Where to Eat in Rethymnon, Crete
From cozy restaurants, fish taverns set between waterfalls to gourmet dining with a sea view, here’s a list of where to eat in Rethymnon, Crete.
Where to Eat in Rethymnon, Crete
During my first trip in 2016, I learned a lot about Cretan culture and food is very much a part of it. Recently, I had the chance to explore the beautiful Venetian port city of Rethymnon even more and, yes, I ate very well.
In between exploring the fantastic Fortezza Castle, strolling by the lighthouse, walking the old harbor and getting lost in its enchanting lanes that take you back to in time – you’ll need to eat.
So, eat well at these places I suggest in the Old Town and there are a few worth a short drive in Rethymnon region.
Top Restaurants in Rethymnon, Crete
Avli has it all, amazing food, service and a style. The venue is set in a Venetian mansion dating back to the 16th century.
I love the garden dining area with its colors and greenery.
Avli has the reputation of being one of the best restaurants for Cretan gourmet. I recently had the pleasure of sampling the season’s fantastic degustation menu called “Crete Through My Eyes” which took me through a journey of flavors, a perfect mix of Cretan ingredients.
You can also read my full review during my first experience dining there: Avli in Rethymnon: Cretan Dining Defined.
22 Xanthoudidou Street, Old Town Rethymnon; +30 2831 058250; www.avli.gr
Locals introduced me to the the Koumpes region of Rethymnon, the western part of the city where you are greeted by a fantastic view of the Fortezza Castle, the sea and the city from a rocky little coastline. Here’s where you’ll want to book a table at Prima Plora.
Once you can peel your attention away from just how beautiful the panorama is you can order from the restaurant’s fantastic menu of Cretan inspired dishes all prepared with quality local ingredients.
I highly recommend the homemade Cretan pitas, wild greens salad topped with Cretan bread rusks and a divine avocado salad topped with a gorgeous milky smooth goat cheese cream.
I indulged in a cheli (eel) dish – yes! – with butter cream, cow’s butter, truffle oil and a fantastic local homemade bread. The desserts are another story, full review coming soon!
- Akrotiriou 4, Koumpes district of Rethymnon; +30 2831 056990; www.primaplora.gr
For a traditional authentic Greek taverna experience head to Othonas. Othonas’ family offers authentic Cretan tavern dishes in a very cozy environment. He’s been serving dishes he loves for 30 years.
As he told me, “People come to Rethymnon just to eat here. I’m proud of that.”
We absolutely loved his fresh Greek salads, appetizers including dolmades (rice stuffed grape leaves) and kolokithia (zucchini fritters). The meat dishes were hearty and delicious including his chicken in sauce and a soft, melt-off-the-bone lamb and Greek potatoes platter.
- Titou Petichaki Square 27, Old Town Rethymnon; +30 211 7909399
1600 Raki Ba Raki
1600 Raki Ba Raki has a colorful, lively environment that will put you in a good mood if you aren’t already. It has a little deli section and resembles a vintage grocery store.
What it is known for is mezes, savory Greek appetizers that match with short sips of strong ouzo or raki. It is a filling Greek meal to experience and you’ll enjoy it here. Think sardines stuffed with herbs, fried feta with caramelized figs, sausage with grilled vegetables and mussels steamed with sage. Hungry yet?
- Arabatzoulou 17, Old Town Rethymnon; +30 2831 058250
Veneto Restaurant has been building a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Rethymnon since it opened in a beautiful historic property in 1997.
Serving Cretan cuisine, it has a beautiful dining area including an open-air dining veranda. I haven’t had the pleasure of dining here myself but can recommend based on the many locals that attest to the lovely dishes served here.
During my time in Rethymnon, I had a brief chat with the owner Yannis Prokopakis who is dedicated to offering beautiful dishes based on the Cretan traditions. He is also a wine connoisseur. I got to peek into his incredible 600-year-old wine cellar that he has stocked with 150 labels from all over the country and the world.
- 4 Epimenidou Street, Old Town Rethymnon; +30 2831 056634; www.veneto.gr
Spiti Tou Poliou
This restaurant taverna is worth a 15-minute drive outside of Rethymnon for a bit of local history and fantastic food. Spiti Tou Poliou is located in sleepy and peaceful Asteri village. Part of the venue is a fantastic folklore museum established by local families.
I got a personal tour of the museum with my hosts Argiri and Maria. They run the fantastic Amazing Villas in Crete villa in Asteri. Argiri’s lovely mother showed me around too. She had donated some of the artifacts and photos.
