When you’re visiting Greece one of the important questions is: what’s popular food in Greece? And what Greek dishes do I have to try?!
In this article, we share the absolute best Greece food you can eat! From Greek street food to vegan food – there are options for everyone!
Greek Food History
Greek food actually has many dishes in common with other cuisines in the Mediterranean. The ‘Mediterranean triad’ of wheat, olive oil, and wine was the foundation of Ancient Greek cuisine.
Interestingly, fish was more common than meat! The Greeks did keep (and still do) goats for milk and cheese.
The Greek cuisine is famous for being healthy (arguably the healthiest cuisine), because of its use of many (fresh) vegetables, fruits, combined with protein from meat/fish or nuts.
And although Greeks use olive oil a lot, it’s unsaturated oil, so it’s nothing like butter.
When you visit Greece, you should definitely eat at a taverna, a small restaurant where they specialize in traditional dishes!
Vegan Food Greece
If you eat vegan, make sure to ask for nistisimo (pronunciation: nee-stee-see-mo), this is fasting food.
The Greek Orthodox Church has nearly 180 days of ‘fasting’ a year, and during fasting days they cannot eat food that contain animals or animal products. So it’s very close to vegan food (just make sure to check for seafood and honey).
To make things easier, we have added veggie/vegan symbols to the dishes!
Ⓥ = vegetarian, ? = vegan (note: always make sure to ask, it’s never guaranteed)
Popular Food in Greece
Without further ado, let’s dive into the most popular food in Greece! These Greek dishes are a must-try.
Greek Street Food / Snacks
If you’re looking for Greek street food or on-the-go snacks, you’ll love these dishes!
Of course, we have to kick off this list with gyros! A dish made with meat that’s cooked on a vertical rotisserie. In Greece it’s usually pork or chicken meat, but sometimes lamb is another option. It’s a bit like doner kebab, but Greek! It’s usually served in a pita.
- Falafel: Chickpea Fava Beans Fritters Ⓥ/?
Deep fried balls/fritters made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both! Wrapped in a pita – this popular middle eastern dish is a great veggie alternative for gyros.
- Souvlaki: Meat Skewers
The word Souvlaki literally means meat on skewers. But Greeks use the word also to describe the entire dish with warm pita and tzatziki sauce. Sometimes there are veggies on the skewer too, but not always.
- Koulouri: Bread With Sesame Seeds ?
You might know this kind of bread as Simit – its name in Turkey. It’s a circular bread with sesame seeds.
- Tiropita: Cheese Pie Ⓥ
This Greek pastry consists of phyllo and filled with a cheese-egg mix! Its looks can be different in size – from small shapes to a larger pie. You can enjoy tiropitas as snack or for breakfast!
- Spanakopita: Spinach Pie Ⓥ/?
Sanakopitas are very similar to tiropitas, but this pastry is filled with spinach. Sometimes it’s a spinach-cheese mix, in that case it’s officially called spanakotiropita.
Greek Meze / Appetizers
The Greek word meze comes from Turkish and means ‘appetizer’ or ‘snack’. These are small portions of yummy things – dips like tzatziki or stuffed grape leaves!
These dishes are perfect as a starter, for lunch, or dinner (if you order multiple).
- Melitzanosalata: Eggplant Dip ?
Don’t get confused with the eggplant dip baba ghanoush, melitzanosalata is all about the eggplant. The dip is made of roasted (smoky) eggplant, garlic, oil and lemon juice.
- Tzatziki: Greek Yogurt Cucumber Sauce Ⓥ
Tzatziki probably doesn’t need much explanation, this yogurt cucumber garlic dip is world-famous and best eaten with a pita!
- Fava: Split Pea Purée ?
Funnily, this dip is not made with fava beans, but with yellow split peas! It’s basically a split pea purée with onion, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s really creamy and yummy. This dish is particularly popular in Santorini, where yellow split peas are cultivated.
Read our ultimate 3 days in Santorini itinerary!
- Taramasalata: Fish Roe Dip
It’s a pink dip! Made of fish roe, typically pike or carp. Mixed with oil and lemon juice of course!
- Skordalia: Garlic Mashed Potato Dip ?
Yes, dips are a big deal in food in Greece. This is a garlic dip. It’s a thick purée usually made of a thick base such as potato, or bread, and/or nuts.
