For such a small resort, Koutouloufari has an amazing array of local tavernas. Restaurants here aren't just known for their food either – they're also renowned for their gorgeous settings, tucked along cobbled streets or high up on a rooftop and overlooking the town, all the way out to sea. Many of the menus in this little village boast traditional Cretan dishes like oven-baked lamb, but you'll also find an assortment of British, Italian and even Asian flavours too.
This restaurant is one of the most sought out in Koutouloufari, so you'd be wise to book in advance. From the rooftop or on the main floor, you can enjoy heaped portions of Greek eats like tender lamb kleftiko or chicken souvlaki. When the bill rolls around, you'll be treated to complimentary desserts such as their out-of-this-world orange cake with ice cream.
Decked in flowers and shaded by overhanging trees, the Iokasti Caffe offers a romantic setting overlooking the sea. The menu here features a range of meat and veggie dishes, with stand-out plates like the pepper steak expertly paired with a glass of house wine. Much of the menu is traditional Greek fare, though they have a selection of meals you won't find elsewhere in town, so this is a great opportunity to branch out.
Oniro is a family-run restaurant whose views encompass all of Koutouloufari and beyond. The menu here is supremely Greek, with oven-baked lamb that falls off the bone. The desserts are of epic proportions, with plates of ice cream, walnut cake and an apple pie that is much talked about.
The Atrium has a little bit of something for your entire day – freshly-squeezed juice and ground coffee for breakfast, burgers, steak and salmon fillets for lunch and dinner, orange pie and tiramisu for dessert and a cocktail bar for after-dinner drinks. Choosing to come here is the easy part – choosing when and what to order is another matter entirely.
If you're looking for a change from the Greek eats in Koutouloufari, Beijing to Bali brings Asian flavours to a classic Mediterranean setting. They offer a wide range of dishes, from dim sum to spring rolls, rice noodles to beef dishes loaded with vegetables. But just because they're serving Chinese and Indonesian food doesn't mean they skimp on Greek traditions – you'll still get a glass of raki with your bill.
Mezes has a reputation for being a great spot for families, with traditional Cretan and Greek dishes, plus pasta and of course a long list of mezze platters. The restaurant is also known for its mojitos – regular and strawberry infused – with mint plucked straight from pots in the garden.
The rooftop seating area at Pithari feels more like a treehouse, as it's open-air and laced with leafy tree branches. It's one of the oldest tavernas in the area and boasts traditional Greek food with the odd carbonara and steak fillet, plus meatballs and garlic shrimp as starters.
This restaurant really ups the romance factor, with panoramic views of the town and out to sea from its outdoor patio. The menu at Olivia features mostly Greek fare and traditional Cretan meals, with homemade tomato soup and beef stifado, plus burgers and barbecued chicken and vegetables.
On the rooftop terrace, in the gardens or from the main restaurant, dining at Esperos is something many visitors to Koutouloufari do more than once. That's because the food here is so fresh, and dished out in mouth-wateringly huge portions. You can expect mixed grill platters, sole fish with roasted aubergine and stuffed peppers. Be sure to leave room for dessert of ice cream sundaes topped with sparklers.
For the homesick traveller, Pegasus dishes up a Sunday roast to rival any back-home pub. The restaurant features a great assortment of Greek dishes, but also crowd-favourites like chilli con carne, fish and chips, and even a dollop of trifle to close out the night. Pegasus also offers a play-place to keep kids occupied while you dine.