Where To Eat
There follow a series of reviews based on our personal experience and tastes.
In Chania – Old Town
Ta Halkina – Chania Old Town – Harbour Front – an excellent choice for upgraded traditional Cretan food. Meat is their specialty and their lamb with pilaf is excellent as is their “Antichrist” lamb cooked on the barbecue (think crispy skin, salty, fatty, yummy). Cretan salads with crumbled rusks are also very good.
Pork to Beef Wild – Chania Old Town – very convenient (3 min walk) and very tasty fast food place. Not as fast as McD but a lot better – things like freshly made ribeye or chicken thigh sandwiches with interesting sauces.
Tamam Taverna – Chania Old Town – Topanas – The older section (there is an unattractive annex), set in an old Turkish bath house, is perhaps Chania’s most atmospheric place to eat, though in summer you may prefer to eat on 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 interesting and good. Minced lamb kebabs, grilled peppers with yoghurt, excellent salads, etc, etc.
Kariatis Restaurant - Chania Old Town – near Harbour Front – one of Chania’s smartest restaurants, the Italian style Kariatis generally gets excellent reviews. Service is attentive and quick. Elegant and tasty food - if you fancy somewhere formal, this is a good choice.
Glossitses restaurant – Chania Old Town – Harbour Front - Glossitses is a buzzing place; squid ink risotto, aubergine salad, grilled baby squid, ground meat patties are all excellent. Service can be a little scrappy since they recently expanded.
Maridaki - Old Town - Splanzia - Some of the best seafood in town - they know how to grill fish and squid and their fish soup is very good indeed. A pleasant, informal atmosphere.
Ta Neoria – Old Town – Harbour Front – a competent, pleasant and traditional Greek fish taverna. No surprises, except their free deserts which are delicious and a little overwhelming.
Chrisostomos – Old Town – Just beyond East end of harbor – Highly rated and awarded restaurant serving mainly meat cooked in traditional wood fired ovens. One of the best options for specifically Cretan food in the Old Town. Ingredients are traditional and of high quality. Try the slow braised lamb/goat and the bitter greens cooked with oyster mushrooms.
Pallas - Seafront - Chania Old Town - Pallas is one of the places where locals go to be seen. A class act. This 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 well presented and can perhaps be described as Greek-International-modern - competent and tasty. A testament to its popularity is the unusual, in Greece, system of two fixed sittings per evening.
Oinoa - Chania Old Town - West side - rather unusual in Crete is a restaurant making an excellent job of preparing Western dishes (fillet steak with wine sauce, confit of chicken, foie gras, etc). Fried potatoes are delicious too, as are their desserts. And on request they will bring an excellent burger from their bistro, downstairs... Quality ingredients, extensive wine list, good service, fairly expensive for Crete.
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 - Local food with the occasional twist is tasty - excellent Cretan salad, Sfakia pie with grilled vegetables and honey dressing, delicious rabbit stewed with oregano... .
Ginger Concept fresh, modern flavours in a pretty square in Splanzia – great for a salad or lighter meal – Brazilian and other influences.
Maiami - Koum Kapi - A gentle stroll east along the seafront brings you to the Maiami, a magical restaurant with different approach. Rather than following any specific cuisine, the menu offers up a mix of exciting dishes from everywhere - what pulls them together is that they are intertesting and zingy: lightly spiced lentil dal, shirazi salad with lemon dressing and mizithra cheese, pulled pork sandwich, spaghetti aglio olio, steak frites with pepper sauce, etc. A short list of everyone's tasty favourites from around the world, and all good. A fun and fresh interior filled with the owners art and pottery. Plus the sea.... When the dog bites, when the bee stings...
IN CHANIA – NEW TOWN
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 – Greek style which are well cooked, salty, delicious and eaten with fingers.
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, and where locals go for good seafood. Their grilled octopus, though toughish, is wonderful and a lunch of that, or perhaps grilled or fried squid and a portion of boiled greens is summer holiday on a plate (or just the best of living on Crete for those who are lucky enough...). Also very excellent taramosalata.
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.
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
Marmaritsakis - New Town - just off 1866 Square - Marmaritsakis is a "mageirio", the Greek equivalent of a trattoria, a simple restaurant, primarily catering to locals at lunchtime and offering classical Greek dishes such as moussaka, veal in tomato sauce, stuffed cabbage leaves, etc. The presence of locals, many of them, shows that Marmaritsakis is at the top of its game. The food is excellent, the choice is comprehensive, service is efficient, prices are low. One to enjoy, support, cherish, revisit..
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 – Sunset - Stavros, Akrotiri Peninsula - 25 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, grilled tuna when available...
Almiriki – Stavros Beach – 25 minutes’ drive – unusually elegant and exciting food for a Cretan seaside restaurant; wonderful location; excellent.
Dounias - Drakona Village - 30 minutes’ 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; tender lamb cooked in paper in a wood oven; broccoli and cauliflower cooked with sour ground wheat.... a lovely excursion. Can get crowded, particularly on weekends, and service suffers very badly.
Kali Kardia - Afrata village - 30 minutes’ 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 – Rethymon – 30 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.
To Sideradiko - Spili - An hour and a half South East of Chania on the road toward Agia Galini is this modest little treasure serving the best home cooking we have had in Crete. Their Pork with Celery and lamb stew were more than memorable. A long way to go for a bite, but well worth a detour if you are anywhere near.
Peskesi - Heraklion - Peskesi prepares traditional Cretan food with the best ingredients available, largely sourced from their own farm. Conception and preparation reflect their respect for quality and tradition. A serious eatery, it is popular and needs booking, often days in advance.
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…
Sketi Glika – 5 min walk – wonderful chocolate and chili cake
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.