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  • Spondi (Athens): Athinorama, the weekly review of the Athenian scene, has chosen Spondi several years running (2001-07, 2011) as the best place in town. Exceptional cuisine, setting (a beautiful 19th-century town house with a stone courtyard covered with bougainvillea) and service, this winner of two Michelin stars for exceptional dining is considered by many to be the finest restaurant in Greece.
  • Fish Taverna Takis to Limeni (Limeni, Mani, Peloponnese): Visitors to Greece dream of finding the perfect open-air fish taverna perched by the sea, serving fish that were swimming in the sea earlier the same day. Here it is—with some of the fish still swimming in the underwater storage cages they're plopped into from the fishing boats. Everything here is fresh and delicious.
  • Selene (Santorini, Cyclades): The best restaurant on an island with lots of good places to eat, this elegant retreat, occupying an old manor house in Pyrgos, consistently tops best-in-Greece lists and works its magic from the moment you step into the handsome dining room or onto the candlelit terrace overlooking vineyards and the distant sea. Dishes such as octopus with smoked eggplant, fava balls with capers, and herb-encrusted rabbit make creative use of local ingredients and are the favorites of haute-cuisine magazines. Owner George Haziyannakis constantly experiments with local produce to turn out innovative versions of traditional dishes. Even better, there are cooking classes where you can see how dishes are made—and then eat them! Selene also has a cafe/patisserie/wine bar.
  • The Well of the Turk (Chania, Crete): You will find your way to this all-but-hidden restaurant at the heart of the old Turkish quarter south of the Venetian Harbor by keeping your eye on the minaret, and asking for directions along the way. An enticing selection of Greek and Middle Eastern appetizers, juicy lamb dishes, meatballs mixed with eggplant, and other specialties are served on the ground floor of a Turkish house and in a lovely courtyard.
  • Avli (Rethymnon, Crete): This veritable temple to Cretan cuisine introduces diners to the freshest island ingredients. Fish and lamb, of course, appear in many different guises, as do mountain greens and other fresh vegetables, all served in a delightfully romantic garden, an arched dining room, and on a narrow lane out front. High-style accommodations, where Asian pieces and contemporary pieces are set against stone walls and wood beams, surround the restaurant garden and are tucked into nearby houses.
  • Petrino (Kos, Dodecanese): When royalty comes to Kos, this is where they dine. Housed in an exquisitely restored, century-old stone petrino (private residence), this is hands-down the most elegant taverna in Kos, with cuisine to match. This is what Greek home cooking would be if your mother were part divine.
  • The Venetian Well (Corfu, Ionian Islands): A bit severe in its setting at the edge of a small enclosed square in Corfu town, with no attempt at the picturesque, this restaurant gets by on its more esoteric, international, and delicate menu. It's for those seeking a break from the standard Greek scene.
  • Benetos Restaurant (Patmos): Benetos Matthaiou and his American wife, Susan, make it their business to deliver one of this Dodecanese island’s nicest dining experiences, on the terrace of a Tuscan-style villa at the edge of the sea. Fresh ingredients come from gardens on the property and nearby waters and show up in dishes such as shrimp in phyllo and fresh fish baked in a citrus sauce or a simple arugula salad with shaved Parmesan.
  • Kronio (Lasithi Plateau): This cozy and welcoming establishment serves the finest food on Crete’s Lasithi Plateau, from thick lamb stews to homemade bread and cheese-stuffed pies. Service is so warm and welcoming that you may want to settle in for awhile—and you may, in nicely appointed rooms in the proprietors’ countryside home, where a glistening swimming pool is among the comforts.
  • Lithos (Naxos): A stylishly contemporary dining room tucked far away from the clamor of the waterfront beneath the walls of the Kastro is a quiet refuge of glistening white walls and floors accented with bright colors. These surroundings are as fresh as the kitchen’s simple yet satisfying creations, a refreshing change from standard taverna fare.
  • Metaxy Mas (Santorini): An out-of-the-way location in the countryside doesn’t seem to deter eager diners, who pack into this stone-walled dining room and terrace from noon until the wee hours. The draws on this sophisticated island? Simple time-honored dishes made with the freshest ingredients.
  • Taverna Sklithiri (Skiathos): If you’re not swept away by the setting—a flowery terrace right on a golden beach with a turquoise sea almost lapping up against the tables—you really don’t belong on a Greek island. Off the grill comes, of course, the freshest fish, along with simply prepared vegetables and manner of other seafood, including plump mussels roasted in white wine.
  • To Maereo (Mykonos): You’ll be remembering this delightful spot on a quiet lane when winter sets in back home—simple and atmospheric, serving good traditional fare at reasonable prices. Country sausage, meatballs, zucchini fritters, and other delicious fare fill the tempting, ever-changing menu, presented in a welcoming room and at a few tables in front.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.