This is a very important post for us.
Not only because we will talk to you about one of the best restaurants in Crete – no exaggeration really – but also because this restaurant is the primary reason why we ended up buying a house in the South of Crete.
So, this is where we arrived, when we arrived at Anydri village, SE of Paleochora, one and a half hour of driving South of Chania. It is the center of the village, some 70 meters after you pass the sign “Anydri” (Άνυδροι), and on the main road. (See related post here.)
It is the old school of the village, that was built in the 1930’s. Long after that, and while the area was one of the hot spots for hippies, in the 70’s and the 80’s, it remained deserted, rusty and destroyed. Till one day in 1996, one of the very students of the old school, Christos Vardoulakis, decided to do something with it. He and his wife, Simone, rebuilt the place more or less with their own hands. It is a big square old building, with the old windows repainted red, and a fantastic interior with loads of old objects from the everyday life of the village, ages ago.
The dreamy part of it though hides in the back yard, where all the tables are during the summer months. A huge, ancient olive tree – branches of which you can see in the picture – gives shadow on a yard with more or less 30 tables. The view of the yard is breathtaking. It looks over the gorge of Anydri – or one of them more likely – and the Libyan Sea.
The menu is a fusion of local, traditional dishes with a kind of small european twist and it has a big variety of dishes for vegetarians. As I know Christos really well, I can tell you that the ingredients of the food they are making in this place is something you cannot buy in most million-dollar-first-class restaurants around the world. The tomatoes come from his land, the beans too, the meat comes from local animals, fed on the hills, the salt comes from the sea, and the olive oil is just something else…
For two starters and two main dishes, and raki and fruit, you will pay around 30 euro. And it will be a meal to remember. Have in mind that if you go in the middle of August, you will have to queue. This place is a highlight in the area and people travel a lot just to experience its food.
Small Tip: Try going for lunch. During the day, a bunch of women from the village, are inside the kitchen and are preparing the food for the evening. It is a bliss to have a small something to eat, under the shadow, listening to the girls inside twitting with a soft music in the background. Also if you are the active type, go for a swim to Anydri beach, walk the Anydri gorge up (it starts on the back of the beach and ends exactly at the restaurant!), and arrive at the back yard of The School for a cold beer and some salad. You will oh, so thank me for it!! 🙂
Christos and Simone are just lovely. They carry the essence of Greek hospitality, they care and it shows. Everything at their place is done with “meraki”. “Meraki” is one of these Greek words almost impossible to explain. It is essentially the talent and tendency to put love and extra care in every little detail of everything you do, deeply rooted in the philosophy that happiness hides in literally everything.
Take care! 🙂
*The above picture is from Anydri beach.