Greek Food Guide: What to eat when visiting Greece

Everyone wants to go to Greece to witness the islands, with their spectacular beaches, the stunning views of whitewashed houses climbing up seaside cliffs and jaw dropping sunsets over the ocean’s horizon. But I have another reason for you to travel to Greece – the incredibly delicious Greek food!

Greece is blessed with a hot, dry Mediterranean climate that sets the tone for locally grown, fresh and simple ingredients that pack an enormous punch of flavor. Fishermen pluck an array of fresh seafood from the Mediterranean daily. Farmers cultivate lemons, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes and other fresh fruits and vegetables. Local sheep produce decadent cheese and yogurts. And although Greeks don’t eat each as much meat as some other cultures, they still figured out how to create mouthwatering lamb, pork and chicken dishes. Many Greek sweets are doused in honey, a throwback to the ancient gods’ love of ambrosia and nectar. Though mortals weren’t allowed to eat those two items, honey was served as a most welcome substitute.

After visiting Greece I have an even deeper love and appreciation of their cuisine and wanted to share a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

Horiatiki Salad – Also known as Choriatiki, or a village salad, a traditional Greek salad is much different than those you’re used to in the States or Canada. This beautifully refreshing dish is chock full of fresh, crunchy tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers. Soft kalamata olives and a slice of feta cheese add the perfect salty bites. Typically, this salad is dressed only with salt, oregano and amazing golden olive oil. You won’t find any iceberg lettuce, pepperocini or seasoned salad dressings in Greece and believe me, you won’t miss them one bit. One word of warning though, once you try the real thing, you’ll never want an Americanized Greek Salad again!

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Horiatiki Salad

Moussaka – Perhaps one of the most famous Greek dishes, moussaka is comfort food to the max. Picture layers of eggplant slowly sautéed in olive oil, ground lamb mixed with tomatoes and spices and a generous top layer of decadent béchamel sauce all baked to perfection until it’s a beautiful golden brown. Yeah, it’s hard to not want to stick your fork into the computer and take a bite, right?

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Moussaka

Kalamata Olives – Can we just talk about how amazing these olives are? They taste a million times better in Greece than back home. They’re so good, in fact, that there is a city named after them in the southern Peloponnese of Greece. I’m just kidding. Actually, the olives were named after the city, which is where a large concentration of these black beauties are grown. Olives are so important to Greek cuisine, that in some shape or form, olive and/or olive oil makes an appearance in almost every Greek dish. And often, a handful of marinated Kalamata olives is the perfect snack. Seriously, I recommend eating lots and lots of olives!

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Kalamata Olives

Diples – The folks from the Peloponnese must be commended for taking simple ingredients and making them incredibly delicious. Enter the diple, which gets its name from the Greek word for “fold.” This delightfully simple dessert is made of thin sheet-like dough which is cut into long, thin strips. It is then placed in hot oil, “folded” and fried before being drizzled with honey syrup and finished with a generous sprinkling of nuts. This festive dessert is very popular around Christmas time throughout Greece.

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Traditional Diples

Bouyourdi – This is a dish I had never heard of before visiting Greece, but when I saw baked feta with tomatoes and chilies on the menu I knew I had to try it. And boy am I so glad I did! This quickly became one of my favorite dishes of the trip. Most often served as a meze, or Greek appetizer, your bouyourdi may come out slightly different depending on which part of Greece you are in, but essentially it is a large chunk of feta cheese tossed with fresh tomatoes, some sort of chili peppers, olive oil, oregano and baked until the feta is warm and melty. The cheese blends with the tomatoes to create a rich, creamy sauce that you can either use as a dip for warm pita bread or eat by the spoonful. I can’t lie, I did both and enjoyed every delicious bite!

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Bouyourdi

Keftedes me Saltsa Domata – Keftedes are the Greeks version of the meatball. Beautifully flavored with garlic, red onion, fresh parsley, mint and hint of dried oregano, these oblong-shaped meatballs are crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. Most often, you’ll find keftedes served as an appetizer accompanied by tzatziki and pita bread. Another incredibly delicious preparation is Keftedes me Saltsa Domata, which loosely translates to meatballs in tomato sauce. This dish will give the Italian spaghetti and meatballs a run for its money any day.

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Keftedes me Saltsa Domata

Real Greek Yoghurt – I’m sure by now you’ve probably heard all about the “Greek yogurt” controversy. A version of the Greek’s creation is being advertised and sold all over the world as “Greek yogurt.” This is pretty offensive to the Greeks and they are starting to get really upset about it. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. Once you’ve tried yoghurt in Greece you’ll understand. Let me try to explain. Authentic Greek yoghurt is made of pure sheep’s milk in small dairy units. Thick, creamy and super tasty, this yoghurt is very high nutritional value, including calcium, phosphorus, complex B vitamins and proteins, and has always been one of the finest products of the Greek farming tradition since the ancient times. The Greek yogurt that is being sold commercially across Europe and North America is made from cow’s milk, which is usually either strained or semi-strained. It should really be sold as Greek-style yogurt. If you like “Greek yogurt” please don’t let this stop you from enjoying it. But prepare to taste the cream of the crop (no pun intended) when you try this in Greece. It really is that amazing!

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Real Greek yoghurt with sour cherry spoon sweets

I’ll leave you here for now. But there are so many amazing foods in Greece that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m planning a part two (and maybe three) in the near future  –  so stay tuned!

Have you been to Greece? What was your favorite Greek food?

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Greek Food Guide

38 thoughts on “Greek Food Guide: What to eat when visiting Greece

  1. The Greek salad did not look what I pictured to be a “Greek Salad.” I suppose that happens with anywhere in the world though. Variations are never duplicated properly unless you visit the country where the dish originated. I also had never tried a greek yoghurt made out of sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk. Definitely something I will be trying when I visit Greece.

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  2. Greek food sounds delicious! I had never heard of Bouyourdi before reading your post but now I want to eat it by the spoonful. And I’d love to eat actual Greek yogurt in Greece! I hope to get to Greece some day soon.

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  3. Whenever I travel, I always makes sure that I should indulge myself from trying new food. I love reading something that would make me hungry just like this one. I find the Kalamata Olives interesting, the one I’ve tried before doesn’t taste good. I think this one Greece is luscious. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  4. Wow. This post completely changes my perception of the Greek Salad that I’ve been eating all this time. There’s nothing like authentic local food of a place and Greek cuisine is no less. The Moussaka is still my all time favourite. A nice introduction to the other relatively unknown dishes too. Nice read.

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  5. I probably shouldn’t have read this post just when I was about to head to bed, as it made me so hungry! The first thing that came to mind while reading your title was the chance to savour authentic Greek yoghurt which you covered, but the meatball spaghetti looked absolutely heavenly and scrumptious. Did you try it?

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  6. I love Greece, and can’t wait for my next return! The food is incredible, and I’ve never eaten anything bad there. The gyros in Athens are incredible and only cost €2! That baked feta and tomato and chili dish looks amazing, and my mouth is watering as I type!

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  7. I think this is an important guide for anyone going to Greece. When I visited I didn’t plan it so well. I am so happy now that I know more about the Greek Yoghurt which is made up of pure sheep’s milk. There’s a lot for vegetarians like me in this post. Thanks!

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  8. You have totally made me SOOOOO HUNGRY for Greek food! The Horiatiki Salad sounds great, and I love the big chunks of cheese. Yup looks so totally different from what we usually see outside of Greece. And Mousaka is my favorite, loveeeee eggplant. And it’s so interesting to hear about Greek Yoghurt – it really does sound very different from what you would get in a supermarket here. Actually sounds super delicious!

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  9. As a foodie, who travels for food, the food is always my first priority and views are number two. So I completely relate as to the food being one of the main reasons anyone should travel to Greece. And your photos have me drooling right now because they look so good.

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  10. My mouth is watering! I have never been to Greece, but the food is a great incentive! That salad and those olives look like something out of this world! I’ve also heard that seafood is amazing there. Definitely on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, wow. My mouth is watering and if you could hear my audible “mmms” you’d know this post did its job. I didn’t realize how much middle eastern food had in common with Greek cuisine and now I have one more amazing reason to travel to Greece! It seems like the foods I know (and love) as “Greek” are that much better right from the source. I’ll have to experience it for myself some day soon.

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  12. for me, food is always a reason for travel and this article has increased my desire to be in Greece. I am a lover of olive so it is going to be a great place for me. All the food, the way you have explained, look delicious and mouth-watering.

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  13. I just can’t get enough of Greek food! Had never heard of Bouyourdi though! or the Keftedes me Saltsa Domata. I want to visit Greece just to eat!

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  14. Oh, Greece really does have some amazing food. My husband and I always try to buy some Kalamata olives but they are never as tasty as they are in Greece. I totally understand your love for Greek food 🙂

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  15. I can’t wait to visit Greek one day purely to try authentic Greek food! It’s one of my favourites international cuisines but I’m sure it’s even better IN Greece. I hadn’t heard of Bouyourdi before until you mentioned this – and oh my goodness, my mouth was watering at the thought of it! I also had no idea that authentic Greek yoghurt was actually made from sheep’s milk, because everything sold as “Greek-style” yoghurt in NZ (unless in a specialty store perhaps) is from cow’s milk. Will have to keep an eye out for it! Yummy – great post…so hungry now!

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  16. I love Greek food, especially the salads! Olives and feta cheese are divine. I remember trying all these new dishes on our trip and I loved the seafood, so fresh and tasty. We get a lot of Greek food here in Dubai as well but I only began to love it after I ate it in Greece. Love Moussaka too, even though I am not usually a fan of egg plant. Thanks for this lovely guide, it sure helps to know what the best local foods to try are when you;re visiting a new country.

    Liked by 1 person

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