Top 22 Greek Dishes You Need To Taste!

The Top 22 Tastiest Dishes of Greek Cuisine 

Whether it’s your first time or you are a frequent traveler, there’s always something new and delicious to discover in Greece! The taste of Greek cuisine has been influenced by different cultures including Italian, Turkish, Arab and Middle Eastern. Therefore, you can find Greek delicacies in similar variations in other countries like Baklava in Turkey or the stuffed grape leaves in the Middle East. So, on your next visit to Greece make sure to try these Top 22 Greek Specialities.

Some of these you may already know, but to get the best version of the dish and to find the tastiest spots where locals go, I recommend going on a food tour. I was lucky enough while in Athens, to be invited on The Moveable Sunday Feast with Culinary BackstreetsThis tour walks you through a classic Athens Sunday where food and family are central to Greek life. 

To find out more about Culinary Backstreets, jump to the bottom of my post here.

City of Athens, Greece with some of the best Greek food.


On my foodie tour I discovered these amazing Greek specialities!

 

1. Tzatziki 

Tzatziki a popular greek delicacy

Tzatziki is a meze (tapa) that is a sauce or a dip depending what you use it for. This is very easy to make and tastes delicious! All you need is some Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, fresh dill and olive oil. It’s great in a gyro, or as a dip for fried zucchini, grilled meat or pita bread. 

2. Moussaka 

Moussaka is perfect for a Greek dinner

A delicious, homey dish that’s prepared in layers. You’ll see this Greek dish offered in every tavern or on Sunday’s in every Grandma’s kitchen.  Vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, or potatoes make the bottom layer. The middle layer is a meat and tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce takes the top layer.  

3. Greek Lamb Chops 

Greek Lamb Chops, the best of local Greek food I discovered on tour.

The only seasoning you need is just some salt, pepper, and oregano. After, the lamb chops get cooked to perfection on an open flame. Make sure to squeeze lemon juice on them before eating! 

FUN FACT

Every Greek tavern has a specialty. If you go on tour with Culinary Backstreets, you will get a chance to dine at a local tavern that’s known for their lamb chops!  

4. Bourassa and Bougatsa 

Bourassa is an amazing Greek breakfast speciality

TOP GREEK DELICACY! 

Originating from northern Greece in Thessaloniki, it’s a phyllo pastry with a cheese or cream filling inside. This is great to have for breakfast. I’ll start with the cheese and then finish with the cream. For the cream version, icing sugar and cinnamon are put on top. Both though, are amazing dishes and a favorite of mine. 

5. Greek Coffee & Turkish Delight 

Greek Coffee & Turkish Delight 

Greek coffee takes time to prepare so Greeks will normally have it when they have time to sit and relax. The origins of Greek coffee go back to ancient times in Yemen where it would be boiled over the embers in a little pot. The coffee grounds are finer than espresso.  When the foam rises to the top, you know that the coffee is ready. The coffee is best served with Turkish delight, which are small jelly cubes made of rosewater or fruit juices and topped with icing sugar. 

6. Melitzanes Papoutsakia (Stuffed Eggplant)

Melitzanes Papoutsakia (Stuffed Eggplant)

Slice the eggplant in half and scoop the insides out. A filling of ground meat and spices is put in and you top it with a great helping of cheese. 

7. Greek Salad 

One of the best vegetarian dishes is the Greek Salad

My favorite salad which includes tomatoes, cucumber, onions, olives and a large piece of feta cheese. Then you drizzle some olive oil on and sprinkle some oregano.

FUN FACT

I learned from my tour guide that in order for a cheese to be called feta, it must follow very specific regulations. 70% of the cheese need to be sheep’s milk and no more than 30% can be goat’s milk. 

8. Greek Yoghurt

Greek Yoghurt

No one knows how to make yogurt better than the Greeks! Fresh milk is boiled and then strained in a cheese cloth for around 70 hours. Afterwards, you are left with a very creamy yogurt that can be eaten on its own or with added toppings. I really enjoyed the rose petals and strawberry toppings on the tour with Culinary Backstreets. 

