Welcome, dear food explorers, to the culinary odyssey of Greek cuisine!
This guide is your passport to the mouthwatering world of traditional Greek food.
In this guide, we’ll uncover the secrets of incredible Greek food, show you what you must try on your trip, and reveal the dishes that have delighted locals and tourists for centuries.
So, grab your fork and find out what to eat in Greece on this delicious adventure together!
The Essence of Greek Cuisine
Greek cuisine is a symphony of flavours, a testament to the country’s rich history and diverse geography.
It’s a cuisine that celebrates simplicity, with many dishes often comprising just a few high-quality ingredients prepared with care and skill.
Olive oil, fresh vegetables, succulent meats, and aromatic herbs are the cornerstone of Greek cooking, creating a culinary tapestry that’s as vibrant and varied as the Greek landscape.
Since I started visiting Greece…
I’ve been recreating many of these foods at home myself for years.
I now get through vast quantities of olive oil, lemons, oregano, and full-fat Greek yoghurt, and it’s the most delicious and some of the healthiest food I eat.
The more I try new foods in Greece, the more I like them. I cannot stress enough that you should try as many Greek dishes as possible, as you’ll discover a new world of flavour.
Our all-time favourite Greek food: Gyros
Pronounced ‘yeeros’, this is popular Greek fast food that consists of chargrilled meat (usually pork, chicken, or lamb) roasted on a rotisserie, similar to a kebab.
You’ll be served succulent meat wrapped in soft pitta bread with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, a tzatziki sauce (herby, zesty, garlic yoghurt), and maybe even a few fries.
Meaty, succulent, herby, citrusy… all the flavours combine to make this the most delicious on-the-go meal that you’ll have in Greece.
Whether wandering the streets of Athens or exploring a sleepy island village, you’ll notice the incredible scent of gyros stands almost everywhere.
Five Must-Try Dishes
A hearty staple of Greek cuisine, perfect for those cooler evenings. Resembling a lasagne, fried aubergine, potato, and spiced minced meat in a red wine and tomato sauce are layered and baked to perfection, resulting in a comforting and full-flavoured dish.
Often found at street food BBQ stalls, these succulent skewers of pork, chicken or lamb are a favourite of locals. Marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and various herbs, then grilled over an open flame, they’re a testament to the Greek love of simple, well-prepared meat dishes.
This is what Greek yoghurt was meant for; cucumber, garlic, mint and yoghurt combine to perfectly accompany various Greek dishes. Once you’ve tried it in Greece, you’ll wonder why salsa was ever a thing. It’s so simple, takes just five minutes to make a big batch at home, and is the tastiest dip you’ve ever tried. It’s a taste of the Mediterranean every time you dip!
If you love honey, nuts, and pastry, Baklava is the sweet treat to end your meal. Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It’s super sweet but tastes more authentic than any dessert you’ve tried.
Dolmadakia / Dolmades
A must-try addition to any meze we order at every taverna we visit in Greece (we really can’t get enough). These delicate little packages are marinated grapevine leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, and sometimes minced lamb. They’re fresh, herby, lemony, and even more delicious when dipped in tzatziki! They’re a bite-sized taste of Greece that you’ll find hard to resist.
More delicious traditional Greek foods to try
This is a savoury pastry that’s a favourite across Greece. It’s made with flaky phyllo dough, spinach, and feta cheese, creating a crunchy and creamy treat.
Often called Greek lasagne, Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce. It’s a comforting dish that’s perfect for a hearty dinner.
Named after the pan in which it’s cooked, Saganaki is a fried cheese appetiser. The cheese is melted until it’s bubbling and golden, then served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
These are Greek doughnuts, small, fluffy dough balls deep-fried until golden, then drizzled with sweet syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. They’re a heavenly dessert that’s impossible to resist.
This traditional Greek dish is all about slow cooking. Lamb is marinated in garlic and lemon juice, then baked on the bone until it’s so tender it falls off the fork.
