Traditional Food in Greece: What to Expect

Traditional Food in Greece: What to Expect

Planning a trip to Greece and wondering what to expect from the cuisine? We’ve got you covered. 

Being one of the top European foodie destinations, Greece has so much to offer when it comes to cuisine. From Mykonos to Crete and Santorini, and from the north part of the country to the most unspoiled Greek islands, the Mediterranean gem promises to take you on an unforgettable culinary journey.

Indulge in the rich and flavorful world of Greek cuisine, where traditional dishes are prepared using a variety of herbs and spices to create delicious and unique flavor profiles. From the iconic souvlaki and gyros to the lesser-known, but equally delicious kleftiko, there is something for everyone.

Greek cooking techniques have been perfected over centuries, with dishes often slow-cooked to perfection or grilled to add a distinctive charred flavor. Many local foods also incorporate fresh and locally sourced ingredients, such as olives, feta cheese, and olive oil.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Athens or the idyllic islands of the Aegean Sea, you’ll find a diverse array of Greek cuisine to sample. In this article, we guide you through the best traditional food in Greece so you can enjoy all of the rich culinary traditions and gastronomic delights of the country, one dish at a time!

Greek salad

Greek Meze: A Delightful Greek Tradition

Choriatiki (Greek Salad)

Choriatiki, otherwise known as Greek salad, has become something of a household name. While you are likely to have come across this traditional dish many times in the past, there is nothing quite like trying it in its home ground.

A staple of local cuisine, choriatiki is served alongside almost every dish in traditional Greek restaurants. Slices of tomato, olives, cucumber and feta cheese come together to create a plate of refreshing goodness. 


Kolokithokeftedes are a delicious local appetizer that cannot be missed during a vacation to Greece. The dish consists of grated or pureed zucchini blended with dill, mint and extra virgin olive oil. Feta is also often added for an extra layer of flavor.

The ingredients are then combined into a patty and lightly fried to produce a scrumptious, golden crust that offers a light yet crispy texture, before being served alongside tzatziki or a plain yogurt dip. This is certainly one of the tastiest traditional Greek meze vegetable dishes.

Tzatziki drizzled with olive oil surrounded by pitta bread


Santorini’s rich volcanic soil produces a unique variety of tomatoes called Santorini tomatoes, or tomataki. While they’re the size of cherries, they’re far from your sandard cherry tomatoes. They’re sweet and intensely fragrant, with a unique flavor and texture that results from the nutrient-packed millennia-old volcanic ash and the vines’ ability to thrive with minimal water.

These tomatoes are the focus of a must-try Greek meze dish known as Tomatokeftedes. A favorite appetizer, they’re fried in olive oil and mixed with onions, peppers, mint and other herbs in a thick batter, producing a delicious snack.


One of the most commonly used Greek dips, it will be almost impossible to avoid a helping of tzatziki during your vacation to Greece. Thankfully, this is a good thing as this versatile sauce is utterly delicious.

Tzatziki consists of thick strained yogurt, garlic, cucumber, olive oil, a dash of dill and a squeeze of lemon. It is often served alongside meat, kolokithokeftedes, dolmades and bread. 

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagne)

Traditional Greek Food: The Main Course Stars


Pastitsio is Greece’s answer to the Italian lasagne. It is a delicious dish comprising baked layers of pasta filled with juicy ground meat, bechamel sauce and tomato sauce. The ingredients are then garnished with a handful of cheese before being placed in the oven to bake. 

The main difference between this Greek masterpiece and its Italian cousin is the type of pasta used. While Italy serves lasagna on pasta sheets, pastitsio is made with small macaroni. The meat used tends to vary between beef and lamb. The dish also has a special warmth spread through its sauce, flavored with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.


An absolute classic when it comes to traditional foods in Greece, souvlaki is extremely popular amongst tourists and locals. Similar to gyros, it consists of bite-size pieces of meat that have been grilled on a skewer. 

Sometimes souvlaki will just be served as it comes but it often arrives wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes, lettuce and onions, or plated up alongside tzatziki and french fries. Whether you want a quick bite on the go or a sit-down meal, this versatile dish caters to any and all occasions. 



Experience Corfu’s aromatic flavors through the famous Sofrito dish. A favorite from the colorful old town, it’s made up of thin, fried slices of beef cooked in a white sauce with white wine, vinegar, pepper, garlic, and parsley, served with potatoes or mashed peas. This dish is a must-try, bursting with depth and flavor. 

Traditional Corfiot dishes tend to bring a delicious blend of Greek and Venetian tastes. Some of the island’s popular traditional products include extra-virgin olive oil, honey, and sheep yogurt. The cuisine on Corfu is dominated by the use of spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves as well as garlic and wine. 

Chtapodi Sti Schara

Chtapodi sti schara (grilled octopus) is a renowned Greek seafood delicacy, which truly captures the essence of the country’s coastal charm. Although there are variations of this dish, the same meticulous preparation goes into every version. 