9. Koulouri (Round Sesame Ring)

Koulouri (Round Sesame Ring)

Very similar to a bagel, this is a traditional Greek breakfast. It can actually be traced back to ancient times as a traditional snack! It is a circular ring of bread that is coated with sesame seeds. 

FUN FACT

While on the food tour, I got to visit a spot that bakes the Koulouri and supplies it to over 70% of the street vendors in Athens!

10. Smyrna (Meatballs)

Smyrna (Greek Meatballs)

Rather than being round, these meatballs are oblong, made with ground meat and herbs. They are served in a tomato sauce and eaten with rice. 

11. Greek Cake with Mastika Ice Cream 

Greek Cake with Mastika Ice Cream 

A delicious light cake that is soaked in a mastika syrup and honey and served with mastika ice cream. This is not your usual ice cream as the texture makes it look like it’s made of play dough but once it enters your mouth, it melts away like normal ice cream. Mastika is known as a medicinal ingredient which comes from the mastic tree in the Mediterranean. So, you have a very tasty dessert with health benefits! 

 


There are many more tasty things to try while on the Moveable Sunday Feast, but I’ll keep it as a surprise for you to discover on your own tour with Culinary Backstreets. 


 

Other local Greek food I found in taverns and on the streets 

 

12. Gyro

Taste of Greek cuisine, the gyro

One of the most popular Greek Mediterranean food, the gyro, starts with meat that roasts vertically on a spit. The most common type of meat is pork but chicken is an alternative option. Also inside, you have tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, potato fries and tzatziki sauce. 

13. Shrimp Saganaki

Shrimp Saganaki

TOP GREEK DELICACY! 

One of my favorites, it’s a mix of tomatoes, feta cheese, peppers, and shrimp, that you bake in a clay pot. 

14. Halloumi 

Halloumi cheese Greek Salad

I absolutely love cheese but this one is special! Halloumi is a mix of goat and sheep’s milk. The best way to eat it is to grill it so that it becomes very cheesy. This tastes great on its own or served on top of a salad. 

15. Phyllo Feta with Honey & Sesame

Phyllo Feta with Honey & Sesame

TOP GREEK DELICACY!

Another amazing cheese dish, you wrap the feta cheese in phyllo and bake in the oven. After, you coat the phyllo with honey and sesame seeds. This is also another favorite of mine and probably one of the best Greek vegetarian dishes. 

16. Kalamarakia Tiganita (Fried Calamari)

 Kalamarakia Tiganita (Fried Calamari)

Fried squid, topped with lots of lemon juice. They have this dish in many countries but somehow I think the Greeks do it the best and it’s also one of the tastiest Greek appetizers. 

17. Grilled Octopus

Greek Grilled Octopus

On many of the Greek islands, you will see freshly caught octopus hanging out on a clothes line to dry out in the sun. They do this to get the moisture out so that the octopus will not taste rubbery. After grilling the octopus, add some olive oil and fresh herbs. 

18. Dolmades

Dolmades

A Greek speciality that is made of grape vine leaves with a rice and meat stuffing. 
 

19. Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Dip)

Melitzanosalata an eggplant dip is one of the best Vegetarian Greek foods! 

When it comes to eating vegetarian Greek food, you never miss the meat because everything is full of so much flavour. With this dish, you start by charring the eggplant and once cooked, you scoop out the meat. Mix the eggplant with some onion, garlic, and peppers. On top, add a healthy serving of feta, some spices and a drizzle of olive oil. 

20. Gigantes Plaki (Giant Beans)

The vegetarian dish Gigantes Plaki is made with Giant Beans.

Another great Greek vegetarian dish which, in the past, was a major source of protein for the poor. Cook the giant beans in the oven with tomato sauce and herbs. You can also add in vegetables or some meat.

