The capital of Crete, Heraklion is a city whose wealth is incalculable. History, architecture and, of course, traditional Cretan cuisine – all together attract millions of tourists every year. The basis of local gastronomic traditions is as diverse as the history of this land, which stretches back to the time of the Minoans, captures the Greeks, Venetians and Turks.
The peculiarity of the cuisine of modern Heraklion is eclecticism and dependence on the author’s view of a particular chef. Therefore, the same dish in different institutions can be read in different ways. But each time will leave an unforgettable impression.
- 1 The most conscious restaurant – Thigaterra
- 2 Tavern in the port – Ligo Krasi Ligo Thalassa
- 3 Very fashionable place – Peskesi
- 4 In flight with a good mood – 7 Thalasses
- 5 Youth Retro – Alla Ki Alla
- 6 Echo of Globalism in Cretan – Kalamaki Meat Bar
- 7 History as it is – Parasties
- 8 Place of Power – Kazoual Cafe & Restaurant
- 9 Tavern where locals go – Erganos
- 10 Freedom to choose in Freedom Square – Ntor Gastronomy & Symposia
- 11 The perfect place to have lunch – Paralia Seaside Restaurant
The most conscious restaurant – Thigaterra
On the western outskirts of Heraklion, 5 kilometers from the city limits, there is a resort complex Amomudara, very popular with tourists and residents of Crete. Not far from the beach of the same name is the restaurant Thigaterra – a charming place with a bright interior made of natural materials and a friendly team of professionals who love their work. Their business is Greek cuisine, broken down by region and a clear understanding of the difference between local tastes and traditions.
Thigaterra is a large (500 sq.m.), very bright and at the same time cozy restaurant with a 100-meter terrace and almost 400-meter hall. There is no noise, do not smoke and behave decently, there is a children’s menu with original dishes. Plus for tourists: next to the restaurant there is a guarded round-the-clock parking lot – it is most convenient to get to the restaurant by car, but public transport goes to the resort.
The Thigaterra team follows a course of low food and offers exclusively organic certified products of Greek origin. The menu includes quite familiar to the traveler dishes of classic Mediterranean cuisine – for example, bread from his own bakery, steaks, fish and seafood, salads, a lot of vegetables.
But there are differences:
- portions of sane size – not too large, but not tiny;
- interesting ways of cooking lamb and pork;
- a lot of aromatic herbs.
Prices are not low, but for Heraklion they are quite acceptable. For example, a portion of octopus with beans with sauce and mushrooms costs 10.60 euros, prices for hearty salads are about eight euros, and lamb chop with vegetables – 14.60 euros (prices are indicated for August 2021).
At the restaurant there is a small shop where you can buy cute and delicious little things as a souvenir of Heraklion, decorated as gift sets:
- beekeeping products;
- varietal beans (Cretan specialty);
- sausages from small manufacturers, prepared in the traditional way from certified ingredients, without preservatives and additives;
- classic varieties of soft Greek cheese from very small producers of the primary sector;
- many varieties of olive oil;
- herbs, elixirs and herbal tinctures;
- sauces, jams, pastilles and handmade pastries.
In the wine cellar at the restaurant you can taste and buy about 200 rare local drinks of traditional distillation, including wines from grape varieties that are not grown anywhere else. The store sells bottles of different sizes, from the standard 500/750 ml to Magnum.
Opening hours: daily 9.00 – 2.00
Address: 109 Andrea Papandreou Avenue, Ammoodara, Heraklion
Tavern in the port – Ligo Krasi Ligo Thalassa
The popular inexpensive tavern Ligo Krasi Ligo Thalassa, which is located directly opposite the fortress of Koules in the port of Heraklion, offers excellent food for quite reasonable money. Democratic atmosphere in the hall, a wide selection of menus, quick waiters: the highlight of the institution is the speed of service.
Ligo Krasi Ligo Thalassa Tavern is not designed for long gatherings with tasting delicacies and local wines. People come here to eat quickly and satisfactory in a comfortable environment, take a break and rush along the tourist paths of Heraklion further. An important fact for tourists: the restaurant is located on a hill. This guarantees a stunning view and locations for photos.
According to reviews, depending on the shift, seafood can be poorly prepared: visitors complain about rubber cuttlefish and octopus, unpeeled shrimp, undercooked scallops.
Opening hours: daily 09.00 – 01.00
Address: Lohagou Marineli Ioanni & Mitsotaki Square 18 Agglon, Heraklion
Very fashionable place – Peskesi
Not far from the Museum of Archaeology of Crete and halfway to the Historical Museum in the restored mansion there is a restaurant of authentic Cretan cuisine Peskesi – a place where since 2003 they have been fed not just tasty, but environmentally friendly, conceptual and meaningful.
