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
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.
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
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.
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
Where to Stay on Crete
Other Crete pages
Visiting Santorini wineries is a popular activity on this Greek island in the Cyclades, whose volcanic soil provides a distinctive terroir.
Corfu’s special cuisine includes dishes like sofrito and pastitsade and the chance to try ginger beer and kumquats.
Corfu olives are an important part of this Greek island's economy, with an estimated 3-4 million trees producing olive oil of exceptional quality.
Information for travelers on Corfu Food and Drink including restaurants and tavernas, Corfiot specialties, desserts, wine and other Greek drinks like ouzo.
The First Corfu Beer Festival took place in Arillas in North West Corfu and celebrated the beer of Bavaria and of Corfu, in the Ionian islands of Greece.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.
Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.
Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.
The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.
Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.
How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.
Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.
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.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely valley.
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.
The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Greek grape varieties to help you know which wines to choose when dining in restaurants or buying wine in Greece.
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