Taverna Argonautis (in Greek “Ταβέρνα Αργοναύτης”) is one of the best fish tavernas of Rethymno, located on the seaside boulevard (quite far from the centre). It is owned by a fisherman and his family who often cook their catch of the day. You must try the different types of fried fish. Certainly not to be missed is the grilled or pan-fried Mediterranean moray fish (“smerna“) fish, if available, and the fried courgette sticks (both being signature dishes of the fish taverna). Other fish worth trying is the mixed fried fish platter (“tiganopsara“), basically containing the daily catch. The taverna also offers bigger fish upon availability, such as red porgy (“fagri“), white sea bream (“sargos“) or greater amberjack fish (“magiatiko“), which are ideal for chargrilling. In winter months expect nice homemade desserts as treats. Service is very friendly and prices are reasonable. In general, do not miss this place if you want to try Cretan fish.
Taverna Argonautis is located on the seaside boulevard of Rethymno, although quite far from the centre (2 km east), justifying a 2 out of 3 location score (🗺️🗺️). If you enjoy walking, it is a great seaside promenade. If you go by car, parking spots are difficult to find on the main seafront road and you have to resort to the designated parking area near the restaurant. To reach the designated parking, just follow the signs (it is paid but inexpensive). The parking score is 1 out of 3 (🅿️).
Ambience, comfort, decor
Taverna Argonautis has an indoor seating area and an outdoor terrace overlooking the main road and the beach. The indoor area is nothing special. The terrace is very pleasant in summer before sunset, when you can dine while enjoying great sea views. The outdoor score is 2 out of 3 (⛱️⛱️), as although the view is nice, it is bordering with the road. The seating is comfortable and there is a lot of space, although the ambience does not have any special character, justifying an ambience/comfort score of 2 out of 3 (💺💺). The taverna is children friendly, justifying a kids score of 2 out of 3 (👦👦).
Enjoying salads and starters at Taverna Argonautis
Food, quality, quantity
The highlight of Taverna Argonautis is certainly fish in all forms, i.e., pan fried or grilled. The fish quality is great as most of it is caught by the owner, justifying a 3 out of 3 quality score (✅✅✅). The housewine score is 1 out of 3 (🍷). The portions are good but not huge, justifying a quantity score of 2 out of 3 (🥣🥣). Taverna Argonautis is suitable for pescatarians (🌱🌱 ). Vegans can also enjoy nice salads and great vegetable fritters.
The menu comprises great salads. We chose the “Argonautis” salad, being a mixture of fresh (mainly green) vegetables and some cheese which we found very good. As starter it is highly recommended to order the deep-fried courgette sticks, being a delicious speciality of this taverna which we have never found elsewhere. They are greatly combined with a spicy white cheese salad (“tirokauteri“).
When it comes to fish, it depends on the day and of course the weather! The best fish speciality of the taverna is pan fried or chargrilled slices of Mediterranean moray (Roman eel), in Greek known as “smerna“. This is a not so widely known fish but truly delicious; not to be missed. Other fish worth trying is the mixed fried fish platter (“tiganopsara“), basically containing the daily catch. Smaller fried fish, such as European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) (“gauros“) or spicara smaris (“marida“) are greatly pan fried and are recommended. Another great option is the pan fried Cretan red mullet (mullus surmuletus) (in Greek “barbouni“) or mullus barbatus (in Greek “koutsomoura“). The taverna also offers bigger fish upon availability, such as red porgy (“fagri“), white sea bream (“sargos“) or greater amberjack fish (“magiatiko“), which are ideal for chargrilling. Note that bigger fish is usually more expensive.
Recommended seafood are the chargrilled cuttlefish which are really tender and delicious. They are chargrilled with their ink which greatly adds to the taste (this is a unique Cretan way!). Fried fresh squid is also not to be missed when available. We also tried the shrimp pasta in light tomato sauce which we found very well balanced and overall very nice.
Very nice (mildly spicy) Greek white cheese salad (“tirokauteri”)
Service is very friendly and responsive but occasionally slow, deserving a 2 out of 3 service score (💁💁).
Treats at no extra charge
As dessert, we were offered a nice Greek walnut pie (“karidopita”) and revani (dessert made of semolina), both topped with vanilla ice cream as well as some seasonal fruits (mandarins in this case). The usual raki that accompanied the dessert was good. Note that the offered desserts at Taverna Argonautis greatly vary depending on the season, i.e., in winter tend to be much richer that in summer (which is the busy period).
Greek walnut pie (“karidopita”) and revani (dessert made of semolina), both topped with vanilla ice cream and seasonal fruits
Reservation is recommended in summer time, especially if you want to seat at the terrace; the taverna becomes crowded at peak times.
Price and overall score
The price for a full meal is around € 20,00 per person (price level: €€) including drinks (housewine option). Note that the price depends on the type of fish you order, i.e., bigger grilled fish tends to be pricier. The price at Taverna Argonautis represents a great value for money when eating seafood. We give the restaurant an overall score of 2 out of 3 (⭐⭐).
Review last edited: 08/03/2019
© Review and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis