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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.


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  1. I don't have any recommendations....just alot of envy!

    1. peter2,

      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!

      Derald Glidden

      1. 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;)

        4 Replies
        1. re: phoenikia


          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?

          1. re: dlglidden

            Hi Derald,
            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.

            1. re: phoenikia


              Once again, many thanks for the additional information.

              1. re: dlglidden

                You're so welcome. Hope you enjoy your time in Crete as much as I did!

        2. 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.


          1 Reply
          1. re: greedygirl

            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.

          2. We got back from Crete (and Greece) a couple of weeks ago and feel the need to respond with a brief trip report.

            We ate at Avli in Réthymno and were glad we did. Nice restaurant and not all that expensive; excellent location and in a charming old building.. We spent a week at the Grand Leoniki "resort" in Platanias, a "suburb" just east of Réthymno--timeshare trade for our place in Mexico.

            We had an excellent stay but Crete was less interesting that I had hoped. Except for the "new road" the roads on Crete are less than ideal and we did not do nearly as much travelling around the island (with our rental car) as we had expected to.

            (Contrary to conventional wisdom, we found, oddly, the tavernas in the large towns and resort areas were far superior to the places up in the small villages in the mountains where the food was usualy canned, not fresh, and not worth eating.)

            Again, prices were quite reasonable, and the many Cretan stews were excellent and a great value. Wine was slightly more than adequate. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the food in Greece (even at Avli) was quite OK, but that's about all.

            But don't get me wrong, we had a great trip, saw some wonderful sites/sights and scenery and enjoyed the food. It's not "world class", but, hell, 99% of the food on this planet is not world class.

            On an archaeological note, Knossos was a disappointment: An important site, but virtually everything worth seeing is in museums all over the world and what remains at the site is essentially a giant pile of rubble that was inaccurately and naively "reconstructed" by the British archaeologist Evans. He really screwed it up. But still worth touring the site, briefly.

            Thanks again, for all of you who gave us recommendations on where to eat on Crete!

            1. We have just returned from a week in Western Crete, and wanted to add another recommendation. Dinner at Leventis in Ano Stalos (between Daratso and Platanias) was the highlight of our trip. There were no tourists, the food was exquisite, and price tag reasonable.


              1. I'm in the process of looking for a place to stay on Crete for a 10 day vacation - which area would you say has the best concentration of amazing restaurants? Most of the villas I'm looking at are located near either Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Chania, or Rethymnon. Which out of those locations is best for a foodie vacation? Or should I look into another Greek island if Crete is not a great place for foodies? (Judging from this thread it doesn't look like Crete is really a foodie paradise?) Where in Greece would you recommend for us to visit instead? Please enlighten us! We are a family of foodies who loves great fresh seafood.

                19 Replies
                1. re: Noodle fanatic

                  Crete could be a foodie paradise, depending on where and what you eat, what you're accustomed to eating, and depending on what you like to eat. Since I tend to eat a mostly Meditteranean diet, and I'm an avid gardener, eating in Crete was a special treat for me because they have a climate which produces some amazing fruits and vegetables. The pears in Crete are the best pears I have ever tasted.

                  Lots of distinct regional dishes, and some produce/wild greens/cheeses that are not found elsewhere in Greece. Snails are a regional speciality in Crete. Different styles of pitas (pies)/ burekas, too. I also like the various Cretan pastries, which are slightly different from their mainland counterparts. I was so happy I found some Cretan cookbooks in English so I can try to replicate some of the dishes at home.

                  The food changes from region to region. I spent a few nights in Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion in order to try foods in the different parts.

                  As I mentioned above, a couple years ago, I really liked Syntages in Heraklion. Avli in Rethymno is highly regarded, but I didn't get a chance to eat there. I didn't have great food in Chania, apart from one amazingly good taverna lunch, but that's mostly because we were eating in the Old Town, which is a touristic part of Chania with lots of tourist traps. Whenever I have asked a concierge/hotel clerk for restaurant suggestions in Greece (and Spain), I have ended up at terrible tourist traps, so I've stopped asking hotel employees for their restaurant recommendations. Try to find out where the locals like to eat.

                  I loved the main market in Chania, where you can buy all sorts of local products.

                  I really like Cretan style cooking. Crete, Rhodes and Mytilini are my favourite foodie regions in Greece.

                  You will find more upscale, fine dining restaurants in Athens or Thessaloniki than on an island like Crete, so if you're looking for amazing fine dining, maybe you should consider spending more time in Athens or Thessalonki. If you are looking for upscale seafood near Athens, the top psarotavernas (fish tavernas) in Piraeus (the port of Athens) are excellent.

