If you want to find out where to eat the best moussaka, souvlaki or tzatziki in Crete, you’ve come to the right place! In this food guide I would like to show you 12 best restaurants worth visiting while on the island – in Chania, Rethymno and Balos.
Although Chania is the main city and tourist point in Crete, the inconspicuous city of Rethymno has won our hearts more by offering a very large selection of high quality restaurants. Interestingly, while being in Greece, in every tavern we can expect a free dessert after a meal – usually it is a Greek yoghurt with fruits but in Crete it was a bit different and in almost all the restaurants we received a mosaiko, which is a traditional chocolate cake.
Gramboussa Restaurant – Laguna Balos
Gramboussa Restaurant is the first one on my list – not without a reason. It doesn’t matter if you are staying in Chania, Rethymno, Herkalion or any other place in Crete – I’m 90% sure that you will have a chance to visit this restaurant. It’s located in the town of Kaliviani at the Balos Lagoon, the biggest attraction of the island, that everyone plans to visit anyway. I can assure you that after a few kilometers of climbing down to the lagoon and back, you will surely be very hungry and you won’t regret visiting this tavern! The restaurant has a huge area with a terrace, but still there are queues at the entrance and it looks like it’s a very popular spot. All the dishes are made directly on fire in a traditional way and the restaurant is maintained in a rustic climate – this place is just a perfect combination of folksy atmosphere and delicious food. Plus, you’ll get endless ouzo!
Ellotia Restaurant – Chania
Ellotia Restaurant is probably the best restaurant we had a chance to visit in Chania! Despite very good ratings on Google there are no crowds, probably because it’s hidden in a narrow street in the old town and tourists usually focus on restaurants on the main promenade and port. The restaurant has an amazing atmosphere and it’s very romantic, thanks to its location in an old courtyard overgrown with ivy. But let’s move on to the most important thing – food! This is where I had a chance to eat the best souvlaki and tzatziki in Crete. Free dessert, which was a Greek yoghurt with fruits, was also memorable. I recommend it with all my heart!
Raki Ba Raki – Rethymno
We can definitely say that this is our number one in Rethymno. What’s interesting, Raki Ba Raki restaurant shares the kitchen, owners, staff and part of the tables with the Avli restaurant located next door, which is quite unusual – although I can bet that in Avli you will surely have a chance to have a great dining experience, as well. In Raki Ba Raki you will find traditional Greek food with a modern twist, beautiful colorful decor, an interesting menu and affordable prices.
Hasika – Rethymno
Also one of the best restaurants that we managed to visit in Rethymno. Here you will find modern variations on traditional Greek cuisine, also mixed with elements of other cuisines of the world. The menu is very short and concise, the ingredients are fresh and local and there are many interesting appetizers. I ordered a modern version of moussaka, but perhaps the most memorable thing is the smoked hummus and dessert that we got at the end. The dessert was called bougatsa and it was probably the best dessert I’ve ever had – yummy! While in Crete, you have to try it!
Pigadi – Rethymno
A great restaurant with Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, it will certainly be among the top restaurants we have visited in Crete. Location in the courtyard which is a remnant of an old tenement house, makes the restaurant very romantic. It’s definitely a place where you can not only eat well, but also to have a very pleasant time. We opted for local Greek starters and main courses, including a traditional moussaka in a clay pot with lots of cinnamon, which was quite surprising.
Estrella – Chania
This time a typical breakfast spot – Estrella cafe with a wonderful selection of interesting but not very Greek delicacies. Here you will find seemingly ordinary breakfast options such as buns, omelettes, pancakes, etc. But in quite unusual and creative flavour compositions, such as truffle cream, beetroot hummus or delicious dried tomato paste. I highly recommend it!
Amphora – Chania
Amphora is a charming tavern in the heart of Chania attracting tourists with its traditional Greek blue decor. Unusual look encouraged us as well and we decided to eat there. We took a plate of Greek starters, moussaka and octopus. The food was very good, the menu included typical Greek dishes and the portions were decent enough that we couldn’t finish what we ordered. Maybe there were no fireworks and it’s not a restaurant that is particularly memorable, but undeniably the food was tasty and we can definitely recommend it.
La Bodega – Chania
La Bodega is a very pleasant Italian wine bar and it is definitely worth coming here when you feel like eating something else rather than typical Greek food. It will be a nice place for the evening, but it’s worth to book a table in advance because the restaurant is quite small. You will find Italian cuisine here, but don’t count on pizza and pasta – the menu is mainly dominated by appetizers, boards of cured meat and cheeses and seafood. We were tempted by a sizable foccacia, stuffed mushrooms and fried scallops. It was delicious!
Alana Restaurant – Rethymno
Alana is a restaurant more suitable for an elegant dinner rather than a quick lunch. The menu includes typical Mediterranean cuisine, but also dishes of local Greek cuisine. The prices are a bit more expensive than in other restaurants we visited in Rethymno. This time we tried fried cheese, snails in wine, squids and truffle risotto with parmesan cheese.
Salis – Chania
Salis is a very similar restaurant to Alana, it is also an elegant restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine – just perfect for a special dinner, but this one is located in Chania. We decided to order croquettes, pastitsio with truffles and octopus. I strongly recommend, it was really delicious!
Ta Chalkina – Chania
Ta Chalkina is another restaurant with typical Greek cuisine. It was recommended to us by a Greek woman from the hotel where we stayed. The restaurant is very crowded and basically from the afternoon till late night there are queues on the entry and all tables are full. The portions are large and affordable, and it will be a great option for families with children, as the menu also includes dishes for sharing, such as shashlik on the picture. Apart from that, we decided to try the most popular Cretan appetizer, also called Greek bruschetta – dakos which is dried bread with tomatoes and mizithra cheese, which tastes like a delicate feta. Unfortunately, the bread was super hard and it was almost impossible to bite into it. Apart from that, everything tasted great!
Castelo – Rethymno
Castelo is also one of the best restaurants where we had a chance to eat in Crete. Of course, like in Greece, it is also a Mediterranean restaurant with a modern mix of local Cretan cuisine. We decided to order croquettes with different fillings, an exceptionally good moussaka (probably the best one I had during our whole trip) and pork in orange sauce – we highly recommend everything, because the food was really amazing. Apart from that, the service was super helpful and the decor really resembled the castle courtyard.
In addition to the above mentioned restaurants, I strongly encourage you to visit the local taverns in small towns that you pass while exploring the island. The food there has always been tasty and we have never been disappointed, plus it was very inexpensive.