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My Favorite Typical Greek Food | The Top 12 Best Greek Dishes

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There is huge variety in Greek food. The majority of Greek dishes I tried were simple and made use of what's in season, but they were all done perfectly. The Greek diet is full of seafood, grilled meats, cheese, fresh vegetables, olive oil and savory pastries. In fact, Greece is considered to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. 

There is huge variety in Greek food. The majority of Greek dishes I tried were simple and made use of what's in season, but they were all done perfectly. The Greek diet is full of seafood, grilled meats, cheese, fresh vegetables, olive oil and savory pastries. In fact, Greece is considered to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. 

There is huge variety in Greek food. The majority of Greek dishes I tried were simple and made use of what's in season, but they were all done perfectly. The Greek diet is full of seafood, grilled meats, cheese, fresh vegetables, olive oil and savory pastries. In fact, Greece is considered to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. 

Typically when you think of Greek food, you think of gyros. But as I learned, there is huge variety in Greek food. The majority of Greek dishes I tried were simple and made use of what’s in season, but they were all done perfectly.

The Greek diet is full of seafood, grilled meats, cheese, fresh vegetables, olive oil and savory pastries. In fact, Greece is considered to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. 

After spending nearly a month eating my way through Greece, I present to you the best Greek dishes:

Greek coffee

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but the Greek are coffee fanatics! On nearly every corner, at all times of the day, you can find a coffee shop full of locals. The only other place where I can recall a comparable coffee culture is Albania.

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Greek coffee very much reminded me of the Turkish coffee I tried on my walking food tour of Istanbul but don’t tell a Greek person that! They take their coffee very seriously, as they should: the Greeks actually invented the frappe!

Souvlaki

This is a simple dish that most of you are likely familiar with. Souvlaki is Greece’s favorite fast food and is nearly ubiquitous.

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You can have your souvlaki skewered or in the gyro version that we’re most familiar with back in the states, where I’m from.

The pita bread is stuffed with your choice of grilled meat (my favorite is pork), onion, tomato and usually some type of sauce, typically tzatziki- a yogurt and cucumber sauce. Souvlaki also sometimes is filled with fries.

I’m not as used to having the fries on it but I can’t say I was mad! Also, be sure to ask for extra tzatziki– it’s messy but completely worth it!

Koulouri

Full disclosure- I didn’t actually care much for koulouri. But, because it’s so popular, I felt I should include it.

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Koulouri is typically eaten as a Greek breakfast on the go. I thought it was a bit like a pretzel covered in sesame seeds, but drier. Try one for yourself for an authentic local dish!

Fennel pie (marathopites)

Fennel pie is a local speciality of Syros, one of the Greek islands.

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These simple pies are full of flavor- aromatic fennel and onion in a buttery crust cooked to perfection. Definitely look for these when you visit the island!

Tiropita (Greek cheese pie)

For a pie you can find all over the country, be sure to look for tiropita, or Greek cheese pie.

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This savory pie contains several types of cheesed wrapped in phyllo dough and brushed with either olive oil or butter. It’s not exactly a light snack, but it’s a delicious one!

Fava

Anyone who followed me on social media during my time in Greece is well aware of my obsession with fava.

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I insisted on fava as one of the appetizers for nearly every meal, and my friends joked I was becoming a fava connoisseur.

Fava is a simple dish- a split pea puree covered in olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon, and sprinkled with capers and onions. That’s it- so simple, but so full of flavor. Spread it over fresh bread and it’s the perfect snack or appetizer.

I would compare fava to hummus, but I might actually prefer the taste of fava. This is a must try Greek dish during your time in the country.

Tirokafteri- Greek spicy cheese dip

My second favorite Greek dip is this spicy cheese dip I saw on several menus before I decided to give it a try.

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I don’t know why I waited so long- it’s amazing!

Feta cheese and yogurt are combined with spicy peppers to make a spread that’s perfect for crusty bread. This became another favorite with our group!

Lemon chicken & potatoes

This is another one of those Greek dishes that was so simple and straightforward, yet incredibly satisfying when done correctly.

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Roasted chicken and potatoes covered in fresh lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. The intense lemon flavor permeates both the chicken and potatoes, making the dish surprisingly light.

