Charming Rethymno has more to offer than beautiful beaches and a gorgeously preserved medieval center. The city, located on the western side of Crete, is also a foodie destination. Sample fried snails, slow-roasted goat, locally produced wines, and potent raki — a traditional spirit — while exploring the quiet streets of the old town. Whether you're dining with a sea view or in a lush courtyard garden, you're sure to eat well.

Dining in Rethymno

The third-largest town on the island of Crete, Rethymno offers a wide range of dining options. Many of the best places to eat are located within the beautifully preserved medieval center. It's a wonderfully atmospheric place to sample traditional Cretan and Greek dishes, from fried snails to slow-roasted goat and raki, a potent spirit that's traditional throughout the region. Read on to learn more about the best options for places to eat and drink.

Find out more about the island's culinary traditions by reading What to Eat in Crete

Avli

The lush garden of Avli (photo courtesy of Avli)

Set in a Venetian mansion dating back to the 16th century, Avli offers outdoor seating in a beautiful garden. The menu features creative modern dishes incorporating traditional techniques and fresh local products. Avli is also one of the finest boutique hotels on the island, and they offer a wonderful Cretan-style breakfast both for guests and visitors.

Asikiko

Mixed grill plate (photo courtesy of Asikiko)

Located in the center of the Old Town, just in front of the mosque, Asikiko is a fantastic place to try traditional Cretan cuisine. Try the mixed grill plate (ideal for sharing) and a glass of local wine. Make sure you save room for dessert: the orange pie, served with a shot of local raki, is incredible.

Lemonokipos

Dining in a lemon garden (photo courtesy of Lemonokipos)

Lemonokipos means "lemon garden" in greek. True to its name, this restaurant has tables set up in the garden beneath lemon and pomegranate trees. In summer, the scent of the flowers is fresh and welcoming as you enter. Come for a coffee (the frappe cappuccino is excellent) with a slice of lemon tart. Or enjoy a full meal: the menu features modern Cretan and Mediterranean-inspired dishes made with fresh local ingredients. If you’re a wine lover, check out the restaurant's cellar, which has an extensive collection of Cretan and Greek wines.

La Boheme

The entrance of La Boheme (photo courtesy of La Boheme)

La Boheme is a carnivore's heaven. Set in one of the most picturesque alleys of the old historic center, the restaurant is housed inside an old Venetian mansion. Start with the snails in olive oil and rosemary, then try the slow-roasted goat, which is fall-off-the-bone tender. Pair these traditional dishes with local Greek wines recommended by the friendly staff. 

Raki BaRaki

Outdoor tables at Raki BaRaki (photo courtesy of Avli)

For an informal meal, Raki BaRaki (a sister restaurant to Avli next door) is a great place to go. Relax over small plates and a few shots of locally produced raki, or sample hearty dishes like rabbit stew and Cretan sausages.  

Learn more about local culinary history on a Cretan Villages Food and Culture Tour.

Kataifi Workshop of Rethymno

Rolling up dry phyllo into rolls

Though it's not technically a restaurant, a stop at this family-run phyllo workshop is a must for foodies and especially Greek desserts enthusiasts. The masters behind this operation are Giorgos Xatziparaschou and his wife Katerina. They've been running their workshop since the 1950s, and today, they still do things by hand using traditional methods. Watch them stretch out their handmade dough into impossibly thin and large sheets which are then covered with a special fabric that allows the phyllo to breathe. The phyllo is layered and then dried before it’s cut into equal pieces and packaged into boxes. Most of the resulting phyllo is sold to locals. But the owners make their own desserts with it, too, including baklava, and you may have the chance to sample some or buy a portion to take with you.

Find out more here about the Top Culinary Experiences in Greece.

Yenyi
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Sep 8, 2021