There is SO much choice when it comes to eating out in Chania. Unlike other European tourist hot-spots where the food tends to be a mish mash of tourist traps, brit-abroad pleasers and the odd hidden gem, I can honestly say we didn’t have a single bad meal in Chania. Most of the restaurants here, even in the city centre, have stayed clear of altering their menu’s just to please the crowds. For the most part, they’ve held fast to serving traditional, local dishes and they are all the better for it! You’ll find all your Greek favourites like Greek salad, Soulvaki and Moussaka along with some more localised Cretan specialties like Cretan salad (a twist on the classic Greek version, using creamier, softer, local cheese and a Cretan favourite, rusk) as well as Dakos and Kalitsounia. Here are some of my eating highlights, if you make it to Chania, be sure to check them out.
From left to right: Top left, stairway in Gramboussa Restaurant. Middle left, calamari, zucchini fritters, avocado salad and traditional prawn dish at Sonio Beach Restaurant. Bottom left, salt baked sea bass at The Five Restaurant. Top middle, the menu at Gramboussa Restaurant made to look like a local newspaper. Bottom middle, me enjoying a night on the cobbled streets of Chania old town. Top right, a view of Chania old town on the way to Phyllo’s Bakery. Bottom right, breakfast at Phyllo’s.
- The Five Restaurant.
Modern Greek, locally sourced seafood, served by the sea in a trendy setting with great service. What more could you want? The Five Restaurant is modern and stylish, the service is attentive and knowledgeable (even though neither myself or my boyfriend speak a word of Greek- ashamedly it took us about three days to master the dismal “hello” and “thank you”). The seafood here is defiantly the highlight although there are other offerings including pasta and meat dishes. If you can, I would recommend going here with as many people as you can muster together, ordering everything off of the menu and having a seafood sharing feast (or if that’s not possible, just going back again and again, like we did, until you’ve sampled all the delights this menu has to offer).
Menu Highlights: The grilled octopus and the calamari were both some of the best I’ve ever had. The mussels and whole salt baked sea bass are also exceptional.
Best For: Local seafood with a modern twist.
2. Oinoa Wine Restaurant.
A relaxed fine dining experience, slightly pricier than the other choices in my top 5 (and many of the other local restaurants) but still very reasonable for a fine dining experience, all-be-it coming from a Londoner. The food is more French inspired than traditional Greek, but with a definite Cretan flair. The setting is beautiful, with a really cosy, intimate, romantic feel. It doesn’t get better than watching the sun set over the sea with a glass of delicious, local wine in hand. I should also mention, my boyfriend commented that his desert here was the best he’d eaten in his life (he had the Namelaka)! Don’t worry if you don’t know much about Greek wines, the staff here know their stuff and are happy to make recommendations to match your food choices.
Menu Highlights: The chicken confit with au gratin potatoes, the Namelaka dessert and the local wines.
Best For: Romantic setting and sunset views.
3. Sonio Beach Restaurant.
Casual dining by the beach, but this is in no way your average beach bar. For a start the décor looks like something straight off of the set of Mamma Mia. Duck egg blue shutters and white-washed furniture, crawling vines and hanging ornaments, when you picture traditional Greek island taverna, this is it. They’ve even got a few white-coated, blue-eyed kittens running around to match. Sitting here, watching and listening to the crashing waves of the ocean, you can’t help but feel well and truly like you’re on holiday. Then there is the food. The menu boasts a huge array of local dishes, and a few crowd pleasers for good measure. The portions are large and everything we tried was delicious.
Menu Highlights: Honestly too much to choose from! The moussaka is delicious (the portion is huge making for the perfect holiday indulgence food). The salads are equally tasty, as well as the calamari, swordfish, prawn dishes… I could go on. If you’re looking for traditional Greek, or should I say Cretan, fare than look no further than Sonio!
Best For: Easy going, tasty, local food.
4. Phyllo Local Bakery.
Right in the centre of the old town, a Phyllo’s breakfast is a must for any trip to Chania. It’s walk-in only and it does get busy so don’t be disappointed if your told to come back in half an hour, however it is defiantly worth the wait. Serving their own take on everything from omelettes to French toast, they’ve managed to maintain the local influences whilst serving mouth watering breakfast classics.
Menu Highlights: Anything with they’re signature chilli mustard on it!
Best For: Breakfast! Hands down winner.
5. Gramboussa Restaurant.
Okay, so I cheated a little. No, this one is technically NOT in Chania, but I promise you its oh-so worth the 35 minute-or-so drive along the coast from Chania to Kalyviani in order to reach Gramboussa Restaurant. We came across Gramboussa by complete fluke on our first trip to Crete but I’m always quite surprised by how many tourists manage to find there way there, considering it really is quite literally, off the beaten track. That’s not to say you have to go out of your way to get there, a stop off at Gramboussa is the perfect end to a day trip across the island to one of the many famous beaches on the south coast. Elafanisi Beach is particularly beautiful, and you pass within a few minutes’ drive of Gramboussa on the way back to Chania. The restaurant itself is, put quite simply, stunning. Traditional in a stylised kind of way, as opposed to being rustic, Gramboussa is not at all what you’d expect to find in the rural, back streets of Crete, down a barely navigable, dirt track road through the olive plantations. The food, like the surroundings, has a traditional feel with much of the menu cooked in their wood fire oven and served on terracotta dishes. Local Raki is served to every table on arrival and is complementary. There is also a complementary fruit buffet after your meal. Gramboussa is a perfect way to get a true taste of Crete.
Menu Highlights: Anything cooked in the wood oven, we particularly enjoyed the clay pot aubergine appetiser. The Cretan sausages were also very tasty.
Best For: A true feel for Crete with hearty food and drink, in a beautiful setting.