We spent two weeks on Crete in the summer of 2021. We felt it was an opportunity to experience summer in Greece without the crowds that descend on Greece most summers. Crete did not disappoint. We swam in the warm Mediterranean Sea, hiked in the White Mountains of western and central Crete, explored Ancient Sites and ate incredibly delicious meals. I have listed here what I consider to be the best of the best restaurants on Crete. That being said, we never ate a bad meal the entire time we were on Crete.
Directly on the Venetian Port in Old Town Chania, most of the tables at Lithos Taverna have a sweeping views of the lighthouse and harbor. It is a causal, friendly place. We went for lunch and had the best Lamb Kefta I have ever eaten. Lamb Kefta is a "Greek Meatball" seasoned with coriander and zatar and cooked on a grill. The Gyro was delicious as well. The menu is full of traditional Cretan fare cooked in a wood stove. The evening menu has some interesting selections that have a contemporary twist, like Green Risotto with Grilled Calamari.
Portes, Nea Chora
The first restaurant in the row of Fish Tavernas that hug the shoreline of Nea Chora, a short walking distance Old Town Chania, is Portes. They serve predominately seafood but have a few meat dishes. I love their whole Sea Bream cooked in Parchment Paper, which was moist and flavored with fresh herbs. We also tried their Grilled Octopus and their Homemade Sausage Starter. Both prepared beautifully, the octopus was tender with a slight taste of the sea and the sausage rich with flavors of cumin and allspice. You can sit directly on the quay. If the weather is bad, they do have indoor dining. Many of the restaurants on Crete, including Portes offer you a complimentary sweet and Raki (a grappa like liquor) at the end of your meal.
Ferryman Taverna, Elounda
Located directly on the quay, just south of the Spinalonga Ferry Dock, is the picturesque Ferryman Taverna. From all the outdoor tables, you have views of the sparkling Elounda Bay and the island fortress of Spinalonga. These views are spectacular and the food is even better. We had the Greek Strawberry Salad, an interesting twist on a traditional Greek Salad. I had the Lamb Kefta. The lamb was moist and nicely spiced, with pita and tzaziki sauce on the side. I would recommend Ferryman Taverna to anyone visiting Elounda.
Salis is an open air restaurant on the quay of the Venetian Port in Old Town Chania. It is owned by the family who also owns Manousakis Winery on Crete. They have a voluminous Wine List including selections from Manousakis Winery which are very reasonably priced. We shared the Peinerli with Kimas, a boat shaped pizza with minced lamb. It was our first time trying Peinerli and it was full of meaty, cheesy flavor. CaptK had the grilled Sea Bream and I had a Greek style Carbonara with wild boar sausage. The food was extremely high quality, with most of the ingredients being locally sourced. A word of caution, while the prices were not outrageous, this was the most expensive meal we had in Crete.
Oninoa Wine Restaurant, Chania
Looking for something innovative to eat in Old Town Chania, make a reservation at Oninoa Wine Restaurant. They have an interesting menu that offers more than traditional Cretan fare. We started with a Stone Fruit and Prosciutto Salad. CaptK had a Roasted Sea Bream filet in a Roasted Red Pepper sauce. I had the Tuna Tartare Stack topped with Avocado. We ate on their second floor balcony and watched to sun set over the Old Fort. The attention to detail in their menu and food preparation was evident in the favors we tasted. We even had a visit from one of the Chania cats.
Woodstock, Nea Chora
Breakfast is not really a thing in Greece. Most people have a coffee and maybe a small sweet pastry. However, Crete is a large tourist area, especially with British tourists that enjoy a warm meal first thing in the morning, or late morning, if they are on holiday. My holiday tastes lean more towards Cappuccino with a view. Whether you are in the mood for a hot hearty breakfast or just a cappuccino, Woodstock is just the place the indulge in this delight. They also offer a diverse breakfast menu including Breakfast Omelets, Eggs Benedict or Pancakes. They also offer lighter bites available throughout the day. Interested in a tradional breakfast or just a coffee and a bite, Woodstock has high quality food, shady outdoor tables and beachside views. Woodstock is in Nea Chora, just outside the old town in Chania. There are several places in Old Town Chania that serve breakfast, Woodstock with its beachfront seating was my favorite.
Veneto-Ristorante Italiano, Chania
Interested in dining on Italian specialities in a grapevine shaded courtyard, Veneto Ristorante
is your place in Old Town Chania. They have an extensive menu of Italian favorites, however I was there for the pizza and salad. When we were deciding whether to eat at Veneto. CaptK asked the owner, "Do you have thin crust pizza?" The owner replied, "It's not pizza if its doesn't have thin crust, its not pizza." We were not disappointed as we enjoyed one of our favorite meals, Pizza and Salad. We prefer to enjoy this meal in a restaurant that serves great red wines. Veneto Ristorante exceeded our expectations. I only wish we had an opportunity to eat there twice.
Pelagos, Agios Nikolaos
This boho chic restaurant has a stylish patio that makes dining a pleasure. In this garden like setting, we enjoyed one of our best meals in Crete! Grilled salmon with a chickpea and pomegranate seed puree for me. Seafood pasta for for CaptK. Pelagos, which means sea, is considered a fish restaurant with fresh choices available daily. They do have a diverse menu that offers meat, seafood and fresh fish. Innovative, flavorful food in a beautiful setting, what more could you ask for.
La Bodega, Chania
This small restaurant on the Venetian Port in Old Town Chania is a gem. We did not have an opportunity to have a large meal there. Our "snack" of a deconstructed Greek Salad and a panini was incredibly delicious. While we were not able to eat a full meal, I feel very comfortable recommending it based on the high quality food we did eat. All their deliciousness is served with a beautiful view of the Venetian Port. It is a pleasure to enjoy a meal, take in the view and watch the people stroll on the quay.
To Xani, Chania
To Xani is tucked into a shaded side street in the Jewish Quarter of Old Town Chania. Our table had a lovely view of the entrance to the Jewish Temple. To Xani specializes in authentic Cretan Food. They have a wood fired oven in their kitchen that allows them to prepare traditional dishes, like lamb stew. Their Gyro, pictured in the first photo above, may not be what you have experienced previously. It is prepared in the traditional Cretan way with tiny bits of seasoned meat and french fries wrapped in a pita. the fresh and flavorful ingredients come through in all their dishes.
Mikrolimano Psarotaverna, Nea Chora
This outstanding Fish Taverna offers pier side dining in Nea Chora, just a short walk from Old Town Chania. The fish is fresh and prepared beautifully. The tomato based seafood pasta was one of the best we ate in Crete. The Fried Cheese in Honey was a salty, sweet, crunchy, gooey starter. Traditional Greek Salad is our favorite dish to start a meal in Greece. The vegetables and olive oil are locally produced. Add the dried oregano and feta cheese for additional flavor and you have a healthy addition to any meal.
This is the night time view of Nea Chora. It is a beautiful setting to enjoy an evening meal with a sea breeze cooling you.
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