Home / Greece Travel: The Best Greek Foods and Where to Find Them

Greece Travel: The Best Greek Foods and Where to Find Them

One of the most important – yet sometimes overlooked – aspects of planning a Greece travel itinerary is researching the best Greek foods to try before you leave home. This blog is a great place to start your research (or, you could hire me to include personalized recommendations in your custom itinerary).

Planning a trip to Greece? Check out my guidebook recommendations.

You can expect fresh ingredients and lots of flavor in every region of the country. The healthy traditional recipes will leave you wanting more, and fortunately, there are is no shortage of excellent restaurants, eateries, and cafes ready to host your experience. 

Let’s get started – here are some of the best Greek foods and where you’ll find them during your visit:  

Best Greek Foods

Greek Meze

Greek meze platter

Meze is essentially a Greek tapas. They are sharable platters made up of assorted bite-sized local specialties. A meze platter could include anything from roasted red peppers to octopus and varies depending on where you order it. It could be served either hot or cold, and it makes a perfect appetizer.

Greek Salad

Traditional Greek Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and feta cheese.

This classic Greek salad is a “must try” for every visitor to Greece. The traditional ingredients include fresh sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and olives – which are topped with a fresh block of feta cheese, a generous drizzle of locally produced olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The simplicity of the recipe and fresh (usually local) ingredients are the key to its refreshing perfection. Don’t miss trying at least one of these salads during your visit. 

Cassie’s Tip: Bonus points for travelers that have a Greek Salad with kalamata olives while in the city of Kalamata!

Souvlaki

Souvlaki stand in Agia Marina, Crete, Greece
Souvlaki stand in Agia Marina, Crete, Greece

Souvlaki and Gyros are the Greek’s staple fast food. You’ll find vendors selling them just about everywhere you go. Souvlaki is a grilled meat skewer (typically chicken, pork, or lamb) either served on a plate or wrapped in a pita. A Gyro (pronounced locally as “yee-roe”) is the same meats, but shaved from a vertical spinning rotisserie and always served wrapped in a pita.

Both the Souvlaki and Gyro are topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, tzatziki sauce, spices, and often a few french fries. At about €2.50 when taken to-go, this is Greece’s best-value satisfying meal for the traveler on-the-go. I implore you to try them both and find your favorite combination (I went in thinking I would prefer the Gyro, but I really fell in love with Souvlaki!).

Moussaka

Moussaka with minced meat, potato, eggplant, and tomato sauce topped with Béchamel sauce.
Moussaka with minced meat, potato, eggplant, and tomato sauce topped with Béchamel sauce.

As one of Greece’s most treasured authentic dishes, you must try moussaka. It’s a layered baked casserole dish that typically includes slow-cooked meats (lamb or beef), eggplant and/or potato, tomato, a cheesy bechamel sauce, and seasonings. A similar dish to keep your eye out for is pastitsio – similar ingredients, but layered between pasta (similar to Italian lasagna, but with tube-shaped pasta rather than flat).

Feta Cheese

A block of feta cheese with seasonings and olive oil on top of it.

I know you’re familiar with feta cheese, but trust me, it’s much better in Greece, where it originated. Did you know that “feta” is a legal designation, like Champagne or Roquefort? The term is coined from an ancient Greek word meaning “slice.” Feta cheese can be formed from either goat or sheep’s milk. Your Greece mission if you choose to accept it: which do you like better?

Greek Desserts

Ten traditional Greek donuts, called Loukoumades, topped with honey and cinnamon.
Loukoumades topped with honey and cinnamon.

You can’t leave Greece without trying some of its desserts, especially its zaharoplasteio (pastries). Some of the sweets you should try include kataifi (similar to baklava), milopita (apple upside-down cake), galaktoboureko (custard baked into filo), and loukoumades (fried dough).

Best Greek Drinks

Greek Wines

Bottle of Greek wine and a wine glass filled with white wine

Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, so you’ll definitely want to sample the wine here. At restaurants and wine bars (inopolio), you’ll see locally produced varieties such as Assyrtiko and Moschofilero (both white) and Agiorgitiko and Xynomavro (red wines). Though rarely served, you might also see retsina wine during your travels. It’s a resin-flavored wine and an acquired taste but is known as the Greek working man’s wine of choice. 

Cassie’s Tip: In Athens, you can make the most out of your time by visiting a local winery or an authentic wine bar for a wine tasting.

Greek Spirits

A pitcher and glass of traditional Greek Ouzo
Ouzo can be clear (as pictured) or a cloudy white.

