Where To Eat
There follow a series of reviews based on our personal experience and tastes.
In Chania – Old Town
Tamam Taverna – Chania Old Town – Topanas – The older section (there is a new annex), set in an old Turkish bath house, is perhaps Chania’s most atmospheric place to eat, though in summer you may prefer one of the tables laid along the narrow street. Though getting a table anywhere in high season can be tough – best to book. The food tends towards Turkish/Middle East and is exciting and very good. Minced lamb kebabs, grilled peppers with yoghurt, excellent salads, etc, etc.
Kariatis Restaurant - Chania Old Town – near Harbour Front – Chania’s smartest restaurant, the Italian style Kariatis generally gets good reviews. Service is attentive and quick and their food is rich and good. A nice place to feel spoilt, and if you need somewhere formal, this is the place.
Glossitses restaurant – Chania Old Town – Harbour Front - Glossitses does wonderful things with seafood; their salt cod salad with garlic and potatoes and their squid ink risotto are heavenly, their menu is extensive and imaginative, quality is high, service can be a little scrappy but is friendly. Highly recommended.
Maridaki - Old Town - Splanzia - Some of the best seafood in town - interesting fish and seafood-based cooked dishes and they know how to grill fish. Always a difficult choice between Glossitses (above) and Maridaki (was Sardelaki) - it would be a shame to leave Chania without trying both. Closed Sundays.
Kouzina EPE restaurant – Old Town – Splanzia – a pleasant, airy, democratic restaurtant with a crowd that is young in spirit if not in fact. A good selection of Greek home cooking, excellent service and free dessert of panna cotta with caramel syrup (yum). They only occasionally serve chick peas cooked with minced meat, which is a terrible shame. Lunch only – closed Sundays.
Chrisostomos – Old Town – East end of harbor – Highly rated and awarded restaurant serving mainly meat cooked in tradaitional wood fired ovens. Probably the best option for specifically Cretan food in the Old Town. Ingredients are traditional and of high quality. Service can be a little spotty - especially when chasing the bill...
The Covered Market Tavernas – All quite nice for Greek home cooking, but the best is Agapini's. Enter the market from the East side (main parking area) and head for the second restaurant on the right, Agapinis, a tiny place run by a mother and son team (short mother, tall son - you can't miss them); some would think this the best food in Chania - it is certainly excellent home cooking. Their stifado (stew with onions), fricasse of lamb, sole with lemon and oil are all excellent. They will also bring you lamb chops from the butcher next door and cook them beautifully. And should you overdo the local raki the night before, you can come back in the early hours for mother's tripe soup, a celebrated local hangover cure... Highly recommended (as a whole, but not necessarily the tripe soup...).
Pallas - Seafront - Chania Old Town - Pallas is one of the places where locals go to be seen. This cafe/restaurant is always busy and well worth visiting if you can reserve a good table on the roof terrace with a view of the old harbour. Food is nicely presented and can perhaps be desribed as Greek-International-modern - competent and tasty. A testament to its popularity is the unusual, in Greece, system of two fixed sittings per evening.
Salis - Seafront - Chania Old Town - Greek cuisine does not lend itself easily to innovation but Salis makes a brave, largely successful and in places delicious try. Their boiled greens on mashed potato with grilled asparagus is quite excellent; also very good is the pressed lamb kavourma, octopus carpaccio, spimach risotto with squid and raw clams... Extensive wine list from a very decent EU 10 Greek red all the way up to the astronomical. Staff are well presented and efficient. A good choice for a special occasion.
Oinopiio - A first visit to the popular Oinopoieio (pronounced ee-no-pee-ee-o), on the recommendation of our guests, was very rewarding. Local food with the occasional twist was very tasty indeed - excellent Cretan salad, Sfakia pie with grilled vegetables and honey dressing, delicious rabbit stewed with oregano... a good idea to book.
In Chania – New Town
S'annamena karvouna - downtown Chania - just on the edge of the old town on Chatzimichali Giannari, one of Chania's two parallel high streets, this is perhaps a healthier kebab joint than Kosta's, above, though noisier, fuller and less comfortable; they make souvlaki from milk fed veal, pork, mince and even mushrooms; the veal is quite delicious though perhaps better taken on a plate than a roll as its delicate flavour gets a little lost in pita, yoghurt, onions, etc.
Apokoronas Grill – New Town – Apokoronou Street – this is just a short walk from the covered market and the Old Town. It feels like eating in a butcher’s and does not look terribly appealing but their lamb chops are delicious.
Achilleas Fish Taverna - Nea Chora (Town Beach) - Fifteen minutes walk to the West you find Chania's Town Beach, lined with restaurants and cafes. The last one, Achilleas, is the best of them - and fine by any standards. It is a traditional place that does simple things very well. Their grilled octopus is simply and unusally wonderful and a lunch of that, plus perhaps grilled or fried squid and a portion of boiled greens, courgettes and potatoes is summer holiday on a plate (or just the best of living on Greece for those who are lucky enough...).
Bakalarakia (Μπακαλιαράκια) – New Town – 10 minutes walk from hotel – Greek home cooking at its best; popular with locals – good variety, high quality and tasty. Fish and vegetable dishes.
