For the better part of three full days in Santorini, I really struggled to find a restaurant where I felt I was in an "authentic" Greek environment, aka the meal was both fully local and having a menu solely focused on Greek food. As beautiful as my either of my dinners were at the Grace Santorini and the Canaves Oia' Petra restaurant, neither dinner was what I like to refer to as "local comfort food." Both meals were highly gastronomic -- and the price certainly reflected it -- though I really don't have many complaints at all about the quality of food!
Now, as I strolled along the main thoroughfare in Oia, there was absolutely no shortage of restaurants I could have chosen to eat at. The main street -- there is literally one main pedestrian walking street which runs parallel to the street for cars and the local bus in Santorini so you can't miss it -- had nothing but shops and restaurants. I spent nearly an entire day walking in-and-out of nearly all the stores, however, none of the restaurants really had anything I wanted (like every good tourist town they post their menu outside the door for your viewing pleasure). "They just look so touristy," was what I haughtily thought.
Since I like to think I am self-sufficient and can rely upon my food-and-travel writing network to get good recommendations, I thought I could scope through for myself what would be good or not. Ultimately, due to the sheer volume of restaurants, I finally broke down and asked the hotel concierge were I should eat. Their first choice for me (more on that later) was not very good. I really wish I wouldn't have spent almost a hundred dollars for my dinner my next-to-last night in Santorini there. Fortunately, their other recommendation, what I will forever refer to as my "last meal in Santorini," was absolutely magnificent. BEYOND WORDS fantastic.
Meltini Oia is not located on the main thorough-fare but they do have a very prominent sign with an arrow which says "turn here." (I must have looked at that sign a dozen times before I actually, deliberately, went looking for the sign.) Follow the Meltini sign to the final building on the right, maybe 50 feet or so from the sign, before the road where cars drive and the restaurant is located on nondescript, perfectly white building on the right hand side.
Reservations are, naturally, highly HIGHLY recommended since the place is small and fills up fast. Also, because they do have a rooftop bar, which you can view some of the beautiful Santorini sunset. Be sure to note in your reservation if you would like to sit upstairs on the rooftop, downstairs in the patio, or inside.
Now, to the best part: the FOOD and DRINKS!
Melitini is a tapas-styled restaurant, which makes it great for a food adventurer like myself who loves to order a lot of food. Again, for the second night in a row (or maybe third night), when I began to order food, the male Greek waiter would look at me and say, "That is A LOT OF FOOD!!!," as if contemplating I would clean-off my entire plate when ordering. Naturally, I would just laugh them off but honestly I would have probably ordered a few more dishes if I didn't feel so gluttonous. I mean ... what is it about men judging women on the amount of food they eat?!? Of course, if I were being generous (which I am), they probably thought I didn't realize the full scale size of the dishes and the dishes at Meliniti are a very generous tapas size!
Ironically, the one thing the male waiters never said in Santorini was that I had too much of was the alcohol. ;-)
Again, going with my theme of "eating local only," I stuck with drinking local only as well. At Melitini, they have the most beautiful Raki drink. Raki, for the uninitiated like myself, is "an unsweetened, occasionally anise-flavored, alcoholic drink that is popular in Albania, Greece, Iran, Turkic countries, and in the Balkan countries as an apéritif. It is often served with seafood or meze." Melitini has one flavored with honey and my-oh-my (!!) for three euros this had to have been my favorite drink of the trip! Raki with Honey was sublimely fresh, like one of your favorite sports drinks after burning through a 1,000 calorie workout, however with the light and flavorful PUNCH which comes after you have taken a sip of a strong alcoholic drink.
When I queried my super helpful -- and super handsome -- waiter what the Raki was made of, he helpfully told me, "It's 42% alcohol." hahaha! No wonder I was feeling so good after one drink!! You can order a bottle of Raki with Honey for 6 euros, which I did, and I drank it leisurely throughout my meal.
In addition to Melitini being the best meal of my birthday trip to Santorini, the restaurant also had my favorite dish. More specifically, they offer a "Variety of Spreads" for a ridiculous under-priced seven euros. Everything you see in the photo above (bottom row, L to R is the Eggplant and Beetroot; top row is Tirokafitiri and Tzatiki) was seven euros and it was the ultimate mouth-watering, flavorful, truly transportive experience in Greek food I had my entire trip in Greece. I would, in fact, be so bold as to say in my entire three years of traveling around the world, the Variety of Spreads would definitely go straight to the top ten list of all around best courses.
PERIOD. FULL STOP.
Now, being a french fry addict, and having told my trainer I was on vacation so I didn't have to follow my strict no-carb diet, I immediately coursed over straight for the Fried Potato with sauce and cheese (7.50 euro). Excellent, as well, and the cheese really adds a marvelous texture to everything. I think this is definitely something I want to try and make it home -- after August since I am back on the no carb diet.
Another item I ordered were the Meatballs, which were average and a bit overcooked, but since I scrapped clean the variety of spreads this didn't matter as much to me. I did have in mind to order more dishes and dessert, but like a classic amateur I stuffed myself on alcohol and pita bread so I was barely functional when I left.
Since I plan 100% on coming back to Santorini, Greece, I know I am going to stop here first-and-foremost to try everything else on the menu. Too bad it is suuuuuuuuuuuch a far travel itinerary for me or else I would try and hit it again soon!