A guide to food and drink in Crete

For many, the food in Crete is just as big a draw as the beaches. Crete enjoys all the flavours of traditional Greek food, combined with special hints and spices that are unique to the island. Many of the tavernas in Crete are family-run. This provides a comfortable, laid-back environment in which the staff are incredibly proud of what they do and want to make your holiday to Greece as enjoyable as possible.

Exploring Crete's delicacies

Staples among Greek restaurants are delicacies like moussaka – a lasagne-type dish with sauteed aubergine, mince meat, potatoes and cheese. Lamb is also one of the country’s top delicacies, often cooked on a spit and served in pitta bread – known as gyros. Crete is also renowned for its seafood dishes, including fried calamari, fresh fish fillets and seasoned octopus, all of which define that classical relationship with the sea that this island has nurtured for centuries. If you’re looking for culinary delights then Crete is a top location for your Greek island holiday.

Restaurants in Crete are famous for providing complimentary desserts to their diners, often consisting of creams, fruits and cheeses, along with a glass of clear liquid known as raki. Not to be confused with Greece’s popular ouzo, raki is a brandy distilled from grapes and is served in shot glasses. It might seem mild at first, but the little glasses pack a pretty profound punch, much like the raki you’ll find in Turkey. The traditions of Crete have led to the raki served here being flavoured with honey, lemon rinds or rosemary, so rest assured you’ll have plenty of choice.

Seafood galore at Kastella, Heraklion

This traditional taverna has a road separating the main building from its outdoor terrace overlooking the sea, which means it enjoys a serene atmosphere away from the bustle of the kitchen. The menu features just-caught seafood like octopus, sea bream and king prawns, as well as veal and, of course, moussaka. For dessert, you’re well looked after with chocolate-drizzled pancakes and ice cream.

Unwind at Thavma Coffee Drinks & Cretan Food, Rethymnon

Thavma in Rethymnon takes you away from the coast and up into the hills, though you’ll still see the water from afar. Meals on the outdoor terrace are the picture of peaceful, and consist of home-cooked fare seasoned with local spices. Dining experiences here come in all sizes – you can stop in for a coffee, a table full of mezze platters or mains capped with homemade house wine.

Classic cuisine at Tholos Restaurant, Chania

This traditional taverna is located within the confines of Chania’s Old Town, and stands out for its romantic vibes. It has the appearance of a rustic doll’s house, with the fourth wall missing so that every spot in the restaurant is open air. The food is tasty too, and consists of classic Greek fare like pan-fried seabass, rabbit stew and lamb chops.

Fresh and flavoursome at Patriko, Aghios Nikolaos

The food here in Aghios Nikolaos not only tastes great, but does acrobatics too – meat hung from skewers and prawns dangling over plates. With fruits and veggies carved into flowers as well, it’s safe to say the presentation is creative. The flavours and dishes are all unique spins on Greek classics, so you’re guaranteed to find meals like calamari and lamb chops on the menu.

Unmissable views at Lotus Eaters, Elounda

The terrace at Lotus Eaters, Elounda, is up on a high deck, so you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the bay as you dine. It’s a smaller restaurant than the others around it, but the Greek eats served here are the cream of the crop. On the menu, you’ll find Moroccan-spiced pork, lamb in curry sauce and tender chicken.