A trip to Crete is not complete without diving into the local cuisine. The amount of restaurants and local tavernas in Heraklion can be quite overwhelming and it can get difficult to spot the best local restaurants that are not tourist traps. So, we have done the work for you by coming up with a list of some of the best dining spots in Heraklion that will surely satisfy your taste buds and give you the ultimate experience in Crete.
Kapetan Haralampi 6-8, Heraklion, Crete 71202 Greece
+30 281 028 8887
Probably one of the most loved Greek restaurants in town. Peskesi’s setting is idyllic and charming, tucked between two narrow alleyways in the old town. Unlike many Greek tourist traps, this restaurant offers traditional yet creative Cretan food done with attention to details from quality of food to the atmosphere. In fact, all dishes are cooked with ingredients from their own local farm, so you can assure that all ingredients are pure. Whether you sit inside or under the vine covered alfresco terrace, the experience feels authentic. They also offer a good range of beer, wine, and cocktails made with Cretan elements to complete your meal. We advise to make a reservation especially during high seasons otherwise it might be a challenge to get a table in the evening.
Chandakos 81 Leoforos Sofokli Venizelou, Heraklion, 71202, Greece
+30 281 022 5009
Nostalgic flavors and special blends is what Parasties aim to achieve. By introducing a new approach to the traditional way of cooking in Crete, this restaurant is able to elevate the simplest dishes. This is worth taking the short walk away from main touristic routes and have a nice Greek dining experience. Prices are reasonably priced and the servings are big, so you really need to come in with a big appetite. The ambience is cozy and the décor is on the modern side but nothing pretentious. Furthermore, the open kitchen is impressive as it allows you to see the food preparation process.
Chrisostomou 17, Heraklion 71306 Greece
+30 697 271 4373
A lovely atmospheric restaurant that will undoubtedly satisfy your evening. This is a great place to dine with friends or family. Housed in a charming century old building, Merastri is tastefully decorated with a touch of Greek elements. They offer a delectable selection of Cretan traditional dishes made with fresh ingredients locally sourced in Crete. When you dine, they provide complimentary extras from bread, aperitif and dessert that just enhances the experience even more. There are also excellent choices of local wines made from their own vineyard.
4. Apiri Greek Eatery
Kagiampi & Agion Deka 5, Heraklion 71201, Greece
+30 281 034 2228
Apiri is an all-day understated Greek bistro serving contemporary Greek cuisine. The result is mouthwatering and creatively plated dishes that can easily be shared. Menu is limited but the quality of food is remarkable; you can tell a lot of time has gone into making all the dishes. The restaurant has an inviting modern space with limited seating and the setting is quite intimate, ideal for couples. There is also a menu of inventive cocktails and a small but well curated beer selection.
5. Kanatelias Lunch
Tsikritzi 15, Heraklion 71201, Greece
+30 281 028 5770
This is the place to be if you want to try real homemade Greek food. The dishes are all freshly prepared every day with quality ingredients, and you get to choose from the ready to be served array of dishes. The atmosphere is also pleasant with a homey interior, unlike your typical busy taverna. This is a great spot for lunch especially if you just want a quicker yet satisfying meal. Food selections are varying per day and food runs out pretty quickly, so we recommend getting here before 15:00.
6. Thigaterra - The Art of Slow Food
Leof. Andrea Papandreou 109, Ag. Dimitrios 714 14, Greece
+30 281 600 8777
Thigaterra seeks to add flavors and aromas of the Greek land in every dish. An advocate of the slow food movement, they cook with selected pure raw materials from small Greek producers from different parts of Greece. To add to that, all materials used in their dishes can be found in their in-house grocery store, so you can opt to bring some local ingredients home. All dishes are rich in so many flavors with the finest organic ingredients. The ambience is pleasant and intimate; a breath of fresh air from all the touristic restaurants in town. You definitely need to explore this as we’re sure you will enjoy the experience as much as we did. A little tip, make sure to pair your dish with their recommended wine.
Karterou 20, Heraklion 71201, Greece
+30 281 520 0012
Are you an avid meat lover? Then you should put Athali to your list. This family-run restaurant is the place to have traditional Cretan food, specially lamb (Antikristo). The portions are generous so it is ideal for families and groups. You are usually treated first with a local drink and in the end they serve some on the house dessert. The place has a rustic yet cozy vibe, and is not crowded most of the time. They have a fireplace set in the center of the restaurant where you can see the lamb being roasted.
Geor. Georgiadou 5, Heraklion 713 05, Greece
+30 281 028 5629
A traditional Greek restaurant that satisfies the palate. Situated close to the center of the old town, this quaint restaurant gives that genuine Cretan vibe boasting with culture. The menu is simple yet flavorsome with both meat and vegetarian options. Plus, like most local restaurants, there is Raki and sweets from the house. They have a nice roofed terrace that allows you to dine alfresco style. This authentic Greek dining experience is surely not to be missed.
Thessalonikis 5 Riga Feraiou Square, Heraklion 7120 Greece
+30 281 033 5224
If you’re looking for a simple little taverna, then you can’t go wrong with Xalali. Located in a quiet neighborhood, you can enjoy that local taverna experience in a more peaceful environment. Unlike several establishments in the Heraklion that are tourist traps, this place pays more attention to quality of the food being served. There are a variety of Greek and local specialties that are fairly priced and portions are generous.