Feast on What Sifnos has to Offer
Discover the best places to eat in the culinary heaven of Sifnos
I don't know about you, but we tend to prefer underground, non-touristy places for our summer destinations. The reason for that is simple. We love to feel the genuine atmosphere, talk to the local people and of course, try the traditional food a place can offer.
For this reason, last year, we chose Gozo instead of Malta and for the same reason we avoided Greece as much as possible. Of course, we wanted to swim in their clear blue waters and understand their history. Still, we were terrified of crowded beaches and international restaurants that serve crappy dishes.
But, when we researched where to relax for two weeks in the middle of the summer and stumbled upon Sifnos, we couldn't even consider anything else. I am sure that after reading this article, many of you will feel the same.
Before going to the food talk, you should know that Sifnos is one of 30 islands that form the Cyclades archipelago. It is not as famous as its bigger siblings, such as Santorini, Naxos, or Mykonos. Yet, it stands out for its culinary history. The reason? It is the birthplace of Greece's most famous chef, Nikolaos Tselementes, who lived between 1878–1958. Even so, his work is still recognized today, and his name is used as a synonym for cookbooks all over Greece.
So, in his honor, each autumn, Sifnos hosts an international food festival with vendors from all over the world. Unfortunately for us, this year's edition was canceled due to Covid. But since the island is such culinary heaven, we decided to visit it nevertheless. And what a journey it has been.
Anyway, to get to Sifnos, you will have to fly to a nearby location and take a ferry, as the island doesn't have an airport. For us, the easiest way to reach the destination was a flight to Athens and a 3-hour boat trip from the Piraeus Port. Yet, you can choose other nearby airports such as Mykonos or Milos.
Anyhow, the first part of Sifnos that you see at your arrival is its port, Kamares.
If you want to know where to stay in Sifnos, well, this is a very good place to book a room. Even though we didn't think it through when we chose our accommodation, I now think Kamares is one of the best places to book as it is the most convenient for a base camp. You have everything you need in the port, and you are at just one bus stop away from the island capital of Apollonia.
However, when it comes to food, Kamares is not the best spot to eat on the island. The restaurants' staff don't really know what they are doing, and in some places, such as Meropi Restaurant, the food is simply uneatable.
But just like in our situation, you will most probably have to grab a bite in Kamares on some occasions. If so, you should know that there are actually two decent venues. One is Ristorante Italiano "Da Claudio" where the pizza is quite good. Yet, we still had to wait longer than usual for the beverages.
The other suggestion is a fish tavern called Araxovoli. This is the only place that serves fresh fish in the port. The story is even better because the owner has a fishing boat. Each morning, he and his brother go out fishing. Thus, you can eat at Araxovoli whatever they catch on that day. Long story short, the food here is delicious, the owner is a very nice man, and the prices are correct.
For a great sunset, I can recommend going to Delphini. Although, the food is kind of average, and the service is not that great either. But the view is beautiful, nevertheless.
Even though Kamares is not necessarily the it-place for dining out, it still has one of the best Sifnos beaches. It is small, cozy, with clear blue waters and lovely beach bars. The vibe is totally chill, with no loud music that could ruin your vibes. And that is why we spent most of our beach days here.
Now, speaking of beach bars, if you like to end your day on the beach with a nice cocktail, good music, and a night bath, I strongly suggest checking out The Old Captain. If you want, you can order a takeaway pizza from "Da Claudio" and have a lovely beach dinner. I don't know for sure, but I do think that the bar offers some snacks if you don't want a proper supper.
However, the most famous beach on the island is not Kamares but Platis Gialos.
Still, we didn't necessarily like the feeling that it offers. It is more crowded and more commercial than anything else we saw in Sifnos. But since it's so popular, it is full of fancy restaurants. And I mean it when I say fancy.