Evgonia Restaurant - New Town - Milonogianni Street - A short excursion into the new town, perhaps 20 minutes' walk, brings you to this wonderful, family-run restaurant. Evgonia enters our quide on the strength of recommendations and two very satisfying visits (heavenly braised lamb, excellent pastitsio, mixed salad); it also has a good reputation for seafood. A recent review was less ecstatic so we will be monitoring. Certainly great at its best.
Giannaraki Kalitsounia - New Town - tucked away inside the courtyard of the Town Hall is this modest temple to the kalitsouni, Chania's little pastry parcels packed with greens or mizithra cheese or a mixture of both. Tasty and cheap as a snack or a light lunch. Their fennel pies are also very good.
Ta Meraklikia tou Bourexi - New Town - tucked into a little side street behind the town hall, do not be put off by unattractive interior or the large and colourful lady you might see squeezed into a red sequin dress pouting outside the bar two doors down (whose name is Berthema... translates as Mix-Up or Trouble...)... this restaurant cares little for presentation but does care for its food. Completely traditional Cretan: chewy and delicious slow-braised wild goat, courgettes cooked with sheep ricotta, heavenly pork with celery... Plus lots of raki which the ever-friendly owner will keep topping up (for himself as well as his guests). As authentic as it gets and very good,
To Thalassino Ageri - Halepa - a half hour walk or short drive down the coast to the East is this respected fish restaurant - a wonderfully romantic spot on the seashore. We have not visited recently but reviews are generally very good.
Out of Town
Argentina Restaurant – Kolymbari (20 minutes drive West on motorway) – Kolymbari is famous for its fish taverns and Argentina is worth the drive for a dinner of lobster spaghetti (needs a prior phone call to order) and their unusual and very good salads.
Amalia’s Taverna – Zourva village – minimum 30 minutes drive – worth including on an excursion down Therisso Gorge, Amalia’s at its best has the finest braised lamb and home made sausages you can imagine, heavenly food with a wonderful view of mountains. Quality, however, does seem to vary according to the mood of a fairly moody proprietor. Our last guests who visited caught a bad day. Our advice is, only just, to take the risk and go if you are in the area.
Iliovasilema - Stavros, Akrotiri Peninsula - 20 minutes drive - the beach is a bit lethal when the wind blows as the waves conceal the flat rocks that traverse it and also push you onto them - but then the beach bar/restaurant will keep you entertained. A nice spot to sit and get well fed - a mixture of Greek, French and Arabic food that is generally delicious and a nice change from braised lamb and kalamarakia. Good salads, a nice risotto with shrimps and a touch of curry, grilled tuna...
Dounias - Drakona Village - 30 minute drive - something of a local institution, Dounias produces traditional food from their home grown produce, cooked on wood fires. In winter a log fire is fed with live coals carried precariously by the owner between seated guests. A few examples of their excellent fare: beetroot salad mixed with mizithra (local version of ricotta) and garlic; green salad with boiled beet leaves, warm potatoes, cabbage, beet leaves, herbs, mizithra cheese and apricot; tender lamb cooked in paper in a wood oven; broccoli and cauliflower cooked with sour ground wheat.... a lovely excursion. Recent visits have shown Dounias struggling to keep up with increased popularity... service was chaotic though food was still good.
Kali Kardia - Afrata village - 30 minute drive - a very relaxing little family-run restaurant. The food is traditional but still imaginative: for instance, black-eyed beans are served cold with bits of smoked mackerel and the fava (a mush of yellow split peas) comes with bits of gherkin and sun-dried tomato. A nice selection of main courses such as rabbit with beer and orange sauce, slow braised goat, fried salt cod with garlic paste... The location is lovely (in a small village overlooking countryside and the sea in the distance). Arrive early or call to book.
Prima Plora - Rethymnon - 40 min drive - Perhaps a long way for lunch, but certainly worth a detour, Prima Plora is a modern restaurant on the ouskirts of Rethymnon that knows how to please the senses. Located by the sea with a heated external area as well as an attractive, modern interior, Prima Plores provides excellent seafood (plus a few meat and veg dishes) served and presented impeccably. Stars of the show were an inky cuttlefish risotto with wild Cretan Greens and a tangy Tuna tartare, though everything was good. You walk away with a happy feeling of being spoiled.
Coffee & Sweets
Oneira Glyka - Town Centre - about a five minute walk up Apokoronou Street from the Old Town you will find what is probably the best cake and ice cream shop in Chania. There is nowhere to sit but you can walk away with a seriously delicious helping of home made ice cream. Exciting and imaginative flavours as well as some old favourites - the strawbery sorbet is quite addictive. Cakes come in one-serving sizes as well as for sharing - the best of both worlds comes in the shape of ice cream cakes....
Giordanis & Bougatsa Chanion - Town Centre - Local institutions and rightly so, these two establishments diagonally opposite eachother make Cretan style bougatsa, a wondeful, warm, salt/sweet concoction of mizithra cheese in filo pastry sprinkled with sugar. Giordanis is reputed to be slightly richer than Chanion - both have their devotees.