The wonderful Tinos with its blue waters, stunning beaches, gorgeous mountainous villages and the great wineries, is a favourite destination for many Greek and foreign travellers, generously offering amazing experiences and creating memories and providing them with countless options.
Aeolus seems to be still living in Tsiknias, the tallest mountain in Tinos, allowing the winds to shake the island, adding charm to its appeal. Apart from the many experiences and the many winds, travellers will also discover many great representatives of the Cycladic culinary scene in Tinos.
On the island with the large rocky expanses, a large variety of farming products of top quality and great taste are grown which, together with the local fishery, form the base for the creation of dishes of this unique cuisine. We travelled to Tinos and recommend five taverns, traditional, as well as more modern, that are the perfect representatives of the island’s cuisine.
… san to alati
On the beautiful Agios Fokas beach, a stone’s throw away from the Hora of Tinos, Vasilis Plakias and his wife Maria, opened the tavern “…san to alati” in 2014. Maria named the tavern from the old fairy tale (san to alati means [love you] like salt) to highlight the importance of salt in food and in our life in general. Decorated in all white, the tavern is right next to beach and has large light windows on every wall creating the impression of a covered yard, offering customers a laidback and pleasant environment, as well as a panoramic view of the crystal-clear waters, and of the islands of Delos and Mykonos in the horizon. The family hospitality and the amazing delicacies they serve add to the pleasantness. The food is clearly Greek with strong Tinos influences. Familiar and favourite dishes presented with creative twists, using “non-negotiably great” ingredients as Vasilis, who studied microbiology before becoming a cook, stresses. The menu includes meat, seafood and vegan options – thus catering to everyone’s dietary preferences and needs. Whatever you choose you’re bound to be impressed by the amazing taste of the dishes.
The menu comprises of incredible mezze, excellent cheeses, traditional pies, fresh salads and vegetables, well-grilled meat and a variety of fish and seafood that take up the largest part of the menu and are all cooked to perfection. Tarama salad; Atlantic mackerel with boiled potatoes, dill, spring onion and capers; Tinian kariki cheese aged inside a pumpkin; artichoke pie with artichokes grown on the island feta, carrot and courgette; carrot, courgette and beetroot salad with lemon zest; steamed cockles with celery; cod fricassee; fried calamari with yogurt; and amazing grilled sardines with caper salad and lemon-and-olive-oil sauce are just a few of the delicious dishes on the menu. A “sentimental wine list” as Vasilis calls it, since most wines have a personal memory, mostly of the Cycladic vineyards, as well as great, light desserts complete the meal. “Our menu includes simple, familiar, easy flavours. Our recipes have been influenced by family recipes, some from Maria’s grandmother and my mother and some from Aunt Anna,” Vasilis tells us, while he adds that “food is always a memory, you’ll enjoy a meal that will bring up memories of familiar flavours”. The memories this tavern rekindles are priceless, and the environment is well-cared for, with an amazing view and great food. “I love you like salt” the daughter told her father in the fairy tale, and after this lovely experience, it’s what you’ll be saying too.
Address: Agios Fokas beach, Tinos
Telephone: + 30 22830 29266
In the mountainous village of Steni, Konstantinos Alivertis’ tavern Apodrasi first opened in 1996. The Cycladic white and the natural earthy colour of stone are dominant in the space, while there are traditional Tinos lintels hanging from the walls. The tables and the comfy sofas are set out on the huge, tiled, yard with the plants, the trees and the wooden covering, while the beautiful view of the surrounding mountains relaxes you. The tavern is a true escape (apodrasi means escape) from daily routine, as well as an escape in the flavours of Tinos. “Our food hasn’t changed with the passage of time. The meat and the traditional local recipes are still the focus of our menu,” Antonis, Konstantinos’ son, tells us. They source the goat, lamb, and pork, as well as vegetables and herbs from their farm and vegetable garden, and they make the louza (cured meat) and sausages themselves, while the beef and any extra vegetables they might need comes from select local producers and farmers. “Finding the best ingredients on the island is a constant struggle, but it’s one we undertake with pleasure because quality is of the outmost importance for us,” Mr Konstantinos tells us, and it’s clear in every bite.
