Looking for the best food and drink in Greece to try? Here are 10 local goods you can’t leave Greece without trying.
I cannot exclaim enough how good the food and drink in Greece is. It is one of the best places to visit for historical and archaeological sites, glorious sun-kissed beaches, romantic Greek Islands, and of course, delicious Greek cuisine!
During my time visiting Greece I can honestly say that I didn’t have even one bad foodie experience. Not only that, but I was bowled over by how hospitable and proud the Greeks are when it comes to the traditional Greek foods & dishes they serve up.
In fact, every meal in Greece felt like a special occasion to be savored and enjoyed. Don’t expect to be in a rush either, mealtime can last several hours, but that’s all part of the allure of dining out in Greece!
What is unique and special about Greek food is that it is prepared from fresh local ingredients, with flavorsome dishes made up of a variety of fresh herbs, grains, olive oil (which also makes a great souvenir from Greece), lemon juice, Mediterranean vegetables, and different types of fish and meat. No wonder then that so many people around the world tout a Mediterranean diet as one of the most healthy!
If you are planning a trip here, read on to learn about some of the best food and drink in Greece to try while exploring this beautiful country and all it has to offer.
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Bougatsa – A Must Try Breakfast Food in Greece
Greek breakfast is never complete without Bougatsa, a kind of sweet pie made from phyllo pastry & semolina custard. The crispy phyllo pie is a typical Greek dessert and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Interestingly though, most Greeks prefer to start their day with a cup of coffee and a Bougatsa.
You will simply fall in love with the creamy custard encased in the leafy phyllo and can enjoy it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar on top. It is indeed one of the most loved pastries in Greece and will be incredibly hard to resist the sweet aroma of freshly baked Bougatsa.
Where to try Bougatsa in Greece: Enjoy the best Bougatsa in Bougatsa Bantis if visiting Thessaloniki, Bougatsa Giannis, also in Thessaloniki, and Bougatsa Iordanis in Chania, Crete. These cafes are famed for their Bougatsa and serve this delicatessen with mizithra cheese and sugar on top.
Choriatiki Salata – Famous Greek Salad
Greeks love their salads, and it is a must for them to have Horiatiki Salata with almost every meal. Choriatiki salad not only looks colorful and smells wonderful but is also an appetizing accompaniment to just about all food and drink in Greece. It is made from a combination of colorful ingredients such as cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, and more often than not with a sprinkle of salty capers too.
Forget about store-bought dressing, in Greece you’ll likely enjoy your salad with a dash of traditional Greek olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Depending on the chef and the season, one may also find other vegetables such as cabbage and carrots in their Choriatiki too.
Tzatziki – The Much-Loved Savory Dip
Tzatziki is undoubtedly the most famous dip, and no matter where you go, you will find it served as a complement to any food and drink in Greece such as fish, grilled meat, or as part of a mezze platter.
Its name originates from the Turkish word cacik, and the dip is always served cold. The sauce is made from herbs like dill, parsley, and mint, Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, plus a splash of lemon juice.
Flavor your dish of seasoned meat with tzatziki sauce to take the gastronomic experience to a whole new level. It is especially popular to serve Tzatziki with pita bread or dishes such as gyros and souvlaki.
Courgette Balls – A Popular Veggie Starter
Also known as Kolokithokeftedes, you will love this delectable vegetarian starter as an appetizer that goes with all food and drink in Greece. These Courgette balls are made of a Cretan maze that is mixed with salty feta cheese, green onion, fresh mint, a dash of ouzo, and other herbs. Mesmerize your taste buds with the flavored texture of these Kolokithokeftedes that are crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.
Kolokithokeftedes can be found on every menu in just about all the taverns and restaurants scattered throughout Greece. Be sure to order a plate of these next time you dine out anywhere in Greece.
Moussaka – Hearty & Traditional Greek Flavors
Before visiting Greece, Moussaka has been one of my favorite Greek dishes. I knew that I had to try this food in Greece when arriving. Without a doubt, it is the most traditional dish of Greece, Moussaka and very popular and prepared by all Greek homemakers with recipes often handed down from generation to generation.
This irresistible, hearty dish is prepared by cooking minced beef and potatoes in tomato sauce and then layered with creamy béchamel sauce and sweet eggplants before being baked until golden brown.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a meat-lover to indulge in this delicious dish. You’ll be able to find a vegetarian version too, and they are equally delectable!