                  If you like calamari, make sure you clarify if you want fresh calamari when you order (which is sweeter and more tender), because Greek restaurants usually presume you want to be served the cheaper, pre-frozen, imported calamari if you don't specify that you want the more expensive, fresh local calamari.

                  1. re: phoenikia

                    Phoenikia - thanks for the great advice, especially the tip regarding the calamari! My mom has outrageously high standards and will not eat any seafood that is frozen. We're not looking for fine dining, just extremely well-executed fresh food and delicious and authentic Greek/Cretan cuisine.

                    We're now choosing between a villa near Chania in Akitiros vs. a villa in Agios Nikolaos. Which area is nicer and has better food? Sounds like maybe we should pick Agios Nikolaos if Chania is too touristy. We prefer to be away from the crowds. If you have any recommendations in Agios Nikolaos, we'd greatly appreciate it!

                    1. re: Noodle fanatic

                      I haven't visited Ag. Nikolaos in about 30 years, so I can't help you there. Hopefully someone else can suggest some restaurants.

                      It's mostly the Old Town near the Venetian Harbour in Chania that's touristic, since its a picturesque part of town and that's where many of the stores and hotels are located. Chania is a large city (for Crete), so much of the city is residential. I would think you can find some rustic tavernas close to the villa you choose, whether you decide to stay near Chania or Ag. Nikolaos.

                      With the current economy, I don't think you need to worry about too many crowds. I would still visit Chania, even if you decide to stay in Ag. Nikolaos (which is at least a 2 h drive east of Chania) - it's very pretty, and I think you'll be able to find some good chow. And if you're staying at a villa, you could also buy some of that amazing fish and product at the main market, and cook it to your liking ;-)

                      1. re: phoenikia

                        I'm very interested ... what are your recommendations in Nea Chora in Chania?

                        1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                          The only taverna I can recommend near Nea Chora is To Karnagio at 8 Kateraki Square. I'm still thinking about their perfectly fried zucchini and fried eggplant 3 years later. http://www.meetandeatguides.com/index...

                          My other meals in Chania in/near Nea Chora were not very good.

                          Here are other recs in Chania:


                          1. re: phoenikia

                            Which out of the following list is so delicious it's worth a drive from Agios Nikolaos? (Keep in mind our group consists of foodies from NYC, London, and Napa Valley).

                            In Heraklion:

                            In Chania:
                            To Karnagio Taverna
                            The Well of the Turk
                            Leventis Tavern

                            In Rethymno:

                            1. re: Noodle fanatic

                              I don't think I would drive more than 30 minutes out of my way for any taverna or restaurant in Crete, or Greece.

                              If you're in Crete for 10 days, aren't you planning to see the sights in Chania (Venetian harbour, old town), Heraklion (the port, castro, old town, market, museum, Knossos palace) , and Rethymno (Castro, old town, beach), as well as other places of interest like the Samarian Gorge? As you make your day trips around the island, I'd keep a list of restaurants/tavernas that are within a 15-20 minute drive of the sights, and try them out as you tour around the island. I'd also give some random tavernas a try, just to see what you find on your own. Some of my best meals in Greece have been the meals at places that have no online presence.

                              If you happen to be in Chania, To Karnagio serves a good casual lunch, that should cost at most 20 E per person. It's not a destination restaurant, but it's a good taverna.

                              In Heraklion, I happened to be walking near the central market, and Syntages was a nearby upscale restaurant that turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

                              Some people do drive out of their way for Avli in Rethymno, but if you're used to the standards in NYC, London and Napa, I think you'll probably be disappointed if you drive an hour out of your way to dine at Avli. It is one of the better restaurants in Crete, but restaurants in Crete and Greece probably will not impress you if you compare them to the standards you can find in NYC, London and Napa.

                              I guess my best advice is to lower your expectations, and go with the flow, so you'll be pleasantly surprised, rather than underwhelmed ;-)

                              1. re: phoenikia

                                Phoenika - thanks for your candor! Good to know we shouldn't go too far out of our way for restaurants. As much as I'd love to see the sights, I'm not sure if we'll be able to on this trip since it's a family holiday where we will have 2 impatient 10-yr-olds with us. Don't think they'll put up with 5-hrs' drive each way from Ag Nik to hike the Samarian Gorge ;) We'll likely be spending a lot of time sunbathing by the pool/beach and do day trips to Heraklion and Rethymnon. I'll do some research on Chania to see if it's ok for us to miss it, since it's over 3 hours' drive each way from Ag Nik.

                                Overall, we're just looking forward to spending some quality time together as a family, and sampling some low-key original Greek cuisine!