The menu includes salads and boiled greens, both cold and hot appetizers, Tinian specialties, delicious and perfectly cooked and/or grilled organic meat, and amazing traditional Tinian casserole dishes. Tinian louza; honeyed feta in filo dough served with sesame; fried aubergines with fresh tomato sauce and local cheese; fennel-balls; livia –a type of string bean that the locals would use instead of pasta, with tomato and grated cheese–; froutalia – traditional omelette with sausage, sigklino (traditional cured meat) and vegetables; rusks with tomato, Tinos volaki cheese, capers and olives; incredible baked goat with artichoke puree and potatoes; and legendary lamb chops are just some of the dishes on the menu. Beer, ouzo, tsipouro and wine, mostly from Tinos, perfectly accompany the food. “The island’s recipes have been created by grandmas and grandpas. Using few but very good quality ingredients with makeshift pots and utensils, putting together a table that would be enviable even today. I’d give anything to be back in my grandma’s kitchen.” Mr Konstantinos tells us, reminiscing, and once you’ve eaten his food, you’ll want to “escape” here again.
Address: Steni, Tinos
Telephone: + 30 22830 41934
At the west part of the island, on the beautiful Giannaki bay, you’ll find the tavern O Ntinos, owned by Antonis Vamvakaris and his sons Ntinos and Hristos. The route from Hora towards Kardiani, where the bay is located, is simply magic. The winding road on the mountain slope offers amazing views of the Aegean sea and the surrounding islands. The bright white tavern, built on the rock, is bathed in light. Built on two levels, it serves on tables in its yards that overlook the sea, the beach and the scenic houses of Kardiani. At sunset, the sky appears to be on fire, while at night, the moon and the stars paint the sky silver. The setting is truly dreamy and has an amazingly relaxing effect. “Grandpa Ntinos first opened the tavern in 1996 and operated it for four years. Our family reopened it in 2012, updating it but keeping the name,” Ntinos tells us, adding that “we get the fish from Tinos’ and Andros’ fishboats, while the beef and goat comes from local farms, and we try to source all the vegetables we use from the island.”
Using quality Tinian products, Mr Antonis creates masterpieces in the kitchen, offering an unforgettable and especially tasty menu with Greek aromas and flavours and Mediterranean influences. The tavern focuses on fish, with a few select traditional meat dishes. The menu consists of salads, various island delicacies with cheese and artichokes, fresh seafood mezze and hot appetizers, traditional casserole dishes and a few grilled meat dishes, as well as amazing seafood and fish cooked to perfection. Tinian artichoke marinated in oil and vinegar served with tomato and croutons, tomato balls, chickpea fricassee, a traditional local dish, with spinach, lettuce, dill, onion, peppers and lemon, cockle stew with rosemary, Tinian vinegar and olive oil, perfectly fried calamari, juicy goat stew with lemon, as well as delicious pasta dishes like the shrimp pasta with tomato sauce, and the shrimp and mussels pasta with white sauce are a few of the dishes. Their drinks list includes mostly wines from the Tinos and Santorini vineyard, as well as ouzo, beer and tsipouro. What makes this family run tavern successful is the love they have for it, their “youngest child” as they call it, that they have been supporting for ten years, and are now excited for its second decade and its “adolescence”.
