Fish is undoubtedly one of the world's healthiest foods. It is high in essential nutrients including protein and vitamin D. Fish is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the healthy function of the human body and brain. Cretans have traditionally eaten exactly what their land and seas have produced, with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses, olive oil and seafood. Rivers, springs, cyclical waterways and wetlands, one natural freshwater lake, Lake Kournas, and numerous man-made lakes may be found on the island of Crete. Fishing has been a staple rural practice as Cretans learned early on in their history to fish from land and boats. Dolphins, various other fish species and fishermen are often depicted in the Minoan frescoes and on pieces of Minoan pottery that have been excavated on the island. Crete has a lengthy coastline that stretches for 650 miles which is home to many species of fish. Fagri, Sea Bream, Lavraki, Sea Bass, Sargos, White Sea Bream, and Bakaliaros, Cod, are among many fish commonly eaten on the island. During fasting and religious holidays, fish and seafood dishes are consumed in even greater amounts in the country. On the 25th of March Greeks celebrate Greek Independence and The Annunciation of Virgin Mary by feasting on Bakaliaros Scordalia, salted cod fried in beer batter accompanied by garlicky mashed potatoes.
The large variety of available fish in Crete is mostly consumed in four ways according to the fish size, texture and flavour. They are grilled, used in fish soups, stews and casseroles; they are oven baked and pan-fried. Big fish like Fagri, Sea Bream, Lavraki, Sea Bass, Sargos, White Sea Bream and Skaros, Parrotfish, tend to be grilled, basted with Ladolemono, a lemon and olive oil sauce, and dressed with fresh herbs such as oregano and parsley. The Cretans also make rich fish soups with Bakaliaros, Cod, Christopsaro, John Dory, Peskandritsa, Monkfish, and Rofos, Dusky Grouper. Fish soups are particularly popular in the cooler autumn and winter months. Fish stews and casseroles are another popular Cretan way of cooking fish. Plaki, meaning baked in the oven, is a popular fish casserole, with Cod, Halibut, Haddock, Grouper or Sea Bass, plenty of tomato and herbs and a garnishing of fresh parsley, lemon slices and olive oil. Another popular fish casserole is Sardeles Ladorigani, meaning sardines in olive oil and oregano, which is made with sardines, oregano and dashes of olive oil, all baked in an oven casserole dish. Fish such as Barbouni, Red Mullet, Koutsomoura, Striped Red Mullet and Atherina, Mediterranean Sand Smelt, and Gopa, Bogue, are generally pan- fried in olive oil, dressed with herbs, and drizzled with lemon juice. Ochtapodi, Octopus, and Kalamari, Squid, are very popular appetizers in Greek fish tavernas and are fried in neat slices, or grilled to serve.
Rethymno’s sea front offers a wide range of Psarotavernas, Fish Restaurants, which specialize in delicious seafood cuisine. These waterfront venues are usually a few metres from the sea and come with beautiful views. In these restaurants, fish is generally offered by the kilo. Customers are generally invited to choose from the day's catch, which will either be placed on ice or brought to their table. Rethymno’s Old Venetian Harbour, dating back to the 13th Century when it was used for trade by the Venetians and later on by the Ottomans, is a bustling and lively waterfront, full of fish restaurants. These fish eateries have exquisite views of the port and the elegant antique lighthouse on its edge, making the area a particularly picturesque setting for an evening meal. Guests can stroll around the harbour and sit down to enjoy a seafood Meze, appetizer, of grilled octopus or pan-fried kalamari, paired with a glass of Ouzo or Cretan wine, or they can feast on a main meal of delicious fresh seafood as they watch the sun go down in the horizon. In the narrow cobbled alleys behind the Old Venetian Harbour, you will find many Mezedopoleions, the Greek equivalent of tapas bars, which among other meat and vegetarian appetizers, serve seafood appetizers. These lively and rustic eating establishments offer a variety of small and tasty seafood delicacies such as grilled shrimp, octopus, mussels and sardines with a choice of Ouzo, local wines and Raki, the infamous, traditional powerful spirit of Crete, to accompany each delicious appetizer. For a quieter seafood dining experience, away from the bustling city centre of Rethymnon, look to the western side of the town, in the area of Koumbes, and under the Stratopedo, the military base. In the rocky sea cove there, you will find several sophisticated restaurants which serve a range of Cretan and Greek dishes, including seafood along with well-curated wines. These establishments serve authentic Cretan seafood dishes made with the best seasonal and organic ingredients and have views of the sea, Rethymnon town and the Fortezza, Rethymno’s ancient Venetian Fortress. Further west of Rethymnon town you will find Episkopi Beach, a long sandy beach with several tavernas along its coastline that serve the freshest seafood along with other traditional Cretan delicacies. Visitors can spend an afternoon swimming and sunbathing before sitting down for a meal a few metres away from the water. These tavernas are informal, with a relaxed atmosphere and many guests dining, after a cool dip in the sea. The waiters will tell you the best dishes of the day, and you can always start your meal off with tasty appetizers of grilled octopus, shrimp and squid and a glass of cool ouzo.
To enjoy a unique outdoor eating atmosphere, head to the mountainous village of Argyroupoli, approximately 25 kilometres southwest of Rethymnon. Many fish tavernas may be found there nestled among the lovely springs that run from the nearby Mouselas River. You can eat under the shade of ancient plane trees while listening to the rush of fresh water springs and cascading waterfalls. Fish farms were established around the springs due to the quantity of fresh water, and large fishponds containing trout and other sweet water species may be found in many of the restaurants there. Freshwater fish cuisine, particularly river fish such as Oxyrrynchos, Sturgeon, and Pestrofa, Trout, is the specialty of these tavernas. Guests are often invited to handpick their own fish to be grilled to order!
Yialos Wine Restaurant invites you to dine on Crete’s finest seafood and fish dishes and guarantees you will savour every morsel and every sip of wine, in one of the most beautiful waterfront venues of the island. Check out our menu and reserve your table now.