                                I'm combing through the threads on Tripadvisor now... there's this place called "Ferryman Taverna" in Elounda that seems to be getting near universal rave reviews. If anyone's eaten there and could comment on the prices, I'd greatly appreciate it.

                              2. re: Noodle fanatic

                                We loved Leventis and I would definitely recommend it. The food was fresh and well-executed and there were no other tourists around our table. (There was actually a very loud and happy family reunion at 70% of tables.) If you want fish, you need to tell them in advance.

                                Ela is in the old town, in an excellent location and the decor is wonderful, but the food was mediocre.

                        2. re: Noodle fanatic

                          Sorry this got a bit long and somewhat off topic of food but it reads a bit like you are looking for not just the food but also a bit of what area is better and why.

                          I think I would suggest near Chania were it me. The further you go east, the drier it gets in general. Also that time of year you'll start getting more winds off the Sahara. To me, Xania is a better location in general. The better (IMO) beaches are on the western end of the island (Falasarnas - for example), the museams (Archaeological and the Naval) are of interest. The night life on the east side of the city along Akti Miaouli is good and the views are great from the Hotel Royal Sun are worth the trip for a coffee and dessert - can't book a room though. The shops in Chania are more and more varied as well just be sure to wander outside of the main harbor area as well like some of those around the taxi stand and the main market. A shop just out the back and to the right a bit has a unique place for backgammon, chess and checker sets - usually hand made. She's the wife of a grand master of chess I believe. In that same area are many good shops, local bakeries and dessert places along with some good and VERY local tavernas. Just outside of Chania is a fairly new water park which kids would find enjoyable as well for stuff to do.

                          Food in Chania - Ela, Konaki (across from each other), καβούρια (crabs) and Zoba's on the harbor are decent enough and crabs is local. The fish house by the old customs building ( has a boat outside on the bricks by the parking lot) is good and just by the Porto V. there are two - one either side within a couple of doors of that hotel. Stop by El Mundo's to visit with Albert Einstein - last time there he was still tending bar - and you thought he was dead. Well of the Turk is also good.

                          If the Samaria Gorge is still open (closes when snow threatens) and you decide, Chania is closer but beware, the food at the places you'll be at when on the far side waiting for the boat and then the bus are ok but nothing super special.

                          In Khania, the Fortezza at sunset for a drink and absolutely nothing more is great - watch the sun set and the town light up as darkness falls.

                          The dessert shop just beside the main taxi stand is a nice spot though most all the food is packaged and ice cream, the spot is nice for people watching.

                          There is an Italian restaurant by the old customs house and the parking lot by it just off the harbour. While it keeps odd hours off season it’s pretty good and near that is a wooden boat in front of a place that’s also pretty good.
                          In the hills near Xania is a place called Nykterida with really good traditional food and awesome views. A bit more expensive but worth the treat. Go on a good night though and take a taxi there and back due to the roads and lack of familiarity. This is when I’d suggest a stop by the Royal Sun on the way back for a coffee and sit on the patio to enjoy a good view.
                          One of the best fish houses is in Souda Bay and is a small non-descript place that I know by the name “Souda Bay Fish House” which is not the ral name at all but it’s still one of the better ones around. That’s near the intersection of Soudas-Pithariou and Ellis in the town. The owner will on most occasions invite you back to the back to pick your fish out.

                          Something to keep in mind not being too familiar with dining there. You should at the end of the meal be offered some small breads or fruit and a bit of liquer – usually raki or tsoukoudia and if that’s not offered readily, I’d ask for it.

                          Take a trip to Knossos near Iraklion, hire a guide and tell them you want a really good tour – can last up to 4+ hours for that but well worth the education on the Minoan civilization. Also while there, go to the main museum in Iraklio but this is not as impressive as you might expect. Closer to Chania is Aptera and can be a good day trip to walk those ruins with a good stop being the Fish House in Souda Bay at the end of that.

                          Best beaches are on the west end of the island with some really good ones being out near Falasarnas and Paleohora. Closer to Khania is Kalathas and Stavros, both good tavernas nearby - ask the locals where they go.

                          1. re: Wayward biker

                            I agree that Chania is a better place to locate yourself. There are some decent restaurants - my favourites have already been mentioned above. But I find Greek food in general underwhelming. I strongly recommend a trip to Milia, in the mountains above Chania - it's stunning, and the food is the closest you'll get to good Greek home cooking.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              I've heard that canned ingredients are often used in the smaller villages in Crete - is that true in Milia as well? Which is your favorite restaurant to experience good Greek home-cooking in Milia?