Address: Giannaki bay, Kardiani, Tinos
Telephone: + 30 22830 31673
In 2013, Zozefina Rouggeri opened the tavern Kounaria at the scenic Ai Giannis square of the gorgeous mountainous village Aetofolia. Kounaria, a word of Latin origin, was the name of the village the people of Aetofolia lived in until the mid-19th century, and it means the Tinian public spring. The period of the Venetian rule resulted in many Latin toponyms, as well as many Catholic villages. The old, two-storey house of Mrs Zozefina’s father-in-law stands in the small square, fully renovated and gorgeous, painted white with green shutters. The covered porch at the top floor has an amazing view of Exomvourgo and the surrounding villages, while in front of the tavern, on the tiled square, there are tables named after neighbouring villages, like honoured representatives, waiting to enjoy the tavern’s excellent delicacies.
“We decided with my husband to renovate the house and make a restaurant serving the food I cooked for our family. We had no knowledge of restaurants, their utensils and equipment. So, at first, I burnt the food, burnt myself a few times, but I gradually got accustomed to the tavern and the tavern to me, and we keep developing together,” Mrs Zozefina smiles, adding “αall of our ingredients are from Tinos. We pick the capers and oregano ourselves. To have the artichoke I want for the summer, I put in a lot of work during the winter. It requires hard and constant work all year long to have the ingredients we want. But it’s the only way, good food without great ingredients can’t be done.” With the help of the rest of the family in the kitchen, Mrs Zozefina offers a delicious menu with hot and cold appetizers, salads and vegetables, traditional omelettes and incredible casserole and Dutch oven dishes.
The dishes on the menu include spreads, with an amazing tzatziki among them, tirokafteri (spicy feta spread), baked aubergines with tomato sauce and cheese, skordato (Tinian pork sausage with garlic), louza, artichoke pie, fried fennel pancakes, fried courgettes, froutalia, baked beans with fresh tomato and herbs, and amazing beef stew with onions served with hand-cut fries. They offer both bottled and bulk wine, from local vineyards. “We do what we do with great love, respect and kindness,” Mrs Zozefina says.
Address: Aetofolia, Tinos
Telephone: + 30 22830 51777
Just seven kilometres from the amazing Volax village with the quaint alleys with the walls covered in Greek poems and the huge rocks that create a one-of-a-kind setting, you’ll find the traditional village Mirsini. In Mirsini, Teresa Harikiopoulou’s tavern, Teresa, is housed in an old Cycladic house. There are tables in the small yard in front of it, as well as in the arc next door, surrounded by lilacs and acacias and other lovely plants that offer shade and calm. The amazing views of the surrounding mountains that seem to embrace the little village of Mirsini add to the beautiful setting. Teresa first opened in 1985 as a grocery store-coffee shop-wine tavern, and gradually started serving some mezze, omelettes and louza. The mezze that Mrs Teresa served were so popular that they increased in number and more and more visitors came to taste them.
Today, while it continues to also serve as a grocery store and coffee shop, it has also transformed into a traditional tavern. “Our philosophy is simple. What we eat at home, you eat here,” Mrs Teresa’s daughter, Maria, who helps her mother run the shop tells us. “My mother still does the cooking, using ingredients from the island. The pork and chicken is from our own farm, and the vegetables are from my father’s vegetable garden, while the beef and goat is from local farmers we’ve been working with for years. We’ve always had quality food at home, made with fresh ingredients, and that’s what we do here as well. If we don’t have the right raw materials, we won’t serve a dish,” Maria stresses.
The small menu comprises of dishes of great taste – fresh salads, hot and cold appetizers, well-prepared grilled meat, and amazing casserole dishes, including salad with black eyed peas, feta in filo dough served with honey and sesame, kopanisti, skordato, lahanodolmades (stuffed cabbage), gemista (stuffed tomatoes), roasted vegetables, string beans with tomato and cheese, buttery moussaka with great cheese béchamel, amazing oregano pork cooked in wine and served with hand-cut fries, and juicy rooster in tomato sauce with spaghetti. A café, a wine tavern, a grocery store, a tavern – whatever you call it, one thing is for sure, they offer amazingly tasty food, and family hospitality in a nice, relaxed environment.
Address: Mirsini, Tinos
Telephone: + 30 22830 41320