Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Greek cuisine has been influenced by Middle Eastern, Italian, and Ottoman cultures. Fresh vegetables, fish, olive oil, wine, meat, and grains play a significant role in these dishes, as well as cheese, bread, olives, herbs, and yogurt.
Here are some of the most delicious Greek food you should try if you visit Greece.
Appetizer (Mezze) & Main Courses
koulouri is a large soft bread ring covered in sesame seeds. Koulouri is often bought from street vendors stands yellow street carts and eaten on the go with a cup of coffee. Koulouria originate from Greece's Jewish community.
This nutritious soup is famous for its healing properties and looks easy to make.
It is cooked by slowly boiling a whole chicken in a pot with vegetables and rice and then picking the meat off, cutting the skin and bones.
Then Avgolemono (the egg and lemon sauce) is added.
The soup is a rich, silky smooth soup that gives fat, carbs, and protein with vitamin C.
Magiritsa is a Greek national dish. It refers to a dense and filling Greek soup made with lamb offal, greens, onions, and dill. It’s the opening meal that breaks the Greek Orthodox Fast or Lent.
Magiritsa is made with the lamb’s head and neck, along with its intestines, heart, and liver. The lamb parts are cleaned and boiled whole before being cut up into smaller pieces and simmered. It’s prepared on Holy Saturday and consumed immediately after the Easter midnight church service.
Youvarlakia or giouvarlakia is a famous Greek meatball soup, which is full of Mediterranean flavors, fresh herbs, juicy meatballs, and the dish is finished with a delicious egg-lemon sauce (avgolemono).
It is the best dish to eat in winters, it is usually accompanied by bread and enjoyed as a nutritious main course.
- Tzatziki – a healthy yogurt dip made with garlic, cucumber, and olive oil;
- Tahini is a paste of crushed sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic;
- Taramosalata, a type of fish roe mixed with pureed potatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and onions;
- Hummus, a traditional pureed chickpea, and tahini dip.
-Fava is a yellow split pea that is cooked alongside onions and various spices until they completely dissolve and transform into a creamy, velvety purée.
Dolmades are a typical greek side dish.
It is made of vine leaves, stuffed with rice, fresh herbs & other seasonings, which are then steamed. You can also find them filled with meat or vegetarian with rice only.
The vine leaves can be replaced with cabbage.
It is served as an appetizer & cold.
Dolmadakia is tiny dolmades with lamb or beef and rice.
It’s usually served as an appetizer drizzled with olive oil & lemon wedges. Dolmadakia is shaped like short cigars and boiled until the leaves are very tender. Unlike gemista though, the usual filling here is minced meat and they're served hot with avgolemono sauce.
*A dolmadaki is singular, the plural is dolmadakia. So a dolmadaki is literally a little stuffed wrap. The dish is also called dolmades which is the plural of dolmas, especially if you use large grape leaves and thus the wraps are somewhat larger.
Gemista is also a popular dish in Greece.
Gemista is vegetables usually tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant filled with rice (sometimes with ground meat) and baked in the oven, and served in traditional taverns.
Gemista translates as “ones that are filled”. They're delicious served hot or cold, This dish can be found commonly throughout Cyprus, Turkey, and the Middle East.
it's a typical summer dish.
Tiropittes / Tiropitas (Greek Cheese Pie)
Tiropita, also known as ‘Greek cheese pie’, is an appetizer made from phyllo pastry, cheese (usual feta), mix it with two other kinds of yellow cheese for added flavor, and egg mixture, melted butter, olive oil, then wrapped in a triangle shape, finally, baked until crispy & golden.
It is served for breakfast or as a mid-day snack.
One of the most beloved Greek dishes.
Greek Salad is also known as Village salad or Horiatiki
It’s simple, fresh, and available everywhere in Greece. Some regions and islands will have their own versions of salad.
It is made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, capers, and kalamata olives. It’s topped with a block of feta cheese and dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, and oregano.
In Santorini, they make it with cherry tomatoes and capers.
Stifado is a traditional greek beef stew cooked with tomatoes, onions, cinnamon, vinegar or red wine, and a variety of spices and herbs, and sometimes garlic.
Depending on the region, meat such as goat, rabbit, wild hare, beef, snails, tripe, or octopus can be added to the stew.
Meat cut into large pieces and roasted with vegetable oil, is stewed along with vegetables in the pot or deep frying pan for 2-2,5 hours.
The dish is served with potatoes, rice, and vegetables.
It is ideal for a cold winter's day.
Kleftiko is a traditional Greek dish with slow-oven-baked lamb on the bone, which is first marinated in a mix of olive oil, bay leaves, garlic, herbs, salt & pepper, and lemon juice which is then poured over the lamb and then baked in an earth oven.
It’s cooked in baking paper to save the rich aromas and liquids of the juicy meat.
It’s commonly served with potatoes, though they are traditionally cooked separately.
*The name means “stolen lamb” as historically people would steal meat and bury it to be slow-cooked in covered holes in the ground so that no smoke would give away the location of the thieves.
Souvlakia is popular Greek street food and one of the most well-known dishes in Greek cuisine.
In Greek language Souvlaki stands for ‘meat-on-a-skewer, it is thinly sliced meat pieces traditionally lamb, pork, chicken, or sometimes beef – served on top of pita bread with a pickled salad, hummus, and tzatziki, or tahini dip.
It is can be served either as a sandwich in pita bread or on skewers with vegetables, fried potatoes, pita, and tzatziki.
It is often confused with gyros, a type of kebab.
Gyros is a bit like shawarma or the Turkish doner kebab.
It is a typical Greek sandwich that consists of pieces of meat (usually chicken, pork, lamb, or beef) cooked on a rotisserie and wrapped in a flatbread or pita along with salad, onions, and a variety of sauces (tzatziki). Vegetarian versions can include grilled halloumi (a salty Cypriot cheese made from a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk) or feta cheese instead of the meat.
Probably the most famous Greek dish, moussaka consists of layers of fried eggplant, minced meat, and potatoes, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and then baked until golden brown.
Moussaka is popular not only in Greece but you can also try it in Cyprus, Turkey, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
Another variation of the dish is vegetarian moussaka.
Papoutsakia (Stuffed Eggplants)
Papoutsakia is stuffed eggplants that are first baked until soft and then filled with a tomato-based meat sauce, topped with bechamel sauce and cheese, and baked till they get a beautiful golden color.
The dish is called papoutsakia (little shoes) because its shape resembles little shoes.
Due to its ingredients, the dish tastes a lot like Moussaka.