This baked casserole is indeed one of the best-known Greek dishes and is most often prepared for special occasions, during festivities, or for guests and family to enjoy.
Where to try Moussaka in Greece: Although Moussaka can be enjoyed at any taverns across Greece, you may want to try out these top-rated restaurants when in Athens. Liondi Traditional Greek Restaurant, Arcadia Restaurant, as well as Oineas are all known for their scrumptious Moussaka!
Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves
Dolmadakia or Dolmades is another typical side dish in Greece that is made of grape leaves filled with lemony, herbed rice that is formed into small bite-sized parcels, and then steamed to perfection.
The stuffing can be vegetarian or meat such as ground lamb or beef. This appetizer is often served with lemon wedges. There are other vegetables such as tomato, pepper, zucchini, eggplant, onion, and gourd that are commonly used for stuffing Dolmades, which can be served hot or cold.
Where to try Dolmades in Greece: To Psaraki located in the Vlychada Marina of Santorini is known for its delicious Dolmades and other traditional Greek seafood dishes that are simply out of this world.
Gyros – A Tasty Wrap Sandwich
Gyros is another delicious food in Greece worth trying out. This wrap-like sandwich filled with meat is an all-time favorite meal in Greece that can be enjoyed as a sit-down meal or on the go if you’re out and about on a busy day of sightseeing. This staple of Greek cuisine is prepared from a variety of fillings such as pork, chicken, lamb, and more.
There are great vegetarian options available as well, with an array of different kinds of cheeses, such as grilled halloumi or feta cheese combined with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, various sauces, and often a side of potato chips too.
Where to try gyro in Greece: If you’re visiting Athens and you’re on the hunt for the best vegan / vegetarian Gyros then you have to pop by Cookoomela and try out their delicious mushroom Gyros!
Baklava – The National Dessert
Popular not just in Greece but all over the Middle East and Turkey, baklavas are sweet pastries layered with crushed nuts and soaked in a sugary syrup. The nation’s favorite dessert is prepared with phyllo dough and layered and filled with a nut and cinnamon filling.
The nuts can vary based on the region; for example, it could be almonds in central Greece, walnuts in the eastern regions, and pistachios in northern Greece. Bring a festive mood to your dining experience, and don’t forget to try this popular Greek dessert that’s often served with a scoop of ice cream on the side.
Top Tip: Want to enhance your foodie experience when visiting the Greek capital? Why not consider booking this top-rated Food Walking Tour of Athens where you’ll get to sample some of the best food & drink on offer in Athens, this includes Baklava!
Ouzo – Traditional Drink of Greece
Greeks do not believe in eating without drinking, and there are special drinks that complement the rich flavors of the Greek dishes. Ouzo is one of the most popular Greek drinks, known the world over and considered as the country’s national drink!
Ouzo is prepared by distillation of raw materials such as cereals, molasses, and a range of local herbs. Ouzo certainly packs a punch as it contains a minimum of 37.5% proof, making it one of the strongest Greek drinks. The exact recipe also varies from producer to producer and is often a closely guarded secret!
Where to try Ouzo in Greece: Enjoy the national drink of Greece by buying a bottle of traditional Ouzo to take back home. A few of the most popular Ouzo brands include Ouzo from Plomari, Metaxa, Tikelli, and Pitsiladi to name but a few.
Nemea – Fantastic Greek Red Wine
Nemea is a popular red wine in Greece that is made from the native Agiorgitiko grape variety. This rich and full-bodied wine typically carries the flavor of plums, prunes, and the spicy tones of nutmeg and black pepper.
Nemea wines go perfectly with a wide array of food in Greece such as grilled or roasted meat, stews, and cheese.
Where to try Nemea in Greece: Enjoy red wines from the Naoussa area, and the best variety can be found at Lafkioti Winery, Cooperative Winery of Nemea, Palivou Estate, Gaia Nemea Winery, Domaine Bairaktaris, and Semeli Winery.
Did you like this post on what food and drink in Greece to try? It was written by Marco Santos, editor of Travel Boo.
Born and raised in South Africa, Marco Santos from Travel-Boo, currently resides in sunny Lisbon, Portugal. With an absolute love for Europe, he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese & European heritage along the way. Marco has set out to blog and share his passion for traveling through and exploring Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe, sharing what he’s learned through his travel blog Travel-Boo.
You can also find him on Instagram.