Depending on what you prefer:
- you can choose a more Middle Eastern approach and eat at Maiolica;
- you can go with one of the most impressive desserts we've ever tried and book a table at Yalos;
- you can dine at Omega 3 and feel like a celebrity (yes, people like Tom Hanks or Bono come here to eat.)
If you have time to check out all three, I strongly recommend you do so as they are all amazing.
Maiolica and Yalos are somehow closer to home. They both serve exquisite dishes, and they do it in a very professional way.
On the other hand, Omega 3 is an entirely different experience. They offer tapas-like dishes for you and your friends to share. Plus, they have the widest variety of marinated fresh fish we've ever seen. However, even though most of the plates were fabulous, there were some we didn't necessarily like, such as a fried fish head that was extremely fat and heavy.
But all in all, Platis Gialos is the place to go if you are looking for a luxurious restaurant.
However, Sifnos is not all about fabulous dining. Actually, the island has a very hippie and jazzy attitude. So, if that is the vibe you are searching for, then you should go to Apollonia.
With its white houses and blue windows, the capital is full of little coffee shops, bars, jewelry shops, and of course, restaurants. For instance, we never missed the chance to drink a pre-dinner cocktail at Botzi bar. But there are so many others to choose from.
Regarding the restaurants, again, I find myself having a hard time naming just one.
For example, Rabagas has the most elegant garden, with the perfect background music and a breathtaking view.
The food is also delicious. Furthermore, you can go with something pretentious such as a lobster or with a more down-to-earth meal like a kebab. Regardless if you are a surf or a turf kind of person, you won't be disappointed with the plate in front of you.
If you prefer a more urban vibe for your dinner, there are plenty from which you can choose in Apollonia. For instance, you can go to Cayenne, taste something from their delicious menu, and enjoy their art gallery. The restaurant offers great services and good prices for their food. Yet, since it's right in the heart of the city's most busy street, you can find things a little bit too loud.
Now, if you stay long enough, you may want to make a change in all that Greek cuisine. If so, you can take a more Italian approach and book a table at Don Carlo. Even though we said that we will only eat local recipes, we simply couldn't resist the urge to eat a good pasta plate. Thus, we made a dinner reservation here and went Italian for an evening.
The location of the restaurant is beautiful. There was not a single thing we didn't enjoy here. The service was exquisite, the wine excellent, and the food delicious. Be careful with the complimentary grappa, though. It managed to knock us all out. Also, you should expect to pay a little bit more than at the other restaurants in the capital.
Besides Apollonia, Sifnos has two other towns you should not miss the chance to visit and dine in. The first one is Kastro, which you will find right on a cliff, looking down at the ocean's blue.
Kastro, which means castle, is the first settlement of the island, going all the way back 3000 years. At one time, it even was Sifnos capital. Today, not much happens in this town, but it's lovely just to wander around its streets and steep stairs.
It was up to debate, but for me, the best food experience we had on this island was in Kastro. We booked a table at Cantina for an evening and were transposed to a different place.
To reach the restaurant, you will have to walk all the way down to the beach (there are a lot of stairs). Once there, you will see a small place, with just a few tables and many staff ready to serve you impeccably.
They change their menu daily as they are a zero-waste restaurant. So, don't expect perfect cuts or fabulous platings. What you'll get is honest, gourmet food prepared with love and respect.
I would gladly return to this venue any time as I am sure that each visit is a different experience. The only aspect that you'll need to consider if you want to eat at the Cantina is that you will need to book a table in advance and I do mean it. We stayed on the island for more than two weeks, and we barely managed to find an available table.
There are other restaurants in Kastro, but truth be told, we haven't tested anything else.
However, suppose you are in the mood for an exciting night. In that case, I suggest you don't miss the chance to drink some rum at Kavos Sunrise. This is the coolest place I've seen in Sifnos.
It’s a small bar, where the owner drinks rum shots with everyone, Cuban music sings, and everybody has a good time.
The menu is, of course, very versatile. You can choose between a shot of rum or a cocktail with rum. And no, you can't buy any non-alcoholic beverage.
