A Guide to Greek Cuisine for Every Type of Traveller

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 cuisine 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 above others by Greeks. You absolutely need to try Moussaka if you are in Greece. It is a divinely creamy dish with a wonderful symphony of eggplant, potatoes, and meat. Each ingredient gets soaked in a 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 at restaurants.

You might cringe at the thought of a salad, but Greek salads are in an elite league of their 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 common in Santorini and involve deep-fried tomatoes. It consists of crushed tomatoes fried in oil and battered in the 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 cuisine utilizes 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.

Soutzoukakia is a form of Greek meatballs bathed in tomato sauce and seasoned with cumin and garlic. Usually, it comes 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.

Greek cuisine
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 seafood…

Greece has plenty of coastlines 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 common. You’ll likely even see the octopus hanging out to dry along the coastal fishing towns.

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

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

Greek cuisine
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 cuisine
Greek gyros wrapped in pita breads served with tzatziki

For the traveller who likes a bit of luxury…

Most meals of Greek cuisine are 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.

Greek cuisine
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 cuisine 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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