You can browse through vintage items and furniture, old photos and traditional pottery. Then, have a fantastic meal in the tavern. The traditional pork apaki is a must and so is their house specialty which is eggplants in a sweet tomato sauce.
With great weather you can dine outdoors in a yard flanked by stone walls and lined with pretty trees.
- Asteri village, Rethymnon 74100; +30 28310 71771; www.poliouhouse.com
Kapsaliana Village Restaurant
I visited this lovely little village hotel and restaurant just for a bit to speak with the owner, Myron Toupoyannis, who has a passion for the land and Crete’s outright beauty.
It shows easily with the property he designed which brings out every traditional element that makes you think of Crete — from olive trees, mountain views and oh, the fresh air! The smells of herbs and flowers…
Although I haven’t eaten here (because the restaurant was closed for the winter season), I know from locals it is a dining destination in Rethymnon. Just from speaking with Myron, I see his commitment to menu is wholly influenced by the incredible gastronomy of Crete.
- Kapsaliana, Rethymnon; www.kapsalianavillage.gr
Argyropouli Fish Taverns
You can eat with the rush of fresh water springs surrounding you just outside of Rethymnon. Head to Argyropuli, near Lappa, to experience this unique outdoorsy dining environment. There are many fish tavernas here set among the beautiful springs that flow from the Mouselas River.
Your dining table could very well be under a stone arch and your shade from towering greenery as the springs run past you. These tavernas specialize in freshwater fish cuisine, specifically river fish (sturgeon and trout) dishes. I even “caught” my own fish!
Kataifi Workshop of Rethymno
This doesn’t qualify as a restaurant but it is a must to stop by if you love Greek food and especially Greek desserts. This workshop is run by the best kataifi (a delicious traditional Greek dessert) maker in Rethymno (and possibly Crete).
The man behind it all is Giorgos Xatziparaschou. He has been running his shop with his wife Katerina since the 50s! He’s still going strong. By the way, the kataifi is fantastic.
You can check out my feature story for Culinary Backstreets that delves into the fading tradition of handmade pastries and this family run business: The Kataifi Man of Rethymnon.
How to Get to Crete
There are more than a dozen daily flights from Athens to the Heraklion International Airport in Crete via Aegean or Olympic.
International travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens. Between May and October, charter and low-cost airlines operate direct flights mainly from the U.K., Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Ferries connect between Heraklion port in Crete to Piraeus port in Athens. Travel time by ferry is about 9 to 10 hours, and the journey is typically an overnight trip. I recommend Minoan Lines. I journeyed on an overnight ferry from/to Athens. Check out my earlier post: Overnight Ferry to Crete with Minoan Lines.
Getting Around Crete
The easiest way to get from point A to point B on the island is by driving. If you’re looking for a reliable and professional company, I recommend Rental Center Crete. They have car hire services at the Heraklion airport, Chania airport and the port of Heraklion. Other rental services are available in Hersonissos, Gouves, Kokkini Hani, Georgioupolis, Agios Nikolaos, Rethymno and Bali.
If you’re not looking to drive or bother with public transport, another option is booking a great private tour of the island. I’d recommend Crete Cab Airport Transfers. Besides transfers, they offer a variety of interesting tours and excursions with an array of vehicle types to choose from.
Where to Stay in Rethymnon
I highly recommend the following stays near and in Rethymnon’s old town.
Pepi Studios is a lovely historic boutique hotel with every modern amenity in the heart of Rethymnon Old Town. Run by a fantastic local family. Full review coming soon. Until then, check out their website: www.pepistudios.gr.
Avli is another beautiful boutique hotel that gracefully stays true to the various historic architectural influences in Rethymnon. My hotel review is coming up soon. Until then, visit www.avli.gr. Avli is also mentioned in this post as having one of the best restaurants in Rethymnon.
Amazing Villas in Crete are well, just that, amazing villas! Located in Asteri village, a ten-minute drive from the old town, these spacious, traditional homes offer great amenities, a private pool and views of lush olive groves, mountains and the sea. Full villa stay review coming up soon. Until then, visit www.amazingvillasincrete.com
What to Do in Crete
For a rundown of what I experienced the first time around during my visit to Crete, check out my post: 10 Things I Learned in Crete in 7 Days
Some of the best beaches in Greece are in Crete, check out: Photo Tour: Beaches of Crete to get inspired.
Pin For Later
That sums up my list of where to eat in Rethymnon. Have you visited Rethymnon and ate at a fantastic place? Let me know in the comment boxes below!
March 27, 2017
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