12 more pictures of the restaurant.
Another photo of Karavaki’s views, from the Vencia hotel website
From its location high above Mykonos Town, Karavaki restaurant offers superb views of the town, sea and sunset. This photo, from the Vencia Hotel Facebook page, shows a night view of a cruise ship anchored near the Old Port.
Birthday bash: This has been a big week (July 9 – 13) at the ultra-hip Belvedere Hotel in Mykonos Town, where the Nobu Food Festival has been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the swank Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos restaurant.
To mark the occasion, the hotel has brought in world-renowned master chef Nobu Matsuhisa and four of his executive chefs from around the world to “create exquisite dishes” for Mykonos foodies and Nobu afficionados.
“Synonymous with legendary signature dishes such as Tiradito, Black Cod with Miso and New Style Sashimi, chef Nobu’s restaurants revolutionized the image of Japanese cuisine in the Western World, establishing a “New Style Japanese cuisine” colored with South American & Western influences, in some of the most glamorous venues and locations throughout the world,” a festival description on the Belvedere Hotel website states.
I have included the Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos on my most-talked-about restaurants list mainly because the anniversary event has been getting considerable hype online and amongst foodies who are vacationing on the island this month. Though the Matsuhisa Mykonos holds the #28 rating for Mykonos Town restaurants on TripAdvisor, several of the laudatory 5-star reviews actually describe dining experiences at the Matsuhisa Athens, which is located in the luxurious Astir Palace Resort in the seaside Vouliagmeni suburb of Athens.
In a review for the Mykonos restaurant, for example, one commentator wrote: “The Nobu Matsuhisa is located at the Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni. The outdoor setting is simply breathtaking because you have a direct view of the sea by the Vouliagmeni area,” while another called the view “one of the best in Athens, overlooking the sea.” And a senior TripAdvisor contributor from the American state of Indiana said: “If you have a romantic need then this would be great as the outdoor area is right on the Saronic gulf and overlooks the resort and beaches of the Astir Palace Hotel.” Utterly amazing, considering that Mykonos is about 100 miles away!
I figure that at least five of the 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor actually described the Vouliagmeni Nobu, and should have been posted in the review section for that restaurant. How those comments wound up on the listing for the Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos is something only the writers and TripAdvisor could explain, but they clearly have been published in the wrong place and almost certainly have given the Mykonos location a higher ranking than it deserves. Indeed, the three reviews posted so far this season give the Mykonos branch only three stars, with two criticizing the restaurant as overpriced and a third slagging the Nobu for arrogant customer service.
I have never been to the Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos myself, so I can’t offer any personal views or insights on its service, quality or pricing. However, I have heard very good comments about it in correspondence and conversations with travellers who have enjoyed the restaurant and who have told me they highly recommend dining there, especially to celebrate a special occasion like a honeymoon or milestone birthday. They insist that the Nobu cuisine, setting and service are worth the high price. And since plenty of people have been talking about the 10th anniversary of a restaurant overseen by a world-famous chef of Nobu’s calibre, I thought the Matsuhisa Mykonos fully merited inclusion on this list.
(You can view a photo of Nobu on the Marechiaro Facebook page. The photo was shot at Marechiaro — which is affiliated with the Belvedere Hotel — when the master chef and several of his colleagues from other Nobu restaurants around the world dropped by to sample the pizza. The Belvedere Hotel Facebook page has additional photos of Nobu and the other chefs, along with more pics of the Matsuhisa Mykonos.)
Here’s some additional information about the Mykonos Nobu, from the Belvedere website: “Matsuhisa Mykonos opened in the summer of 2004 beside the Belvedere’s trendy swimming pool and cocktail bar terrace. According to the hotel website, “Nobu felt it would be the perfect opportunity as well as the ideal setting, to introduce his signature dishes to the a la carte menu at Matsuhisa Mykonos in Chora (whereby ingredients flow in fresh daily), in addition to daily specials featuring outstanding fish and sea food sourced from the Aegean.
“Renovated in 2007 by the David Rockwell Group NYC, who also collaborated on Nobu NYC, Nobu 57, Matsuhisa Athens, the Town Restaurant in New York and Maze (by Gordon Ramsey) in London, diners can now enjoy Nobu’s acclaimed creations in Mykonos in the Belvedere’s magnificent poolside setting. With sweeping views over the white cubist houses of Chora that tumble down the hillside into the eternity of the Aegean Sea, guests can indulge in the hotel’s resident mixologists’ signature Martinis and cocktails, a vintage champagne selection and finger food at the restaurant’s Matsuhisa Bar.”
This photo of the Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos restaurant is from the Belvedere Hotel Facebook page. Click on the photo to view a full-size image.