- Tirokafteri: Spicy Cheese Dip Ⓥ
Tirokafteri is also known as ktipi or tirosalata and it’s a spicy cheese spread! The dish varies a little per region, but it’s made with feta, hot peppers, roasted peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt, and oregano.
- Dolmades / Dolmakia: Stuffed Grape Leaves Ⓥ/?
Dolmades or Dolmakia are grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. Usually this dish is vegan, but sometimes there are versions with meat in it. Note: it can be served with a yogurt sauce.
- Kolokithokeftedes: Zucchini Fritters Ⓥ
You can find this fried zucchini dish in both balls and fritters form. Kolokithokeftedes are made of zucchini, herbs, feta, flour, egg, and olive oil.
- Tomatokeftedes: Tomato Fritters ?
This is a Santorini special! These fritters are made of a crushed or puréed tomatoes batter fried in oil. The batter is made with flour and herbs. Tomatokeftedes are originally vegan!
Are you visiting Santorini? Make sure to visit all the Santorini photo spots!
- Keftedes: Greek Meatballs
Whilst there is the word ‘keftedes’ in the previous appetizers, those are vegetarian. But if you order ‘keftedes’ you get Greek meatballs! These are again prepared with Greek herbs.
- Tirokroketes: Cheese Balls Ⓥ
Last balls, promise! Tirokroketes are cheese balls. These fried balls are crunchy on the outside and melted, soft cheese on the inside!
- Dakos / Koukouvagia: Greek Bruschetta Ⓥ
Also known as koukouvagia, this Cretan dish is a bit similar to bruschetta. There’s a slice of soaked dried bread or barley rusk, topped with tomatoes and crumbled feta and herbs.
- Saganaki: Fried Cheese Ⓥ
Officially ‘saganaki’ just means ‘pan-fried’ and can be used for many dishes. But the famous ‘saganaki’ is pan-fried cheese! Cheeses that are used for this are graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri, or sheep’s milk feta cheese.
- Halloumi Ⓥ
Halloumi cheese is a goat and sheep milk’s mixed cheese. It’s a perfect cheese to grill, as it only melts at high temperatures. It’s originally from Cyprus, but you’ll find lots of halloumi in Greece food!
- Filled Peppers With Cheese Ⓥ
More cheese things?! Yes! Definitely try a filled florina pepper with cheese in Greece. We had a lovely dish at famous Greek taverna Medusa in Milos, at Mandrakia Beach!
If you visit Milos, you have to go to Sarakiniko Beach. The moonscape of Sarakiniko beach in Milos is an absolute must-visit when you are island hopping in Greece
- Kalamarakia: Fried Calamari
As we told you before, Greece cuisine has always used a lot of seafood – in ancient history even more than meat. And with plenty of sea around, that’s not so strange! If you eat seafood, definitely try out kalamarakia, fried calamari.
When you’re in fishing villages, you will see plenty of octopus hanging out to dry. If you’re into octopus, try an octopus dish when you’re in Greece – preferably in a taverna specialized in seafood, so it’s fresh.
In Santorini definitely eat seafood in Ammoudi Bay.
- (Kalamata) Olives + Olive Oil ?
You’ll find olives and olive oil in all Mediterranean cuisine. But Kalamata olives are special Greece-grown olives, named after the city of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese.
- Garides Saganaki: Shrimps in Tomato Sauce and Feta
Remember that ‘Saganaki’ means ‘pan-fried’? This Greek dish is a pan fried dish of shrimps in tomato sauce, with feta.
Main Greek Dishes
Now that we’ve discussed the Greek street food dishes, the Greek appetizers (mezes), it’s time to dive into the main Greek dishes!
And again, there are options for everyone!
- Gemista: Stuffed Tomatoes With Rice ?
Gemista (or yemista) means ‘filled with’. This traditional recipe is made with stuffed vegetables (usually tomatoes) with rice and herbs, in the oven.
- Fasolada: White Bean Soup ?
This traditional Greek bean soup (sometimes called the national Greek dish) is made with white beans, olive oil and vegetables. It’s very nutritious and filling.
- Briam: Roasted Vegetables / Greek Ratatouille ?
Forget French ratatouille and try briam in Greece! It’s a Greek dish of roasted vegetables, usually potatoes, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes. Of course, the Greek spices and olive oil can’t be missed.
- Choriatiki: Greek Salad Ⓥ
The very famous Greek salad! While you might think of a salad as an appetizer, we assure you: it can be a full Greek dish. It’s not like any small plate, Greek salads are served on a big plate with an entire block of feta cheese!