21. Spanikopita (Spinach Pie)

The local Greek dish Spanikopita (Spinach Pie)

One of the most well known Greek dishes is the spinach pie that is a mixture of spinach, feta and spices wrapped in phyllo. You can find this classic dish in every bakery all over Greece.

22. Loukoumades or Large Greek Donut

Loukoumades the best traditional Greek dessert

The Loukoumades are a traditional Greek dessert which are round donut balls, similar sized to a timbit if you are Canadian or donut hole if you’re American. Fry the dough and then coat with honey and cinnamon. You can also find the large Greek donuts being sold on beaches during the summer which is stuffed inside with Nutella or cream and coated with icing sugar.

 


I hope by now I’ve made you hungry and that you will get a chance to try local Greek food when you are visiting Greece! If you are interested in going on a food tour, make sure to try with Culinary Backstreets. 


Culinary Backstreets

At Culinary Backstreets, they focus on the traditional side of urban life. They offer tours in many cities around the world including Istanbul, Barcelona, Lisbon, Naples, Tbilisi, Queens, Mexico City, Rio Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, and Izmir. What they all have in common though is food and telling the stories of unsung heroes in the culinary world. 

If you are in Athens, you have four tour options to choose from:

  • Culinary Secrets of Downtown Athens 
  • Backstreets Plaka: Exploring the Culinary Heart of Athens 
  • Greek Wine’s Rebirth Uncorked
  • The Moveable Sunday Feast

For The Moveable Sunday Feast, the cost is $135 US/adult. 

Time: 5.5 hours 

Location: Monastiraki 

My Top Highlights of the Tour 

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  • With Culinary Backstreets, they take a maximum of 7 people on tour. On the tour, I was with four other Canadians, all from Ottawa like me! How funny is that?
  • My guide Carolina is a born and bred Athenian. Not only does she do tours but she also works as a chef and caterer, is the Culinary Director of My Greek Table, and has a Greek food show on PBS. I knew I was in good hands on my tour. 
  • Since this tour runs on a Sunday, we got to visit the local flea market which had lots of goodies to look at and buy. 
  • Because this is a foodie tour, instead of wine tasting, we got to do a honey tasting where we tried over seven different types of honey. This included sampling thyme honey, white fir tree honey, heather and carob honey and much, much more! 
  • Another favorite part of the tour was the family-run tavernas we went to. I knew that these places were legit because there weren’t any tourists around except our group. 
  • We explored areas in Monastiraki that I had never been to before. It’s a great way to start your first day in Athens and get familiar with the city
  • Lastly, all the food tasted amazing! 

Top 22 Greek dishes you need to taste pin

A big thanks to Culinary Backstreets for hosting me. As always, all opinions are my own.



49 thoughts on “Top 22 Greek Dishes You Need To Taste!”

  • i work in the greek town in Toronto and have been tasting many delicious Greek food. Love love to go to Greece and experience the food!

    • Hi Ivana, sounds like you’ve got some great spots in t-dot to go for your lunch break if you’re in Greek town! Greece has so many amazingly different and tasty dishes so I hope you get a chance to try them soon!

  • Yeeeesss, I LOVE Greek food. I don’t eat cheese so I skip all the feta, but the rest: oh yes. I love shrimp saganaki especially!
    #WeekendWanderlust

    • Hi Esther, what’s great about Greek food is that it can meet any dietary needs and still leave you with plenty of tasty dishes.

    • The mastika flavour really is unique and is something that hard to describe and needs to be tasted. The ice cream definitely was tasty!

  • Hi Jenn,

    Everything looks good. Yummy.

    I fell in love with both Greek yogurt and Halloumi during a Cyprus trip last year. Heavy Greek influence outside of Turkish-influenced Northern Cyprus so since we lived in the Southern half of Nicosia we got plenty of Greece through this charming city. Lots of Greek bakeries with halloumi served in everything it seemed. What a tasty and super filling cheese. Awesome combo.

    I went nuts on the Greek yogurt. It sticks to your ribs. So different than yogurt here in the US.

