A Guide to Greek Cuisine

I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of travelling is when you’re eating. Greece is one of the best playgrounds to discover Mediterranean cuisine. Between the warm climate year round and exploring the ruins, there is no doubt you will build up an appetite. Greek food varies between regions but is often healthy and delicious. Here is the ultimate guide to Greek food for every type of traveller.

If you want to try Greece’s national dish…

Though it’s up for debate, there is one national dish that is voted above others by Greeks. You absolutely need to try Moussaka if you are in Greece. A divinely creamy dish with a wonderful symphony of eggplant, potatoes and meat. Each ingredient drowned in bechamel, tomato and meat sauce, and layered to make a delicious tower.

You might be thinking this sounds a lot like lasagne. But they are actually quite different! Whilst both use a layering technique, lasagne layers with pasta whilst Moussaka instead uses eggplant and potatoes.  

Greek traditional moussaka

If you are a vegetarian visiting Greece…

Luckily for vegetarians, Greeks don’t take their veggies for granted. A lot of traditional Greek dishes involve stuffing a vegetable such as papoutsakia (stuffed aubergine), Gemista (stuffed pepper or tomato) and Dolmades (stuffed grape or cabbage leaves). As a result, many restaurants offer vegetarian alternatives. But there are still many meals that are traditionally meat free.

Spanakopita is a divine blend of spinach, feta cheese and pastry. Essentially, think of it as a Greek spinach pie. You can find this on either a street stall or served at restaurants.

You might cringe at the thought of a salad, but Greek salads are in an elite league of its own. A Greek salad includes juicy tomatoes, rich lumps of feta cheese, fresh olives, cucumbers and salad. You can choose to season it with olive oil, salt, vinegar and pepper to suit your taste. It is a refreshing and staple dish perfect for the hot Greek months.

Tomotokeftedes are typically found in Santorini and involve deep fried tomatoes. It’s made from crushed tomatoes fried in oil and battered in seasoned dough. It makes for the perfect snack or starter.

Spanakopita

Greek cuisine for the meat lover…

Greece is ideal for meat lovers. Traditionally, local Greek food utilises a mixture of pork, poultry, veal and beef, lamb, rabbit and goat.

Kleftiko is one of the top meat dishes in Greece. Lamb is the popular meat of choice and you will quickly see why. Kleftiko involves slow cooked lamb marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. It is usually served with potatoes and is

Soutzoukakia is a form of Greek meatballs bathed in tomato sauce and seasoned with cumin and garlic. Usually it’s served along with rice or potatoes. Some places will use minced beef or pork whilst others combine the two.

Stifado is another stand out meat dish. It is a tomato based Greek beef stew cooked to perfection, combining local herbs and spices with onions, rice or pasta.

Traditional Greek kleftiko, an oven-baked lamb stew with mizithra cheese, olive oil, onion, carrot, garlic and herbs, served with lemon roast potatoes.

Greek cuisine if you love sea food…

Greece has plenty of coastline and a large fishing industry. Consequently, you have to check out the local catch of the day, where not only fish but also grilled octopus is commonly eaten. You’ll likely even see the octopus hanging out to dry along the coastal fishing towns.

Drying the octopus in the picturesque fishing village of Naousa, Paros.

Kalamarakia Tiganita is another classic Greek choice that involve deep fried squid rings and tentacles. They are usually seasoned with lemon juice and parsley and always a delicious choice.

Kalamarakia Tiganita

Greek cuisine for the budget friendly traveller…

Truthfully, most meals in Greece are reasonably priced but perhaps you need something especially budget friendly. When sunbathing under the blistering mid-day heat, nothing is better than street food to hit the spot. Greece’s classic Souvlaki wrap is perfect just for this. A pita wrap filled with tomatoes, salad, onions, fries, meat and dripping with tzatziki. The meat, either pork or chicken, is usually grilled on a skewer. Souvlaki is often inexpensive and so addictive you’ll want to recreate it at home.

Worry not if you are a vegetarian or a non-meat eater, plenty of places serve it with alternatives!

Greek gyros wrapped in pita breads served with tzatziki

For the traveller who likes a bit of luxury…

Most Greek meals were designed to be affordable and delicious. But if you want to try something a bit luxurious then you should try Astakomakaronada. This is an indulgent pasta dish that uses delicious local lobster in its shell. Though variations of it can be found across the country, it is a dish typically associated with the island of Skyros. It is a tomato based dish that uses wine, local spices and lobster served with its shell.

Traditional Astakomakaronada

Travel Talk can take you from Athens to Santorini. Each tour is pre-designed so you can sit back and enjoy the flavours of Greece. You can experience fantastic Greek food from expert recommended restaurants and locations. A tour is a great way to explore either as an individual or as a group. Check out our Greek tours to start your culinary adventure.

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