- Melitzanes Papoutsakia: Stuffed Eggplant
This dish is called after it’s looks: like a shoe. Melitzanes papoutsakia means ‘little eggplant shoes’. The eggplant is usually filled with a meat sauce, topped with béchamel sauce. It’s very similar to the famous dish moussaka.
- Moussaka: Beef and Eggplant Lasagna
Very similar in ingredients as the melitzanes papoutsakia, but different in looks, this beef and eggplant lasagna is a must-try for the omnivores amongst us!
Or, if you’re lucky, you can find a vegetarian option, like we did at Elias Grill in Santorini.
- Lavraki Psito: Grilled Sea Bass
More seafood options! Definitely try grilled sea bass if you eat fish. The Greek fresh fish is so delicious that it needs very little seasoning.
- Pastitsio: Greek Pasta/Lasagna
Don’t get confused with moussaka, but pastitsio is a Greek pasta/lasagna dish. It again has meat and béchamel sauce, but it’s the form of the pasta that makes this dish unique!
- Stifado: Beef Stew
If you’re into beef stews, definitely try Greek stifado. Maybe it’s best if you visit Greece in colder months, because it’s more of a warm, winter stew.
- Kleftiko: Greek Lamb Dish
This Greek lamb dish is slow cooked, and usually eaten for special occassions. Kleftiko literally means ‘stolen’, which comes from the Klephts (anti-Ottoman insurgents) who stole lambs/goats and baked the meat underground to not get caught.
Greek Desserts & Sweets
Now that we’ve covered the most popular food in Greece, let’s dive into the desserts and sweets!
- Bougatsa: Custard Pastry
This Greek breakfast phyllo pastry is filled with semolina, custard, cheese, or meat. This pastry can be sweet or salty.
- Loukoumades: Greek donuts
Loukoumades are basically fried dough balls – much like donuts! The balls are usually soaked in honey or syrup.
- Galaktoboureko: Greek Custard Pie
Another custard pie baked in phyllo. The big difference with the first dessert – bougatsa – is that this one is soaked in syrup.
Baklava is a phyllo pastry with chopped nuts, sweetened with syrup or honey. This was one of the most popular sweet pastries of Ottoman cuisine.
This pastry is a little similar to baklava, but instead of phyllo dough, this pastry is made with kataifi pastry dough – a dough that looks a lot like vermicelli noodles.
- Amygdalota: Greek Almond Cookies
This Greek almond cookie comes from the Greek Cyclades. The cookies can have different shapes. Amygdalota are made of ground almonds, egg whites, sugar and rosewater or orange essence.
Though drinks aren’t food, in Greece there are some specialities that you should drink. With or without a Greek dish!
- Ellinikos: Greek coffee
If you’re a coffee lover like me, you have to try Greek coffee! It’s a strong brew of coffee, with grounds at the bottom of the cup (like Turkish coffee).
Greek coffee is prepared in a special pot, a briki. And it’s made with a fine grind of coffee.
- Greek Frappe
A Greek frappe is an iced coffee made with instant coffee (Nescafe). You might remember the dalgona tiktok trend and actually – a Greek frappe might’ve been the inspiration.
If you order a Greek frappe, you have to say if you want sugar (plain = sketo, sweet = gliko, medium = metrio) and if you want milk (with milk = me gala, no milk = horis i gala).
If you’re into espresso-based iced coffees, you can order ‘freddo espresso’ or ‘freddo cappuccino’. And add how sweet you want it.
- Greek Wine
You might not think if Greece as a famous wine country, but Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world!
Definitely try to visit a Greek winery. On the islands like Santorini, you can see how vineyards are grown differently because of the heavy winds.
Ouzo is an anise-flavored apéritif that is famous in Greece and Cyprus. This drink goes very well with any meze!
This liqueur is produced in Naxos and is a citron liqueur. It’s similar to lemon, but slightly different in taste. There are 3 varieties: green (sweeter, less strong), yellow (strongest, least sugar), and clear kitron is in the middle.
Mastika (or Mastiha) is a liqueur of a resinous spice from the Greek island of Chios.
- Epsa – Greek Sodas
If you’re into sodas, don’t just order a Coca Cola, but try Greek sodas! Epsa makes many sodas and are often made with local fruits, real sugar, and often natural water. Highly recommend!
What’s your favorite food in Greece? Did we miss an important dish? Tell us in the comments below this article!
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