0The best meals on Crete

The food on Crete is as good as any­where in the world, but unless you know where to look you risk get­ting aver­age food at above aver­age prices. It’s not easy to real­ise you’re get­ting some­thing aver­age though as even aver­age food in Crete is much bet­ter than you’re likely to find at home.

The key is to mostly avoid the brightly-lit touristy res­taur­ants with the long menus and head for a place where the loc­al are. How­ever, this isn’t as easy as it sounds — many loc­als go out to drink, chat, nibble and play games, but going out for a meal is mainly a week­end activ­ity — just like it prob­ably is for you at home! In addi­tion to this — the typ­ic­al time for eat­ing out for loc­als is much later than many of us eat back home — set­ting off out at 10pm is com­mon. So if you’re head­ing out at 7pm the places pop­u­lar with loc­als may have very few people in.

Mountain Villages

If you have trans­port, and have someone will­ing to forgo the alco­hol so that they can drive you safely home after, the best places to find excel­lent food are vil­lages. Moun­tain vil­lages have tav­ernas and your chances of good food in these is gen­er­ally high because most vil­lage tav­ernas need loc­al cus­tom to sur­vive, so any­thing that isn’t good enough does­n’t last long.

Cafe Neo’s

Vil­lages near the coast also have lots of good options, includ­ing the loc­al equi­val­ent of the pub, known as a “cafe neo”. Many cafe’s of this type don’t actu­ally have a menu at all, or may only have one on request, which is likely to be in Greek only. But you don’t need a menu! Just order a round of drinks and wait for the range of nibbles (called Mezze) that come with the drinks. If, like us, you typ­ic­ally stay for 3–4 rounds over the course of an even­ing you will get more than enough food to fill you up. Many an even­ing a group of 4–5 of us have ended up stuffed and tipsy for less than €30 (total, not each!)

Tavernas in town

If you do want to go to a Tav­erna in a more touristy area try to get an idea of where is pop­u­lar with loc­als by scout­ing out places in advance. A good way to do this is on your way home at the end of a pre­vi­ous night have a look to see where the loc­als are con­greg­at­ing and then try that place on a sub­sequent night.

Trip Advisor?

Anoth­er way to avoid any­thing dis­ap­point­ing is to check on Trip Advisor, which does­n’t guar­an­tee excel­lent, but is very help­ful for help­ing you avoid any­thing bad. This is mostly rel­ev­ant to res­taur­ants in touristy areas. As with all online review sites beware of mis­lead­ing reviews. There are a num­ber of places in Crete that I have gone back to year after year, many 10’s of times, that have always been excel­lent, and yet I find unbe­liev­able neg­at­ive reviews of them on Trip Advisor. Often these reviews some from an account with only 1 review, or an account that only seems to leave neg­at­ive reviews. The best reviews will give a bal­ance of pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive, or at least an idea of who it is best suited to, and are from people with a good num­ber of reviews that look reas­on­able.

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