    Thanks for the delicious share Jenn.

    Ryan

    • Thanks Ryan! I’ve never been to Cyprus but I’d definitely love to go and see how their Greek yogurt and halloumi cheese compares.

      I never understand why the US and Canada can’t make nice, creamy, yogurt like the Greeks. Even when our yogurt says Greek yogurt, it still not as good. I’ve got the recipe for how to make Greek yogurt at home, so am thinking of giving that a try instead.

  • I didn’t realise how much Greek food I actually eat on a regular basis (both in home and out). There are heaps of kebab (Turkish) restaurants in my area where the foods crossover into Greek items.

  • It’s been about ten years since I traveled to greece and I hope to be back soon. I havent really tried any dishes over there so this post has given me some food for thought. 🙂

  • Oh man, I am so hungry now! This really shows how diverse Greek food is – it isn’t just moussaka! The Loukoumades look amazing, so I must look out for those when I’m in Greece. Food tours are really a great way to learn more about the food, but also the culture – so definitely a good idea!

    • Hi Hannah, that’s a great point you make about food tours teaching you about the culture! From the food tour with Culinary Backstreets, you really see how food and family go hand in hand there.

  • This was a food tour on steroids! My goodness. I can eat Greek food all day (I even called my husband to read the post). I have been to Greece twice and had so many many gastronomic highs in there. My husband has never been so I would love to visit once again. In the mean while, we are happy hitting the Greek festivals in the area. #WeekendWanderlust

    • Hi Ruth, I’m glad I’ve found another Greek food lover! This definitely was one mega food eating tour which I really enjoyed. I think all that walking helps you to eat more along the way because I didn’t feel stuffed until the very end. Hope You get to show your husband the amazing food of Greece soon! 🙂

  • I love picking up Greek food here in Australia, though of course nothing would compare to the culinary scene in the country itself – one of those double edged swords though isn’t it – you want the authentic cuisine, but then the local takeaway at home will never taste as good again haha!

    Greek lamb chops and coffee with Turkish delight sounds wonderful. And I’m all about my creamy Greek yogurt. Thanks for the food round up – heading down to my local Greek now!

    • Thanks for reading Meg! That really is the problem with traveling… you get to eat all the amazing local delicacies and when you get back home it’s just never the same so you are left with planning your next trip back to the place with the great food.

      The lamb chops were definitely my favorite from the tour. I tried making them myself at home but sadly it just wasn’t as good. Looks like I’ll need to go back to Greece again soon!

  • I’ve had quite a few of these, but I’m sure they’re way better IN GREECE! I’ve only tried them at restaurants in America. Dolmades are one of my absolute favorites! Se excited to one day visit Greece!

    • Hi Patricia, that’s great the American restaurants are offering so many from the list! I thought most places would only have the gyro, souvlaki, and moussaka. Dolmades are pretty amazing. It looks easy to make so I’ve been thinking about giving it a whirl since I’m really missing Greek food now.

      Hope you get a chance to try the real thing in Greece soon 🙂

  • The best-est part of Greek cuisine is that it has so many veggie options! 😀 While the greek salad is my all time favourite, you have listed in soooo many authentic options that one can try! I am already in love with the Bourassa and Bougatsa and the Phyllo Feta with honey and sesame! YUM! This is such a unique way to discover local treats and if your guide is a local (which she was) it is an extra! wow! Just 7 people makes it so comfortable! Loved the fact that you got to visit Taverns and taste honey! 🙂

    • Thanks for reading! My guide was telling me that after the movie My Big, Fat, Greek, Wedding many people thought Greek cuisine was all meat based but there are some truly amazing veggie options!

      I think it’s good I don’t actually live in Greece because I would be eating the bougatsa every day and probably be obese by now! Culinary Backstreets did a great job with this foodie tour and I hope you get to try one day soon 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, you certainly ate your way through Greece it seems! So many amazing different foods! I would LOVE to try the Giant Beans dish. When I was there, I tried moussaka, but I didn’t really care for it, then I learned the eggplants were out of season. I’d love to try it again sometime!