Tender octopus tentacles are marinated in a delightful blend of olive oil, lemon juice and fragrant herbs. They are then grilled over a charcoal fire, leaving them charred on the outside and tender on the inside, whilst also acquiring a delicious smoky taste. Served in seaside tavernas and upscale restaurants alike, this delectable dish delivers a taste of the Aegean sea with every bite. 



Kleftiko is a sensational Greek recipe involving slow oven-cooked lamb infused with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Translating to “stolen”, it’s said that the cooking method used to make this dish traces back 500 years to a group of bandits known as the Klephts. 

During the Greek War of Independence, they would steal animals from the markets and run off with them. When they reached a safe area, they would then dig a hole in which they would ignite a fire to create a secret, make-shift underground oven. 

Doing so allowed the Klephts to hide the smoke and suppress the smell of the meat. Thankfully, you won’t need to take this approach to enjoy some kleftiko these days. Instead, you will find this divine traditional Greek dish in the majority of tavernas throughout the country.


Another of the most popular traditional dishes in Greece is Soutzoukakia. The iconic meal is based on braised meatballs in a spiced tomato and wine sauce. The sauce tends to be garnished with an assortment of spices to give it a hearty kick, the most predominant of which being cumin.

The meat used varies between veal and a mixture of ground pork and beef. The way soutzoukakia is served varies throughout the country. In some areas, the meatballs will be served on top of square-shaped egg pasta while elsewhere you’ll find them placed on a bed of white rice.

A warming dish, soutzoukakia makes the perfect comfort meal after a busy day of exploring the best things to do in Greece. Bursting with depth and flavor, do not miss out on sampling this tasty Greek traditional food during your trip.


Traditional Greek Desserts: Sweet Endings


Scrumptious golden puffs, loukoumades are almost always the highlight of the meal! Frequently referred to as Greek donuts, they are made of fried dough that has been drizzled with sweet syrup and sprinkled with walnuts and cinnamon. 

Crispy on the outside but fluffy and airy on the inside, these are thought to be one of the oldest recorded pastries in the world. In fact, they were originally made to be served at feasts held in honor of saints. It comes as no surprise why they have stood the test of time, they are certainly one of the most delicious traditional Greek food dishes.

 Loukoumades are often served on a large plate for everyone to share together. A favorite amongst adults and children alike, you are not going to want to miss out on these scrumptious bites during your visit.


Taking a firm place as one of the most cherished desserts in Greek and Middle-Eastern cuisines, baklava is a must-try sweet treat when in Greece. This delectable pastry consists of layers of paper-thin phyllo dough, generously brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with a blend of finely chopped nuts, often including walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. 

Each layer is then carefully stacked, perfectly balancing a crunchy and soft texture and creating a symphony of rich nutty flavors. Once the baklava is baked to a golden hue, it is doused in a fragrant syrup infused with honey, cinnamon and citrus, soaking every layer with sweetness. Baklava holds a special place in cultural celebrations and family gatherings in Greece and has captured the hearts and taste buds of many across the globe.


Greek Beverages: A Toast to Tradition

Greek Aperitifs and Digestifs 

Among the most notable traditional drinks are Ouzo and Tsipouro. Ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur, is a beloved aperitif, embodying the spirit of Greek hospitality. It is often served with water and enjoyed with appetizers during social gatherings.

Tsipouro, a potent grape-based spirit, is popular for its strong taste and is commonly served after meals to aid digestion and encourage camaraderie among friends and family. It is best served cold, and can also be additionally flavored by adding lemon rind, rosemary or honey. 

Indigenous Wines of Greece

Greece is renowned for its wine, particularly the indigenous varieties produced on the islands of Santorini, Crete, Drama, and Nemea. They’ve been making wine on Santorini for more than 3,000 years, with over 40 native grape varieties grown here. The vines lay low to the ground in round baskets which helps to protect them from the wind. Assyrtiko is the most popular variety. It is used in most local whites and is rich in minerals and bursting with flavor.

Crete is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in continuous use in Europe, with a heritage dating back 4,000 years. The indigenous varieties include whites like Vilana and reds such as the legendary Romeiko.

The village of Nemea is situated in the northeast corner of the Peloponnese peninsula and is considered one of the most important red wine appellations in the country. Its surrounding valleys and mountains have been producing wine for centuries, primarily from the indigenous Agiorgitiko grape.

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So, why not take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey to Greece? Explore the coastline and inner cities’ bustling tavernas and family-run eateries where the delights of traditional Greek food await you. As you indulge in the unique flavors of each local dish, you will undoubtedly be captivated by the magic that traditional Greek food has to offer.

Dreaming of sampling the traditional dishes of Greece for yourself? Take a food and wine tour and discover the miraculous breadth of flavors on offer in this Mediterranean gem. Contact us now to find out how you can allow Greek cuisine to embrace your senses and enrich your culinary repertoire.

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