Peskesi is a restaurant where everything seems to have been taken into account:
- The farm, which grows vegetables and fruits for restaurant cuisine, occupies 6 hectares in the district of Harasso, Hersonissos municipality. The products that are produced here are environmentally friendly, grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers exclusively by traditional methods.
- The cook of the restaurant uses only recipes and methods of cooking peculiar to the national Cretan cuisine. The menu is built on traditional tastes and aromas, and the staff of the institution is constantly searching for forgotten or lost Cretan dishes.
- Cocktails in Peskesi are unique, as they are completely composed of authentic Cretan ingredients (wort, thyme-honey syrup, milk). Any cocktail on the menu contains at least one such ingredient.
- The hall is decorated with a deep understanding of Cretan traditions and with reverence for the spirit of the island and the thousand-year heritage of its inhabitants.
Of course, one of the main drawbacks of the institution is the need to reserve a table in advance (in the evening in Peskesi do not push through). Fortunately, reservations can be made on the website. There is no delivery in the restaurant: you need to enjoy authentic Cretan cuisine only on the spot.
It should be borne in mind that Peskesi is an expensive place. The average check is higher than the same in a similar restaurant by at least 30%.
Opening hours: daily 13:00 – 02:00
Address: Kapetan Haralampi 6-8, Heraklion
In flight with a good mood – 7 Thalasses
A small seafood restaurant 7 Thalasses is located two kilometers from the Heraklion airport – you can hear, and from the terrace and you can see how planes go over the city to take off or land. Near the park, which has a playground – that is, you can wait for your flight in a really calm atmosphere. Despite everything, in 7 Thalasses is not too crowded, serve here quickly, and prices are rather low than high.
Connoisseurs recommend trying sea fish in the restaurant (depending on the season, it can be ice cream or freshly caught). It is served with grilled vegetables, fried potatoes and wild rice.
After 19.00 sushi is served – according to reviews, decent, but nothing special. The sweetest highlight of 7 Thalasses is a compliment from the chef to every visitor. Most often it is a huge puff pastry.
The restaurant is popular with the locals – and this is a good sign, they managed to check all the points of catering in Heraklion. By the way, in Rethymnon is the second restaurant of this mini-network.
Opening hours: round the clock
Address: Irodotou 1 Iraklitou 19, Heraklion
Youth Retro – Alla Ki Alla
In the heart of Heraklion, in the middle of the intricacies of winding streets, there is an amazing place – the restaurant Alla Ki Alla, to the name of which the owners always add “since 1980”, “est 1980”. It is very convenient to go here when the legs do not hold after many hours of walking tour of Heraklion.
The restaurant does not have a large hall – instead a tiny cluttered room, with walls, generously hung retro posters and tight passages between tables. There is no decent outdoor terrace: tables and chairs are just on the pavement under the canopy of the building; during the rain, they are fenced off with a polyethylene wall-screen.
The cuisine at Alla Ki Alla is simple and edible – seasonal vegetables, cheeses, lamb (the pride of the chef is stuffed mushrooms and risotto), the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is friendly.
In the evening, Alla Ki Alla est 1980 turns into a crowded place: there are noisy companies, laughter is heard from everywhere, live music plays, and songs are often picked up by vocal visitors. Alla Ki Alla est 1980 is really good, and in the yellowish light of the streetlights you want to joke and meet all these amazing people.
Opening hours: round the clock
Address: Kagiampi and Gramvousis Center, Heraklion
Echo of Globalism in Cretan – Kalamaki Meat Bar
Heraklion is a city of traditional cuisine, which is based on seafood, fish, soft cheese, beans, olive oil and vegetables… Or not: Heraklion is a dynamic city, a center of tourism, it has many faces. For example, for those who at any time of the year want meat with bread, there is a meat bar Kalamaki – and there are no beans, mussels and other signs of veganism and healthy lifestyle.
The Kalamaki meat bar serves the so-called street food, which in the Cretan interpretation is very reminiscent of any oriental fast food a la shawarma – fatty fried meat (chicken, pork, sausages) with white light bread (buns, pita, pita), generously flavored with sauces. Baked, salted, pickled vegetables are optional. The hit of the institution is french fries, which is strikingly different from the usual “McDonald’s” versions for the better.
Cons: here they mainly speak Greek (they pay a little, so the staff is apparently not the most successful students), but they understand sign language and can call the Anglophone. Plus – there is delivery.
Opening hours: 12.00-21.00
Address: Lions Square Apostolou Pavlou, Heraklion
History as it is – Parasties
Not far from the Church of Saints Peter and Paul and the Museum of Natural History is a place that since 1999 is a must visit for everyone who knows the country through its cuisine – that is, simply, loves to eat well. Restaurant Parasties is a pleasant institution overlooking the Cretan Sea, in which the waiters are attentive and correct, which is generally rare for Greece.
