Crete Restaurants

Cretans tend to take their meals seriously, and like to sit down in a taverna to a full meal. Family-run tavernas take pride in serving Cretan cooking, and a number of the better restaurants in cities now also stress Cretan produce and traditional dishes. One way to dine casually is to sample the mezedes served at some bars and tavernas. These often include such Cretan specialties as trypopita (cheese-filled pastry), and a selection of cheeses: Cretan graviera, a hard, smooth cheese, is a blend of pasteurized sheep's and goat's milk that resembles Emmentaler in flavor and texture—not too sharp, but with a strong, distinctive flavor; and mizythra (a creamy white cheese). As main courses, Cretans enjoy grilled meat, generally lamb and pork, but there is also plenty of fresh fish. Mezedes and main courses are usually shared from large platters placed in the center of the table.

Cretan olive oil is famous throughout Greece; it's heavier and richer than other varieties. The island's wines are special: look for Boutari Kritikos, a crisp white; and Minos Palace, a smooth red. Make sure you try the tsikouthia (also known as raki), the Cretan firewater made from fermented grape skins, which is drunk at any hour, often accompanied by a dish of raisins or walnuts drenched in honey. Restaurants often offer raki, along with a sweet, free of charge at the end of a meal.

Lunch is generally served from 1 to 3 or so. Dinner is an event here, as it is elsewhere in Greece, and is usually served late; in fact, when non-Greeks are finishing up around 10:30 or so, locals usually begin arriving.

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  • 1. Apostolis

    $ | Seafood

    On the quieter end of the harbor next to the Venetian arsenals and removed from the tourist joints that surround the port, this lively taverna...Read More

  • 2. Erganos

    $ | Greek

    One of Heraklion's most traditional restaurants, just by Kazantzaki park, serves authentic local fare, mainly to a local crowd, far removed...Read More

  • 3. Ippokambos

    $ | Seafood

    In a modern wood-and-glass conservatory overlooking the Koules, this Heraklion institution serves some of the best fish in town, with the waves...Read More

  • 4. Kanali

    $$ | Greek

    In an impossibly picturesque position next to the sunken ancient city of Olous, and the later canal from where it takes its name, Kanali serves...Read More

  • 5. Kir-Kor 1922

    $ | Café

    Stop into this venerable old bougatsa shop for an envelope of flaky pastry that's either filled with a sweet, creamy filling and dusted with...Read More

  • 6. Kronio

    $ | Greek

    The promise of a meal in this cozy, family-run establishment is alone worth the trip up to the plateau. The taverna is in its fifth decade and...Read More

  • 7. Kyria Maria

    $ | Greek

    On a blink-and-you'll-miss-it small alley behind the Rimondi Fountain, under an arbor of vines, with caged birds chirping away, this homely...Read More

  • 8. Marilena

    $ | Greek

    The choice among the many restaurants that cling to the harbor, it's an Elounda classic, having offered traditional Greek food for 40 years...Read More

  • 9. Portes

    $ | Greek

    Relocated from the somewhat cramped alley it occupied in the city center to a pretty harborside spot in Nea Chora, Portes continues to offer...Read More

  • 10. Raki Ba Raki 1600

    $ | Greek

    Opposite Avli, and part of the same stable, on one of Rethmynon's myriad pretty walkways, this is a modern reinvention of the classic Greek...Read More

  • 11. Tamam

    $ | Mediterranean

    Steps away from the busy harbor, Tamam feels like a giant leap back in time—an ancient Turkish bath that now houses one of the most atmospheric...Read More

  • 12. Taverna Sigelakis

    $ | Greek

    Residents from villages for miles around come to the town of Sivas to enjoy a meal of stifado (meat in a rich tomato sauce) artichokes with...Read More

  • 13. Taverna Stavrakakis

    $ | Greek

    Enhance the short trip out to Kritsa and Lato with a stop in the nearby village of Exo Lakonia to enjoy a meal at the homey kafenion of Manolis...Read More

  • 14. Well of the Turk

    $ | Mediterranean

    In the old Ottoman district of Splantzia, opposite the underground church of Ayia Irene, this restaurant is somewhat difficult to find even...Read More

  • 15. Pefko

    $ | Greek

    Despite the presence of an enormous new resort at the edge of town, Plaka remains a delightful fishing village and Pefko (the Pine Tree) a pleasant...Read More

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