Disclaimer: Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you click on these links and make purchases, but it won't cost you anything extra.

What To Eat in Greece - Horiatiki

What to Eat in Greece – A List of Greek Foods for First Time Visitors

In Europe, Greece by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch8 Comments

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Travelocity to celebrate their biggest sale of the year.

Wondering what to eat in Greece during your first trip to the sunny Hellenic Republic? We spent over a month eating and living like locals in Greece. Read on to find our ten Greek food favorites that you must try during your visit.

Acropolis in Greece

With a fascinating history and gorgeous scenery, Greece is a popular destination for both history buffs and honeymooners who flock to the country to visit ancient ruins and sandy beaches. Then there’s us. Our goal when we visited Greece for the first time was to eat the best Greek food.

What’s So Special About Greek Food in Greece?

Blessed by a climate that’s both dry and hot for much of the year, Greece has an abundance of riches when it comes to local food products. And the best part? Food travelers can access all of it at the country’s many markets and restaurants.

What To Eat in Greece - Olives at Market

Olives are readily available in Greece as is olive oil.

When in Greece, food lovers can devour seafood plucked out of the Meditteranean Sea and munch on produce so fresh that eating salads smothered in local olive oil is pure joy. Considering that Greek farmers have been growing olives for thousands of years, it’s no surprise that their olives are among the best in the world.

What To Eat in Greece - Feta Cheese

Greek shoppers can buy feta cheese straight from the barrel at local markets.

Then there’s briny feta cheese made with milk from some of the world’s happiest sheep and goats. How could they not be happy grazing on picturesque hills under the baby blue Greek skies and azure blue Mediterranean waters?

Deal Alert: Today is the perfect time to plan a trip to Greece so you can try all the great food yourself. Travelocity has a lot of great deals to this popular summer destination.

List of Greek Foods You Should Not Miss

What To Eat in Greece - Koulouri

You’ll want to try koulouri at least once in Greece. Though not one of our favorites, this crunchy bread ring is a Greek breakfast staple.

For many first time visitors, the many tempting choices on a Greek menu can be overwhelming. However, this challenge is a good problem considering the limits that one person can eat.

We get it. During our initial meal in Greece, we were so excited by the local food that we wanted to order an entire restaurant menu until sanity and our belts reigned us in. Luckily, we had over a month to eat lots of Greek food and discover the country’s best dishes.

By the end of our trip, we compiled a list of our favorite Greek foods. As you start your own culinary journey in Greece, we recommend you start with the following Greek dishes:

1. Souvlaki

What To Eat in Greece - Souvlaki

Souvlaki is an iconic Greek food in which grilled meat is typically served on a skewer.

Visiting Greece without eating souvlaki is like visiting London and not eating fish and chips.

Since souvlaki is readily available at both sidewalk stalls and casual restaurants all over Greece, it’s easy to find the ultimate ‘meat-on-a-stick’ snack food in Athens and on the country’s many islands. Some Greek menus list this crowd pleaser as kalamaki or gyro, but it’s all souvlaki and it’s all good.

To prepare souvlaki, grill masters cook meats like pork, chicken and occasionally lamb on large pits before transferring charred chunks to skewers. Motivated vegetarians can find souvlaki versions with eggplant, peppers and mushrooms.

Pro Tip: Eat Greek souvlaki with pita bread, fried potatoes and tzatziki sauce. This combination is swoon-worthy.

2. Saganaki

What To Eat in Greece - Saganaki

This saganaki starter came with lemon and cucumbers. The classic Greek dish is named after the two-handled pan used to cook saganaki.

Named after a small two-handled frying pan, saganaki is an addictive Greek food that involves melting cheese to crispy perfection. The type of cheese varies by restaurant, with options including graviera, halloumi and feta. Some restaurants add additional ingredients like tomato, shrimp and mussels, but there’s no shame in eating plain cheese saganaki in Greece.

Regardless of the cheese type or preparation, saganaki is a must-try Greek food in Greece. We first ate saganaki in Meteora and it immediately became a go-to starter throughout the country. Though the preparation of saganaki varied by location during our trip, all versions tasted decadently divine.

Pro Tip: Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of your saganaki. The juice provides acidity while enhancing the dish’s flavor.

3. Baklava

What To Eat in Greece - Baklava

With 33 layers, authentic Greek baklava is a culinary feat.

Though baklava may have been invented by the Assyrians during the days of the Ottoman Empire, there’s no debate about its popularity in countries like Greece, Turkey and Romania. Regardless of its origin, it’s fair to say that the Greeks have perfected the process when it comes to baking the sweet, drenched, layered dessert.

Typically baked with 33 layers of phyllo dough, nuts and cinnamon as well as honey or syrup flavored with rose water, Greek baklava is difficult to resist. Between its enticing aroma and rich taste, baklava is easily our favorite dessert in Greece.

Pro Tip: Wash your hands after you eat baklava as the sweet dessert leaves a sticky residue in its wake.

4. Horiatiki

What To Eat in Greece - Horiatiki

Since Greek vegetables are among the best in the world, eating horiatiki is a must in Greece.

Leave your perceptions about salad at home when you visit Greece. Greek salads known as horiatiki don’t include lettuce. Instead, these rustic salads feature a bounty of local ingredients like tomato, cucumber, onion, feta cheese and olives finished with oregano, salt and olive oil.

In many countries, salads are considered ‘diet’ food for those looking to lose weight. This is not the case in Greece where it’s a pleasure to eat a colorful salad filled with ripe tomatoes, kalamata olives and slabs of briny feta. The best horiatiki salads add paximadia or twice-baked barley rusks similar to crunchy croutons but larger.

