After you get off from a bus from Fira to Akrotiri, by the beach, Melina’s Tavern would be the first restaurant you see.
The restaurant is rather big, having both roofed outdoor dining area overlooking the sea, as well as indoor dining area that are nicely decorated with white table cloth, couches with cozy cushions, and green plants hanging from the walls. This is not only a restaurant but also a gallery. From the middle of the room you can enter into a small cave-like space, where paintings and sculptures are displayed. All artworks are created by the talented family who runs the restaurant.
We were so glad to find a restaurant that serves vegan options. Largely due to the owner’s daughter, Melina, whose name is honored as the restaurant’s name, is vegan, so they completely understand what vegan food means. Such a relief! Here are the things you can order from the menu which are vegan or can be made vegan upon request: local fava beans; tomato balls; zucchini balls; stuffed vine leaves with rice, grilled potato salad; grilled eggplant (also the specialty of the restaurant!); fresh hand cut fried potatoes; spaghetti with tomato sauce and vegetables; vegan salads; fried eggplant pieces. Besides those they also offer “dish of the day” which can be vegan sometimes, such as oven baked tomato or bell peppers stuffed with rice, falafel or risottos. However, you need to ask as every day there is something different. All the dishes were prepared with locally grown vegetables, as they want to support local farmers, not to mention they tend to be fresher as well.
We ordered tomato and zucchini balls as appetizers. They were really crispy and tasted very good. Although they were more like patties to me than balls, lol. The platter were nicely decorated with tomato and green pepper wedges and sprinkled mint. Honey particularly like the zucchini ones. I like both and can’t decide a favorite.
The grilled potato salads were big potato wedges lightly grilled, then mixed with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, capers and olives. It’s lightly seasoned with local olive oil. This is a filling dish.
Our favorite of protein dish is this gorgeous mashed fava beans with olives, onions and olive oil sprinkled on the top. I’ve eaten some fava beans in the can, and am not so impressed, but I would never thought it could be prepared this way and it tasted simply delicious! I love how creamy and rich it is. And the olives here come in so many varieties, they don’t look or taste like the pickled ones we got in the jar in Sweden. I highly recommend anyone visiting Santorini try this dish, as it’s something really “Greek”, an original local dish that happens to be vegan.
The grilled eggplants were whole eggplants grilled slowly, dressed with olive oil, vinegar and some garlic. It is soft, simple yet tasty. We absolutely loved it! I only wish I have more space in my stomach, lol! We were also offered fresh bread, although we were getting really really full from all the good food we ate.
In the end we got a small plate of fresh fruits, apples, oranges, and kiwi wedges, sprinkled with chopped walnuts and cinnamon powder, as a healthy dessert.
We were very happy to find such a nice restaurant by the sea, that is serious about offering amazing, healthy and tasty vegan dishes. If you ever visit Akrotiri’s ruin museum or red beach, do stop here for lunch or dinner. I’m sure you will be warmly welcomed and well served. Let me know your favorite dish!