Top 8 Traditional Greek Food to Try in Greece

by Jack Cheng
Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food

Hearty, rustic, and fulfilling, traditional Greek cuisine permeated restaurant scenes across the world with these simple traits.

In North America, Greek food earned its reputation as ‘hard to go wrong’ and sits comfortably high among our list of favourite takeout foods. But in Greece, you’ll find eateries and tavernas keeping up with tradition and prepare classic dishes without much of the same embellishments our local restaurants couldn’t resist tacking on.

Here, you can expect authentic recipes steeped in history and made with fresh Mediterranean ingredients.

Here’s our Travel Experts‘ list of the best traditional food in Greece and where to try them:

1. Moussaka

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food moussaka

A classic Greek casserole layered in ground lamb meat, rich meat sauce, eggplants, potatoes and topped with creamy Béchamel sauce. Baked to golden perfection in the oven, moussaka is considered the ultimate Greek comfort food.

Where to try it:

  • Liondi: Makrygianni Street 19-21, Athens 11742, Greece
  • Eva’s Garden: N. Kalogera 2, Goumenio Square, Mykonos Town 846 00, Greece
  • The Greco’s Project: Mitropoleos 5, Nikis, Athens 105 57, Greece

2. Gyros

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food gyros

Pronounced ‘yee-rohs’, this vertical rotisserie sliced meat dish is Greece’s own take on donair kebab. Gyros are typically made with pork and served with tzatziki sauce, tomato slices, chopped onions, and wrapped in a grilled pita with fries.

Where to try it:

  • O Thanasis: Mitropoleos 69, Monastiraki, Athens 105 55, Greece
  • PitoGyros Traditional Grill House: Oia 84702, Greece
  • Piotita Paliakis: 11 Platia Varnava, Athens 116 35, Greece

3. Saganaki

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food saganaki

Known in North America as the ‘flaming cheese’ and often served with plenty of theatrics. But in Greece, you’ll find saganaki brought to the table with little fanfare. Pan-seared to crispy gold, this square cut cheese appetizer pairs nicely with ouzo, Metaxa, and beer.

Where to try it:

  • Elia: Kamari Beach, Kamari 847 00, Greece
  • Oineas Restaurant: Aisopou 9, Athens 10554, Greece
  • Argo Restaurant: By the Old Port, Fira 847 00, Santorini, Greece

4. Souvlaki

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food souvlaki

A Greek fast food staple, souvlaki has been around for centuries and was eaten the same way as you would today, hot off the skewers. In southern Greece, including Athens, souvlaki is referred to as ‘kalamaki’ and comes with a side of quartered grilled pita, fries, lemon wedges, and generous dollops of tzatziki sauce. It’s also sometimes served as a wrapped pita sandwich with chopped vegetables and dressings.

Where to try it:

  • Kosta’s Souvlaki: Agia Irinis Square 2, Monastiraki, Athens 104 31, Greece
  • O Kostas: 5 Pentelis, Syntagma, Athens 10560, Greece
  • Kalamaki Kolonaki: Ploutarchou 32, Kolonaki, Athens, Greece
  • Lucky’s Souvlaki: fira santorini, Fira 84700, Greece

5. Fresh Seafood

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food octopus

While visiting the Greek islands, grab a seat at a seaside restaurant and try some fresh caught seafood made with aromatic spices and herbs. Among the best dishes are steamed mussels with tomatoes sauce, grilled or fried octopus, calamari, lambraki (sea bass), bakaliaro (fried cod), mackerels, and shrimp saganaki.

Where to try it:

  • Athenian House: Fira – Oia Pedestrian Street, Imerovigli, Imerovigli 84700, Greece
  • Kikis Tavern: Agios Sostis Beach, 846 00, Mykonos, Greece
  • To Psaraki: Vlychada Marina, Vlychada 847010, Santorini, Greece
  • Varoulko Seaside: Akti Koumoundourou 52, Mikrolimano 185 33, Athens, Greece
  • Ithaki Restaurant: 28 Apollonos, Vouliagmeni 166 71, Athens, Greece

6. Meze

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food meze dishes

Meze dishes are small plate appetizers that are often served alongside ouzo, raki, and mastika. Stop by a taverna or ouzeri for some olives with feta cheese, dolmathakia (grape leaves stuff with meat and rice), taramosalata (carp roe spread), and keftethes (Greek meatballs).

Where to Try It:

Almost anywhere!

7. Spanakopita

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food spanakopita

A savoury spinach pie made from crunchy filo pastry, spanakopita is usually stuff with spinach, feta, onions, and different seasonings. Almost every region in Greece has its own take on this traditional pie. Some resemble calzones and are made with a thicker, flour-based crust.

Where to Try It

Almost anywhere!

8. Handmade Desserts

Better Beach Greece best traditional Greek food baklava

Fried, creamy, dipped in honey or syrup, Greek desserts are deceptively simple and decadently sweet. In Athens, visit the local markets or cafés and pick up a plate of loukoumades (fried donut balls drizzled with honey, syrup or chocolate), galaktoboureko (filo pastry pie filled with custard), halva (semolina butter cake with sesame, raisins, and cinnamon), kataïfi (pastry made from shredded filo dough rolled with almonds and nuts then dipped in honey), baklava and more.

Where to Try It

Almost anywhere!

Where else but Greece to try the best traditional Greek food? 

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