Best Greek Dishes, Food and Restaurants

Written By: Jakus Eloff
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Jun 13, 2022

12 min read

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Greece - The Country Where The Mediterranean Comes To Life On A Plate

The Greeks are a passionate people. And you can really tell when looking at their cuisine. They enjoy eating and feeding others, meaning that Greece is a place where you will rarely go hungry. Unlike the British or Americans, who eat three square meals each day, Greeks eat up to five times a day, making Greece a gourmand’s dream.

Fresh local ingredients such as Mediterranean vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, various types of fish and meat, and grains are used extensively in Greek cuisine. Greek cuisine is flavorful, with a wide variety of fresh and dried herbs. If one of the main reasons for your visit to Greece is food, make sure to sample at least a couple of these delectable delicacies. It should be easy, seeing how you’ll be eating five times a day...

If this sounds like your idea of heaven, check out our comprehensive guide on visas to Greece to kick off your once in a lifetime culinary tour of Greece!

Top Delicious Dishes You Need To Try When Visiting Greece.

Appetizers

Saganaki

Who doesn’t like pan-fried cheese? In Greek cuisine, a saganaki is a tiny frying pan. However, it also refers to a variety of foods made with this pan, the most well-known appetizer is a fried cheese appetizer.

Halloumi, graviera, and kefalograviera are some of the cheeses that can be used to make saganaki. To make it, melt the cheese in a pan until it bubbles, then serve with a squeeze of lemon, pepper, and some bread. Simplicity at its best.

If you’re not that keen on stuffing your face with cheese, you can try Saganaki with prawns or mussels. But in all honesty, why don’t you like fried cheese?! Are you even Human?

Dolmadakia

The Greek word dolmadakia (or dolmades) refers to a group of filled foods popular in the Balkans, South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Dumplings basically. But these are not basic dumplings...

Various components such as onion, parsley, mint, dill, and rice are stuffed into grape or cabbage leaves. Although minced meat is used, vegan variants are more prevalent and traditional. These packets of scrumptiousness can be served hot or cold, with or without a dip or sauce, depending on the content.

Ntomatokeftedes

When visiting Santorini, one of the dishes you must try is ntomatokeftedes. Basically, it’s crispy, juicy fritters made from Santorini's famous cherry tomatoes.

In Greek, keftethes (or keftedes) signifies meatball. It's a common dish in Greek cuisine, but those who couldn't afford to make it with meat, and would substitute the meat with whatever ingredients they could find. Fritters made with various legumes, vegetables, herbs, and shellfish can be found all across the country. But the ntomatokeftedes of Santorini is legendary.

The OG ntomatokeftedes was born when a local cook was inspired by a cherry tomato (ntomataki) that only grew on the island of Santorini. But what made this little tomato so special? Well, the Ntomataki, like the island's vineyards, is not watered.

The plant gets all of its moisture from the evening mist that rolls in from the Agean. This results in a sweeter, less watery tomato that you’ll only find in Santorini. That’s why this little unassuming fried ball of goodness is one of the absolute shouldn’t miss dishes on this list.

Salad and Soup

Magiritsa

Magiritsa is a traditional Greek meal. It's a thick and hearty Greek soup cooked with lamb offal, greens, onions, and dill. Now, a quick word of caution, only the truly adventurous palate should venture here.

The head and neck of a lamb and the intestines, heart, and liver are used to make Magiritsa. First, the portions of lamb are cleaned and boiled whole. After this stew has been boiling for a while the pieces of meat are cut into smaller pieces and then simmered. The result might not be the prettiest dish, but the taste more than makes up for it.

Greek Salad

Greek cuisine is known for its simple meals that emphasize the freshness of its ingredients. The classic Greek or horiatiki salad exemplifies this better than any other Greek dish.

Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, capers, and kalamata olives are used in this Greek salad. It's made with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano, then topped with a block of feta cheese. That’s all. Just freshness in a bowl.

Sides

Tzatziki

For a lot of people, Tzatziki is the first thing they think of when someone mentions Greek cuisine. This famous Greek dip is made with strained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Lemon juice is used with herbs such as dill, mint, and parsley.

