Souvlaki

A Vacationer’s Guide to Authentic Greek Cuisine

One of the best experiences when vacationing in Greece is trying the country’s rich culinary flavors. Greek cuisine is deeply rooted in history and influenced by the land and sea. It’s a cuisine that prides itself on the freshness of its ingredients, from the sun-kissed vegetables and fruits to the abundant olive oil, fresh seafood, and meats.

The food in Greece is not just sustenance but a celebration of life, community, and family. Whether it’s the street-side eateries serving quick and delicious souvlaki and gyros or the traditional tavernas offering a more immersive dining experience with dishes like moussaka and fresh Greek salad, every meal is an opportunity to explore Greek culture and hospitality.

Saganaki

Saganaki - Greek fried cheese
Photo Credit: EsinDeniz/DepositPhotos

A Greek appetizer of fried cheese often flambeed at the table. The cheese used is usually kefalograviera, kasseri, or halloumi. Saganaki is crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside often served with lemon wedges.

Loukoumades

Loukoumades - fried Greek honey puffs
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Small, sweet honey puffs, often drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon and walnuts. These are a popular Greek dessert, resembling doughnuts in texture. Loukoumades are a delightful treat, especially when enjoyed fresh and warm.

Kleftiko

Kleftiko - stewed lamb meat with vegetables
Photo Credit: Darkwisper88/DepositPhotos

A traditional Greek dish of slow-cooked lamb, often marinated in garlic, lemon, and herbs and cooked in parchment paper. The lamb becomes incredibly tender and flavorful, falling off the bone. Kleftiko is a testament to the Greek mastery of slow cooking.

Moussaka

Moussaka - eggplant casserole
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A rich, layered casserole made with eggplants, minced meat (usually lamb or beef), and béchamel sauce. It’s often seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg, blending savory and sweet flavors. Moussaka is a staple in Greek households.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki - meat skewers
Photo Credit: gioiak2/DepositPhotos

These are skewers of grilled meat, typically pork, chicken, or lamb, served with pita bread, vegetables, and tzatziki sauce. Souvlaki is a very popular street food in Greece. It’s perfect for a quick, delicious meal on the go.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita - spinach pie
Photo Credit: igordutina/DepositPhotos

A savory, layered pie of phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, onions, and herbs. This flaky, crispy treat is a favorite at Greek bakeries and cafes. Spanakopita can be enjoyed as a snack or a light meal.

Dolmades

Dolmades - stuffed grape leaves
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Grape leaves stuffed with rice and pine nuts often served with a lemon sauce. Dolmades can be found in both meat-filled and vegetarian versions. They are a delightful appetizer.

Fasolada

Fasolada - bean soup
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A traditional Greek bean soup, considered by many as the national dish of Greece. It’s made with white beans, olive oil, and vegetables, typically seasoned with thyme or bay leaves. Fasolada is a hearty and nutritious dish, embodying the simplicity of Greek cuisine.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio - pasta casserole
Photo Credit: Paul_Cowan/DepositPhotos

Often referred to as Greek lasagna, this baked pasta dish includes layers of tubular pasta, minced meat, and a creamy béchamel sauce. It’s a filling and comforting dish, perfect for family gatherings. The cinnamon and nutmeg add a unique, warming flavor.

Baklava

Baklava - layered pastry
Photo Credit: OlgaBombologna/DEpositPhotos

A sweet dessert pastry made of phyllo dough, nuts, and syrup or honey. It’s a rich, decadent dessert with a crunchy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. Baklava is a beloved treat in Greek cafes and bakeries.

Gyro

Gyro
Photo Credit: bhofack2
/DepositPhotos

A popular fast food consisting of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. It is typically served in a pita wrap with tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. The meat is usually pork or chicken, known for its tender, flavorful quality. Authentic gyros are a must-try!

Horiatiki Salad

Horiatiki Salad - traditional Greek Salad
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Also known as Greek salad, it includes tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and olives, typically dressed with olive oil and oregano. This salad is refreshing and light, embodying the essence of Mediterranean flavors. It’s a staple side dish in Greek meals.

Octopus

Grilled Octopus
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Grilled octopus is a common sight in Greek coastal areas, known for its tender and slightly charred texture. It’s often marinated with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. Grilled octopus is a delicious example of Greek seafood cuisine.

Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko - custard pie
Photo Credit: lenyvavsha/DepositPhotos

A custard pie made with phyllo dough and soaked in a sweet syrup. The creamy and rich custard contrasts nicely with the crisp phyllo layers. Galaktoboureko is a beloved Greek dessert, perfect for those who enjoy a sweet, indulgent treat.

Greek Food to Try on Vacation

Souvlaki
Photo Credit: igordutina/DepositPhotos

Greek cuisine offers a delightful journey of flavors and traditions, reflecting the country’s rich history and culture. From the bustling streets of Athens to the serene islands of the Aegean, every dish tells a story of the land, the sea, and the people who have cultivated these recipes through generations. Whether savoring the crispy layers of spanakopita, the hearty warmth of a traditional moussaka, or the simple yet profound taste of a perfectly prepared horiatiki salad, each bite is a journey through Greece’s culinary landscape.

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