We love Greek food. Eating in Greece is an event. It’s a feast for the senses, but it can also be a bit confusing. So, we are excited to have a local Greece expert share his Greek food guide with all of you! Greek travel expert Dejan Kvrgic, shares these traditional Greek dishes that you must try in Greece. So, let the mouth-watering begin!
Best Greek Foods to Eat in Greece
Table of Contents
Greek cuisine has barely changed in centuries. Original recipes have been passed down from generation to generation of families in Greece. Greek cuisine is based on olive oil. Originating on the island of Crete, olive oil is a staple for all cooking in Greece. Add strong spices and herbs making for healthy and delicious meals.
This Greek food guide will give you the confidence you need to order when eating at Greek restaurants around Greece, and around the world.
Greek Food – Appetizers
There is a solid risk of finishing your meal at starters alone when dining out in Greece. Usual Greek appetizers include an array of Greek salads with many vegetables, and minced meat dishes. There are also meatballs, fries, and the unavoidable dips including the famous Tzatziki. Many Greek dips are served as a Meze – a selection of small dishes for dipping and snacking – with pita or bread. So are you ready to have a mouth watering delicious tour of Greek food starting with these scrumptious appetizers? Let’s go!
1. Melitzanosalata – Greek Eggplant Dip
If there is one pattern I notice with Greek cuisine is that it is always simple with minimal fresh ingredients. Even though the ingredients are simple, Greek food is always delicious. Melitzanosalata is an eggplant dip perfect for meaty dishes. Melitzanosalata is similar to baba ganoush but not exactly, it’s a little less complicated with simple ingredients of eggplant, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Just a few ingredients pack a delicious punch.
Just remember, the eggplant is roasted, pureed and combined for the perfect addition to your order when deciding upon Greek dips for starters. You can eat it with bread or pita and it is also a great addition to a meze platter served with pita bread.
Taramosalata (or Taramasalata) is another delicious dip made with taramas, (salted and cured fish roe) olive oil, lemon juice and a base of bread and potatoes. This fish roe dip sounds worse than it is. First of all, its smoky fish flavoring adds a savory finish to any Mezze platter (A Mediterranean party plater).
Mixed with – you guessed it olive oil, lemon, breadcrumbs and milk. Give it a try, you’ll like it. You’ll really like it. Onions and garlic can be added to taste. And then serve with bread or pita and you have a delicious appetizer.
This is my favourite Greek dish. Who doesn’t love fried cheese? If you like cheese, you are going to love Saganaki. This traditional dish is fried cheese that is melted and gooey on the inside and crunchy and delicious on the outside. It’s a perfect start to any meal let alone a Greek meal.
4. Dolmadakia – Stuffed Grape Leaves
Dolmadakia is one of the most popular Greek dishes you’ll see on many Greek menus. These tasty rice and herb stuffed grape leaves can be filled with whatever you desire. They can be vegetarian with onions and parsley added or stuffed with lamb or beef.
The Greek Meatball can make for a great appetizer for a crowd to share, it can be served at parties, and it can also be the main course too. Seasoned with herbs and garlic and paired with tzatziki. You’ll love Keftedes.
Tyropitakia is a filo pastry pie stuffed with cheese. Lots of cheese. Feta, ricotta, cream cheese, and melted butter make for a scrumptious appetizer. A personal favorite of mine is this small crunchy pastry filled with feta cheese.
7. Baked Zucchini with Potatoes
Oven-baked zucchini is a great addition to small plates. Tossed with butter and oregano this is a delicious starter. Plus it is healthy too!
Popular Greek Dips
8. Tahini Sauce
Mmm, Tahini. It is a versatile Greek dip that can also be used as a sauce or dressing. This dense paste made from sesame seeds is used for many Greek dips. The nutty, creamy ground sesame mixture if often mixed with Yogurt and dill.
Grab some pita bread and dip it into deliciousness or add it to salad dressings for some texture and pop. Dip your vegetables in it or even mix it in with your stir fries.
Probably the most well known traditional Greek dish is Tzatziki. I know it was the first thing I ever ordered on the Danforth in Toronto’s Greek Town. This Yogurt and cucumber dip is so refreshing with pitas. Add garlic, olive oil (as staple for any Greek recipe), herbs like mind and dill, lemon juice and a dash of salt and you have a creamy spread or dip that everyone will love.
If you want to add some spice to your Greek dips, Tirokafteri is a great choice. This yummy Greek feta dip is rich and delicious. Combine a generous portion of feta cheese, roasted red peppers, garlic and crushed chili flakes for just the right amount of spice. Naturally, olive oil is involved in this recipe.
I saved the best Greek dip for last. Tapenade is my favourite Greek dip that I always include in a platter. This greek olive dip is perfect as a spread or dip. It’s easy to make too. Just take fresh Greek Olives finely chopped and mixed with garlic and olive oil. My mouth is watering as I write this!
Main Courses – Greek Food Specialties
The main courses of any Greek dish are rich in flavor. Specialty dishes come with additional bread or pita bread and Greek salad. There is always some kind of performance when your dining at a traditional Greek tavern. Especially in Zante.
The serving of the “specialty” meal usually comes with fire, plate smashing, music, and attention-grabbing theatrics. To truly eat like a Greek, you should not miss these food specialties:
This world-famous meal is made from eggplants, minced meat, and béchamel sauce. (white flour and milk sauce). Traditional Moussaka uses lamb, but it can also be cooked with beef. When ordering a Greek dish at a restaurant this is a good traditional dish to get your feet wet.