    • Thanks for reading Paige! Moussaka always seems to be a hit or miss dish but when it’s good, it’s amazing. I’m also crazy about the giant beans. I always find it’s the smallest hole in the wall taverns that make this dish the best. Hope you get a chance to visit Greece again soon and that the moussaka dish can redeem itself!

  • I hate you but I love you! Those close-up photos are not helping, not to mention the cheese! You are making me drool right now! Need to find a Greek restaurant now. I’ve been wanting to go to Greece and I think I know the first thing I would do when I get there.

    • Hehe this was definitely a tough post to write because it also made me drooling and hungry when I was putting it together. I hope you get a chance to visit Greece soon, the food it out of this world!

  • After living in Toronto’s Greektown for several years as well as visiting Athens and Santorini there some some things on the list I still have not heard of it tried. Lamb is my favourite meat and the Greeks do that extremely well. I almost stopped reading at lamb and was ready to jump in my Jeep and head back to my old stomping grounds for some lamb souvlaki.

    • This list only got put together after four visits to Greece and a lot of eating along the way. Every time I go back I’m always discovering new dishes. Hopefully you can find the majority of these dishes in Toronto’s Greek town until your next trip to Greece 😉

    • Hi Kavita, thanks for your comment. Those three dishes are definitely amazing. Hope you get a chance to try them soon in Greece!

  • Wow..greek food looks wonderful. Outside Europe, when we talk about European food, Italian is the first that comes to mind. But I never really knew there are so many specialities and delicacies to try in greece as well. I am sure now when I get to go there, I am going to come back with few extra pounds 🙂

    • Hi Neha, I thought for sure I was going to pack a few pounds after spending a month eating my way through Greece but was so surprised when I didn’t! For the most part, Greek food is really healthy. They use olive oil to fry their food, honey instead of sugar and oftentimes things are locally made. So you get to eat amazing and healthy food!

  • I LOVE greek food! It’s so fresh and delicious. Which makes the fact that I haven’t visited Greece to taste it at it’s origin kind of a shame. Thanks for the meal inspiration though!

  • Greek cuisine is probably much underrated as compared to other cuisines. But the range of the cuisine is really mind boggling. I was checking out if there are any vegetarian options in the list and did find a few including the salad and donuts.

    • Hi Sandy, thanks for your comment. I am surprised how underrated Greek cuisine is. It’s been around as long as French and Italian and tastes just as good (if not better!). There’s definitely a lot of vegetarian options too. Besides the salad and donut, Moussaka without meat, bougatsa, phyllo feta, dolmades, eggplant dip, giant beans, and spinach pie are other tasty options as well!

  • OMG! Such a variety from just one country and all looking so inviting. I would go crazy eating all the good food there if I ever visit Greece. This post is definitely a gastronomical delight!

  • I have tasted quite a few of these and absolutely love the Greek salad and haloumi. I have tried Moussaka but i always feel hungry at the end of it. I must compliment you on the pics….they are lip smacking 😀

    • Thanks so much Ami! I was never crazy about salad until I tried it with halloumi! It’s easy to take pictures when the food looks so good 🙂

  • This is a great post and made me hungry! My now fiance proposed to me last year in Crete, and we’re going back in three weeks for our wedding there! I actually wrote a very similar post on 12 things to eat in Crete: https://culturalfoodies.com/2018/08/08/12-must-try-foods-in-crete-greece/

    We spent two weeks on Mainland Greece, and I’ve tried most of the food items on your list. Some of them, however, I seemed to have missed! I’ll have to search for them when we’re back in a few weeks! – Lisa from http://www.culturalfoodies.com.

    • Hi Lisa, so sorry for the late reply! I love the name of your blog. Reading your foodie post about Crete made me really hungry. I never tried escargot in Greece but will definitely give that a try the next time I visit!

      Congratulations on getting married and I hope you had a fantastic time in Greece 🙂

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