Moussaka

Other than souvlaki, I would say moussaka is quite possibly the next most well-known Greek food.

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If you’ve never had it, moussaka is a dish made with layers of eggplant or potatoes. It often has ground meat and is covered in a white cheese sauce before being baked off.

The recipe typically contains cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, all combined to give the dish a complex flavor.

My favorite version contains ground lamb or beef and potatoes rather than eggplant.

Olive oil

While most of us consider olive oil simply a basic ingredient, in Greece, it’s a staple of the diet.

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In fact, Greeks consume more olive oil than anyone else in the world. So, it’s no surprise they also produce some of the best olive oils in the world.

During an olive oil tasting I attended, we were instructed in the various oils and their specific uses- this lighter one is for salad dressings, this one for baking, this one for frying, etc., etc.

I’ve tried olive oils all over the world, and Greece truly has some of the best I’ve tasted.

Seafood

I know this is a broad category not a specific dish, but Greeks do seafood so well it has to be mentioned.

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Roasted octopus over chickpeas drizzled with a fragrant olive oil

With such amazing access to a plethora of seafood, the country has perfected its seafood dishes.

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Seafood is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and one of the primary reasons the diet is considered so healthy.

Koliva

I’ll end on a sweet note- koliva is a unique Greek dish that I’ve not had anything like before.

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Koliva is a mixture of wheat berries, toasted nuts and dried fruits. This version even contained fresh pomegranate seeds.

This Greek food is traditionally served at funerals. The ingredients are sybolic- the wheat berries represent the promise of everlasting life, the fruits the sweetness of life, and the spices are symbols of plenty.

I always reiterate how I don’t have a sweet tooth. but I actually enjoyed koliva because it was similar to a granola dish with fresh fruits in it. I would gladly have this again.


Which Greek food looked the best to you? Are you a fan of Greek food? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Maria Maraki

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Nice article. I've been to Greece 10 times but I am not Greek. I am a Hellenophile.

Regarding the food there is significant overlap with many Mediterranean foods. I lived in Saudi, have traveled all over the Mediterranean /middle east and went to cooking school in Spain. The best part of Greek food is the hospitality and congeniality of the people (haritomeni is what they say). I have made many of the foods on the list or had them on my travels.

The dip with cheese I found to be called xtipi-tyri (beaten cheese) and you can get it in my friends' restaurants.

You also missed taramasalata (caviar salad) which is more of a dip. I also really love village salad (salata xioriatiki). I'm also very fond of gouvetsi or lamb stew... It's all great! Thanks for the article.

Maria

Gail Mallory

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

I love the Greek food I have had. This is why I always wanted to go there to taste the real thing!

Mary

Saturday 14th of August 2021

Worth mentioning there are countless vegan/vegetarian Greek meals (like horta etc) that are not main stream. It is amusing listening to vegans culturally appropriate Greek cuisine and have absolutely no idea that hundreds of vegetarian Greek meals exist because they visited Greece one summer and did not see vegan meals on the menu. Most Greeks do not go out to consume horta or even eat meat during lent. Therefore meat is enjoyed with loved ones outside of the lent period when you go out. Traditionally Greeks fast for 40 days at a time for religious reasons throughout the year and most meals are consumed at home. Most Greeks do not go out to eat vegan meals or celebrate during lent. Nothing compares to a homemade bowl of lentil soup. Simply Heaven!! Also,Koliva are made for funerals and as rememberance of beloved ancestors (souls) who have passed away. Usually bowls of koliva are respectfully and dutifully made by the matriarch of each family. Taken to church and blessed. This is not a meal offered in the local tavern.

Diana

Sunday 8th of August 2021

There is only 1 dish I dont eat that octopus 10 stars for all the rest magnificent

Susan anderson

Friday 6th of August 2021

1 enjoyed your article, my husband is Greek and I have have been making Greek food for many years!!! You, forgot, one of our favorites, spinach pie. Greeks, would, love hearing, how you enjoyed the country!

Nathan

Saturday 7th of August 2021

Thank you! I love Greek spinach pie! Also, the cheese pie was delicious also. I miss Greek food!

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