                              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                There is only one restaurant in Milia - it is not a village as such, but an eco-resort. That makes it sound grander and more tacky than the reality. It is absolutely beautiful, and the food is organic, home-grown and home-reared. I've been there several times, although not for a few years now, and love it.


                            2. re: Wayward biker

                              Wayward biker - thanks so much for the detailed advice! I'll be sure to check out some of the places you mentioned if/when in Chania. Unfortunately, we made reservations already for a villa in Agios Nikolaos. If you have any recommendations for Ag Nik, I'd greatly appreciate it. I've posted a request on another thread but have gotten 0 responses so far: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7201...

                              On a related note, which do you think is more touristy - Ag Nik or Chania? We consider ourselves "travelers" instead of "tourists", and try our best to immerse ourselves and "live like locals" when we travel. Obviously locals live all over Crete, but if you have any positive points for Ag Nik, please do share, so I don't feel as bad about situating ourselves on the east side ;)

                              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                Noodle fanatic,

                                You responded to my post of Jul 9 and asked lots of questions regarding sightseeing and other matters (and you were nervous that many of your questions were barely "food related"). I began a lengthy response, it got late, and I saved what I had written as a Word file to finish and then complete my response the next day. And the next day your post had disappeared. Removed by the Moderators because it wasn't sufficiently food related? Anyway, I still have my response and could send it to you via this thread (which might get nuked by the Mods) or as an email. Now that you've settled on Agios Nikolaos, it may not be as useful to you: our wanderings in the mountains and other sightseeing were all in Reythymo, Iraklio, and eastern Hania; never set foot (or wheel) in Lasithi.

                                BTW, since you're not getting any restaurant recommendations in and around Agios Nikolaos, I could list some from various Guidebooks I have, especially the Lonely Planet Crete by Victoria Kyriakopoulos. If you'll be driving around by car "off the New Road" I can also recommend the absolutely best road map of the island (available for purchase on line); we would have been totally screwed without it when we drove up into the interior.

                                Derald Glidden

                                1. re: dlglidden

                                  You’ve not done badly to go to Agios Nikolaos. It took me a bit to get back to you due to work but here’s something.

                                  Kritsa is a great place to go see as is Lake Voulismeni. Since you are so far down the island, go to Sita and enjoy the palm trees and the resort areas. That half of the island is more resort-ish. The general area (ag. Nik) is touristy but not the throngs so food follow in a similar path really. Also once outside the town (same all over Crete) it’s not touristy. Food also follows going quickly to locals only and a pointee-talkee if you can’t speak Greek. Yes, generally you can get by (someone knows enough English) but it can get painful – be sure to have the emergency numbers. Seems to me that the beaches were mostly a rocky shingle type thing and not so much of the sandy ones you can find on the west side.

                                  On that part of Crete, you’ll find a huge amount of fish and sea related products there and some field/grape related products. The cheeses are sort of universal on Crete (north side – some diffs on south) very enjoyable, smooth typically. The wines are still usually a bit rougher as the wine producing is still re-developing to more modern styles. All the same, they are usually worth having a go at a few different ones to see what you think. Keep in mind there’s a temperature for each and it’s probably going to be served warmer so you may need to ask for a glass of ice that you can spoon in say one cube or so to cool it to where it should be. Give some restina a try and if you can, do it two or three times. The first time honestly it’s much more of a “dare ya to” but if you ever will develop anything of a taste or appreciation it’ll take a few more goes…similar to most alcohol products.

                                  Expect to find a fair bit of lamb and some goat in the local villages – give it a go. For Veg, expect lots of beans (all kinds and sizes), peppers, potatoes. Expect seasonings to be mostly locally grown for all meals. If you are a person who likes very flavourful foods, some to much of the local foods are honestly going to disappoint because the Greeks don’t generally spice it up. It’s kind of a combination of flavors to be enjoyed in small bits as the flavors present themselves as opposed to say a heavier feel of spice and herbs. Olive oil goes with everything…it sure does so enjoy..

                                  Ag. Nik itself, it’s been a long time so feedback would be nice. Okeasnos for fish was pretty good and close to the water as well bit if memory serves tends to be a touch more money. There was an Italian place as well, La (something) but it could be hit or miss however the summers seemed like better food at most places due to actual numbers of people there. Migomis used to also be a good place and is by the lake so a change of scenery to go with some dining.

                                  Best suggestion for anywhere in Greece and Crete in particular. Ask if you can order the dishes in the portion of an appetizer and if they can and they are cheaper that way then everyone should order two and turn it into a take some and pass it down kind of event. You get to try so much more that way and surely there’ll be something enjoyable out of it all. Do the same for the desserts but keep in mind much of those will be heavy with honey – quite good and on Crete almost as much a staple as olive oil.