Tzatziki can be found in a variety of Middle Eastern and Southeastern European cuisines. It can be used as a dip, sauce, or soup, but it's usually served as a meze or appetizer in Greece. It goes well with bread and vegetables such as fried eggplant or zucchini. You might have tried tzatziki somewhere else, but there's something completely different to trying this unassuming dish in Greece.,

Fava

Fava is one of the meals that best represents Santorini’s cuisine, along with ntomatokeftedes. It's a yellow split pea puree with onions, herbs, capers, and extra virgin olive oil.

Fava refers to yellow split peas in Greece, therefore don't mix it with fava bean dip, which is made with wide beans.

Main Course: Meat

Keftethes

Kofta is a meatball dish found in numerous countries in the Balkans, the South Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. They're known as keftethes (or keftedes) in Greek cuisine.

Keftethes come in various shapes and sizes, but it's a ground meatball mixed with spices, herbs, and other ingredients at its most basic level.

Paidakia

Lamb is a common ingredient in Greek cuisine. Moussaka, souvlaki, magiritsa, and kleftiko are just a few traditional recipes that incorporate it.

Before being cooked over hot coals or on a grill pan, lamb chops are marinated in olive oil, mustard, thyme, and garlic.

They're usually served well done and seasoned with salt and pepper. Don’t ask for yours medium-rare or rare, because the Greeks dislike serving them this way because of the texture and color.

Lamb chops from Greece are typically paired with lemon wedges and roasted potatoes.

Moussaka

One of the most well-known Greek dishes is moussaka. It's a Greek national dish created with layers of minced meat (usually lamb) and eggplant and a bechamel sauce on top.

Modern Greek moussaka is made up of three layers, each of which is cooked separately before being stacked and baked together. Sliced eggplant forms the bottom layer, ground lamb forms the middle layer, and bechamel sauce forms the top layer. The layers are put together in a pan and cooked until the top layer is golden brown.

Gyros

Gyros is undoubtedly the most well-known Greek dish. It's similar to shawarma or the Turkish doner kebab cooked with grilled meat shaved from a vertical rotisserie.

Gyros are commonly cooked with pork or chicken, although they can also be made with lamb or beef. It can be wrapped in pita bread or served as a plated dish with fried potatoes, veggies, tzatziki, and lemon.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki, like gyros, is a popular Greek street snack and one of the country's best-known dishes. In fact, it resembles gyros in appearance, which might lead to confusion.

Souvlaki is a type of grilled meat served on a skewer. It's served in plated servings with veggies, fried potatoes, pita, and tzatziki, similar to gyros. It can also be made into a wrap.

Still, there's a difference between the two. Souvlaki uses small skewered pieces of grilled meat, while gyros use meat shaved from a vertical spit.

Main Course: Sea Food

Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi, also known as youvetsi, is a Greek pasta meal prepared with kritharaki (similar to orzo), meat, and tomato sauce that is cooked in an oven. Meat such as chicken, lamb, or beef is commonly used, although it can also be cooked with seafood.

Octopus

Seafood meals made from fish, shrimp, mussels, lobster, and squid can be found throughout the Greek islands.

Octopus is offered at almost every Greek restaurant on every island. It's typically prepared by adding olive oil and fresh herbs to it and then throwing it on the grill. That's pretty much all the preparation you’ll need when it comes to seafood this fresh.

Desserts

Baklava

The most well-known dessert on this list is baklava. It's a delicious and sweet dessert pastry prepared with phyllo dough layers filled with chopped nuts and bound together with syrup or honey.

Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko is a Greek delicacy made with phyllo dough and semolina custard. The name means "milk borek," and it, like spanakopita, is a type of filled pastry made with phyllo dough.

Galaktoboureko can be rolled into individual servings or baked in a skillet with phyllo layers on the top and bottom. It has a clear sweet syrup coating and can be flavored with lemon, rose, or orange.

Kataifi

A Greek delicacy made with buttery and crispy dough is known as kataifi. Before being doused in a lemon-flavored syrup, it's packed with chopped walnuts and scented with crushed clove and cinnamon.

Kataifi, like baklava, is a dessert that can be found in various Middle Eastern, Balkan, and South Caucasus countries' cuisines.

Samali

Samali is a sort of semolina cake that belongs to the siropiasta family of Greek delicacies, which are sweet and sticky. Instead of flour, it's made with coarse semolina and Greek yogurt instead of milk. Mastic resin is also used, which gives the cake its distinct flavor and scent.

