As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Naxos & the Small Cyclades, here's our pick of places to eat.
Naxos' surprisingly green valleys, misty mountains, natural springs and meandering rivers make the island one of the most fertile in Greece. Thyme honey, throumpa olives, a whole host of soft, velvety cheeses, and citron liqueur are just some of the produce unique to the island. The Small Cycladic islands have a similarly rich food culture. Make sure you try the local fava – yellow split peas – of Schinoussa and xerotigana – fried dough strips with honey – of Koufonisi.
Be tempted by dishes such as cuttlefish flavoured with oregano, crispy pies stuffed with vlita (wild greens) and Naxian cheeses, Patatato – wild goat stew – as tender as slow-cooked lamb and flavoured with cinnamon, and puddings like caramalised quince served with gooey kaimaki – a Turkish-inspired ice cream, all of which can be found at this collection of lively restaurants across Naxos and the Small Cyclades
Google map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to Naxos & the Small Cyclades:
Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities
Places to eat in Naxos & the Small Cyclades
Mitsos Taverna, Donousa, Small Cyclades, Greece
Moor your boat in the bay then cool off on the bamboo-shaded terrace of this pretty family-run taverna. Bowls of salt-dried Throubes olives arrive on your table before you've even had time to digest the menu. Everything's grown here on site. Herbs – picked along the lanes – flavour family recipes: there's cuttlefish with oregano, cinammon and tomatoes, vlitta (tasty greens which grow wild throughout the island) with mint and lemon. The family's version of the popular Greek Potatatas (wild goat casserole) has been passed down from grandmother Fani, who, at 86 years young, still rules the roost round here. Round it off with some caramelised quince and kaimaki – a buttery, vanilla-flavoured ice cream with a meringue-like chewyness in the middle.
Yazoo Summer Bliss, Naxos, Greece
Forget feta salads, mousaka and fried calamari – the menu at this beachside restaurant will blow your idea of Greek cuisine clean out the water. Giorgos, who hails from Crete, has created a fusion of rich and tangy Naxian and Cretan flavours: try the apaki (pork) salad with Xinomyzithra cheese (half goat's, half sheep's cheese) infused in 20 different Greek herbs and doused in an orange vinaigrette, or the super-succulent 11-hour pork, which literally melts in the mouth. The homemade Sioufihta, a type of Cretan pasta, is cooked with black truffle and served in a clever paper parcel which keeps it gently cooking on the way to your table. You'll only find Greek varieties on the wine list. A beautiful setting too – bleeched floorboards, wicker lanterns hanging from trees, well-positioned tables and comfy sofas for gazing out at the windsurfers on the water. yazoo.gr
Kedros Beach Bar, Donousa, Small Cyclades, Greece
A lavender-lined path leads from the golden sweep of Kedros beach to this laid-back beach bar, created by two brothers in 2002. Here, sandy-footed souls laze in stripy deckchairs on the shady terrace sipping refreshing iced teas flavoured with aloe vera (the brothers have an aloe vera plantation on site) and tucking into fish dishes and salads packed with ingredients plucked straight from the organic allotment behind the café; the 'Garden' salad uses beans, courgettes and creamy mizithra cheese, a Naxian favourite. At night, the place is transformed into a chillout bar, festooned with strings of fairy lights and serving a temping selection of cocktails, with regular music evenings and DJs playing throughout the summer. Free camping is available on a site behind the beach.
Kori Tou Michali, Donousa, Small Cyclades, Greece
High up above Mersini (walk up from the beach if you fancy the challenge), this restaurant serves wonderful Greek food with a slightly experimental touch. This is very much a family business – Koula will happily spend time with you going through all the dishes on offer, hand-written on a small menu. Your best bet is to ask her to bring you her recommendations. Expect huge platters heaving with delicious local ingreidients, slow-cooked goat that falls off the bone and tempting desserts.
Sweet Bar Deli, Schinoussa, Small Cyclades, Greece
This bright and breezy place in Schinoussa Town has a fantastic menu featuring fava (locally grown beans) cooked a variety of ways and lots of other dishes inspired by local ingredients, such as grilled squid and four-hour pork with lemon and thyme. The restaurant opens onto a lovely terrace with great views out across the Aegean.
Irini's, Naxos, Greece
Just off the busy quay in Naxos Town, Irini's is a popular, welcoming family-run taverna with checked tablecloths and vines strewn across the ceiling. The huge menu (don't worry, Giorgos is on hand to recommend) features lots of traditional Greek dishes, such mousaka and stuffed aubergines, and plenty of Naxian dishes, too: the crisp pastry rolls stuffed with Naxian goats' cheese are delicious, as are the spicy meatballs. A great spot for watching boats coming in and out of the port.
Gianni's, Naxos, Greece
In the centre of historic Halki with its narrow winding streets lined with charming shops and galleries is this lovely family-run taverna, a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike who take shade on the the cool, vine-draped terrace. The outdoor spit turns from dawn til dusk, roasting an array of delicious things to eat over hot coals: try the popular chicken souvlaki, local village sausages or kontosouvli – succulent crispy barbecued pork. Vegetarians will love the pies – the courgette pie, a family recipe, oozes with creamy feta. Friendly staff and generous portions.
Platia, Naxos, Greece
Ask Andriana to show you her allotment: it's a wonderful, vibrant place of fruit and olive trees, neat rows of vegetables and colourful pots of herbs. Needless to say, everything that appears on the menu comes straight from here, and herbs feature heavily in the dishes: mint, basil, thyme, oregano. It's a family business and each member plays their part. Andriana and daughter Voula run the show, rustling up delicious, home-cooked food such as soutzoukakia (meatballs with parsely and lemon), and onions stuffed with mince and xynomyzithra cheese (a fresh batch of cheese is made each morning). Grandfather Manolis makes wine and raki.
Apostolis, Naxos, Greece
The tight and winding alleyways of Naxos Old Town open out onto this pretty little courtyard restaurant, with its neat tables and comfy seating for lazy lunches. The 'Apostolis' salad is a new take on a traditional Greek salad, the ingredients of which are placed into a hollowed out round loaf.
Oi Atairiastoi, Koufonissi, Small Cyclades, Greece
Head up from the main beach towards the windmill to this sweet place dotted with palm trees with bright, multicoloured tables and chairs and quiet, softly-lit corners. Food here is some of the best on Koufonissi: feta baked in honey and sesame, tasty fish soup, homemade breads and, reportedly, the best raki on the island. The lovely staff are attentive without being intrusive. Great value for money, too.
You won't be able to walk past this popular, family-friendly taverna without stopping to admire the fresh fish on display or exchange a few words with the friendly waiters. Right on the front, a stone's throw from the harbour and Portara, Deoudas serves a great range of perfectly-cooked fish dishes – calamari, octopus, salt-dried gouna, baracouda, red snapper. Huge salads and tasty starters include fava dip – a local speciality – marinated anchovies and crunchy whitebait. A great wine list, too – many of the bottles on offer are from vineyards on the island.
Hara's Cafe-Bar, Schinoussa
This lively, colourful café-bar in the heart of the island serves delicious freshly-squeezed fruit juices as well as a range of tasty light bites, including crepes, waffles and breakfasts.
For ideas of local food and drink, visitor attractions and outdoor activities, see our