Symi was once a quick day trip for those staying on nearby Rhodes, but the island is so alluring that it’s now a destination in its own right. With more visitors, the restaurants here have increased in number, but they’ve remained mostly traditional. Fresh seafood is on most menus. With some incredible views of the bay and the ocean, these restaurants on Symi give you beauty, flavour, an insight into island life and the best seafood you can get.
A sign at the bottom of some steep stone steps points the way to the Secret Garden. Once you’ve reached the top and enter, you’ll realise that low-key sign was a perfect welcome to this hidden, rustic restaurant on the hill. Home-made, no-fuss comfort food is served, and when sitting in the garden on mismatched chairs at rickety tables, you’ll feel authentically Greek. It’s truly a rare find – even some taxi drivers don’t seem to know about it.
You can enjoy picture-perfect views from the tables at Taverna Haris, and it’s just about the best start to a restaurant experience you can get. But then the food arrives. It’s a seafood restaurant, and while the taverna doesn’t call itself such, the seafood is the star of the show here. The Symi shrimp is especially good, and the squid is a close second. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the harbour and so worth it.
It’s a bit of a climb to reach this restaurant, but that’s to be expected on the island. Fortunately, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views. As you take your seat on the terrace of this taverna, the beautiful harbour below sparkles. The food here is good Greek fare – lamb, moussaka and pork – but the pick of the menu is probably the Greek meatballs, which are a standout.
You’ll find some of the freshest seafood around at Odyssia. The whitebait is especially good, though whatever you order here is going to be amazing. The friendly owner makes everyone feel special, often providing a little something complimentary at the end of a meal. Right on the waterfront, in a picturesque setting, it’s a restaurant people return to again and again.
The stone terrace at Tholos curves like the shoreline, making you feel as though you’re dining right on the ocean. It’s a beautiful spot that is, surprisingly, reasonably priced. It’s predominantly a seafood restaurant, but the oven-baked lemon potatoes have become something of a legend and a favourite with most who visit. If you haven’t ordered dessert, you’ll probably be brought a Greek yoghurt with honey on the house.
The clue is in the name at this taverna, and if you like seafood, this is the place to go. Near the harbour, it’s centrally placed while not being the first restaurant every tourist stops at. It simply draws people with its perfectly prepared seafood. Indeed, you’re not likely to find better seafood on the island, so it’s worth seeking out. The prices are reasonable, and you’ll receive a little something at the end of your meal.
At the bottom of a flight of Mediterranean bluestone steps, you’ll find the authentic Greek restaurant called Pantelis. Step inside or take a seat at one of the pristine tables outside, and you’ll soon realise this is a favourite with the locals, who flock here because the food is so good. Traditional Greek cuisine, dominated by seafood, is on the menu, complete with a heavy slice of Greek life.
Greek food is pretty incredible, but sometimes, you want something different. After a few days of enjoying Greek dishes, head to Dolphin for a pizza. Seating is limited, and it does get busy. However, it’s worth waiting for a table at this cute little pizzeria in the heart of Symi. Reasonably priced and very welcoming, it offers a variety of pizzas and pasta dishes straight out of Italy.
Near Symi is the island of Rhodes, where you’ll find top attractions and restaurants. You can book a wide range of hotels through Culture Trip. Farther out is the capital, Athens, home to beautiful beaches and boutique hotels.
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