Top 10 Foods to Eat in Greece
If there’s one thing you should be doing in Greece, it’s eating like a local. That's one of the reasons Greece expert, Gabi Ancarola, fell in love with the country. Of course, you'll encounter the juicy gyro wraps and traditional souvlaki platters in Athens and across the country, but there's plenty more to offer. Whether you're peering into a local Greek kitchen or an upscale restaurant, there’s a common denominator underlining the cuisine: using high-quality ingredients and letting them shine on their own. Here are some delicious Greek cuisines to sample on your trip.
Moussaka is one of the quintessential Greek dishes to try out while visiting Greece. It is a layered vegetable and meat dish full of cinnamon and spices, doused with plenty of bechamel cream sauce and cheese broiled to perfection. Although the dish is widely popular across Greece, its origin came from Arab origins, nevertheless, this delicious dish has become a Greek staple.
Also known as the Greek Baked Lasagna, Pastitsio has the same concept as the Moussaka - minus the vegetables. Instead of the traditional lasagna pasta, Pastitsio instead uses tubular pasta, alternating with layers of meat sauce and bechamel sauce. Don’t forget that crispy corner pieces.
One of the many signature dishes that encapsulates Mediterranean cuisine is dolma, or in plural terms - dolmades. The dish is a core essential to every Greek table, and it consists of minced meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves. It’s so delicious; you can’t just have one.
The classic savory Greek puff pastry, spanakopita, is stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, onions, and egg. The light and airy phyllo dough make for the crispiest crunch in every bite, and the savory filling makes this dish incredibly difficult to resist. Pitas (meaning pies) are generally considered Greek soul food, and, therefore, have a variety of alternatives: tyropita (cheese pie), kreapita (meat pie), and Glykes pita (sweet pies).
Even in Santorini, Saganaki is a popularized pan seared cheese appetizer waiting for you to sink your teeth in. The term is referred to a variety of dishes cooked with a two-handled heavy pan. Ready for some cheesy goodness? With only a couple of ingredients, cheese, flour, and oil, the cheese is pan fried until it reaches that golden-brown perfection. Saganaki is a cheese lover’s dream.
The Greek salad is not only world renowned, but it is a must for Greeks at almost every meal. This fresh and flavorful salad showcases the deep and rich taste of virgin olive oil, which is used in abundance all over Greece. The rustic approach is a fool-proof recipe for this simple salad. By omitting leafy greens or lettuces, generously laying large pieces of feta cheese (not crumbled), and roughly cutting cucumbers and tomatoes into bite sizes, it's the perfect opener to any meal.
The classic ‘meze’ or appetizer has to go to Tzatziki. The combination of yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, and olive oil goes perfectly with pita to give you that lasting tangy and creamy taste. Accompanied by pita bread or meat dishes, it's hard to resist a second dip.
Gemista is a vegetarian dish made out of carved out tomatoes and other vegetables, stuffed with rice, chopped vegetables, and tomato sauce. Baked until it’s tender and juicy. There are many variations to this spectacular Greek dish, swapping out tomatoes with bell peppers, but it all yields to great tasting and aromatic meal.
Moving onto classic Greek desserts, you can never go wrong with loukoumades, a deep-fried dough soaked in honey and cinnamon. It has a rooted history in Greek family traditions that is often enjoyed at any time of the year. The golden exterior of the perfectly spherical pastry doused in honey and cinnamon (and other variations such as chocolate sauce and icing sugar) remains a favorite of many locals.
If you haven’t caught onto it, maybe it’s time you’re introduced to Greek Coffee - Ellinikos. The strong brew coffee comes in a light brown color served in a demitasse cup. The signature thin froth on the top is made using a briki (a special type of stainless, copper or brass pot with an extended handle). Greek people are passionate consumers of coffee, so don’t forget to get your next cup while you’re there.
To find out more about traveling in Greece, check out our Greece Travel Guides!