t’s not just the stunning mountain scenery, spring-time carpet of flowers, picture-postcard village and ancient history which makes Crete such a popular destination.
As the largest island in Greece, Crete is internationally renowned for its authentic food and drink and local culture revolves around it. Think unique ingredients, such as hard and soft cheeses which every village seems to have its own variety of. Think mountain herbs, fresh fish, famous Cretan oil and lamb, simply cooked over an open fire BBQ.
There’s drink, too, such as freshly brewed beers (there’s a great brewery just outside of Chania (Xania) which is well worth a visit) and raki, a grape brandy which is available everywhere.
And where better to sample the most authentic dishes than in the local taverna? How, though, to choose? With hundreds of tavernas throughout the island, and a large concentration around Chania and West Crete where most of our villas are situated, where best to sample the best cuisine in the most atmospheric surrounds.
With most people enjoying a one or two week villa holiday, time is short – and if you’re as serious about tucking in to the best the island has to offer as you are about enjoying every other aspect of the perfect trip, we’re here to help. (It’s a hard job but someone has to do it…)
Below, we’ve cherry picked our favourite top 5 tavernas in Crete (in or near Chania, the Venetian harbour port). Whatever you’re looking for, fish, meat, vegetarian or vegan dishes, either in the town itself or a short walk or drive away, we’ve got you covered.
“Kalí óreksi!” (‘good appetite!) as they say in Crete.
Manos Fish Taverna, Nea Chora
It’s just a ten-minute walk from the Venetian harbour in Chania to Manos Taverna in Nea Chora but honestly, we’d walk far further if we had to. It’s THAT good. Renowned principally for its freshly cooked fish dishes including delicacies such as sea-urchin and octopus, this lovely no-nonsense taverna sits opposite a fishing harbour, with no traffic and a view which guests have described, ‘like being in a film set’. Although Neo Chora used to be a little run down, the area has been gentrified to become what is now a really ‘cool’ area with a lovely, laid-back vibe. Go for the atmosphere – stay for the fish! Oh, and portions are gigantic. No wonder it’s made our Top 5 tavernas in Crete hotlist.
Find out more about Manos Taverna
Manolis Taverna, Agia Marina Old Village
“A jewel,”; “Cannot recommend highly enough”, and “the best taverna in Agia Marina’ are just some recent customer comments about this gem of a restaurant. Serving authentic Greek dishes at incredibly reasonable prices, this family-run restaurant is a must-visit.
Top dishes include Lamb Kleftiko, Tsoubleki, Moussaka Soutzoukakia, Meatballs and all represent great value for money.
Although this restaurant is located off the village square, it’s eternally popular. Rest assured a table is worth waiting for in one of our Top 5 tavernas in Crete!
Find out more about Manolis Taverna
Taverna Kantouni, Nea Chora
If you were to go on Trip Advisor ratings alone, this is a contender for top spot, particularly if you’re a meat-lover.
A butcher’s shop with a taverna on the side means that the quality meats are cooked simply (usually BBQ) and to perfection, with zero food miles. Spicy sausages, grilled lambs’ liver, souvlaki, steaks.
Off the beaten track and unassuming it maybe but definitely a place where the local people go to eat.
Find out more about Taverna Kantouni
Ela, Chania Old town
Three minutes from Chania’s famous harbour is one of the most popular restaurants in town and a shoo-in for our Top 5 tavernas in Crete.
Originally a candle factory in its Venetian hey-day, the restaurant is sited in the ruins (there’s no roof) to dramatic and atmospheric effect.
Serving Mediterranean dishes including fish, meat, vegetarian and vegan options, there’s also live music played regularly which acts as a magnet for tourists and locals alike.
Find out more about Ela Taverna
Imagine sitting under an 800-year-old olive tree in a gorgeous garden surrounded by orange trees and stunning mountain scenery. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?
Now throw in traditional gas and open fire cooking – no electricity at all – and you get some idea of why people make the 20-kilometre pilgrimage from Chania to Frosinis Garden.
This family-run taverna cooks only locally sourced food on an open fire, where everything is organic and simply cooked. If you want to experience truly authentic Cretan cuisine off the beaten track, this is more than worth the journey!
If you want to make more of a day of it, why not combine your trip with an outing to the Cretan Charma brewery nearby.
Find out more about Frosinis Garden
We have nearly 40 years’ experience in arranging villa holidays in Crete and know the island and each area intimately. Diane, our Operations Director has lived near Chania for over 30 years and can help with your holiday once you are on the island too! If you need any more information, do get in touch. Call us on +44 1789 297705 or e-mail us at email@example.com