The Snails House on Crete

Crete

The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

'Snails are the friends of Cretans. We love them. We ate them during the war.' That's what we'd been told by our guide on our visit to the Lyrarakis Winery a few days earlier, where literally thousands of snails were clinging to bushes near their vines. Fortunately snails don't seem to like vines.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

Cretans like snails, though, probably even more than the French love their escargots. Besides - but be careful where you say it - the French actually import some of their snails from Greece. That French escargot in Paris might actually be a Greek koklias from Lake Pamvotis, where there's a healthy snail export business.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

The Cretans certainly cook snails in far more inventive ways than the French do, as we were about to discover when we sat down for an unusual lunch at To Steki tou Kokliou, or The House of Snails in Plouti. 

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

As you can see from the many photos we took, The House of Snails is charmingly and quirkily decorated with lots of rustic touches. On one window shutter there were plants and herbs including lavender, rosemary and oregano, all growing from what looked like old jam jars. A gnarled olive tree branch was draped over a fireplace, and colourful copper jugs contrasted with faded old photos.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

We had plenty of time to look around as, due to our schedule, we'd arrived at noon just as the place was getting their lunch dishes ready, though the cooking smells from the absolutely tiny kitchen made us instantly hungry. I guess you don't need a lot of cooking space if you mainly cook snails.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

We were on a food-and-drink themed tour of Crete with our excellent guide Isi, from gocrete.net. Isi will organise tours on any theme that interests you, but if you choose a food and drink one you're in for a treat. Or rather, many treats. Isi arranged for us to tour vineyards and craft breweries, discover shops like the amazing herb shop in Kouses, meet someone who made petimezi and someone else who made rakomelo, and today he'd slipped in a lunch at this very specialist place.

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

It's obviously not a place to come if you don't like snails, though you could still put a meal together from the side dishes they do, like fava beans and stuffed vine leaves. Today as our vegetable side dish we ordered stuffed cabbage leaves, and as they were prepared that morning like all the dishes, they were fresh and delicious. But what about the snails?

The Snails House in Plouti on CreteThe Snails House on Crete

'Today they do four kinds,' Isi explained, ' one is done in the frying pan, then put in the fire with vinegar and rosemary. It's called bourbouristous, from the noise the snails make in the fire: bour-bour-bour…. Another dish is just boiled snails. It's a kafeneon not a taverna or restaurant so the menu is small. For drink there is local wine, retsina, raki, different coffees of course. It would only cost you about €6-7 depending what you have.'

A plate of Snail Stifado at The Snails House in Plouti on CreteSnail Stifado

Today Isi recommends the two other snail dishes on the menu. The first is snail with onions, which doesn't sound very appetising but Isi explains there's more to it than onions, with tomatoes, herbs and spices added, making it more like a snail stifado. We've never had anything like that, so why not?

A plate of snails with wheat and cheese at The Snails House in Plouti on CreteSnails with Wheat and Cheese

Nor have we even heard of anything like the other option, which Isi describes as snails with dried wheat and cheese. What? When it comes it looks something like a snail pilaf, and tastes somewhere between a pilaf and a savoury risotto. It's incredibly tasty, as is the snail stifado, which is juicy and full of flavour.

A plate of dishes at The Snails House in Plouti on CreteMeze at The Snails House on Crete

We highly recommend a visit to The Snails House in Plouti on Crete for a unique dining experience. And if you want a lesson in how to eat a snail, we got Isi to show us a few nights later:

We've put all these photos, and a few more, together in a video slideshow about The Snails House on our YouTube channel:

More Information

The Snails House is on the main road in the village of Plouti in southern Crete, about a 30-minute drive from Matala and Agia Galini, and 15 minutes from Phaistos. For opening times phone 02892 096352.

Google map showing the location of The Snails House in Plouti on Crete(c) Google Maps

Where to Stay on Crete



Some other Crete pages

  • Crete

    Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • The Icon Painter

    Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • Samaria Gorge

    The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

  • Rethymnon in Western Crete

    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Matala Beach

    Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

  • Margarites

    Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

    Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Knossos

    Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

  • Irakleio

    Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.

  • How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

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