Snow-white beaches, architectural monuments and lots of entertainment for all tastes. And also, delicious food! No wonder that the island of Crete has for many years been one of the biggest centres of gastronomic tourism.
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Gastronomy in Crete
The local cuisine is delicious, nutritious and varied. It is based on a few simple rules: only fresh ingredients, olive oil and aromatic herbs.
Olive oil is never lacking!
Olive oil in Crete is added to almost every dish. About the role it plays in the diet of the inhabitants of Crete you can say at least the volume of its consumption: 25 litres per person per year! This figure, for one second, is 50 times higher than the consumption of olive oil in the United States and most European countries.
Besides consuming a large amount of olive oil and olives in general in different forms, the people of Crete are very fond of fresh herbs. And there is a simple explanation: more than 5 thousand species of herbs grow on the island. And it would be a sin not to use them in the kitchen.
So, one of the most popular local dishes are the homemade Hortopita cakes filled with fried fennel, leek, chicory and spinach. Beans are also no less popular: a very satisfying dish of young beans, potatoes, carrots and garlic.
100% Fresh Food
And, of course, all the products on the plates must be fresh: no frozen products. The food is harvested, cleaned and immediately cooked.
Yes, there are also fast food restaurants in Crete like McDonalds and Starbucks. But what’s the point of visiting them if there are enough establishments on the island where you can have a lot of excellent home-cooked food for the same price (or even less).
Food has a special meaning for Cretans
Speaking of food. It’s for the islanders, not just a way to satisfy hunger, which is for most residents of Western countries who prefer quick snacks in restaurants. For the people of Crete, food is more than that. Enjoying cooked meals is a way of life followed by all the locals, so don’t be surprised if dinner with your family here can go on all night.
Types of traditional food in Crete
Traditional Cretan cuisine is served in the many taverns of the city. Depending on their specialization, they are divided into several types. For example, in the coastal taverns, the main ingredients of the dishes are fish and seafood. Psistaryas cook grilled meat or skewers. For lovers of souvlaki and souvladziko barbecue For lovers of ouzo and crayfish – uzery.
Where to eat in Heraklion?
Most of the taverns are located in the center of the city: in the streets of August 25 and 1866. Here you can also find one of the best taverns of this kind on the island: the Paralia tavern, whose main specialization is the preparation of fresh fish and seafood dishes.
Here they also prepare fried zucchini, Cretan omelette, traditional Greek salad and caviar salad. They serve fried feta cheese, nutritious dakos (dried barley bread with grated tomato and Misitra sheep’s cheese and zaziki), a common cold snack of yogurt, fresh cucumbers and garlic.
Food lovers will appreciate the rich selection of local wines.
Brillant Restaurant, Heraklion
No less popular among guests and residents of Heraklion is the Brillant restaurant. Also practically the same dishes as the Paralia tavern (fish and seafood dishes), but the prices here are higher: the average bill for two in this establishment will be 25-40 euros. But here is one of the most extensive wine lists in the city, where wines from foreign manufacturers are also represented.
Eating meat in Heraklion
Meat lovers should certainly visit the tavern I Avli tou Defkaliona in Lysimachou Kalokairinou, which cooks the best meat with charcoal in Crete. Elsewhere, Erganos, be sure to try homemade meat pies and cakes. The tavern is very famous on the island. Thanks to the beautifully decorated hall, celebrations are often held here.
Italian cooking in Heraklion
Fans of Italian cuisine should visit the Alfredo restaurant on Georgiou Gennimata. Its owner, the Italian Alfredo, brilliantly tackles the main task: feeding the restaurant’s guests in a tasty and cheap way, and therefore never has a shortage of customers.
Asian cuisine in Heraklion
Fans of Asian cuisine will appreciate the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant in Agiostefaniton 4. Here you can taste such famous dishes as Peking duck, chilli chicken, sour pork and grilled salmon. And of course all kinds of sushi.
But there is also the Indian restaurant Curry Park, whose main dish is excellent shrimp in curry sauce, the Japanese fast food restaurant Wok Spot where you can buy a big bowl of noodles and eggs for only 3.5 euros, the restaurant Pagopoieion with the most popular dishes in the world, for example, Italian risotto or Mexican sandwiches. And many other great places.
At the same time, the prices in most of them are quite modest, and the portions are big. In addition, guests often receive a compliment from the owner: a dessert or a pile of crayfish.
In the taverns, it is absolutely free for each visitor to get a slice of baked bread with garlic, olive oil in a small jar and fresh cold water.