Goules Taverna

Crete

The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete. Greece Travel Secrets recently had the chance to visit them and check that claim.

In Greece, many of the best things happen by chance – a chance encounter with a stranger, spotting a road sign to an archaeological site you didn't know existed, or asking a local to recommend somewhere good to eat or to stay.

We'd spent the morning pottering around the pottery town of Margarites, and the afternoon at the remarkable archaeological site of ancient Eleftherna, in the company of our guide Isi from Go Crete. We were trying to meet up with a couple of friends who happened to be on Crete at the same time as we were, and who knew the island well from annual visits over many years.

Had we ever tried the Goules Taverna, they wondered. No, we hadn't. Isi knew where it was and also rated it highly, so off we went. In the event the friends couldn't get there, but boy, we were glad for the recommendation. Crete is full of fabulous little roadside eating places like this. You just have to know how to find them. With a guide like Isi, we visited a lot of them and ate some remarkable fresh and tasty Cretan food.

As we sat down to look through the menu, Isi told us that not everyone on Crete enjoys fresh Cretan food, even though they might think they are.

'Some of the all-inclusive resorts along the coast,' he said, 'buy their moussaka from China. They pay less than €3.50 per kilo, and you can make a lot of moussaka from one kilo. Even some tavernas who advertise 'traditional Cretan cuisine' buy their meat from Lidl.'

That was definitely not the case at Goules, whose menu included dishes like rooster and rabbit, which means the meat is fresh and local, the recipe definitely a family one. Another good sign was that one beer on offer was from Brink's, a craft brewery in Rethymnon making a small but impressive range of organic beers. At a price of €3 a bottle, it cost the same as more familiar names like Fix and Mythos.

After we said we enjoyed the Brink's beers, our on-the-ball tour guide, Isi from Go Crete, arranged for us to tour this small craft brewery a few days later. Check out our behind-the-scenes slideshow from our YouTube channel, where you'll find other videos about Greek food and drink.

Goules Starters

Starters included familiar options like tzatziki, cheese saganaki and eggplant dip, but also more unusual choices – a Cretan yellow cheese, and something we couldn't resist: goat cheese with plum sauce. Wow! The rich fruity tartness of the plum sauce contrasted beautifully with the salty cheese. Simple but superb, as was the light-as-air home-made bread.

Main courses presented a hard choice from several intriguing-sounding dishes. Specials included pork with a wine and honey sauce (€8) and lamb with artichokes (€11). Other options were Hunter's rabbit, rooster in a wine and fresh tomato sauce, and a house special of veal in a tomato sauce.

Goat Cheese with Plum Sauce

In the end we ordered several dishes and shared. They were all winners. The rooster was rich and gamey, much more flavoursome than chicken, and the wine and tomato sauce was a good match for the robust gaminess of the bird. It had generous amounts of cinnamon mixed in, too, which only added to the flavours and the aromas.

The wine and honey sauce with the pork was lighter, more delicate, and totally more-ish. The meat was fresh and full of flavour – definitely not bought from the supermarket! You got the feeling that no matter what you had from this menu, it wouldn't disappoint.

Goules Desserts

How to choose a dessert? Well, we didn't have to. The owner brought us out three glasses of grapes that had been preserved in a sugar syrup. On top of the grapes was a generous helping of creamy Greek yoghourt, and poured over everything was another fruity syrup which was mouthwateringly wonderful. It was our first taste of petimezi.

When Isi realised we'd never come across this before, and knowing of our interest in food and drink, he said he would try to track down someone who made petimezi, and see if he could squeeze it into our itinerary. And he did! You can read about it here: How to Make Petimezi.

Desserts and Raki

The owner topped off the meal with some complimentary raki – and even the raki was exceptionally good, and smooth. The Goules looks perfectly ordinary from the outside, a stone building on a street corner. There's an outdoor area for the summer, a second area in a verandah, and then the indoor dining areas with fireplaces, a stove, and quirky wall decorations. It's an absolute gem, and easily worth the 30-minute drive if you're staying in Rethymnon.

See the website for directions and opening hours: http://goules.gr

You might like these other Crete pages...

  • Zakynthos Winemaker

    Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.

  • 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.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

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

  • Greek Retsina

    Greek retsina is a dry white wine made and drunk all over Greece with a distinctive pine and resin flavour that people usually either love or hate.