Pro Tip: Shop at a Greek market and buy all necessary ingredients to make horiatiki if you’re staying in a Greek apartment. Otherwise, you can order excellent salads at most restaurants in Greece.5. Moussaka

What To Eat in Greece - Moussaka

Although available in countries like the United States and Australia, moussaka tastes best in Greece.

Moussaka may be the most popular Greek dish served around the world and with good reason. When served hot out of the oven, moussaka is both comforting and filling.

To prepare moussaka, chefs layer sauteed eggplant and minced meat (traditionally lamb) to create a casserole before adding a top layer of béchamel. Other typical ingredients include tomato, onion, garlic and cinnamon.

After enjoying moussaka at casual eateries known as tavernas, we learned how to make the decadent dish from scratch during a cooking class with Onion Athens. Not only was the class fun, but it also reinforced our appreciation for Greece’s unofficial alternative to lasagna.

Pro Tip: Switch it up and try pastitsio, a Greek dish that’s similar to moussaka but with pasta instead of eggplant.

6. Loukomades

What To Eat in Greece - Loukoumades

Loukomades are Greece’s honey-drenched donut alternative.

If you think that donuts are a modern invention, think again.

Greece’s loukoumades dated back to the first Olympics in 776 BC. Though the original loukoumades were enjoyed by ancient athletes, everybody can enjoy them today regardless of athletic ability or lack thereof.

Traditional Greek loukoumades are round balls of golden fried dough flavored with cinnamon and honey syrup. Some people sprinkle powdered sugar on their loukoumades for an extra burst of sweetness, but this is an optional add-on.

We first ate loukoumades during an Athens food tour that introduced us to many of the city’s best food vendors. We couldn’t get the memory of these Greek donuts, made with orange blossom honey, out of our head after the tour. We returned to popular local bakery Krivos to eat them again and they were as good as we remembered.

Pro Tip: Add a cup of coffee to your loukoumades to create a quick yet tasty Greek breakfast.

7. Grilled Octopus

What To Eat in Greece - Grilled Octopus

Greek chefs are expert at grilling octopus.

Grilled octopus is not unique to Greece, but the Greeks make a particularly excellent version of it. We ate grilled octopus at neighborhood psarotavernes (fish taverns) and upscale restaurants multiple times over the course of five weeks. Greek renditions of the cephalopod never disappointed us.

Greek restaurants serve octopus on a ‘sea to table’ basis. This is especially the case on Greek islands where fishermen capture octopus in the morning and grill the tentacled mollusks later that day.

Pro Tip: Pair octopus with white Greek wine or ouzo. Be sure to exclaim “Yamas” when you clink glasses before your first sip.

8. Taramasalata

What To Eat in Greece - Taramasalada

You haven’t fully experienced taramasalata until you’ve eaten it in Greece. We ate this upscale version while enjoying a view of the ocean.

Dining with friends in Greece is often a festive event that starts with a myriad of small plates filled with sauces, dips and olives. We loved these culinary experiences – especially when taramasalata was on the table.

Taramasalata starts with cured fish roe and gets added flavor from ingredients like olive oil and lemon juice. We’ve eaten the creamy, fishy spread in countries like France and Romania, but we ate our favorite taramasalata in Greece. The creamy, salty mezze dish is a Greek classic.

Pro Tip: You can dip fresh vegetables into taramasalata or eat the creamy spread with bread.

9. Dolmades

What To Eat in Greece - Dolmades

Dolmades, also known as stuffed grape leaves, are a common mezze dish in Greece.

Grapes serve multiple purposes in Greece. Not only do vintners create world-class wine from the fruit, but chefs also use the leaves to create dolmades.

Known as stuffed grape leaves in English-speaking countries, dolmades are bite-sized morsels filled with an herbaceous rice mixture. Plan to dip vegetarian-friendly dolmades in tzatziki yogurt sauce for the full dining experience.

Pro Tip: Don’t be confused if you see dolmadakia on a Greek menu. Dolmadakia are just smaller-sized dolmades.

10. Cheese Pie

What To Eat in Greece - Cheese Pie

Move over spanakopita, the cheese pies are is our favorite pies in Greece.

Little cheese pies are a popular Greek food best eaten hot out of the oven. To make them, Greek cooks utilize phyllo dough to create flaky crust and stuff the layered shell with a feta-based filling.

Locals typically eat cheese pies for breakfast or as a pre-lunch snack. During our Greek sojourn, we enjoyed them at various times since Greek vendors sell cheese pies all day long.

Pro Tip: Greek vendors sell cheese pies called tiropita and kourous. They taste good regardless of the name.

Plan Your Trip Now

It’s never too soon to plan a trip to Greece. Check out the Travelocity website for airfare, hotels and holiday packages.

Read These Next

About the Author

Saveur Magazine's BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel influencers are based in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Comments

  1. I love Greek food! Everything looks so good, I’d imagine what I’ve had is just a shadow of what it would be in Greece.

  2. Om nom nommmm I love Greek food so much! I am a fan of everything you mentioned, but I think my favourite thing is spanikopita… spinach pies make me soo happy. Oh! and super fresh fish!

    1. Author

      As you can see, Greek food makes us happy too, especially the amazing seafood.

  3. ohh you guys now you leave me craving Greek food!! See you soon in Italy!

  4. Daryl,
    So happy to be a part of your life AGAIN!
    You, two, bring a very special feeling to travel plans, and I feel quite proud of you! I also cannot wait to eat in Greece!
    Keep in touch!
    Susan Field

    1. Author

      Will do and please don’t be afraid to ask any questions. We love Greece and hope you have ana amazing time there. Great hearing from you!!

Leave a Comment