Kabobs are found everywhere in Greece and ar a popular street food and go-to dish. They are a mixture of grilled meat and veggies on a skewer. From steak, chicken, and lamp to mushrooms peppers and onions. This is a light and lean choice for Greek Cuisine.
A pastitsio is a baked pasta dish. It is Greece’s answer to lasagna. This dish involves layers of pasta with minced beef and tomato sauce making it the ultimate comfort food. What sets it apart from regular pasta is the herbs and spices and hollow bucatini pasta. Enjoy it with a fine glass of red wine and you have a delicious meal.
A yummy casserole-baked Greek stew made with meat (beef or lamb), tomatoes, pearl onions, white wine, garlic, cinnamon, and oregano. In Greece, this dish is often served with pasta as a side dish.
Lamb is a staple dish when dining out in Greece, and a Greek food centerpiece for grilling is lamb chops. Paidakia are well-seasoned lamb chops marinated in olive oil.
17. Skordostoumbi Melitzana
This Zakynthos recipe is made with eggplants and one hundred cloves of garlic. Skordostoumbi is usually made with meat around the rest of Greece, it is the eggplant that makes it unique in Zante.
Mix together all of the cooked eggplant, the garlic, vinegar, and tomatoes, then bake them together to create a savory sauce that is eaten with bread and feta cheese.
18. Stuffed Meats
Other Greek favorites are stuffed duck, chicken, turkey, rabbit, and fish. On Zante, the rabbit is especially popular. Pair meats with a side of Fasolakia (Greek green beans braised with tomato onion, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic) and moussaka and you have a rich and delicious meal.
The most consumed desserts in Greece are fruit, yogurt, and some honey. Restaurants in Zakynthos have adapted to the tourists and added popular and familiar desserts from many cuisines. The fruit salads are the most common in Zakynthos, and all of Greece.
These are the five most popular Greek desserts – (With lots of variations)
Baklava is a very rich and sweet filo pastry filled with syrup and honey, nuts and cinnamon.
Kataifi is one of the most popular Greek desserts next to Baklava. It’s made with layers of thin angel hair pastry dough filled with walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar drizzled with honey.
21. Fruit salads with yogurt
Nothing compares to Greek yogurt. Mix it with fresh fruit and berries and layer it like a sundae topped with fresh honey and you have a perfect Greek dessert.
Bougatsa is a lovely puff pastry stuffed with cream and covered with icing sugar and cinnamon.
Galaktoboureko is a popular Greek dessert made of custard and phyllo pastry. It’s best served warm straight out of the oven and topped with sugary syrup and cinnamon.
Greek Snacks and Fast Food
Many Greek recipes are made to satisfy the hunger on the go. They are not only delicious, but they are also healthy too. I dare you not to get hooked on Gyros. You can choose from chicken, lamb, or pork gyros. Many restaurants have the stall shop in front for passersby to order on the go.
The world-famous Gryos originated in Greece. It is the most popular fast food in Greece and you’ll find that when visiting the country, you’ll be craving them yourself! This common sliced meat snake is prepared with lots of spices, wrapped up with pita (Greek tortilla) with fries, salads and topped with tzatziki sauce.
Souvlaki is the second most popular fast food in Greece.
It is basically pieces of meat on a skillet, roasted alongside with some veggies (especially onions), and served in pitta, or sandwich.
Additions like salads and sauces share the same practice as gyros.
26. Spanikopita – Puffed Pastry
Spanikopita is a Greek spinach pie with feta cheese and olive oil that is cooked to fluffy and buttery perfection.
We learned how to make Spanikopita in Greece. Check out the video above.
Eating out in Greece
Now that you have a better understanding of Greek food let me take you to experience a Greek lunch. When ordering your meal in Greece, there’s always a lot of choices on the menu. Don’t worry though, it is usually sorted by categories, and written in multiple languages.
I suggest starting with Ouzo, a licorice flavor liqueur that goes perfectly with your appetizers. Strong coffee is also offered and often served during the starters.
When the meal comes, be sure to order a fine glass of wine (or Greek beer, Mythos)
When ordering starters, begin with an array of dips, and salads that are usually designed to complement your meal. If you order a fish meal, make sure that seafood is a part of your starters.
For a truly authentic Greek experience where you’ll eat like a Greek, Stifado, Moussaka, or a stuffed rabbit. Main courses come with vegetables, fried potatoes, and salads. On top of all that, you’ll have a basket of pitas on the table. I told you it’s a lot of food!
The servings in Greece are huge. Usual Greek dining will be heavy; expect at least 2000 Kcal in your belly. But it’s worth it. Dining in Greece isn’t just about the food, it’s an experience! On my island of Zante, your Stifado is brought in a flaming bowl covered with aluminum foil. Musicians play guitars, and the mood is festive.
Forget about the diet. When eating Greek food it’s all about the taste.
And that is your complete guide to Greek food. Have you eaten Greek before? What is your favourite dish? Let us know in the comments below how do you like this scenario, or what would you pick to eat like a Greek.
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- Discover The Natural Beauty of Costa Navarino, Greece
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- 25 Interesting and Fun Facts About Greece
- 24 Amazing Things to do in Athens, Greece
- Where To Stay In Athens – A Guide To The Best Neighborhoods
Dejan is the founder of Zante Holiday Insider, a blog about Greek island Zakynthos – Zante where you will find great inside info about Zante, deals, travel advice and knowledge, and great help exploring Zante. You can also follow the Insider on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.”