Hello traveler and/or curious person!
In this article we are going to talk about what to eat in Greece. I will introduce you to the 8 most typical dishes of Greek gastronomy and, in addition, we will discuss issues such as: areas to go out for dinner, where you can eat cheaper, which are the best restaurants….
I hope you won’t be as hungry reading it as I was writing it 😉 Let’s get to it!
Looking for something specific?
We had to start with the most typical, sorry. But it is incompatible to come to Greece and not eat a good “χωριάτικη” salad (that’s how we call it here).
The secret of success lies in the quality of the ingredients: tomato, onion, cucumber, black olives, feta cheese and olive oil. Simple, but highly effective.
The portions of Greek salad are always very large, generally not exceeding the cost of 7 euros. Then let’s talk about restaurants and cheap areas for lunch and dinner in Athens.
How many times have tourists asked me about Greek yogurt… and my answer is always the same: A resounding YES, the yogurt here does not compare to what we can find everywhere else, not at all. And NO, the brands of “Greek yogurt” sold abroad are NOT Greek at all (SURPRISE!).
In Greece, yogurt is commonly served with honey, assorted fruits and/or nuts to sweeten it. In neither case, please, is sugar added (it just doesn’t need it, really).
There are different types of yogurts, for all tastes. In the list of best restaurants in Athens, I am going to include an establishment where you can try an exquisite handmade yogurt.
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The tzatziki is a sauce that commonly accompanies meat and other dishes such as: fried potatoes, fried zucchini, zucchini meatballs…
Greek yogurt is used as a base for tzatziki, to which grated cucumber, lemon, garlic and dill are added. The result is a quite solid, rich and versatile “sauce”. It can be eaten simply with bread, preferably pita (circular and flat bread very common in Greece).
Typical dish of the local gastronomy, something that every person should eat when visiting Greece, we are talking about the very tasty Moussaka.
It looks a lot like a meat lasagna, YES, but I personally like the Greek version much more (with apologies to other gastronomies). In layers and from bottom to top: potato, eggplant, meat accompanied by vegetables and tomato, a thick layer of bechamel sauce and cheese au gratin on top (to which sometimes they add a touch of cinnamon, almost inappreciable but exquisite)
Another very recurrent question is “Where can we eat the best Moussaka“, which is complicated to answer. As a general rule, I would tell you to avoid areas that are too touristy. I will talk about these issues later, and furthermore, I will specify in which of the restaurants I recommend to eat at do have Moussaka on their menu.
Having already talked about the most typical Greek dishes, it is time to mention the gemistá, another delicacy of the local gastronomy that everyone should eat during their stay in Greece.
“Gemistá” means “stuffed” in Greek, referring in this case to stuffed tomatoes or peppers (although sometimes also eggplants and zucchini). It is a fairly common main vegetarian dish in Greek kitchens
Its preparation is simple but difficult:
Firstly, the vegetables are cut from the top, without damaging the skin so that it then acts as a “receptacle”, and emptied. It is necessary to cook the pulp, along with other vegetables and rice, separately. Finally, the vegetables are stuffed again and everything is baked together.
The result is delicious!
I am not the one who came up with all these names, I promise.
However, I do consider saganaki to be one of the best and easiest inventions of Greek cuisine. It is a fried cheese, commonly battered with flour and without egg (the piece is dipped in water instead). Lemon juice is usually added on top before eating.
After tasting it, saganaki will become your favorite starter of every meal you have in Greece.
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It is well known that fish plays a very important role in Greek gastronomy, with squid standing out (or at least being the most common in Greek restaurants).
It is usually prepared in two ways: fried, to which we may be more accustomed; but also stuffed, which is delicious. The stuffing is made with onion, garlic and, of course, a good amount of cheese.
On the other hand, as far as other pieces of fish are concerned, the most usual thing to do is to cook it over charcoal (the same way they do with almost all meat). Fish is something that you should eat a lot in Greece, especially if you visit an island that is not too touristy.
Greek restaurants specializing in bar food are called “Ouzeri”, so if you see this name on the sign of an establishment, you won’t go wrong by staying there.