In the restaurant, everything breathes history: the building itself, which was built in 1900 and reverently restored, and authentic dishes, and furniture. Even “parasties” in Greek means an ancient way of cooking – in a frying pan on top of two flat stones, which has been dominant in the region for many hundreds of years. With all the respect for the origins, the restaurant does not look like the usual Greek catering – loud, rustic “fried”, with a persistent smell of fish. Surprisingly, this is a clean and bright, quite intelligent place, where waiters are weaned shouting into the kitchen across the hall over the heads of visitors.
Worth a try:
- fried liver with sauce;
- grilled fish fillet;
- pasta with seafood;
- chicken with tomato sauce.
It’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s nice: Parasties serves perfect dinners and great lunches with the obligatory generous compliment, chocolate mute. Prices in the institution are slightly higher than you might expect, but not significantly – up to 15%.
Opening hours: round the clock
Address: Chandakos 81 Leoforos Sofokli Venizelou, Heraklion
Place of Power – Kazoual Cafe & Restaurant
Not far from the Museum of the History of Crete almost on the very shore of the sea there is a restaurant Kazoual – a place where you can try sea bass, dolmadakia, white tarama and fava. And to do it not somehow, but really and with pleasure, in a Cretan way.
In Kazoual it is better to come for lunch (breakfast is still not served here) and stay until dinner. The specialty of the institution is snails with sour cream and cuttlefish with ink. They are perfectly combined with local wine – what specifically, the owner of the institution will advise, he is also one of the chefs.
The main disadvantage: it is bad (almost nothing), they speak English. And over the years of the institution’s work, the situation has not improved.
Opening hours: 11.30 – 23.00 daily except Tuesday
Address: Leoforos Sofokli Venizelou 11, Heraklion
Tavern where locals go – Erganos
Next to the Venetian Wall is a non-pathetic and very nice restaurant Erganos, popular with locals and not yet too mastered by crowds of tourists. Authentic Cretan cuisine is served here (for example, hot lamb giblets), and the dishes are fresh, tasty and do not stand like an airplane wing.
This is a place where they know how to feed and surprise in Greek with huge portions, where the chef sincerely rejoices in the “saviors” and brings a glass of raki as a compliment.
In the tavern you can go for lunch or dinner with live music, but for breakfast it is not suitable – too heavy dishes. There is no children’s menu, but the waiter will help you choose something suitable from the current range.
Opening hours: 13.00 – 1.00 daily except Tuesday
Address: Georgiou Georgiadou 5, Heraklion
Freedom to choose in Freedom Square – Ntor Gastronomy & Symposia
Center of Social and Culinary Life: Ntor Restaurant is located in a place that has been considered a center of delicious food and entertainment for the last century. First there was a coffee shop, then a cinema, and in 1979 the central restaurant of Heraklion was opened at the address. Now Ntor Gastronomy & Symposia is a place where businessmen and officials come to celebrate important events. It is not bad, expensive and by local standards very prestigious.
Ntor has a titled chef and no less famous pastry chef, the menu is composed competently and balanced, the hall is perfect, the waiters are well trained.
The horse of the team is seafood, but it is better to try meat elsewhere. According to reviews, good desserts and in the choice of wine you can trust the sommelier.
Opening hours: 10.00 – 00.30 daily
Address: Eleutherias Square 29, 5th floor, Heraklion
The perfect place to have lunch – Paralia Seaside Restaurant
What the Heraklionians will not deny is assertiveness and unsurpassed arrogance. However, they treat the kitchen with reverence, so if the islander says that the food is excellent… It is worth if you do not listen, then try for sure. Restaurant Paralia, which is located in the heart of the Venetian harbor – a point on the planet where you should stay for at least an hour (or two, as it goes).
Indeed, you can have lunch here almost perfectly – delicious, inexpensive and with a view of the fortress of Koules (yes, this is one of the specialities of the restaurant). Traditional Greek snacks are especially good, but, in addition to them, you just need to try fresh fish on coals, rice with mussels and shrimps, as well as pasta with cuttlefish ink – an unforgettable experience.
Opening hours: round the clock
Address: Leof. Sofokli Venizelou 5, Heraklion
In Heraklion there are restaurants for every taste: from the noisy and friendly tavern Erganos to the business street food Kalamaki, which is ashamed to call an eatery, not bypassing the restaurants for which it is worth visiting Crete – Thigaterra, Parasties and even Parasties. Much of the pleasure of traveling in Greece and especially Crete is due to gastronomy. Therefore, you can not deny yourself the joy of trying everything that you can – and a little what you can’t, but you really want.