The fourth stop on our Big Fat Greek Summer Vacation was the island of Crete! Here is our guide to the restaurants, wineries, and breweries we enjoyed the most during our visit.
Crete is one of 226 inhabited islands in Greece and also the largest. About 260 km long and 56 km wide (at its widest point), Crete is known for its diverse landscape from rugged mountain ranges, cypress forests, coves, and beaches. We hope our recommendations help you plan where to eat and drink as you explore this massive island!
We have organized the information in a Google Map and shared information about each place. Let us know if you have any questions!
If visiting Elafonissi Beach:
- Topos & Elia is a good spot to have a late lunch/early dinner. We lucked out and got one of the last tables to enjoy a lunch of Cretan specialties with a lovely view. Everything is made from scratch and some menu items may be unavailable but everything we had was delicious!
Dining in Chania:
We spent 5 nights in Chania; here are some highlights:
- Our favorite place to eat in Chania was off the tourist path: Matzenta Kuzina Del Sol uses Cretan ingredients to create Mexican-inspired food.
- We enjoyed modern cuisine using Cretan ingredients at Salis located by the harbor in old Chania. We recommend making a reservation as it gets busy. This restaurant is still casual but a little more upscale.
- One of the more popular spots for souvlaki/gyros was closed and so we stumbled upon Syntrofia Ovelistirio where we got our gyros fix; fun to sit outside on the sidewalk and enjoy a gyros with a cold beer.
- One night, we decided to have a casual meal and try Σ’ Αναμμένα Κάρβουνα (local chain with an English menu but no English website) for grilled meats and salad. Highly recommend!
- Greek barbecue is similar to Texas barbecue but it happens at night, you have to wait, and instead of free beer, they give you raki (even when you say “no thank you!). We thought we were getting better at eating late when we arrived here at 20:30 but we didn’t eat until 22:00 as that was when the lamb was ready! We had time to build an appetite between when we finished that BIG salad and had the rest of the meal. Super fun experience! We highly recommend adding a few local-traditional barbecue places to your eatinerary! We highly recommend Mastrapas just outside the center of Chania!
We highly recommend seeking out of the village restaurants up in the mountains or by the sea.
- Dounia’s Taverna in Drakona village, about 30 minutes away from Chania, along with some photos of scenery from our drives through Cretan mountains. Dounia’s is a really interesting lunch experience because everything is made over woodfire, the traditional way and most (if not all) the food comes from the family farm. You order either vegetarian or meat or mixed and get served food as they prepare it. The meal ends when you say you’re full. Food is served as it is made and ready, so when the restaurant is busy, it takes a while but it gives you the chance to enjoy the scenery and experience. Spoiler: we were here for 3.5 hours! We had 3 vegetarian dishes and 2 meat dishes. Our favorites were the salad, the eggplant and the goat.
- Dimitris Taverne in Mochlos is a nice place for lunch and dinner. We had dakos, which is a Cretan meze made with a bread rusk topped with chopped tomatoes, cheese, olives and herbs (think bruschetta but way more flavorful!). We also shared octopus carpaccio and grilled squid. For dinner, they set out tables in the street and you can see the sunset.
- Raki Ba Raki is a nice place for lunch. We shared a mezzes plate and really enjoyed it.
In Agios Nikolaos:
- Karnagio is a fun place for dinner. We shared a large plate of grilled pork with potatoes and are stull dreaming of that flavourful yellow sauce. The dessert was also decision: a pudding with watermelon and some raki.
If visiting Spinalonga:
- The Carob Tree offers homemade Greek food in a nice setting. We enjoyed vine leaves and pickled fish with a salad.
- Apiri Greek Eatery is a good place to try modern Greek cuisine. Their bread and olive oil was also the most flavourful of any we had. We enjoyed the salad, tacos and tuna carpaccio. The lemon meringue dessert with raki was also delicious.
There are a few breweries in Crete but the scene is not the same as what you are used to in North America, i.e visit the brewery for flights or pints. Craft beer can be purchased at some grocery stores though but is generally double the price of cheaper beers like Alpha and Fix.
- Solo Brewery: Solo was our favorite brewery due to the quality of the beers and our tasting room experience! You can sample beers and then purchase some to go from their facility in Heraklion. The owner is very friendly and fun to talk to about his experiences and life on the island of Crete! If you are missing the hoppy IPAs from back home, their IPA and ISA will satisfy that craving.
- Cretan Brewery: Cretan Brewery is the oldest brewery on the island and they supply kegs to many restaurants and bars on the island. We stopped in for a pint and a snack but you can also do a tour of the facility here near Chania. They offer a few staple beers like a lager and a pale ale as well as seasonals. It is easy to find their beer on draft at many restaurants and bars as well as for purchase in stores. They also fill bottles at the brewery for cheap!
- Lafkas Brewery: We stopped in to try and purchase some beers to go. At the time of visiting, they had 2 beers: a pale ale and an orange wit. We really enjoyed meeting the owner and talking about beer and finding out more about Crete!
Crete has a long tradition of winemaking and many wineries to visit! We enjoyed the wine tastings due to the wine itself, the food options available, and speaking with the staff. There are many to visit and we wanted to visit more but ran out of time!
- Manousakis: Manousakis is located just outside of Chania and it is a nice drive to get here. We made a reservation for a tasting and also to have lunch here. Very nice setting outside, good food and wine.
- Domaine Paterianakis: Located outside of Heraklion, Domaine Paterianakis offers wine tastings, snacks, and even has accommodation on site. This was our favorite wine tasting based on the wines we tried and how friendly the staff were. Even if you don’t like Cretan Tsikoudia (raki), we recommend trying theirs, as it was much smoother and the bottle with a Nikos Kazantzakis poem, “Paradise” is interesting!
- Lyrarakis: Lyrarakis is located outside of Heraklion, near Paterianakis. Lyrarakis is very popular and also has some good snacks to enjoy with their wine. We enjoyed the setting and the tasting but because it was so busy, it felt more rushed, rehearsed and less personal. Nonetheless, worth a visit to try some Cretan indigenous grapes, like Melissaki and Dafni.
We hope to visit Crete again and keep adding to this list!
Have you been to Crete? Are there any places we should be adding to our list?