Gyros or Souvlaki
This is not something you have to eat on your visit to Greece, as it is something you will eat (and probably a lot) during your stay. I don’t need to recommend it to you because it is inevitable not to try it, however I can tell you about it and solve some confusion about it:
Gyros is the typical Greek street food, very cheap, but there are also restaurants that serve it on a plate. In the latter case, the portion is a bit bigger but considerably more expensive.
There are two ways of cooking the meat: grilled, which is called “souvlaki“; and using a kind of oven where the large piece of meat is constantly rotating, “gyros“, which is the same device used to prepare the kebab we know.
The other main difference is the meat used, being able to choose between pork, chicken and kebab (it is a sausage prepared with beef, of higher quality than what we understand when we say kebab).
The meat is usually accompanied by tomato, lettuce, onion, fried potatoes and “tzatziki” sauce, which is wrapped in a characteristic pita bread. These ingredients may vary, including the sauce used, depending on the type of meat chosen.
Pita gyros and pita souvlaki usually cost between 2 and 3 euros, making it by far the cheapest “dish” you can eat in Greece. Plus, it’s available on almost every street corner in Athens (which is why I was telling you that you were bound to try it at some point).
Best restaurants to eat in Athens
Not only is it important to know what dishes to eat in Greece, but also where to eat them. In this case I will focus on Athens, the capital, although I could recommend restaurants in other places if you get in touch. Let’s get to it!
There are so many, and so good, Greek restaurants that it is difficult to know which one is the best. I am going to provide you with a list of what I consider to be the best restaurants that I have personally tried over the last few years.
It should be noted that my opinion is NOT conditioned by any kind of interest; from freetouratenas.top we always provide honest recommendations, that is, we have not and will not accept any payment from any establishment in order to promote it.
Places to eat in Athens
This is my personal list of the best (centrally located) Greek restaurants in Athens:
- Achilleas (see location in Google Maps)
- Rosalia (see location in Google Maps)
- Avlí (see location in Google Maps)
- Maérgeio (see location in Google Maps)
- Oxo nou (see location in Google Maps)
- Savvas (see location in Google Maps)
- Páme Psirí (see location in Google Maps)
- Anafiotika Cafe – Restaurant (see location in Google Maps)
In addition to the places listed, you will find very good restaurants around the central market. I haven’t added them since most of them don’t even have a Google My Business listing, that is, they don’t have an online presence.
By the way, if you want to walk the streets of the central market with us, to discover a number of hidden corners while tasting the best local produce and recipes, just do it 😉
Where to dine out in Athens?
When we talk about dining out, we are not only referring to good Greek food, but also to good service and a pleasant atmosphere.
In this sense, my personal recommendation is the Psiri neighborhood. It is a much less touristic area than Plaka, a typical neighborhood where travelers usually go to dine, but which I consider much more magical and local (where Greeks do go to dine).
The quality/price ratio of the restaurants here is quite good, also, Psiri is a neighborhood with a well kept decoration and commonly frequented by musicians playing on the terraces of the bars.
In addition to a myriad of Greek restaurants, in Psiri you will also find many street food establishments, of all kinds. On the other hand, many of us frequent it simply to have a beer and/or enjoy a good sweet.
Another interesting option for dining out in Athens is Thiseio. Located next to Monastiraki square and surrounding the ancient Agora, this is an area with good restaurants and from which you will have spectacular views of the Acropolis.
Although Thiseio is a bit more expensive than Psiri for dinner, it is worth it if you are looking for something more elegant and with better views, usually on rooftops and other outdoor terraces.
Where to eat cheaply in Athens?
Very good question!
First of all I would like to clarify that eating out in Athens, or anywhere in Greece, is quite cheap. Still, of course there are lesser known, but equally interesting, areas full of Greek restaurants.
My answer is clear:
The Exarchia neighborhood, the best place to eat cheaply. Here you will find from a huge variety of street food to traditional Greek tavernas, to Afghan, Kurdish, Lebanese restaurants… As you can see, it is a very multicultural neighborhood.
Did you find this article about what to eat in Greece useful? Leave us a comment if you have any suggestions and/or if you want to share your experience. And of course, if you visit Athens we would be happy to have you on one of our tours or excursions, best regards!
PS: I have suffered a lot writing this article, really, having to contain my hunger (although I confess to have gotten up to take some cookie hehe), but I hope it was worth it 🙂