Gastro-tourism is one of the best trends to hit holidaymakers around the world. It’s the idea that you learn to love and experience foreign cultures through the power of taste, and when you come to Crete as a gastro-tourist, you will certainly be in for a treat. The island of Crete features a range of cuisines, including some homely Greek and Mediterranean tavernas, with a few pizzerias and Italian influences.
In this blog, we’re going to spotlight one restaurant from each of Crete’s four regions. With this guide, you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic meal out wherever you are on the island.
CHANIA – Serenissima
For a Grecian fine dining experience, make sure you visit the Serenissima Restaurant on Chania’s coast. Well known for being a peaceful area of Crete inspired by Mediterranean fishing practices, you can expect to find a lot of traditional seafood dishes in this region.
At the Serenissima, you’ll find a sophisticated aesthetic with fresh food. Everything here is presented beautifully, from the chairs and tables to the main course followed by dessert. The atmosphere is light, yet luxurious. Compelling and entertaining, every dish brings the wow factor to your table. You simply must dine here at least once during your stay in Crete, and you’ll want to dine there every night following.
LASITHI – Lotus Eaters
Deep in the heart of Lasithi, you will find the bustling town of Elounda on the northeast coast, where you can find the coastal restaurant known as Lotus Eaters. To dine here is a very special occasion; affording brilliant views across the ocean, the Lotus Eaters is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Like many of Crete’s restaurants, the food here is exquisitely fresh and well prepared. The menu regularly includes some interesting alternative dishes on top of the traditional Greek dishes, such as the white chocolate Baileys cheesecake on the dessert menu. All menus on this blog are subject to change, so be sure to check the menus before you book your meal. That said, pre-booking at the Lotus Eaters is recommended – its popularity means that it is often quite busy!
HERAKLION – Peskesi
If you’re staying in the capital of Crete, then you’ll want to get a taste of Peskesi before you leave. Situated between the old Venetian Harbour, the Natural History Museum of Crete and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, a meal at Peskesi is often preceded by an intellectual tour of Heraklion’s finest sights.
Peskesi’s aesthetic is one of rustic elegance, with the stunning wooden furniture combined with sun-bleached stone walls and floors. One of Peskesi’s greatest selling points is its fantastic customer service which has it with no less than 1,200 full star ratings on trip advisor, and this doesn’t come at a sacrifice of food quality either. Their meals are full of local flavour and texture, especially their Cretan hard cheese, while the wine list is similarly superb.
RETHYMNO – Avli
A sweet restaurant filled with beautiful horticulture, the design choices at Avli were clearly chosen with the intent of creating a truly distinct feeling of familial warmth that is missing from the restaurants previously mentioned on this list. Avli’s atmosphere has the taste of a garden party, while its food is just as flavoursome and artistic as the rest of the fine dining plates that we have discussed in this blog.
The setting of this restaurant is quite special, with many of the tables being located in the courtyard of what was once a luscious Cretan mansion in the fifteenth century. Avli is very in touch with its traditional roots and sources many of its ingredients locally, but it’s also up to speed with the local times; Avli is wheelchair accessible, accepts credit cards and has free wi-fi to keep any kids in the restaurant happy and quiet.
We have plenty of villas in Crete for you to stay in while you complete your gastro-tour of the island. Our favourite of the above restaurants is probably the homely Avli, but we don’t deny that a white chocolate Baileys cheesecake sounds amazing! Wherever you’re dining during your holiday, we hope that you enjoy a fabulous experience that will leave you craving for Cretan cuisine for many months after the event.