                                  Sorry I can’t be more help on that end of the island but it was always a bit of an ordeal to get there

                              2. re: Wayward biker

                                " ... usually raki or tsoukoudia and if that’s not offered readily, I’d ask for it."
                                "Expect to find a fair bit of lamb and some goat in the local villages ..."

                                tsipourOH (tsipourAH is a fish ... gilthead bream) / tsoukoudia (Cretan) - "raki".
                                Great at the start, end, and span of a meal.

                                "(cat-see-KEY)" : "goat" is king in Crete ...
                                in Xania (old town), Ela and To Hani, just around the corner from each other ...
                                interesting, and not unexpected, variants of a regional preparation.
                                At To Hani, the (vul-vee) - "marinated hyacinth bulbs", complement well.

                                Two blocks up (away from the sea) from the agora (central food market) is Bougatsa Xanion ... good early morning fix with strong coffee.

                                Head west of the old town for "Nea Chora" for seafood ...
                                (ah-key-KNEE) sea urchin, (kho-KLEE) snails ... etc.

                                I've generally found my best meals at places with indecipherable, hand-written "specials" requiring a bit of "play".

                          2. re: Noodle fanatic

                            I'll stand by my trip report of Oct. 29, 2008. (How did you happen to run across this old thread?) The food on Crete was much better than I expected, but "amazing restaurants"?, no. I had expected "typical Greek food" (food one finds in Greek restaurants in the U.S.), but was pleasantly surprised: excellent salads, very good stews and meat dishes. My wife is the fish eater and she found the seafood to be "OK" but not particularly unique or remarkable.

                            We spent a few days in Athens at the end of the trip and that's easily your best bet for amazing restaurants. We originally planned to spend a week in the Pelaponnese for various reasons, including great food, but just didn't have the time.

                            I spent a lot of time looking for good, credible restaurant/food suggestions/reviews on line but could find very little reliable info. Phoenikia and others on this CH thread were extremely helpful and had great advice. A couple of other websites you might want to look at (if you haven't already):


                            Wish I could be of more help, but all I know first hand is Crete and Athens—and we were there for less than two weeks. anything else I might say would just be reciting information from the various guidebooks we own. Good luck and have a great vacation!

                            1. re: dlglidden

                              Consider Rethymnon as a base, it's a great central location for visiting the island, has a lovely old town, and has quality restaurants.

                          3. Avli in Rethymnon, is a good restaurant but prices are high for what you get. I think Prima Plora to the west of town, is a far better place.

                            1. a few updates on crete, since we've just returned:
                              Syntages no longer exists, but as we searched it out we were sent by man in office across the way from the defunct restaurant to a fantastic restaurant on the port.
                              he wrote the name as Istioploikos. the card from the restaurant which we took away also said Heraklion Sailing Club. the phone number is 2810228118.
                              it is rather hard to find--you have to cross a huge parking lot and ask several times. there are other restaurants near it so you have to make sure you get the right one.
                              the old venetian fort is to the west of you and ferry dock is to the east. you sit right at the water so there's usually a breeze. not touristy. seemed people in the know.
                              on the menu it says to ask to see the fish of the day which we did. they have an open grill and we shared a large fish in the orata family and grilled sardines. these and everything else we had there was excellent. as in most cretan restaurants, they give you desserts gratis and raki. for four the bill ( with carafe wine) was about 80 euros.

                              not sure who said the heraklion museum is not worth the time but i beg to differ!
                              the main museum is being renovated but the small part that is open is superb--worth trip in itself.
                              creme de la creme.

                              wherever you are in crete you can order dakos for a satisfying lunch, i would say. almost every version i tried throughout the island was excellent and fresh. it's a kind of bruschetta on that dark rusk you find there, with tomatoes, oil, and the soft cheese on top of that. the rusk softens in the juice and oil.

                              Milia is a must. food, ambiance, architecture, details: all highest quality. very very special!

                              Chora Sfafkion:
                              not as charmless a town (really more of a village) as the excellent alpha&omege site makes out.
                              the Xenia hotel seems the best bet both for hotel and restaurant. owner giorgio lets you know if he can get frest fish; his charming wife anna raises the vegetables and gets eggs from her chickens. we went to meet friends there for the swimming which is marvelous. many beaches, clearest water. gorges nearby for walking. plant life is fascinating. very inexpensive, everything.

                              i live in tuscany and found food in crete healthy and wonderfully interesting. from comments on this site i'd expected much less. we went to modest places.
                              chania disappointed us. it seemed a potentially beautiful city overrun with tourists and visually spoiled by tourist stuff. i did not want to spend time there.