Taverna Alekos (in Greek “Ταβέρνα Αλέκος”) is a unique village taverna in the area of Rethymno, offering authentic meat-based Cretan cuisine with a creative touch. The taverna always offers a set menu, meaning that you do not order; the food comes to you, which is quite rare for Crete. The food is of exceptional quality and the offered food quantity (number of dishes and portions) is huge. The set menu always comprises salads, appetizers, casserole dishes and stews (served as starters) which vary depending on the day. A complete Cretan barbecue comprising hamburgers (some of the best you can have in Crete!) and steaks is always served as main accompanied with housemade French fries. The indoor area of the taverna is cozy, dominated by stone walls which gives it a rustic and friendly ambience. Taverna Alekos is highly recommended for tasting rustic Cretan cuisine with creative touches. It also offers great value for money. Please make sure though that you are really hungry before going to this taverna, as the offered food quantity is huge!
Taverna Alekos is located in the village of Armenoi, 10 km to the south of Rethymno. You must go there by car, therefore the location score is 1 out of 3 (🗺️) . There is usually available parking on the square outside the restaurant, so the parking score is 2 out of 3 (🅿️🅿️).
Ambience, comfort, decor
Taverna Alekos has two seating areas, an indoor area and an outdoor protected terrace. The indoor area is cozy, dominated by stone walls. The decor is rustic and is made of old agricultural tools. The terrace is better in summer, although it is bordering with the road; the outdoor score is therefore 1 out of 3 (⛱️). The seating is comfortable, although there is not a lot of space justifying an ambience/comfort score of 2 out of 3 (💺💺). The taverna is children friendly, although it does not have play areas as other country restaurants have, justifying a kids score of 2 out of 3 (👦👦)
The indoor seating area of Taverna Alekos (left); the walls are decorated with old agricultural tools. The entrance of the taverna (right)
Food, quality, quantity
At Taverna Alekos one can taste great traditional meat based Cretan food that also has a creative touch. It should be stressed that the taverna always offers a set menu, meaning that you do not order; the food comes to you! Note that this is quite rare in Crete. The quality of the food is supreme, therefore justifying a 3 out of 3 quality score (✅✅✅). The housewine score is 2 out of 3 (🍷🍷). The quantities are huge, taking account of the number of dishes, so one has to be careful. The quantity score is a well deserved 3 out of 3 (🥣🥣🥣). Note that taverna Alekos is not suitable for vegetarians (🥩).
Appetizers: Cretan mizithra cheese (left), stuffed vine leaves with yoghurt (top right) and mushroom risotto (bottom right)
The set menu always comprises a lot of dishes; serving starts with salads and appetizers and moves into casserole dishes and stews (served as starters). Typical appetizers are Cretan cheese platters and stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”). The stuffed vine leaves with yoghurt we tried were good but a bit dry. The offered mizithra cheese and green salad with pomegranate were excellent. Note that salads, appetizers and starters always change; every time you visit this restaurant you encounter different dishes, so you cannot get bored of it.
Some examples of the served starter dishes we tried were mushroom risotto which was well made but nothing too special, beef with plums which we found excellent. We were also offered two creative stews, namely free range chicken with peppers as well as the surprisingly good potato and chestnut stew in lemon sauce. The rabbit in wine was average. Starters are always followed by a Cretan barbecue (which does not tend to change), comprising steaks and hamburgers accompanied by home made French fries. We particularly like the succulent Cretan style hamburgers which contain quite a lot of squeezed tomatoes mixed with the minced meat.
Two great stews: rabbit in wine (left) and beef in plums (right)
Fast, friendly and responsive service, deserving a 3 out of 3 service score (💁💁💁).
Treats at no extra charge
As dessert, we were offered delicious chocolate cake topped with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream (quite small for the standards of this restaurant!). The usual raki that accompanied the dessert was of very high quality.
Delicious chocolate cake topped with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream
Reservation is recommended as the taverna becomes very crowded especially at peak times. You also want to avoid the risk of driving all this way to arrive when no tables are available.
Price and overall score
The price for a full meal is around € 20,00 per person (price level: €€) including drinks (housewine option). The price is more than the average of Rethymno but is great for the quality and quantity you get in return. Taverna Alekos is really recommended. We give the restaurant an overall score of 2 out of 3 (⭐⭐) as is only suitable for meat lovers.
Review last edited: 15/02/2019
© Review and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis