The Greek cuisine is one of my favourite cuisines. It is known for its fresh ingredients, delicious flavors, and healthy ingredients, including feta cheese, herbs, olive oil, and seafood. Whenever I go to Greece I always look forward to the delicious food. In this blog, I share my favourite traditional Greek foods with you!
Traditional Greek Foods: The Starters
Firstly, we discuss the starters of the Greek cuisine you have to try. Starters, also known as appetizers, are typically small dishes or snacks served before the main course. They stimulate the appetite and diners love to share them. Starters can be hot or cold, and they can be an opportunity to showcase local or seasonal ingredients. Some popular types of starters include dips and spreads, small bites or finger foods, soups or salads, and seafood. Here are my favourite traditional Greek foods to start your dinner with!
If you want to go for more than one starter, you can choose meze. Meze is a variation of several small dishes from the traditional Greek kitchen and is typically served with drinks, such as ouzo or wine. Besides, it is usually shared among diners and it can be hot or cold, savory or sweet. Some popular Greek meze dishes include tzatziki, dolmades, spanakopita, saganaki, olives, octopus, and Greek salad. Meze dishes are an important part of the Greek cuisine and can be found in many traditional tavernas and restaurants throughout Greece.
My favourite Greek dish, I love it! You are dealing with a big cheese fan and this cheese is more than AMAZING! In Greece, I eat saganaki cheese as a starter almost every night.
Saganaki cheese is a traditional Greek dish made with fried or grilled cheese. Typically, saganaki cheese is served as a meze dish, alongside other small plates or as a starter before the main course. ‘Saganaki cheese’ actually means ‘cheese in a pan’. For this dish, a hard and salty cheese is typically used, such as kefalograviera, graviera, or kasseri. Each restaurant uses a different type of cheese. An important feature of the cheese is that the cheese can withstand high heat without melting too quickly. The cheese is fried until it is melted and a crust is wrapped around it. Restaurants often serve the dish with lemon juice or a piece of lemon and pepper. Saganaki cheese is a delicious and satisfying snack that pairs well with a glass of wine or a cold beer.
Bread with Tzatziki
If you like bread with a dip, then you definitely like tzatziki! Bread with tzatziki is a simple and delicious Greek meze dish. Tzatziki is a creamy dip made from Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and herbs. Restaurants often serve the tzatziki with bread, which can be any type of crusty or soft bread, such as pita, sourdough, or baguette.
Prefer a fresh salad? Then the typical Greek salad is something for you! Greek salad is a refreshing salad typically made with fresh and crisp vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and bell peppers, and topped with feta cheese, olives, and a simple olive oil and lemon dressing. Greek salad is a delicious and healthy dish that can be served as a side dish or a light meal on its own. We eat this dish a lot at home because it is easy to make, super tasty and healthy too! However, I do have to say that eating it at home cannot beat a real Greek salad in Greece itself.
Spanakopita is a delicious and very popular Greek starter or side dish made with spinach and feta cheese, wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry. Very tasty if you like savory tarts and feta and a great vegetarian option. Spanakopita can be a perfect starter, side dish or main meal. The combination of spinach and feta cheese, wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry, is amazing!
Dolmades or Dolmadakia, also known as stuffed grape leaves, is a traditional Greek food in which vine leaves are filled with a savory mixture of rice, vegetables, minced meat and herbs. During our visits to Greece, we discovered some variations regarding the filling of Dolmades, also vegetarian variants. Dolmades have a fresh, yet spicy, taste and are served cold. Furthermore, they are typically served as a starter or meze dish and are often enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon juice and tzatziki sauce.
Not a typical Greek dish, but we discovered it there. Are cheese balls on your menu, then it is definitely worth a try! Side note: I even added this dish to my 21-diner menu. Cheese balls are what they sound like… Fried, breaded cheese balls. For the cheese balls, restaurants could use different types of cheese, such as Gouda, blue cheese, or goat cheese, or other flavorings, such as herbs or spices.
Traditional Greek Foods: The Main Dishes
Secondly, we discuss the traditional Greek main dishes you have to try. Greeks are also a star at making delicious main dishes. Typically, Greek main dishes contain a lot of meat. Besides, the meat comes with potatoes, fries or rice, and vegetables or a salad. Here are my favourite traditional Greek foods to eat as main dish!
Souvlaki is a Greek meat dish with marinated pieces of meat on a skewer, which will be grilled. Typically, souvlaki is made of lamb, but it can also be made from pork or chicken. I like this dish very much, but you have to take into account that sometimes the meat is not that tender. This dish often comes with fries and a salad or with pita and tzatziki.
Another favourite traditional Greek food of mine is Gyros! Gyros is a Greek dish in which a kind of pita sandwich is filled with meat (which is from a large skewer grilled pork), tomato, onion, lettuce, fries and tzatziki. Originally, Gyros is made from lamb, a combination of lamb and beef or even chicken. The meat is most of the times seasoned with salt, herbs and spices. When you eat this in a restaurant, the meat is probably served separately with fries, tzatziki and a pita sandwich.
Moussaka is an oven dish with eggplant, tomato and meat topped, with béchamel sauce. Again, there are several variations possible. Moussaka is served in the oven dish and, therefore, still warm. My mother loves this traditional Greek food.
If you like delicious stews, then stifado is a good idea! Stifado is a stew made in wine sauce with beef, onions and tomato. Usually it is up to you whether you want to eat stifado with rice, fried potatoes or kritharaki, a Greek pasta. The meat is deliciously tender and the dish has such good flavor. This traditional Greek food is my father’s favourite.
OMG, this traditional Greek food is so good! Lamb kleftiko is slowly cooked lamb on a parcel of vegetables. Restaurants seal the meat in a paper pouch to ensure that the meat remains moist. The funny part of this dish is the fact that kleftiko means ‘stolen’. This comes from a story about a thief that stole a sheep or goat and cooked this meat in a hole in the ground. He sealed the hole to prevent steam from escaping. I first ate this traditional Greek food in a restaurant at the port of Agia Effimia in Kefalonia. This was the best kleftiko I have ever had. After this, I ate the dish several times elsewhere in Greece, but they all can’t beat that first time. Although I must say that the dish is always delicious. Therefore, I will highly recommend this Greek traditional food!
Traditional Greek Foods: The Desserts
Finally, let’s talk about the traditional Greek desserts you have to try. I used to live for desserts. These days, on the contrary, I am more of a fan of appetizers/starters. That is not to say I am not still a big fan of desserts. It is just that more often than not, I opt for an appetizer/starter and then can’t finish a dessert. Although I must say that no matter how full I am, I still often go for one of these traditional Greek foods for dessert. Oops… it is just too good. At times like that, I prefer to leave the restaurant with a too-full stomach.
Ooh, so good!!! Baklava is originally from Turkey, Greece, and the. Middle East. It is a sweet dessert consisting of several layers of puff pastry filled with pieces of nuts (walnuts, almonds or pistachios) with honey. So delicious! And yes, THIS is my favourite traditional Greek food to end a dinner with.
A somewhat simpler dessert, but oh so delicious! Greek yoghurt is very full of flavour and the delicious honey and walnuts are the cherries on top of it. In addition, it is also a very good breakfast dish.
This dessert resembles baklava, but is slightly different, because it has a different dough. Kataifi consists of a kind of thread dough. If you like Baklava and want something different, but similar in taste, Kataifi is the perfect choice!
Conclusion: there is plenty to taste in Greece. Thanks for reading my blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading it and got inspiration for your next trip to Greece. Enjoy tasting these delicious traditional Greek dishes and let me know which ones are your favorites!
Lots of love,