The island of Sifnos is known for its fine cooking. Perhaps it is because of their tradition of pottery that their cuisine is so developed. While other places in Greece were cooking meat on sticks over an open fire the Sifniots were making delicious stews and casseroles in the clay pots and ovens that are still used. In the Greek merchant marine it is concidered lucky to find yourself on a ship where the cook is from Sifnos. These are just a few of my favorite restaurants on the island. There are many more. It is harder to find a bad restaurant in Sifnos then it is to find a good one.
|Manolis Restaurant in Vathy. The best clay oven food on the island. If you are lucky he may be roasting a lamb. Manolis has been the heart and soul of Vathi for decades. Though his son Stelios has taken over the runing of the restaurant, Manolis is always there acting as host and ambassador of kefi. A truly wonderful restaurant that should not be missed, particularly for a late and lingering lunch.||
|Excellent wine from the barrel, baked foods from the oven, fried kalamari, whatever fish has been brought in, and the best Greek salads in all the Cyclades topped with arugala and mizithra, a Sifniot cheese less sharp then feta and the consistancy of cottage cheese. When you are finished just jump right in the clean water of Vathi bay and then come back for a Greek coffee and baklava. If you decide that this is the life for you, then you can rent rooms right behind the restaurant.|
|Ouzerie Kamari is the only real ouzeri in Kamares. You can sit on the waterfront and choose from a large assortment of snacks to help dilute the effects of your ouzo. We had the pikelia, which is an assortment of fried squid, shrimp, cheeses, sadziki, tarama and a few other things. In fact we kept going back for it night after night. It was the best ouzo pikelia I have ever eaten. The large one can feed a small army of ouzo drinkers. They serve ouzo Plomari-Arvanitis from Lesvos, one of my favorites and also Tsipuro from Volos. Tsipuro is like ouzo only stronger and without the licorice taste. You could compare it to moonshine in taste and potency, not to mention its effects. The restaurant is owned by Margaretta and her husband Nick, an amazing cook who once worked for the US Military. Her two beautiful daughters work their as waitresses and at night it can get pretty festive. Excellent spicy cheese called kafterotiri. You are not limited to mezedes either since it is a full restaurant as well. Try their incredible stuffed chicken and the octopus cooked on the grill is like filet mignon. It is on the waterfront right next to the Boutique Marie.|
|Captain Andreas Fish Taverna on the beach
was at one time the best and most popular restaurant in Kamares. But as other restaurants improved, their fortunes
receded. Still it is a great place to eat and being right on the beach makes it the perfect place for lunch in
Kamares. Their fish soup is fantastic and because Captain Nikolaki is one of the finest fishermen in Kamares, there
is always a large assortment to pick from including barbounia (red-mullett), ksifia (swordfish steak or souvlaki)
and astrako (lobster). They also have grilled meat dishes and oven cooked specialities. His fishing boat called
the Captain Andreas is a familiar site sailing in and out of the harbor or at rest while he entertains his friends
with stories of the sea.
If you have children who don't want to sit around after eating you can move next door to To Kima where Thea Eleni makes the best baklava and frappe (ice-coffee). Her daughter Maria now only comes for part of the summer but in the past she had the heart of every male traveler in Kamares.
|Giorgos Boulis Taverna is not on the water but in the town square just up the street on the way to Apollonia. It used to be right on the waterfront where his Zacharoplastion (sweet and pasry shop) is now, but he wanted a larger place with more of a taverna atmosphere. He did a fine job in creating that atmosphere in his new establishment with the outdoor grill cooking all sorts of meat, like whole roast lamb, kokoretsi, steaks, chicken, souvlaki, paidaiki (lamb-chops) and the barrels of excellent home-made wine which line the interior. There are also many baked dishes, salads and mezedes. Giorgos Boulis was a familiar site on the waterfront, sometimes waiting on 20 tables at a time and keeping the whole enterprise together. Now he has given over much of the responsibility to his sons Adonis, and Yannis. Adonis speaks near perfect English and is married to a lovely woman from Australia. Yannis, who is my favorite of the brothers waits tables and is the grill man. He speaks English too though I have always talked to him in Greek (or attempted to). I have to add that the paidaiki are the best I have ever had and their wine is the best in Kamares as far as I am concerned.|
|The third son Spiros runs the bakery right next to the zacharoplastion. A visit here is essential because Spiros has not a great job of making sure the shelves are filled with the finest in local pastries, cakes and cookies, all baked on the premises. My favorite is the amegtholota which are these oval shaped almond cookies made mostly from almonds and sugar and little else. I swear that I could live off these things and I am not a sweet and pastry person by nature. In the glass case he has a variety of beautiful looking pastries that my daughter goes crazy for and in the window tiropita's (cheese-pies) and cheese pastries. In the summer he makes spanakopita (spinach pies), depending on the availability of spinach on a particular day. I would come in daily to ask for one and eventualy I would not have to even ask. Spiros would just shake his head yes or no when he saw me walking down the street.|