Samali, like many of the sweets on this list, appears in many different regional cuisines.

Loukoumades

Loukoumades are fluffy dough balls that have been steeped in a sweet honey syrup. They're deep-fried, so the outside is crispy and golden, while the inside is fluffy and light.

Loukoumades can be eaten plain or with additional ingredients like cinnamon and walnuts finely chopped. Basically, they are the Greek equivalent of doughnuts.

With this much on offer you might not ever want to leave Greece, something that you can now do with the exclusive Golden Visa To Greece! Read this quick article and discover how to live in Greece permanently.

7 Restaurants To Try While Visiting Greece

To help you discover Greece's thriving culinary tradition, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best restaurants in Greece and the Greek islands!

In Greece, eating is a special ritual. All year long, there are various taverns and restaurants in Greece where you can have delicious meals with your family and friends. Traditional taverns can be found all over Greece, from small villages to coastal cities and from remote islands to bustling metropolitan centers.

1. Lithos Restaurant

Location: Aisopou 17, Psyri, Athens, Greece

In the Psiri neighborhood, Lithos is an authentic Greek restaurant in every sense of the word. Lithos stands out in this neighborhood because of its attractive décor, affordable prices, and delicious seafood and lamb shank. It is a former bar that has been converted into a charming restaurant. Even vegetarians enjoy this restaurant since it offers a wide variety of delicious vegetarian cuisine.

2. Funky Gourmet

Location: 13 Paramithias Street, Salaminos, Keramikos, Athens, Greece

The Keramikos neighborhood of Athens is where you’ll find Funky Gourmet, a one Michelin star fine dining restaurant. On a molecular level, the chef here provides Greek food with a modern twist. It is a well-known Greek eatery that serves gastronomically inventive Greek cuisine. They offer unique flavors, the most famous of which is a cuttlefish oreo and bottarga pie with white chocolate.

3. Ambrosia Restaurant

Location: Acropoleos 1, Lindos, Greece

Abrosia is one of Greece's top-rated restaurants, and it's right across the street from the Lindos Museum. It has a warm and inviting atmosphere with sophisticated decor and an interior that can seat up to 40 people at a time. The personnel here even offer to fillet your fish and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the best wines in the area. To make sure that you get the best out of your trip, you should visit Greece at the best possible time. Read our guide on the Best time to travel to Greece to help you plan an unforgettable trip.

4. La Maison Restaurant

Location: Imerovigli, Thira 847 00, Greece

La Maison is a lovely restaurant in the lively Santorini village of Imerovigli. It is in the ideal location, with some of the nicest views in the area. Panoramic views of the neighboring islands, volcanoes, and the beautiful Caldera sea can be seen. Here, innovative dishes are chosen and delivered by courteous servers in the most elegant way possible.

5. Spondi

Location: Pyrronos 5, Pagrati, Athens 116 38, Greece

Spondi is a popular restaurant in Athens, Greece, that has been awarded a Michelin star. Together with the serving of delicious food, this restaurant's ambiance and decor provide an unforgettable and one-of-a-kind eating experience. In addition, the entire area is beautifully constructed with bricks and stones, providing the restaurant with an ancient and historical feel.

6. Varoulko Restaurant

Location: Akti Koumoundourou 52, Piraeus 104 35, Greece

Varoulko is located in one of the most beautiful locations in Mikrolimano Marina, by the sea. Diners can enjoy stunning views of the sea while dining in an exquisite setting. Lefteris Lazarou, the extremely talented in-house chef, has created many cuisines for guests to enjoy.

7. Orizontes

Location: Lycabettus Hill, Athens Greece

Orizontes is one of the best restaurants in Greece, and it is housed by Lycabettus, Athens' tallest summit. This location's 360-degree panoramic views allow for an amazing experience. The restaurant is decorated in a way that is both modest and elegant, allowing it to blend in nicely with its surroundings. This restaurant's characteristic Greek cuisine goes well with the lovely environment.

Any one of these top restaurants in Greece will provide you with a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience. But the real Greece lays waiting in the alleyways and taverns, luring you in and encouraging you to explore more and more and more.

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