While it’s certainly known for its spit-roasted meats carved straight from the grill and oh-so-fresh seafood, traveling to this sun-soaked destination and trying the local fare is definitely worth it.
From hearty street food to fresh fine dining and even sampling some of the freshest fine produce, here’s just a small taste of what to eat in Greece.
With so many coastal areas here, you’ll find that some of the best seafood anywhere comes straight from the Mediterranean with fresh seafood prepared straight from the daily deliveries to the kitchens. You’ll see plenty of octopus salads and calamari on the menu and plenty of restaurants located right at the seafront serving up sea bass and surprisingly, seafood pastas that couldn’t get any fresher if you’d waded out and caught it yourself. If you’re a fan of seafood, you simply can’t go wrong in Greece.
Starting with the obvious choice; souvlakia (grilled meat skewered) or Gyros (pronounced: yee-ros) which is pulled meat served in pita bread. Sure you might think you’ve had a souvo, and you might think you’ve had a damn good souvo (particularly if you’ve eaten in the wee hours of the a.m.) but until you’ve tried a real Greek one, with perfectly grilled meat, fries, tzatziki and fresh ingredients, you haven’t actually had one. Casual street eats in Greece are a win all around when you’re wandering around Athens. You’ll find souvo shops everywhere, but if you’re looking to get the best one (of course you are) you’ve got some pretty good options.
In Athens you’ll find two consistently great places, both named Kostas. Kostas Platia Agias Eirinis is located in popular Agias Eirinis Square. The best way to find it is to look for the queue of people out the door. It’s been an institution since the 1940s and they serve up only two menu items (no menu paralysis here). It’s a tiny, no frill eatery with no seating, just the street benches outside. You’ll find some of the best pork souvlaki or little Greek-style burgers called biftekia served with their famous spicy tomato sauce.
Alternatively, Kostas Syntagma also has a seriously loyal following. So much so they often sell out of food before their 3pm closing time so if you can stomach souvo for breakfast, get there early. Located in Syntagma (not too far from the metro station) their specialty is their souvlaki and kebabs served up on some of the fluffiest pita bread around.
Speaking of bread, since you’ll be awake early to grab your souvo, the bakeries all over Greece are completely intoxicating. The smell is divine! Wander into one early as many bakeries sell out of the best stuff quickly and often close before midday, and make sure you try the Koulouri. These tasty rings of bread are super soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and coated with sesame seeds. They’re a classic food you’ll often find served in street kiosks making them the ideal ‘grab and go’ breakfast option for when you want to spend the day exploring. Pair them up with a Greek coffee (served strong- espresso style) and you’ll be ready to tackle the day.
The cuisine from Greece’s rural the southern Peloponnese region or the Mani Peninsula isn’t yet on the radar for most tourists, but it should be. This beautiful region is home to acres and acres of orchards, plenty of farmland and some gorgeous scenery as well.
Kalamata is the capital of the region, so it’s only natural to think fresh olives and olive oils are what they do best here, and you’d be right. But they also offer an abundance of fresh organic produce and pistachio groves too. It’s also in this more regional area that you can escape the touristy dining spots and really indulge at the local tavernas where they serve up authentic family recipes from the local fare – heaven. You’ll find a range of restaurants for any travel budget and most eateries offer beautiful outdoor terraces where you can pull up a chair and enjoy the surrounds while grazing the afternoon away.
Wineries and distilleries
The Greek have been making wine for thousands of years, so they’ve certainly got the hang of it and climate here means the vines are certainly plentiful and bountiful. Since you can’t enjoy quality food without great drinking options, visiting the wineries as well as the distilleries in this region is a must.
In addition to wine, families have been distilling ouzo here for centuries. The Greek aperitif, usually distilled in copper pots from grapes, tastes similar to black liquorice as it’s flavoured with anise. From there, each distillery creates their own unique flavours based on recipes handed down over generations using a variety of spices, herbs and other fruits. Drink it as is, with a bit of water or a few ice cubes or enjoy it mixed into a cocktail.
With the beautiful views, incredible climate and some of the tastiest foods around, Greece is certainly one to add to your foodie ‘to eat’ list. Just bring your sunscreen and a pretty big appetite.
Ready to eat the best of Greece? Check out our Real Food Adventure for all your culinary inspiration.