As Tinos reaches its culinary peak there are new restaurants opening to cater to the trendy and the traditional. I love To Thalassaki on the jetty at Ormos Ysternia for its creative flair and local ingredients (squid ink tarama, grilled onions with lemon jam). They serve Domaine de Kalathas wines that are like a distillation of Tinos in a bottle.
1. To Thalassaki
This rustic, colorful restaurant in the heart of Tinos Town (Chora) serves a variety of traditional dishes. The decoration with historic mementos, musical instruments and fishing boat lights creates a nostalgic and warm atmosphere.
One of my favorite restaurants on the island. The food here is outstanding, especially the fried cheese balls with orange marmalade and the grilled octopus dish. The service is also very friendly and helpful.
I love that the menu is full of dishes made with local ingredients, especially the squid ink tarama and the goat’s cheese with bee pollen. The wine list is extensive and the staff is very knowledgeable about wines.
One of my favorites, this two-level family taverna has amazing views and delicious cuisine. They serve a wide range of fish, seafood and traditional meat dishes including chickpea fricassee with spinach, peppers and lemon, stewed quince with rosemary and lemony goat, and shrimp pasta. Their home-made desserts are also incredible, particularly lychnarakia (open-faced sweet cheese pies), and sesame cookies with bitter almond and honey.
2. Taverna Antonis
Located on the beach at Agios Fokas, this modern restaurant has a natural wood and bamboo decor with fennel plants and macrame shading. This creates a laidback atmosphere and compliments the views of the crystal blue waters and the white houses of Tinos. The menu is inspired by Japanese, Latin American and European cuisine with a strong emphasis on local ingredients.
This two-level family taverna has a fantastic view extending to Syros and is the place everyone goes to for lunch on the north side of the island. It has a lot of seafood dishes but also offers meat like grilled ewe chops and kebab. The owner, Antonis Vambakaris, is a chef and his menu has a great mix of traditional and modern Greek cuisine.
He also makes some fantastic native wines at his winery in the north of the island. The most famous is the single varietal Assyrtiko but he has some great Mavrotragno and Gardari as well.
3. Kolymbithra Beach
Kolymbithres beach is the most impressive of Tinos’s many beaches. It stretches along the north-western coast of the island and offers lots of small consecutive beaches so that you can bathe in privacy or mingle with the locals in one of the few restaurants on the beach.
There are several great restaurants at the beach including To Thalassaki which has become kind of famous because it’s a place where you eat all kinds of meat (people from Mykonos come here). At Taverna Antonis, the owner Adonis makes his own version of chorta but with a twist: he adds almira, a salty sea vegetable, to make a dish even more delicious.
It’s easy to see why the 20th-century philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis called Tinos a “handmade island”. Every stone lintel, doorway and marble fountain of this 75 square mile isle in the northern Cyclades has been sculpted by talented artists. At Volacus winery, Michalis Kontizas is carrying on this tradition by cultivating his organic vineyards among the granite boulders that resemble a moonscape.
4. Pyrgos Village
Located in the northwest of Tinos, Pyrgos is famous for its marble sculptures. It’s one of the most populated villages and a great spot to explore on foot. Its center is full of restaurants that spill out onto the streets with a very charming atmosphere.
A big Platanus (sycamore) tree is shading the main square of the village. There is also an old fountain in the middle of the square, a perfect spot to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or even better a slice of the amazing galaktobouriko (custard pie).
Tinos is renowned for its beautiful beaches but it’s also an important gastronomic destination on the island. From the fresh sea food to the traditional Greek taverns, it has a lot to offer all lovers of incredible meals.