If you do want water, there is a market just around the corner. Anyway, the atmosphere is fantastic, so if you like this kind of stuff, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to have a nightcap or more here.
Finally, the last town to visit on the island is Artemonas. You will simply love it. It is full of colonial houses and beautiful buildings. The vibe is much more relaxed than the one in Appolonia but a little bit more lively than the one in Kastro (Kavos Sunrise doesn’t count).
On our first visit, we only stayed for a cocktail at this very cool bar named Flaros. The beverages were so delicious that we came back once again only to try some more.
Here, we talked to the owner, and he told us that they also have a restaurant at Faros beach which he recommended us to check out. Naturally, we did exactly that. Not only were the dishes amazing, but there was an incredibly peaceful feeling in the air that we didn't feel anywhere else.
But to return back to Artemonas, just as in Kastro's case, we managed to dine here only once. And just as in Kastro's case, the restaurant we've picked was also in discussion for the favorite one in Sifnos. I am talking about Perivoli.
Located in an extraordinary garden, this venue serves perfectly cooked recipes that are then plated to perfection. The only regret we had was that we didn't have a dessert here as well. After a generous starter and an even more generous main course, dessert was simply not an option anymore.
As I said before, we stayed 16 days on the island, and we still didn't manage to eat in all the places we wanted to. For instance, there were several restaurants we would have loved to try at Vathi Beach but simply didn't find time to squeeze them in.
Now, before I wrap things up, I want to say that even though Sifnos is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, don't expect to find too many fish dishes. Since there is not much wild fishing left, all the captures are sent to the big Greek islands. However, at each beach, you will find a fishery where you can eat delicious grilled or fried fish.
As for other restaurants worth mentioning, you should also check out Panostria for its amazing views and reinterpretation of classic dishes.
But also Ampelos for its live music and homemade food.
Furthermore, you should not leave the island without trying the following:
- Mastelo which is a very slow-cooked lamb stew (tried in several places, can't say which one was the best as all of them were amazing);
- Fish roe salad - we had this dish almost every day, but the best ones we had were serves at Perivoli and Omega 3;
- Tzatziki - you will love it no matter where you eat it;
- Eggplant salad - best one we had was at Cantina;
- Meatballs - best plate we had was at Ampelos;
- Dakos and Greek salad with mizithra cheese - also amazing regardless of the restaurant.
Las but not least, I want to share with you some tips that we would have loved to know before arriving to Sifnos:
- There are only 10 taxis on the island. Call in advance and book them if you want to travel by cab. Better yet, when you do get one, book it again right when you are in the car. It's easier. We traveled most of the time with taxi no 8, and we loved both the drivers.
- Renting a car in high season is not an easy job. If you want one, book a car before your arrival. We only managed to get one for 2 days.
- Always book a table for dinner. People there eat lunch at 2 PM and dinner around 9 PM. During these hours, everywhere is crazy crowded and the staff overwhelmed. If you book your tables around 1PM and 8 PM, you should be just fine.
- Regarding Sifnos weather, you should know that it’s a windy island. So don't be upset when you arrive and the wind swipes your hat off your head. If the wind stops, you'll miss it. Trust me.
- For local souvenirs, go to Sifanto Grocery in Kamares as they offer only high-quality local products.
- For a boat day, contact Aegeas Sifnos. They provided us with the best day cruise experience we ever had.
- The island is also famous for its hiking tracks. So make sure you take some proper shoes with you.
Well, I hope that I didn't lose you on the way. It turned out to be a very long article, but I didn't want to miss anything since there were so many amazing places worth mentioning. And even so, I can’t name without a doubt just one restaurant that serves the best food in Sifnos.
If you go to this amazing destination and still have questions about the island, feel free to contact us directly on our Instagram page. Happy holidays!
**This article was written in August 2021. Please note that circumstances can change over time. If you discover that any venues mentioned have since closed, kindly inform us. Thank you!