A far-cry from a Friday night shwarma takeaway, traditional Greek food has a huge following among fine-dining connoisseurs, and a quick glance down this hearty list proves why that reputation is so thoroughly deserved.
Whether it’s a snack between sunbathing sessions, a well-earned feast after a day’s exercise, or a leisurely brunch, we’re here to provide a great starting point for how to fill your belly with the best food Greece has to offer. Made up of fresh vegetables, succulent meat and an abundance of those little green fruits they call olives (yes, they’re fruits, we even googled it), mealtimes in Greece are something to plan your holiday around.
Many offerings are traditionally eaten as appetisers shared among groups called meze (Greek tapas for first-time visitors), but larger offerings of most dishes can also be eaten as mains.
A final warning to those with empty stomachs, what lies beneath will potentially harm any New Year diets.
A staple in Greek restaurants up and down the country, dolmades is one dish in Greece which varies in every place you find it. Classically, this vine leaf-wrapped rice parcel is eaten as a finger food, but many different versions of it feature an abundance of alternate ingredients from mincemeat, grain rice, thyme, dill, fennel or pine nuts. Be sure to try the lot so you can find your favourite.
An ideal healthy starter for all vegetarians, kolokythokeftedes (simply known as courgette balls if your waiter’s English is good) is a great starter to awaken your palate. Sometimes in the form of a patty, and sometimes lightly fried, the balls are made up of grated or pureed courgette blended with dill, mint, and a number of top-secret spices that the chef deems fit to include.
Greece’s favourite fast food is so much better than many late-night offerings found in the UK, and these spit-roasted delights are cooked to absolute perfection. With the traditional option of pork being favoured by most Greeks, beef, lamb, chicken and vegetable options are also available. Usually presented on a skewer, souvlaki is accompanied with garnishes, sauces, and your choice of pita or grilled bread.
Tzatziki, Taramasalata and Hummus
Known to all chips and dips lovers the world over, tzatziki, taramasalata and hummus are three great side-dishes which are perfect for either accompanying your meal or preceding it. Pictured, tzatziki (yoghurt, cucumber and garlic) is white in colour, taramasalata (fish roe) is a shade of light pink and hummus (ground chickpeas, olive oil and lemon juice) cuts a distinctive brownish hue. Each are perfect companions for any of the mains listed within the blog.
As iconic as Greek dishes get, moussaka is another offering that can differ across multiple regions of Greece. A classically layered moussaka serving is sautéed aubergine, minced meat, fried pureed tomato, onion, garlic, spices like cinnamon and allspice, and a bit of potato, all topped off with a fluffy bundle of béchamel sauce and cheese.
While moussaka is often wrongly considered a variation on the Italian lasagne, a separate Greek dish of pastitsio is literally that: pasta, meat filling, and a creamy bechamel sauce. The choice is up to you!
Just when you think you’re full, this world-famous dessert will make you find some extra space. Though an eternal dispute over ownership between Greece and Turkey exists with this offering, when both options are so darn tasty, is it really that important? Greek baklava is a perennial favourite no matter which region you’re staying in, and this flaky phyllo dessert is both crunchy and sweet. With a recipe passed down from generation to generation, there aren’t many things that match the unadulterated joy a bite of classic baklava can bring. If you don’t believe us, try it.