A land of ancient ruins, spectacular mountains, exotic beaches and isolated harbors, Crete is the largest island of Greece. The temperate Mediterranean climate, abundant local produce and the hospitality of its people make Crete an ideal culinary destination. There’s an endless choice of delicious Cretan dishes, from traditional cheeses to eye-watering ouzo. We’ve picked our top 10 favorites.
The owners of Elia, located in the southern village of Sellia, cook only with products of the region and virgin olive oil. The couple manage to render traditional Cretan dishes into artistic creations of high quality and magical flavour. The menu is extensive including Greek souvlaki skewer, pork in lemon, aubergines, hummus, marinated tuna with ginger. Meals can be enjoyed alongside views of the sea and mountains from the terrace of the small, simple taverna. Perfect for any time of the day, the superb food, friendly atmosphere and fantastic prices make it a must visit.
Elia, Plakias, Crete, Greece, +30 2832 036002
Located in a village on the foot of the unspoiled White Mountains of Chania, at 600 metres altitude, the traditional taverna Dounias is a centre of gastronomy and slow food. The famous Cretan diet, long-known for its healthy properties, is followed to the letter by the owner Stelios Trilirakis, who uses only locally produced raw materials and cooks in wood stoves. Vegetables, fruits, olives and the virgin olive oil come from the family’s groves, and meat and poultry are sourced from their farm. Herbs such as oregano, dittany and chamomile are picked from nearby slopes, giving a special aroma to traditional dishes such as Greek salad, rabbit casseroles, lamb with honey and meat dishes with pilaf rice.
Dounias, Main Road, Drakona, Crete, Greece, +30 28210 65083
Gramboussa is located on the little island of the same name, near Balos on the north western tip of Crete. It has one of the most gorgeous views to the blue and green waters of Kissamos bay and Rodopos peninsula. The unique atmosphere of the area, combined with the beautiful décor, make Gramboussa one of the best-loved restaurants. The choice of food on the menu can be overwhelming but Gamvoussa salad with creamy goat’s cheese, baked lamb wrapped in filo pastry and rabbit wrapped in lemon leaves are definitely worth a try.
In the noisy, touristy area of Hersonissos, there is a very small, family-run restaurant that offers good food, great service and excellent hospitality. The Alchemist has a bar serving delicious cocktails to the hordes of sun-burned tourists waiting to be seated. It is easily the busiest place in the village with a great buzz and authentic Greek food. Traditional dishes such as shrimp saganaki, grilled octopus, beef stifado and moussaka are not going to disappoint and the complementary raki and dessert after the meal are a must.
Open all year-round, Gero Tsegas is a beautiful sea-side restaurant with views to the small fishing port of Psarolimano in the province of Kastelli. Customers can sit in the beautiful veranda or indoors and enjoy the most delicious selection of fresh fish and seafood. Dishes include fish soup with kakavia and lobster spaghetti. All fish are local, arriving directly from the boats that reach the little harbour every day.
O Gero Tsegas, Limni Kissamou, Vathi Chanion, +30 28220 22195
On the roof of Lato Boutique hotel in Herakleion, the capital city of Crete, Herb’s Garden offers views of the Venetian harbour and the ocean. With the freshest fish and seafood delicacies, it is also an ideal place for enjoying coffee and ice-creams on a hot day or cocktails and drinks at night, watching the glittering lights of the port.
Herb’s Garden, 15 Epimenidou St, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 30 2810 334971