Get Lost in the Flavours of Local Malia Food.
A short, pleasant stroll away from the unending party atmosphere of Malia beach road, you will find Malia’s Old Town. Steeped in tradition, this area has remained largely unchanged for decades and allows you a charming glimpse into how life used to be in Malia, before it transformed into the clubbing paradise we know and love today. Squirreled away amongst the narrow winding streets of this gorgeous labyrinthine village are a number of quaint restaurants and tavernas, wherein you’ll find local characters serving up delicious and authentic Cretan food.
In the very heart of the old town, next to Agios Dimitris Church (Saint Dimitri) and sheltered beneath a beautiful old olive tree ensconced in twinkling fairy lights and gourds, you will find Taverna Toto Lotto, a family run restaurant that has been serving up the freshest of local cuisine for over 20 years. Every day Christos and his parents offer up a warm welcome and a vast selection of traditional Cretan dishes, the Mezze here is especially good and highly recommended – ‘Mezze’ being the Greek equivalent of ‘Tapas’, lots of small traditional dishes to be shared between a group of people and enjoyed at leisure. A delightful and relaxing way to while away the evening. Dishes are reasonably priced and start as little as 4-5 Euros.
Across the street from Totto Lotto, is another fantastic restaurant – Stavlos and Elizabeth. Specialising in a wide variety of fresh, local fish dishes – the sea bass in particular is utterly delicious and highly recommended. Everything is cooked to order and come in enormous portions, served just the way you like them, accompanied by locally sourced oven roasted potatoes and a simple fresh salad. The owner, Stelios, prides himself on his quality selection of fine wines. Sourced from all across Greece, whatever your favourite might be Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, he is sure to have it. Make sure you have a glass or four, to accompany your meal. Alongside the beautiful food and plentiful wine Stavlos & Elizabeth provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in a gorgeous setting, unlike almost anywhere else in this resort, you will feel a world away from the madness and mayhem of Malia Beach Road, a true Greek experience.
A short distance from Agios Dimitris Square, you will find the church of Agios Giorgios (Saint George) and the appropriately named San Giorgio taverna, where Manos has been serving up sumptuous local cuisine and a wide selection of international dishes for many years now. The restaurant itself is split across both sides of the road, so there is never a shortage of seating – particularly reassuring if there is a large group of you. The surrounding square is yet another sublime setting to kick back, unwind and breathe in some true Cretan culture. Also, should you be interested in learning how to cook some of the local specialities, or anything else on the menu for yourself, the friendly and enthusiastic chefs at San Giorgio are always happy to invite you into their kitchen to share their recipes and show you how it’s done, free of charge! Make an appointment in advance, take plenty of notes and you’ll be whipping up your own authentic Moussaka, Stifado or Kleftiko like an expert in no time.
Another of Malia Old Town’s hidden gems is Kalesma, a charming little taverna set in an old stone house with a charming outside seating area surrounded by beautiful murals, greenery and gorgeous local artwork. The menu boasts a huge selection of the ‘Mezze’ dishes we mentioned earlier, alongside lovingly prepared traditional and modern dishes of the chef’s own design, that are all sure to make your taste buds go wild. Tucked away as it is, up one of the village’s more secluded side streets, Kalesma can be a little tricky to find, but there are several sign-posts around the village to help you out, be sure to make the effort and you will be richly rewarded.
Another wonderful taverna in the Old Town is Milos, a beautiful and relaxing spot that is locally renowned for their incredible slow cooked dishes. Oven roasted meat and game is a staple of the Cretan diet and you will be hard pressed to find anywhere that does it as well as Milos. Expertly cooked to perfection in a traditional outdoor brick oven for hours at a time, so that when it finally reaches your table, the meat simply slides off the bone. So, whether you fancy beef, lamb, pork or rabbit, you are definitely in for an absolute treat. Be sure to get there early, to snag a table in the pretty outside seating area, or book one in advance.
After your meal, if you are in the mood for a quiet drink, then Yiannis’ Roof Garden Bar is the place for you. A friendly, cozy bar, filled with traditional atmosphere, this is the perfect place to hide away and observe the world passing by. If you haven’t tried the Cretan moonshine ‘Raki’, then Yianni’s Bar is the ideal starting point, the owner makes it himself and is fiercely proud of it. There are various different flavours on offer, including one particularly nice one made with locally produced honey. No trip to Crete is complete without sampling some raki, just be careful not to have too many, as it is incredibly strong!
So, to sum it up, Malia might be the crazy 18-30 party capital of Greece, but that doesn’t mean you can’t immerse yourself in authentic culture or sample some of the delightful flavours for which Greece is famous. It may only be a short walk across the road, but Malia’s Old Town feels like a whole different world!
For all the latest offers and the best prices book direct at www.club18-30.com.
Kali Oreksi (Enjoy your food!)