Though it’s often eclipsed in the foodie department by neighbors like France and Italy, Greece is a culinary powerhouse. Greek cuisine is both light and flavorful and intensely rich, making for an amazing variety of unique dishes to try. Different regions of Greece will specialize in different dishes, but many of these tasty treats can be found all over the country.
Pastitsio is one of the most popular meat and pasta dishes in Greece. Though the presentation may vary, the traditional presentation consists of layers of pasta, meat, and a thick layer of bechamel. The meat is lightly spiced with cinnamon and cloves, making it just slightly sweet.
Moussaka is pastitsio’s low-carb alternative, with layers of eggplant taking the place of pasta. The Greek version of lasagna also prominently features bechamel and a spiced meat sauce, that may consist of beef, lamb, or a mix of both.
This dish is one of the many Greek dishes to try that use phyllo pastry dough and feta. Spanakopita is basically a flaky spinach and cheese pie.
Gryos are arguably the most common street food all over Greece. Though it’s served in pita bread with plenty of trimmings, gyro refers to the type of meat used in the sandwich – thinly sliced meat (often pork) from a vertical rotisserie. The meat is stuffed into a warm pita along with onions, lettuce, tomato, and fries, all slathered in tzatziki. In restaurants, gyros are sometimes served as a platter, but the idea is the same.
Souvlaki may be eaten similarly as a gyro, except that souvlaki is chunks of grilled meat cooked on skewers. Like gyros, these may be served in a rolled-up pita along with veggies, fries, and tzatziki. However, they may also be eaten directly from the skewer.
Believe it or not, the frappe coffee was invented in Greece. The original frappe was created by Nescafe, so instant coffee is a key ingredient. The milk is frothed and served on ice, making it a great way to energize when it’s extremely hot out. Buyer beware though, it tends to be really bitter unless you have a lot of sugar.
Yogurt and honey
Greek yogurt and honey is a healthy and delicious dessert. Packed with probiotics, the simple dish is a heaping serving of Greek yogurt covered in honey. It may optionally include walnuts. If this sounds plain to you, it most definitely is. But you’ve probably never had yogurt like Greek yogurt in Greece or honey like the honey in Greece. And the combination is spectacular.
Meze is the Greek version of tapas. It’s not a dish, per se, but a snacking platter that’s great for grazing when you’re having a drink. No two mezes are created equal; it depends on where you’re dining. But typically a meze platter will include both warm plates, such as souvlaki or roasted bell peppers; and cold plates, like dips, feta cheese, and olives.
Stuffed grape leaves (Dolma)
Sometimes included in a meze, though it can also be ordered as an appetizer, are zesty stuffed grape leaves. The leaves are stuffed with rice, lemon juice, and sometimes meat, and then wrapped into a handy edible roll.
Baked feta and honey
Another popular Greek dish that was recently made famous by TikTok is phyllo-wrapped baked feta with honey and sesame seeds. The dish is served warm, and if you think baked feta and warm honey sounds like the best combination you can possibly imagine, you would be correct.
Another cheese appetizer is saganaki, which is made with pan-fried feta instead of baked, and may come to your table on fire. Saganaki variations, such as shrimp saganaki, prominently feature the fried feta in a tomato sauce with shrimp.
When the weather is scorching and the sun is high in the sky, a cold salad is the perfect lunch. A Greek salad is often served with an entire block of feta cheese on top. The salad typically consists of tomato, cucumbers, and the ever-present olives.
You might be wondering why a traditionally Italian pasta dish would be featured on this list. But this isn’t a list of Greek foods; it’s a list of foods to try in Greece. And if there is anyone in this world that improved on the classic, it’s the Greeks. I’ve never had a plate of carbonara in Greece that wasn’t top notch and I make sure to have it in every city I visit.
Similarly, pizza is a good bet when you’re in Greece. With fresh ingredients and perfect dough, pizza in Greece is pretty popular due to inventive combinations and incredible flavors. That’s why a table at Margherita in Corfu during high season can be harder to come by than Taylor Swift tickets.
Who doesn’t love fried dough? These tiny donuts are served covered in honey and may also be garnished with nuts or cinnamon.
Unless you love strong anise liquor, you will probably hate ouzo. But if you’re in Greece, you should try it at least once. The 80-proof spirit is nicely complemented by tangy meze snacks, and even if it tastes like ass, it’s the fastest way to drunk in Greece.