Courtesy: Eleni Veziri

You don’t have to travel all the way to Crete to enjoy its traditional dishes. Athens has many fantastic Cretan restaurants to satisfy your cravings.

By Katherine Whittaker

The information provided in this article, including prices, menu items, and other details, reflects the conditions at the time of writing or visit. Please note that these elements are subject to change, and we recommend contacting the restaurant or venue directly for the most current information.  

When it comes to Cretan restaurants, the ingredients always take centre stage.

Photo: Eleni Veziri

Crete on a Plate

If you’re heading to a Cretan restaurant while in Athens, you’ll find a few mainstays on the menu: dakos, a salad consisting of a hard barley rusk covered in diced tomatoes, soft mizithra cheese, oregano, capers and olives. There’s apaki, smoked and salted pork that can be eaten like charcuterie or cooked. Skioufichta, a type of pasta specific to Crete, is usually served with local cheese or meat. Do look out for symbetherio, a veggie-based casserole, too. 

Above all, Cretan cooking is about freshness and provenance—dishes are prepared as simply as possible so the ingredients take centre stage. Here are some Cretan restaurants in Athens that will transport you right to the island with their food, atmosphere and music.

To Laini

I Kriti

Rachati

If you’re up for a bit of a hike to the southern suburb of Ilioupoli (then a 15 minute walk from the Ilioupoli metro stop), Rachati is a great spot for a taste of Crete. It has the feel of an island taverna: small, casual and relaxed, with photographs of Cretan musicians hanging on the walls. The restaurant’s meze-centric menu is full of traditional Cretan food (think sharing dishes like mizithropites, small pies made with mizithra). The recipes come from the owner’s grandmother and most of the products are sourced from Lasithi, a region in eastern Crete. Check their Facebook page for information on occasional live music performances.

"The recipes come from the owner’s grandmother and most of the products are sourced from Lasithi, a region in eastern Crete."

Rakoumel

Patouchas

Το Rakaki

Sympetheroi

Want to bring some Cretan products home with you? We don’t blame you, they make perfect souvenirs. Sympetheroi, just below Exarchia Square, is a tiny deli crammed with amazing Cretan delicacies, from specialty cheeses and meats (hello, apaki) to herbal teas, and honey. Some of it is incredibly rare; you’ll find herbs like diktamo, or dittany, which has been known since antiquity for its medicinal properties (Hippocrates was a fan) but it’s not widely available elsewhere. The staff has the lowdown on everything there, and they’ll help you find something familiar, or a new favourite. 

"A tiny deli crammed with amazing Cretan delicacies, from specialty cheeses and meats (hello, apaki) to herbal teas, and honey. Some of it is incredibly rare."