Mykonos, where the feta is strong and ouzo is stronger, is a popular port of call, especially during the peak months of July and August. However, it is possible to escape the crowds and find the local hotspots to dine and drink, you just need to know where to look. Local writer Rebecca Hall shows us some of her favorite dishes in Mykonos and the best places to find them. And good news for cruisers: You can walk to many of the restaurants right from the cruise ship terminal in Mykonos Town.
Kopanisti is a spicy soft cheese fermented over several months in clay jugs and is specific to Mykonos. The cheese is typically made with milk from cows or a mixture of cow, lamb and goat’s milk. During the fermentation process red chili peppers are added to give it just the right amount of spiciness. Some recipes add garlic to it as well. You can find this served with pita bread as a dip or on top of a Greek salad.
Where to find it: Located in the square behind City Hall in Mykonos Town, you’ll find Paraportiani Taverna, a tavern that has been run by a retired naval man/fisherman for the last 25 years and is one of the few remaining intimate Greek cuisine establishments still run by a Mykonian family.
Yes, pizza and pasta might be Italian in tradition, but Mykonos caters to an eclectic mix of palates. The Italian cuisine found at the Mykonos Mediterraneo Ristorante Pizzeria has a special touch added to it. One of the restaurant’s specialties is pizza de fruttia de mare, which is essentially the seafood pasta dish fruittia de mare prepared on top of a pizza and baked in the oven, whole clams and all. The spicy pomodoro sauce over homemade gnocchi is a must-try and tastes extra fresh. Consider trying an octopus dish, even as an appetizer.
Where to find it: Mykonos Mediterraneo Ristorante Pizzeria is located in Mykonos Town behind the elementary school and is frequented by locals.
This traditional Greek fast food can be found all over Greece and the Greek islands. Similar to a souvlaki, the slices of grilled pork or chicken from the rotisserie are accompanied by tomato, onion, parsley and tzatziki sauce all wrapped in pita bread. It’s delicious to eat as you wander the streets of Mykonos Town.
Where to find it: Fani’s (behind the bus station in Mykonos Town) is the best place for gyros because Fani (the owner) makes the tzatziki sauce himself. Garlic lovers will certainly enjoy it.
The best place on the island to eat seafood is Apaggio Restaurant. Its oysters, paella, octopus and urchins are the specialties, as are the more than 50 varieties of ouzo. And its enviable location overlooking the sea gives it a perfect (and romantic) feel for a lunch in Mykonos. Bonus: This is a local hidden gem and a great place for escaping the crowds.
Where to find it: Appaggio Restaurant is located in front of the entrance to Santa Marina, the five-star resort on the island, about a two-and-a-half-mile taxi ride from Mykonos Town.
Established before the arrival of electricity to that part of the island, Kiki’s Taverna sits above one of the few undeveloped beaches (Agios Sostis Beach) on the island. It’s by far the island’s best place to try simple Greek dishes, and it fully embraces the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” because the menu hardly ever changes. It has a somewhat primitive feel to it that’s refreshing.
The 10 salads on the menu, prepared by Miss Kiki, range from the traditional Greek salad with feta to beetroot salad, tabouleh, potato salad and broccoli salad. The tiny outdoor restaurant grills the meat right outside, the same way it did before it had electricity.
Tip: The restaurant opens at 1:00 pm and is very popular among locals (and celebrities), so get there before it opens to avoid a long wait time. If you end up waiting in line, the views and the wine won’t disappoint. And BRING CASH!
Where to find it: Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis Beach is about a five-mile (19 minute) taxi ride from Mykonos Town, but you won’t find a sign so you’ll need to follow your nose. The taverna sits next to the church of Agios Sostis overlooking Agios Sostis Beach.
Amygdalota is a small round cookie made with almonds, rosewater and caster sugar (fine sugar). Traditional cookies in the Cycladic chain of Greek islands — to which Mykonos belongs — are typically consumed raw, melting the minute you put them in your mouth. But in Mykonos you’ll find them baked, making for a great treat both on the island and back on your ship.
Where to find it: You can buy these treats from many bakeries, but the best is Kyklamino , on the peripheral road (outer road leading away from Mykonos Town) about five minutes outside of Mykonos Town. Their 30 years of experience make it a popular place for locals to buy their sweets.
This thick, milky, non-alcoholic drink made with sugar, almond essence, almond milk and rose water is served over ice and is a traditional soft drink on Mykonos. While it is cheek-puckeringly sweet, it’s also quite refreshing on hot days.
Where to find it: The best soumada can be found in Skaropoulos Pastry Shop, about a 10-minute taxi ride outside of Mykonos Town heading toward the monastery of Ano Mera.
Die-hard carnivores will love louza, the Mykonian delicacy of cured pork. Similar to prosciutto and served as part of a meze or sliced into a salad, the pork is hung to dry for at least a month before serving. What makes it so special is the local herb, savory (known as 'throubi’, that grows wild around the island.
Where to find it: Just about any taverna will serve this traditional dish, but the best places to go are along the waterfront of Mykonos Town: Kadena, Madoupas and Alegro are all frequented by locals.
Melopita is a sweet Mykonian dessert combining base ingredients of ricotta cheese, honey, cinnamon, lemon and semolina. Because all the ingredients are fresh, you can almost feel guilt-free eating it … almost.
Where to find it: Skaropoulos Pastry Shop or Kyklamino Patisserie. Both are about a five-minute drive from Mykonos Town and stock melopita freshly made, but you can find it in any good taverna or restaurant.
Paraportiano is a dry white or red organic wine synonymous to Mykonos and you can find it at Mykonos Vioma. Their wine is superior because no chemicals or pesticides are used on the grapes and sheep graze the land to naturally remove any weeds and insects that could destroy the harvest. The fine soil and year-round warm temperatures make for ideal growing conditions. This is a great wine to drink with a meal or to take home as a gift.
Where to find it: It’s sold at Mykonos Vioma (located on the road toward Fokos Beach) and is also supplied to many restaurants and shops around the island.