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Some of the most unique and dramatic scenery in Greece can be found in Mani, a dry, wild region in the south-central part of the Peloponnesian peninsula. Bookended by the Messinian Gulf to the west and the Laconian Gulf to the east, the area is a unique combination of stone, sun, sea and mountains.

Here, in one of the most picturesque and untouched parts of Greece, you’ll find medieval villages, stone towers and fortresses, Byzantine churches, villages lost among olive groves, beautiful caves, rocky coasts and crystal blue waters. Until not too long ago, many of Mani’s villages were highly inaccessible; some could only be reached by sea. Locals are proud people with strong traditions and consider themselves direct descendants of the ancient Spartans. Other Greeks regard the Maniates as tough cookies: dynamic, independent and heroic fighters who neither forgive nor forget easily.

Only 5 km south of the historic little town of Areopolis lies Limeni, a lovely, tiny village by the sea with a small bay and traditional stone towers, literally touching the water – an ideal place to recharge your batteries… and fill your stomach.

Takis, a fish taverna located right on the seafront, offers a breathtaking view of the blue waters of the Messinian gulf as well as some of the freshest fish around. Every morning local fishing boats draw up to Takis’s jetty, where Mr. Takis himself gets to be the first in the village to choose from the catch of the day. The fish and seafood are nestled immediately amid generous amounts of shaved ice and placed in a special glass display case to await customers’ orders.

Greeks have a special relationship with seafood. They like to choose the fish themselves – not from a menu, but directly: they want to actually see them, touch them, smell them, look them in the eyes. With the air of a connoisseur, they inspect them for freshness and size, choose the type of fish and decide on the cooking method (grilled, fried, boiled, roasted). That’s why many fish tavernas feature these display cases or welcome customers into their kitchens to have a look at the fish in the fridge. At Takis, once you select your fish, they clean it well next to the sea, right in front of you, wash it with seawater and grill it with mastery over burning charcoals. Small fish are usually – and expertly – fried here.

As a side to your fresh fish, do as the Greeks and order some seasonal boiled horta (greens) dressed with excellent local early-harvest olive oil and lemon juice. We highly recommend the delicious kakavia (κακαβιά), traditional fish soup that is often prepared by fishermen while out on their boats. A variety of small rock fish and small crustaceans are combined with vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic and celery, all cut in big, rustic chunks. Sometimes saffron is added. The soup is served with a drizzle of olive oil, ground black pepper and plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Takis taverna is also famous for its spaghetti with lobster, a typical and very popular dish in most fish tavernas around the country. Fresh lobster is added to a rich tomato and garlic sauce and served over spaghetti or other pasta, topped with freshly chopped parsley and ground pepper. This is a dish to share and is best cooked to order, so you need to be patient or order it in advance so that they have it ready for you when you arrive.

Tavernas all around Greece typically offer something complementary to customers, usually at the end of the meal. This could be a homemade liqueur or other alcoholic drink, a small dessert or a seasonal fruit. Takis serves homemade sour cherry spoon sweet, a beloved traditional treat and perfect coda to a simple, impeccable seafood feast.

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Published on November 02, 2016

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