Europe & Britain | Food

15 lip-smacking Greek dishes you have to try

Greece’s sun-drenched beaches, ancient ruins, and stunning islands get good attention. But there’s one finger-licking thing that makes travellers book another trip to Greece: the food. For every drizzle of olive oil, crumble of feta and bite of fresh seafood, a Greek food addiction begins. From street hole-in-the-walls selling hot gyros to alfresco dining overlooking the shiny Mediterranean, there’s food for every mood here. In every setting. And since we know you’re hungry – here the 15 delicious Greek dishes to try before you die.

What are the best Greek dishes to try during my trip?

Fasolada

Dating back to Ancient Greece, fasolada is widely considered Greece’s national dish. To get an idea for its cultural importance, it used to be a sacrifice to the Greek God Apollo! White beans are soaked overnight and boiled the next day. Then tossed in with olive oil, celery, onion, grated tomato and legumes to make a nutrient-packed soup that warms your heart (especially in winter). And like all Greek food, it’s best shared with friends.

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Moussaka

Mousakka is a traditional treat. It’s a layered eggplant casserole made from minced meat (usually lamb or beef), tomato, potatoes and aubergines. Topped off with creamy bechamel sauce. You might consider it the perfect dish to fuel your sightseeing. And you can expect a warm melt-in-your mouth texture and striking blend of flavours.

Souvlaki and gyros

A stroll down Greece’s sun-kissed streets inevitably ends in souvlaki and/or gyros. These meaty fast foods fly out of hot hole-in-the-walls and are found in most restaurants. And to make sure you try both: souvlaki is seasoned meat grilled on a skewer, and gyros is shaved meat usually stuffed into a warm pitta bread with chips, tomatoes and tzatziki. Yum!

Fresh seafood

With a pristine 13,676 kilometre-long coastline, Greek seafood is some of the freshest on the planet. And understandably, you’re spoilt for choice. So take your seat at charming, table-clothed alfresco taverna (overlooking the ocean) and tuck into crispy calamari, succulent sea bream, sea bass, sole, salmon, sardines, pike, anchovies, mackerel and octopus. Is your mouth drooling yet?

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Greek salad

Any meal is incomplete without a Greek Salad, known as ‘Horiatiki’ or ‘Xoriatiki’ by the locals. Sticking a cold fork into this mix of cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, feta, oregano and black olives is the most refreshing (and healthy) way to cool off from the sun. Like all Greek dishes, it’s best shared with friends – and enjoyed with a light red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.

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Still hungry? There are more Greek dishes to try…

Prawn saganaki

Indulgent. Addictive. Drool-worthy. Prawn saganaki puts seafood and cheese lovers in paradise. This warm pot of bubbling flavours is the ultimate comfort food: prawns in a rich tomato sauce, chilli, a dash of ouzo, a jealous lashing of olive oil and melting feta cheese create a masterpiece you’ll be thinking about for far longer than the flight home. Just trust us.

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Spanakorizo

Spanakorizo (spinach and rice) may not seem that exciting. But it’s one of the first Greek dishes to try on your trip to Greece. It’s soft and creamy in texture, with good amounts of lemon juice and olive oil include. And it’s often devoured with a crumble of feta on top and bread at the side. Easily one of the healthiest traditional Greek recipes and a winter comfort food (although scrumptious in any season), you won’t want to skip spanakorizo.

Baklava

Sweet tooths show yourselves! Greek baklava is for you. This pastry is made from filo dough, walnuts and syrup. And since it’s called ‘siropiasta’ (syrupy) by locals for its ultra-sweetness, consider this the perfect pick-me-up for an afternoon of Greek adventure.

Halloumi

Even people who ‘don’t like cheese’ fall in love with halloumi. This Cypriot cheese has a rubbery, slightly springy texture and is very versatile. It’s high melting temperature lets it keep its shape – making it perfect for grilling, pan-frying and barbecues. As well as in salads, sandwiches, burgers and just on its own. Halloumi will hook you on first bite – don’t believe us?

Dolmades

Dolmades look like something straight out of a Biblical scene. So maybe it makes sense that they taste heavenly. These are vine leaves wrapped around fresh rice, onions, lemon and herbs. Unbelievably addictive – and ideal in a Greek meze or by the side of a moussaka.

Kolokithokeftedes

Translating to ‘zucchini meatballs’, kolokithokeftedes are fried zucchini balls, normally full of feta cheese, onions and hints of fresh mint. They are a Cretan favourite that you can now find on almost every island. And they are often served as a meze with tzatziki and hummus dips and best washed down with ouzo. Definitely one of the tastiest Greek dishes to try.

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Bougatsa

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Hungry for a taste of authentic Greece? Dig into bougatsa: a Greek filo breakfast pastry. Fillings include custard, cheese, cream or minced meat. And it’s mainly found in local towns and villages, plus the Thessaloniki region in northeastern Greece. And as far as sweet treats go, it doesn’t get much better.

Stifado

Stifado is a traditional Greek beef stew. It’s cooked in red wine with shallots, baby onions and heaps of tasty spices. Plus a slightly sweet tomato sauce.

It bubbles for up to two hours on a low heat, each minute adding more melt-in-your mouth flavours to the pot. The end result is the perfect, hot 1-pot dish for social gatherings and one sip will put a smile on your face.

Tzatziki and other dips

Ahh… ‘tzatziki!’ Travellers flock for a taste of this yoghurt, garlic, olive oil and cucumber-based dip within minutes of landing in Greece. It’s best mopped up with warm pitta bread or enjoyed on a gyros or souvlaki. And just one taste on a warm day makes your eyes roll back in pleasure.

Greek dips are a true joy. You’ll want to try hummus (made from chickpeas) fava (made from yellow split peas), taramasalata (made from fish roe), melitzanosalat (made from roasted eggplant), htipiti (made from red peppers, feta cheese and chillies).

Which of these Greek dishes to try makes your mouth water? Tell us in the comments below.

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