Greece produces an assortment of traditional spirits that I encourage you to try during your visit. The most popular of them is the ouzo. Ouzo is an anise-flavored spirit meant to be mixed with ice or water. Even if you don’t like anise (black licorice), it’s worth sampling a sip of ouzo as it might surprise you! Other spirits to try include tsipouro, a brandy similar to Italian grappa, Metaxa, a post-dinner sweet brandy-based liqueur, and Tentura, a Peloponnese spicy-citrus liqueur.

Cassie’s Itinerary Tip: Also while you’re in Athens, I highly recommend planning a visit to Polykala Distillery. Family-run for over 100 years, you can arrange for a tasting of a wide variety of sweet and smooth liquors. My only trouble with visiting this distillery? Narrowing down the number of varieties I was going to purchase!

Greek Coffee

Greek coffee served in a copper pitcher

The Greeks love their coffee and you’ll find coffee houses everywhere. In addition to coffee drinks you’re familiar with from home (ie. cappuccino, espresso), you will also find the traditional Greek Coffee – similar to Turkish Coffee, but milder. It’s made with loose coffee grounds and served in a small copper kettle. Let the grounds settle for about 5 minutes, and enjoy. On hot days, order your coffee iced – either a Freddo cappuccino or a Frappé – just like the locals do!

Where To Find the Best Greek Food

Greek Taverna

Tavernas along the street in the Plaka neighborhood of Athens, Greece.
Tavernas along the street in the Plaka neighborhood of Athens, Greece. Photo courtesy © GNTO/Y. Skoulas

You will encounter many family-run tavernas throughout Greece that serve fabulous food – including most of the traditional dishes described above. Tavernas are the neighborhood hang out – expect a little music, socializing, and dancing along with your meal. Look for variations on the taverna such as the hasapotaverna (butcher’s taverna) where you’ll find large cuts of in-house butchered meats at a good-value price and the psarotaverna (fish taverna) specializing in seafood dishes and often found along waterfronts.

The Mezedopolio

Three plates filled with assorted Greek meze

Remember those Greek meze platters I mentioned above? This is a great place to find them. The Mezedopolio serves only small plates, mezes, and appetizers. Find one with a great view and you’re set!

Ouzerie

Tables along the coast of the Mani Peninsula in the Peloponnese, Greece.
Photo courtesy © GNTO/Y. Skoulas

The ouzerie is a bar that produces ouzo – the national drink of Greece – and serves meze – and sometimes full meals – to go along with it. Find them along the coast when you’re in the Greek islands or anywhere on the mainland. 

Greek Street Food

Meats cooking for gyro preparation in Greece
Gyro preparation. Photo by chadada, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via flickr.com

Street vendors in Greece are consistently serving up convenient, good-value, delicious street food. From Gyros to Spanakopita to Koulouri (imagine a sesame bagel-pretzel), you will find an excellent selection of some of the best Greek foods served on the streets.

Whether you’re traveling next month or next year, travel planning tips are always valuable.

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    Which of these best Greek foods will you try?

    As you can see, there are a lot of enticing foods to try while vacationing in Greece – and this was just an introduction to the possibilities! A great option for sampling several of the best Greek foods in one evening is by joining a food tour (such as this Small Group Athens Food Tour & Wine Tasting). And, maybe you would even like to treat yourself to a cooking class hosted by a local chef (bonus points if it has a view, such as this one in Athens: Traditional Greek Cooking Class with View of The Acropolis).

    The key to getting the most out of your trip to Greece is to plan ahead. If you’re interested in getting your own handcrafted point-to-point custom itinerary for Greece, contact me. I’ll make sure you don’t miss any of the best Greek foods – and you’ll have a table waiting for you at the best restaurants (no tourist traps!).

    SAVE TIME.   AVOID FRUSTRATIONS.   EXPERIENCE A BETTER VACATION.

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    Cassie Tetro
    European Destination Specialist
    & Itinerary Designer

    Hi, I’m Cassie! Here at Montage Travel, I’m crafting custom itineraries for independent travelers who want to make the most out of their valuable vacation time in Europe (who wouldn’t?).

    My mission is to ensure travelers like you save time on planning and experience frustration-free trips with a well-optimized itinerary. Each and every itinerary I create is made from scratch and tailored specifically to your interests, travel pace, and preferences. An optimized itinerary and practical travel advice go hand-in-hand and are essential factors that will determine how much you will enjoy your vacation. Equipped with your own itinerary, you’ll see more by visiting sites during less crowded times, you’ll know which museums are best explored independently and which are enriched by visiting with a guide, and you’ll avoid getting lured into a tourist trap restaurant that will cost you more and be less authentic than the restaurant I’ll point you towards just down the street that caters mostly to locals.

    Travel with confidence. Itineraries include unlimited revisions and unlimited 1-on-1 travel advice.

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