  • Best Beaches on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets chooses ten of the best beaches on Crete including the beautiful beaches at Vai and Elafonisi.

  • 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.

  • Eco-Tourism Accommodation on Crete

    The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

  • Greek Ouzo

    Greek ouzo is an aniseed-based aperitif made all over the country but especially on Lesbos, tasting like a Greek pastis or arak and usually drunk with water.

  • Athens Culinary Tours

    Athens culinary tours are among the food walking tours offered by an unusual company, Culinary Backstreets.

  • Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus

    If you're wondering where to eat in Athens and Piraeus we have a few suggestions including some favorites around the Acropolis, Omonia Square, and Syntagma.

  • Greek Alcoholic Drinks

    Greek alcoholic drinks include distinctly Greek drinks such as ouzo, Metaxa, retsina, raki, tsikoudia and tsipouro, but also Greek wines and Greek beers.

  • 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,

  • Athens Food Tours

    Athens Food Tours are being introduced by new company The Greek Fork, and will include tours of the Central Market, and the best street food.

  • Athens Eaters Guide

    Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City, is published by Culinary Backstreets, who do walking food tours in Athens and the book recommends the best places to eat.

  • Athens Dining Guide

    This Athens dining guide doesn't list restaurants but gives practical advice on types of eating places, tipping, hotel breakfasts and picnics.

  • Airbnb near Chania

    This Airbnb in the quiet village of Malaxa, a 30-minute drive into the hills above Chania, is a peaceful retreat with a delightful and thoughtful artist owner, with wonderful views and amenities.

  • 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.

  • Tipping in Greece

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to tipping in Greece from two Greece travel experts, including when to tip, what to tip and when not to tip.

  • 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.

  • The Snails House on Crete

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

  • 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.

  • Santorini Wineries

    Visiting Santorini wineries is a popular activity on this Greek island in the Cyclades, whose volcanic soil provides a distinctive terroir.

Latest Posts

  1. A Sommelier’s Guide to Greece’s Most Exclusive Grape Varieties

    Best Greek Sommelier for 2019, Aris Sklavenitis offers his recommendations for rare, lesser-known indigenous Greek varieties: an exciting, unexplored territory for wine lovers.

    Read More

  2. Greece Extends Second Lockdown Until December 7

    Greece will extend its second nationwide lockdown until 6am on Monday, December 7, in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and limit the rising number of intubations and fatalit…

    Read More

  3. New Archaeological Museum to Open in Ermionida, Greece

    The Greek Culture Ministry recently announced plans to open a new archaeological museum in Ermionida, a municipality located in eastern Peloponnese.

    Read More

  4. Greece Among Top 3 Booking Choices for US Travelers

    Greece is among the top three international destinations that American travelers are booking, according to a survey on tourism recovery in the post-coronavirus era released by the United States Tour O…

    Read More

  5. Greece’s Air Traffic Controllers Call Off Strike, AEGEAN Reinstates Flights

    Unions representing air traffic controllers, electronic security engineers and aeronautical telecommunication officers in Greece announced that they were calling off strike action to take place during…

    Read More

  6. General Strike in Greece on Thursday to Affect Transport

    A 24-hour strike called by Greece’s main public sector umbrella union ADEDY for Thursday, November 26, will affect public transport in Athens and ferry travel.

    Read More

  7. Greece to Remain in Lockdown, Efforts Made to ‘Save Christmas’

    Greece’s government and health authorities expect the country’s second lockdown to continue into December, adding that it was too early to lift containment measures as Covid-19 is still spreading fast…

    Read More

  8. Qantas to Require Covid-19 Vaccination on All Int’l Flights

    Passengers wishing to fly internationally with Qantas will be required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination, the airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said this week. The head of Australia’s flag carrier said…

    Read More

  9. Strike in Greece Causes Changes to AEGEAN, Olympic Air Flights

    AEGEAN and Olympic Air have announced flight cancellations and reschedules during November 25-27 due to industrial action announced by Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic security en…

    Read More

  10. Air Travel in Greece to Face Disruption Nov 25-26 Due to Strike Action

    Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic engineers have announced work stoppages on Wednesday, November 25 and a 24-hour strike on Thursday, November 26, which are expected to impact air…

    Read More