As you walk along the cobblestone streets in Fira, you pass restaurant after restaurant sprinkled throughout the Santorini hillside town, all boasting unique settings and flavors. Since many offer the same Greek fare, walking in blindly and choosing one usually guarantees at least a decent meal. But if you’re looking for more than just a decent meal, it helps to have the locals tip you off to their favorites.
So, at the recommendation of our hotel concierge, we made our way to Apiron Restaurant — being told that it was a great location for viewing the sunset. Part of the charm of Fira dining is getting to each place. Many establishments are tucked away inside part of the hillside and getting there means walking through a standalone door (no side walls) that leads to winding steps. Apiron was no different, and step-by-step down the stairs, the allure of the restaurant began to show its face. Immediately upon arrival, you step onto their outdoor patio which looks out onto the volcano and dazzling Aegean sea.
Dinnertime on the island is later (somewhere between 8:30 and 10 p.m.) than the typical times for Americans, so a reservation at 6:30 p.m. proved unnecessary as only a few patrons were dining. Introducing himself, the server walked us through the menu, highlighting some of the restaurant’s specialties like a Warm Eggplant Salad prepared tableside and the Sea Bass Fillet Fricase with greens and lemon sauce.
After ordering a bottle of wine, we decided upon the Fresh Calamari with spearmint sauce and beetroot chips appetizer and the tableside eggplant salad. Preparing the dish, the server discussed the process, as he scooped out the white eggplant and drizzled it with olive oil, spices and feta. The finished product looks almost like tuna salad and the taste is extremely flavorful and best dished out onto a slice of bread. But it was the calamari that was most impressive. The rich, spearmint sauce paired flawlessly with the fresh calamari — so good, you couldn’t help but dip your bread in the sauce to savor every last drop.
Cod Fillet with mild garlic sauce and purslane salad; Young Goat with baby potatoes, honey, mustard and rosemary; and the owner’s recommendation, the sea bass; made up the main courses. Living up to the hype, the beautifully presented sea bass was moist and surrounded by a thick creamy lemon sauce with just the right amount of flavor to not overpower the fish. However, not to be outdone, the baking-paper-wrapped young goat smelled of fresh rosemary, and because of its packaging, was able to continue soaking up its juices — allowing for a savory, melt-in-your-mouth taste.
Throughout the meal, the owner frequently ventured over to chat and even helped choose gluten-free options for our friend with Celiac disease. Being in another country and having to rely on translation to get this across to the servers wasn’t always easy; but Apiron’s chef was extremely accommodating. When it came time for dessert, we did what any group of women would do: ordered all three choices. Against the backdrop of the sparkling city and ocean breezes, the Filo pastry with chocolate pudding and ice cream, Mosaic Chocolate Cake with Kaimaki ice cream and Custard Cream Slice with fresh strawberries topped off the picturesque evening. If you choose only one, go for the chocolate cake and pair it with coffee.
Over the course of the week, after trying many restaurants, it was clear that Apiron was not only a favorite, but had one of the most traditional tasting menus on the island and felt more intimate than the rest. It’s the kind of experience you want to have in Santorini, the kind you imagine when planning your trip. And one you'll most likely be sharing on Instagram.