The Well of the Turk – hard to find but worth it for a creative blend of north African, middle eastern and Greek food, set in an old Turkish house with – yes, a well. Take Karaoli Dimitriou at the bottom of Halidon, it becomes Sifaka (there are shops selling knives on your right) look down the alleys here for signs to the Deaf and Dumb Association of Chania. You will stumble across the restaurant – if unsure keep asking! Closed Tuesday (Winter: closed Monday and Tuesday). Tel: 28210-54547.
To Avgo tou Kokkora – next to Vranas studios, behind the big church, Mitropoli, off Halidon. Looks at first like a cafe – it’s more, an ideal haven of fresh, creatively prepared salads, pasta, sandwiches and more – crisp, delightful food and pleasing atmosphere. Tel: 28210-55776.
Antigoni – corner of Akti Enoseos and Defkalionos (a short way past the Porto Veneziano Hotel). Re-decorated, much care taken here – local dishes and there is always fish. Tourists do visit this small restaurant but it is a popular local venue; the many times we’ve eaten there it’s been a treat. Telephone: 28210-45236.
Karnagio – half way between the bottom of Halidon Street and the Porto Veneziano Hotel is a small square, more a car parking area, at the back of it is this – sprawling tables outside – fish restaurant. It’s not the only one but in our experience it has justified its good reputation – anyway you can enjoy exercising your good judgment by picking out the fish you want, let them suggest how it should be cooked!
Chrysostomos is a treat, in the street behind the Porto Veneziano hotel, at the marina end of the harbour. Real original tasty and healthy bean salads (the way Cretan’s used to eat), fabulous home-baked breads, excellent game, meat and fresh vegetable dishes. A gem. Telephone: 28210 – 57035.
In general the waterfront restaurants with their customer beckoning attendants, from the maritime museum to the square – this long strip of “translated menus” – has the least interesting fare on offer; if you wish to find Crete’s real offerings the other side of the harbour (the mosque building and onwards) provides a better waterfront bet. Don’t forget all the back streets and other parts of Chania where discoveries await.
Above Chania – whole town & sea view (by the Venizelos Graves): Ostria cafe. Has indoor & outdoor seating, views are impressive from either any time of the day, sunsets are very special. Coffee, drinks, ice-cream, salads & snacks. Tel. 28210-56642.
Hidden restaurant gems in villages around Chania:
East of Chania: “Eagle’s nest” (Aetofolia) in Samonas village. Perched high up, with views to the valley and sea reached from twisting narrow mountain road (quite a drive!). Authentic, quality home cooking by Mrs Katerina, the owner. Simple and pure food with good local ingredients (their own eggs, chickens…). Call to pre-order food the morning before an evening visit, otherwise selection is limited. But you can always find a lamb “tsigariasto”, which is cooked just right here, a potato & vegetables omelet, wonderful greek salad, keftedakia (meat balls) and the tastiest fried potatoes. In the summer, if you are lucky and she has stuffed tomatoes, they are fantastic. Open year round. Tel. 28250-41527.
“Diadromes” just before Armeni village. Attractive stone building in pleasant estate, nature & mountain views, sitting outside by the river (or inside by the fireplace in the winter). Kayaking down the river & other activities organized for small groups (call first). Children’s entertainment provided in special indoor & outdoor facilities. Open year round, mainly Friday-Saturday-Sunday. Tel. 28250-41700.
“Tzitzikas” in Armeni village, by the river. Nice ambience, inside and out, with the sound of the running river creating a therapeutic effect… Wonderfully cool outside in the summer (under the great plane trees). Good espresso & cappuccino, interesting mezedes (snacks) and organic food available. Open year round. Tel. 28250-41144.
“Ta Lemonadika” in Fres village. In the village square, in pretty, old, stone building dating from 1927. A one-man show in the kitchen & waiting tables, so service can be slow. Authentic and interesting (Greek) cuisine, using olive oil exclusively all cooking. Cretan or byzantine music (no loud dance music here!) Sitting at the few tables outside can be hot in the summer. Cozy in the winter inside. Open year round. Tel. 28250-71000.
“Cretan corner” in Megala Horafia (below the Aptera archaeological site). Friendly welcome, open for coffee and meals, overlooking the valley below the White Mountains. Many ingredients come from the family’s mostly organic farm. On Saturday evenings, in the summer, dancing to Cretan music may take place – impromptu or pre-organized for small groups (not bus-loads!) Open year round. Tel. 28250-32241.
Tavernas in Kalives village…take your pick! Kalives is blessed with many pleasing and good value tavernas on the waterfront, with offerings typical of Greek/Cretan menu. Our favourites include “Gyalos” (for sardines, tasty Greek salad – tel. 28250-31117), “Mythos” (for grilled meats, horta/greens & pastitsio – tel. 28250-31964), “Mistrali”, or “Maistali” (for variety of menu, tasty casseroles, aubergine papoutsaki – tel. 28250-31902) and “Provlita” (especially for fresh fish & seafood – tel. 28250-31835). Fine sandy beach, good tavernas…a tempting stop (perhaps on your way to or from the Aptera archaeological site above Kalives). In the winter, only “Mythos” is open every evening, “Provlita” is open on the weekends and the others are “hibernating”!
“Don Rosario”, for many years in the tiny beach-side hamlet of Ravdoucha, but moved in 2010 on the National Road, near Souda (area “Platani”). A sophisticated Italian restaurant. Fresh fish, seafood, oysters, lobster, as well as mouth-watering pasta is your treat here. Tel. 28210-23663. Call for reservations, especially on weekends.