|Nowdays Giorgios Boulis runs the zacharoplastion, which is also an ice-cream shop, taking over for the Joy Cafe which bit the dust after years of dominating the ice-cream and yogurt with fruit honey and nuts market. At Boulis you can get fresh orange juice, breakfast, espresso drinks, beer, ouzo and anything short of a meal. If you are lucky Giorgios may wait upon you and you can sit there and imagine him being there when the place was a restaurant, every table full and he was the only waitor.|
|Simos Restaurant is one of the three 'real restaurants' according to Stavros Kalogirou. As he explained it to me the three real restaurants in Kamares are Boulis, Kambourakis Meropi, and Simos. What makes them real is that all three have farms that provide the cooks with all the vegetables, meat, olive oil, wine etc. The Captain Andreas can be concidered a real restaurant too because they have the fishing boat. But all the other restaurants must buy everything they serve and much of it is frozen. It is interesting that the three 'real restaurants' are among my favorites and that includes Simos. Like the others it is family run and the best way to choose your meal is to go into the kitchen and let them show you what's in the pots. Really good fish soup! (better then Capt Andreas) and wonderful Rivithia (chickpea soup). Greek salad with Mizithra too. I love how Mrs Simos sits down at our table to take our order. It could be because of all the restaurants in Kamares they have the most comfortable chairs. This may not seem like a big deal to you know but when you get to Greece and your posterior has become familiar with the straw chairs that are both popular and hard to sit in for long periods of time you will understand.|
|The Stavros Cafe, next to the Stavros Hotel and the Stavros Supermarket is not run by Stavros. It is run by Vangelis who used to own the Avra restaurant but realized that it is a lot easier to make money selling bacon and eggs, toast, yogurt with fruit, honey and nuts, espresso, beer, wine, ouzo, orange juice, pastries and ice-cream. When I asked him if it is easier to run a restaurant or a cafe he replied that the cafe was more difficult because you have to wash so many glasses. I had not thought of that. For the best coffee in the morning come here. If you are used to Starbucks quality (or potency is what I really mean), order a double espresso with hot milk. For the traditional Sifnos breakfast of yogurt with fruit, honey and nuts come here.|
|Across the bay in Agia Marina are three restaurants. One in the house where Markos, used to live is named after the wife of the old potter. I used to live there when it was Markos house and it was an odd feeling to be eating at a large table where my bed used to be. Argiris, a little further is known for excellent grilled meats. The last restaurant is owned by Niko and is more low key then the rest, more of a hobby or something for he and his family to do during the summer, but he has some of the best food and it's a great place to be especially for lunch. Starting in the summer of 2001 there will be a forth called the Delfini.|
|On the beach called Apakafto next to the monastery of Chrysopigi is the restaurant of the same name where we went for our Easter dinner. We had roast lamb and the famous lamb mastella which Sifnos is known for it. Instead of roasting it is cooked in a clay pot and let me just say that I was a lamb-on-a-spit fanatic until I tried the mastella. Now I am converted. No more hours spent turning a lamb over an open fire for me. Lamb mastella is awsome. The restaurant called Chrysopigi on the other end of the beach is just as good.|
|CLAUDIO'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT:Let super-chef Claudio wine and dine you in the finest Italian restaurant in the Agean. Local and imported wines. Fantastic pastas, salads, fish and meat. Great pizzas and calzones too! This would be concidered a fine Italian restaurant even if it were in New York City or Milano. The fact that it is in Kamares, Sifnos is a blessing for anyone who has tired of Greek food or wants to visit Italy without shelling out the airfare. Here's a tip: If you have a before dinner drink at the Old Captain Bar they will give you a discount card for Claudio's. Then after you eat at Claudio's they give you a free drink card for the Old Captain. A great way to save money and eat well. Service is provided by George who lives in Vancouver and the food cooked by Paolo. George recommends the Risotto, a different flavor every day. I like the Spaghetti Puttanesca and the Zingara Salad.|
|Mama Mias is owned by Phillipo and his son Andrea and there are two locations, the original on the beach at Platyialos and the new one next to Stavros Eleonas Apartments on the footpath between Appollonia and Artemona. Both are excellent Italian restaurants with the Apollonia location specializing in pizza. The Platyialos restaurant is great for lunch and a swim. Ask to see his collection of 60's 45's and try the seafood pasta. Don't be surprised to see the Prime Minister of Greece at the next table.|