Crete - 10 days
My wife and I are heading to Crete for 10 days in late October. and we are looking for great restaurants. We will be travelling all over the island, so any recommendations would be appreciated, from simple tavernas to the high end establishments.
My wife and I will be on Crete for seven days in early October and have exactly the same question that you asked. We'll be based in Rethymnon (timeshare trade) but will be driving all over the island. Alas, there is no Michelin Red guide for Greece. So if you get any good dining suggestions--or reliable sources for dining suggestions--I'd be grateful if you'd pass them along to me--and I'd be glad to do the same for you.
I did a CH search for "Crete" and did find a year-old post that highly recommended Taverna Kyria Maria in Rethymnon, which is useful for us.
In any case, have a great trip!
Lucky you! When I found good food in Crete, it was fantastic.
I highly recommend Syntages in Heraklion. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...
It's located on a street near the market. One of the best meals when I was in Greece last October. We shared about 8 mezes- each interesting and delicious.
In Rethymno, I wish we had eaten at Avli (which is highly recommended for fine dining). Instead, I chose a beautiful space, with high prices and mediocre food. The other restaurant we tried in Rethymno served regrettable tourist food.
In Chania, I was generally disappointed with the food we found, except for one lunch at at the taverna that was halfway between the BW Porto Venezio hotel and the harbour. Its name is escaping me, but the fried eggplant and fish were perfection. It stood alone, apart from the string of restaurants lining the harbour. I'll post again if I find the name of the restaurant.
Generally, my rule in Greece is to try to avoid the restaurants that have their menus translated into several languages.
Some of the dishes you'll find in Crete, but aren't as common on the mainland include snails, fava (not fava beans, but a warm spread made of split peas), various wild greens, and various pies (pitas/bourekas) that are quite different from those found in other parts of Greece.
Definitely visit the market in Chania if you get a chance;)
I really appreciate your post and your suggestions and comments. They are now printed and stored in my Greece Trip travel folder.
While Googling to see why/if the town/prefecture name is rendered in English both as "Rethymnon" and "Rethymno," I ran across this website which could be of interest to anyone traveling to the area: http://www.rethymnon.gr/1.phtml
I didn't get an answer, but it apparently is spelled both ways (same as Heraklion/Heraklio?).
I love snails and my wife loves wild greens and especially loves eggplant however it's prepared, so I assume we'll eat well. Did you find it difficult to get directions to the various restaurants you chose? I assume the more upscale restaurants accept Visa/MasterCard, but what about the average restaurants in cities? Is Crete mostly a "cash economy" or are credit cards readily accepted?
In spoken Greek, the last consonant is often dropped, so if the word is written in English, sometimes the last letter is left off. People will understand you if you say Rethymno or Rethymnon, Heraklio or Heraklion.
I didn't have much trouble finding the restaurants. Usually, I just had the free city map handed out at the hotel's front desk, and marked the various restaurants before I set out for dinner.
In Chania, the taverna I enjoyed was the Karnagio (or Karnayio) taverna located at 8 Katehaki Square. There's a picture of the taverna that is listed as Restaurant No. 4 on this link: http://travel.uk.msn.com/inspiration/...
Rethymno's Old Town is quite small, and you shouldn't have trouble finding Avli which is in the Old Town. Here is their website: http://www.avli.gr/
Veneto is the upscale restaurant I tried. http://www.veneto.gr/
Credit cards are readily accepted at average restaurants/tavernas in the cities, but in smaller villages or more rustic tavernas, cash might be preferred.
Your wife shoud able to find eggplant in many forms- imam bayaldi (like a ratatouille), papoutsakia (translates to little shoes, stuffed eggplant), melitzanasalata (pureed eggplant salad/spread) and melitzana tiganites (fried eggplant- often very thinly sliced, and crisp like tempura, topped with kasseri cheese), as well in dishes such as moussaka. In the stores, you'll be able to find have an eggplant glyko (spoon sweets in syrup) that features baby green eggplant in syrup- I haven't tried it though.
I found this guide helpful:
http://www.meetandeatguides.com/index... It is how I found Syntages.
If you like calamari, make sure you ask for the fresh (fresko) calamari if it's on the menu or chalkboard of specials. If you don't specify fresh, there's a high chance the server will make the assumption that you want to pay less, and you'll be served the pre-frozen, which costs about 30-40 percent less. Most of the calamari sold in the tavernas is pre-frozen these days.
I've been to Crete a few times, and my favourite restaurant in Hania is called The Well of the Turk. As the name suggests, it specialises in Middle Eastern food, and is welcome respite from typical taverna fare. It's tucked away in the old town.
There's another place I quite like, which is the ruins of an old palazzo. It's called Ela.
I *think* this is another place we liked - it's at the eastern end of the harbour, and they often have octopus drying outside in the sun!
If you're travelling round the island, I strongly recommend a trip to Milia, which is a beautiful eco-tourist village in the mountains. If you can stay overnight, in one of their beautifully simple stone houses. The place has no mains electricity, so is wonderfully romantic late at night. It also has wonderful food - proper, home-style Greek cooking and among the best food I've had in Crete.
I second all greedygirl's recommendations, especially Chrysostomos, her second: a great restaurant, in my opinion the best in Chania. They tend to close in the summer, but will be open by October. The owner comes from Sfakia, and the lamb and goat come from the Lefka Ori. He also has the taverna above Marmara Beach, near Loutro, where the food, though simpler, is just as good. In Loutro itself, if you get there, Ilios has excellent home cooking, and next door To Limani great grilled lamb, pork, and goat. Further down the coast, in Agia Roumeli, where the Samaria Gorge exits, Artemis in the main street is very good.
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