Dining in Chania
Chania's Old Town is home to a range of fine restaurants where you can try traditional Cretan cuisine with views of the sea. Locals will tell you, however, that some of the city's best food is found in the outskirts of the city, a short taxi ride away from the center.
What should you try? Look for dakos, a traditional Cretan salad topped with mizithra, a soft cheese made with goat's or sheep's milk. Chochlioi boubouristi (fried snails) battered with flour and fried in olive oil, then doused with wine vinegar and topped with rosemary, are another local classic. Lamb that's roasted antikristo-style is a must (see below for more details), as are Cretan wines and raki, a potent spirit made all around the island.
Find out more about the island's culinary traditions by reading What to Eat in Crete.
Restaurants in Old Town
Right on the waterfront by the old Venetian-style port, Salis offers contemporary Cretan food paired with excellent local wines. Driven by a farm-to-table concept, the restaurant's ingredients are locally sourced from the surrounding landscape, and some are produced by the owners. The service is friendly, the food is delicious, and the location is romantic, especially at sunset: this is a must-try restaurant for a special dinner in Chania.
Chrisostomos is the place to go for traditional cuisine from Sfakia, a remote mountainous region where the same methods of cooking have been followed for hundreds of years. The dishes here are simple and made exclusively with local products. Try the tsigariasto, with tender pieces of lamb slowly cooked in their own juices in a clay pot in a wood-fired oven. Don't miss the restaurant's dolmades (grape leaves or zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and meat). Then finish the meal with loukoumades (Greek doughnuts) drizzled with Cretan honey.
Surprisingly, given the coastal environment, there's not much seafood served at restaurants in Chania. A notable exception is at The Five, a beachfront restaurant located in the neighborhood of Nea Chora. The dishes are modern, imaginative, and full of taste. Try the ceviche, grilled octopus, or sardine bruschetta paired with a Cretan wine from an extensive list.
Find out more here about the Top Culinary Experiences in Greece.
Pork to Beef Wild
For a quick meal while exploring Chania, Pork to Beef Wild is the place to go to. There's always a line outside, whether at lunch or dinner, and you'll understand why after tasting the food. The menu features wraps, with homemade pita, sandwiches, and plates of perfectly grilled meat with potatoes on the side.
Restaurants Outside of Old Town
Thalassino Ageri is located in the district of Tabakaria, where the island's old tanneries used to be. The restaurant's tables are set up directly on the beach, providing the perfect venue to enjoy one of Chania's spectacular sunsets while you dine. The chef focuses on traditional dishes made with fresh and local ingredients. Try the grilled octopus, freshly caught fish, and the sea urchin salad.
To Dichalo (The Fork)
To Dichalo means "the fork" in Greek. The name has two meanings — it's a great place to eat, and the restaurant is located at the fork of two roads. The outdoor dining area is beautifully set up under large shady trees, ideal for a leisurely lunch. The menu offers traditional Cretan cuisine such as chochlioi boubouristi (fried snails) and pork with celery stew. The grilled meats are served in generous portions. As you finish the meal, the friendly owner will bring out dessert, a fruit platter, and of course, raki, the potent local spirit.
The name antikristo refers to a traditional way of cooking meat. Traditionally, locals would quickly set up a fire and cook lamb in the field with just a bit of salt. The result is juicy, with an extra crispy skin from the heat of the fire. The restaurant To Antikristo is located just a short drive away from the city center. As the name implies, this is a go-to place to try the dish. The owner is available to answer questions about the traditional cooking method, and you can also ask for a tour of the kitchen to see the cooking in progress.
Looking for a deeper dive into Crete's culinary history? Try this 8-day food-focused tour of Cyclades and Crete. Or want to live like the locals, learn more about island living on this 5-day Local Life on Crete itinerary.