Alexandria / Greek / $$
How does a 48-year-old restaurant stay fresh? A secret garden tucked behind a historic home doesn’t hurt. Neither does a menu that encompasses regional dishes from across Greece. Factor in tableside visits from owners Christos and Denise Papaloizou, and it might be hard to believe that Taverna Cretekou isn’t a hot new thing.
In fact, the recipes go back much farther than 1973. The Verikoka Aphrodite (Aphrodite’s Apricots) is among a pair of desserts that descend from 400 B.C. Athens. The stone fruits are poached in a white-wine-and-orange-flavored sauce and served over fresh yogurt with honey and walnuts. It sounds simple but tastes like more than 2,000 years of sweet history.
You won’t find such a treat anywhere else in NoVA, nor will you enjoy specialties like the exohikon, a roll of crisp phyllo that shatters open to reveal a stew of melting lamb, cheese, artichokes, and pine nuts, in addition to other tender vegetables. The dish has Cretan origins clearly labeled on the menu, just as a dish of stuffed flounder is marked as hailing from the Aegean. There are few better arguments than Taverna Cretekou that what’s (sometimes very) old is new again.
See this: Three-season patio dining is a hidden treasure, but so are the bright-mural-bedecked walls in a historic home.
Eat this: Satyrikon, exohikon, Verikoka Aphrodite
Service: Friendly, but occasionally forgetful.
When to dine here: You and your crew are eager for a lunch full of Old World charm.