Not to be confused with the Italian fava bean, Greek Fava is a creamy dip made from yellow split peas. It’s often served with olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
These are courgette (zucchini) fritters, a popular appetiser in Greece. They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and often served with a refreshing tzatziki sauce.
Similar to Spanakopita, Tiropita is a cheese pie made with layers of buttered phyllo and filled with a cheese-egg mixture. It’s a cheesy delight that’s perfect any time of day.
This is a speciality of Corfu, where kumquat trees are abundant. The tiny citrus fruits make a sweet, tangy liqueur that’s a perfect after-dinner drink.
These almond cookies are a traditional treat found on the island of Hydra. They’re naturally gluten-free and perfect with a cup of Greek coffee.
This is a cheese specific to the island of Lesvos. It’s stored in olive oil, which helps preserve and gives it a unique, rich flavour.
These are sweet cheese pastries from the island of Santorini. They’re traditionally made during Easter and are a delicious treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.
A fresh goat cheese found on the island of Santorini. It’s a soft, creamy cheese that’s perfect spread on fresh bread.
This is a traditional Greek wine made for over 2000 years. It has a unique pine flavour from the resin used to seal the wine vessels.
This is a beloved Greek dessert made with layers of crispy phyllo, filled with creamy custard and bathed in scented syrup. It’s a sweet, creamy delight that’s hard to resist.
This is a creamy dip made from tarama, the salted and cured fish roe. It’s a savoury spread that’s perfect on fresh bread or as a dip for vegetables.
Known as Greek salad, this dish combines ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, feta cheese, and olives. It’s dressed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano, creating a fresh and vibrant dish.
This is a sweet pastry with phyllo dough filled with creamy custard and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. It’s a versatile treat that can be enjoyed any time of day, but you’ll often have it during breakfast.
These are sesame seed candy bars with a healthy energy boost. Made with honey and sesame seeds, they’re a sweet treat you can feel good about eating.
This is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif widely consumed in Greece. It’s often served with a small plate of various appetisers called meze.
These are aromatic meatballs soaked in a rich tomato sauce. They’re a hearty dish that’s perfect for a family dinner.
This is a foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee. It’s a popular Greek summer drink that’s both refreshing and invigorating.
This is a baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce. It’s a comforting dish that’s perfect for a hearty dinner.
Often considered the national dish of Greece, this is a bean soup sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s meal”. It’s a simple, hearty dish that’s full of flavour.
This dish features vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis stuffed with rice and baked in the oven. It’s a healthy and satisfying dish showcasing Greece’s fresh flavours.
This is a Greek sausage made from pork or lamb and flavoured with orange peel, fennel seed, and other herbs. It’s a tasty addition to any barbecue or meze platter.
Raki or Tsikoudia
This strong distilled spirit contains approximately 45 per cent alcohol by volume and is produced from the pomace (the residue of the wine press). It’s particularly popular on the island of Crete.
An omelette speciality from the island of Andros, made with local sausages, stake (a type of butter), and fresh cheese.
Delicious deep-fried dough strips from the Peloponnese region, often enjoyed as a quick snack or breakfast treat.
Don’t miss out on trying Greek coffee, a strong, rich brew that’s a daily ritual for many Greeks. It’s traditionally served in a briki, a small copper pot, and is the perfect pick-me-up anytime.
When dining in Greece, don’t rush. Greek meals are a time for leisure and conversation, so sit back, relax, and savour every bite.
Try to learn the proper pronunciation of foods you want to try, and you’ll have an easier time in tavernas. One in our party mispronounced gyros (actually pronounced ‘yeeros’), thinking it would still be understood, to be met with a confused look.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. Greeks are proud of their cuisine and will happily share their favourite dishes with you.
Greek cuisine is a culinary treasure trove, a feast for the senses as rich and diverse as the country. From hearty moussaka to refreshing tzatziki, there’s a dish to suit every palate. So, why wait? Dive in and discover the delights of Greek cooking today. Kali orexi! (Bon appétit!)