If you’re looking to experience the remoteness and slow pace of life around Sfakia, then you’ve got to stop by Nektarios’ taverna for a lunch on your way there. Meeting locals, indulging into daily specials and enjoying the easy living is an unforgettable experience!
I was lucky enough to find myself there on a long weekend late summer tour around the region. A few hours before my trip to Chania, I asked a fellow foodie for a couple of tips on authentic Cretan cuisine. And Nektarios was one of the two (the other being Ntounias in Drakona).
It’s a late Sunday morning when I walk in to Nektarios’ taverna in Askyfou. There’s only a handful of locals at a table right next to me – clearly it’s a bit early for lunch but these guys are going at it! I order some raki and kindly wait for the owner to arrive, as he’s the only manning the kitchen. A few minutes later the waiter turns up and tells me the alcohol is taken care of by the locals. We raise a glass, toast in one voice eviva as they whole-heartedly ask me to join them. What better way to understand a place than at a real local Sunday lunch?
The menu is simple enough as you only have to order whatever you wish to drink. The rest is up to Nektarios who dishes out whatever he’s cooked for the day. You’d be lucky to try his hand-cut french fries that are topped with a juicy portion of okra in tomato juice – delicious! For main course, you’ll surely be treated a portion of goat (or two) which is normally done tsigariasto (the local friend version), with tomato sauce or with staka cheese (also a local delicacy) – actually this was the first place where goat was served with staka cheese..
Whatever it is, go ahead as you’ll most definitely enjoy it!
When the crowd subsides I ask Nektarios about the story of this place and amidst some raki and some additional meze that he brings out he tells me about the history of this building that once started as the post office of the village. It later on took all sorts of different shapes and forms until the 1970s when his uncle Sifis made it into a taverna and butcher shop. As luck would have it, Nektarios took over in 2004 also manning the kitchen himself.
The pace is slow, as generally life tends to be up here, but as we wash down our chat with some more raki I can tell there is great joy in what Nektarios does. One visit there and you’ll be able to tell too.