It all started about six years ago, when Cretan cuisine – food from Crete (Kriti), one of Greece’s largest and most famous islands – became fashionable in Athens. Suddenly, Cretan restaurants started popping up all around the city. Traditional Cretan dishes such as the rustic dakos (barley rusk in extra-virgin olive oil topped with finely chopped tomato and mizithra, a light, crumbly white cheese with a slightly sour aftertaste) became popular in Greek tavernas.
Unlike those fashionable restaurants, though, Kriti (“Crete”) predates the Cretan fad and – more importantly – serves the real thing. Hidden in one of Athens’ many arcades and in a rather unappealing location, drab and hectic Kanigos Square in downtown Athens, Kriti is a shrine to everything Cretan.
Cast-iron figures of famous Cretans hang on the walls, while the music that sometimes blares through the speakers is usually that of Nikos Xylouris, the island’s most famous singer. Be warned, however, that this is not your average restaurant. It does not even have a menu; the owner and his daughter or his wife will come over to your table and list the dishes on offer.