Where to Eat in Crete, Greece, According to an Olive-Oil Expert

Where to Eat in Crete, Greece, According to an Olive-Oil Expert

Where to Eat in Crete, Greece, According to an Olive-Oil Expert

Photo by Kellyn Curtis

“Crete is where olive oil first stole my heart,” says Joanne Lacina, the founder of oliveoillovers.com, a online shop featuring high-quality olive oils from around the world. “Crete is the second largest olive oil production area of Greece, after the Peloponnese. I work with many producers there and use the western town of Chania as my base. Of course, the best time to visit is summertime when the sky is a guaranteed to be solid blue and the seas are warm and inviting. I always say, summer isn’t really summer until you’re in Crete.” Ms. Lacina says Cretan cuisine is all about keeping ingredients local and simple. “It hasn’t changed much over the centuries and that’s what makes it so special—really good, fresh ingredients grown or sourced no more than a few miles away.” Here are some of her places to grab some local food when in town.

1. Bougatsa Iordanis
“This is a must-visit anytime I’m in Chania. It’s the oldest bougatsa place in town. Baked fresh every morning, bougatsa is a very special breakfast dish and, as far as I know, this version can only be found in Chania. It should not to be confused with the sweeter pastry made with cream from Northern Greece. The bougatsa of Chania is made with very thin slices of phyllo dough and a secret mixture of local goat’s cheeses. You can order it either with cinnamon and sugar or without. I always get mine “με ζάχαρη” (with sugar). Order it with a strong Greek coffee and you’re ready to tackle your day.”
Apokoronou 24, Chania, Crete, 30/28210-88855, http://www.iordanis.gr/

2. Manos
“One of my favorite neighborhoods to grab lunch or a light dinner is in Nea Chora, just west of the ancient walls of the old town. Directly facing the sea, the street of Akti Papanikoli is lined with cafes and fish tavernas offering simple, traditional seafood fare, and this is one of my favorites. In the summertime, the small port of Nea Chora is lined with tables for al fresco dining where you can dine amongst colorful fishing boats, open sky, and warm sea breezes. Here I opt for simple dishes, like fried calamari (rumored to be the best in town), grilled sardines, a traditional Greek salad “Horiatiki” with a huge slab of feta cheese, and an ice-cold Mythos beer.”
3 Akti Papanikoli, Nea Chora, Chania, Crete, 30/28210-8605

3. Laiki Agora
“When cooking at home, hitting up the local laiki agora, an outdoor street market, is a must. The one on Saturday mornings in the town center on Minoos Street is known as the best. Here local farmers and vendors gather to sell their fresh goods to locals and adventurous visitors alike. I absolutely love the local bitter wild greens, known as xorta, which are picked high in the mountains of Crete and brought fresh to the market in the morning. I cook them the traditional Cretan way by simply boiling the greens, then adding salt, lemon, and olive oil. It’s pretty much the essential side dish of every Cretan meal and some say is partly responsible for the longevity of the people of Crete.”

Minoos St., Chania, Crete

4. Pelagos
“For a nice dinner in the center of the action, I venture to Pelagos on the old harbor. The restaurant has coveted views of the famous lighthouse, which at sunset provides the perfect location for dining on fresh grilled fish while sipping a glass of local Assyrtiko wine. Pelagos has an excellent selection of some of the most notable wines in Greece, and in addition to some of the freshest fish in town, they also have some more unique items like local wild mussels and lobster.”

Akti Kountourioti 10-12 & Kondilaki St., Chania, Crete, 30/28210-86766, http://www.pelagos-restaurant.gr/

5. Chrisostomos
“Nobody knows lamb better than the locals of Crete, so when I tire of eating fresh fish every day I go here for my meat fix. I never knew how many delicious ways one could cook a lamb until visiting here— Chrisostomos does it all. My favorite preparation is the lamb tsigariasto which is a traditional dish from the south of Crete where tender pieces of lamb are slowly cooked in their own juices in a clay pot. Other notable dishes are goat with local mizithra cheese and grilled lamb chops. As if the meat isn’t tasty enough, every dish is served with a side of fresh-cut potatoes fried in olive oil.”

Defkalionos & Ikarou St., Chania, Crete, 30/28210-57035

Jen grew up in Pt. Pleasant, NJ (yes, the Shore), escaped to school in Boston, and fell in love with travel when she went abroad to study in Australia. After nearly ten years of eating and drinking herself silly in NYC, she finally reached the west coast. Things that makes her happy: the ocean, books, mountains, bikes, friends, good beer, ice cream, unplanned adventures, football, live music.
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