Typical Greek Food - Traditional Greek dishes
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Typical Greek Food – 30 Traditional Dishes & Desserts

A complete guide to typical Greek food – 30 Traditional Dishes & Desserts explains dishes divided into vegan, vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes, sweets and typical drinks.

Typical Greek food is based on ingredients characteristic for the Mediterranean diet, such as variety of vegetables, freshly caught fish and seafood, seasoned with olive oil and aromatic local herbs (not exotic ones), however with more consumption of meat than in other Mediterranean countries. Greek dishes are characterized by use of few simple ingredients, but of great quality and prepared skillfully and with a lot of care.

Read What and Where to Eat in Athens – The Best Restaurants & Areas

List of contents

  1. Vegetarian Dishes
  2. Vegan Dishes
  3. Seafood Dishes
  4. Meat Dishes
  5. Desserts
  6. Drinks

1. Typical Greek Food: Vegetarian Dishes

1.1. Greek Salad

Classic Greek salad
Classic Greek salad

The classic of the classics and probably the most world-known Greek food is surely the Greek salad, made of feta cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers, black olives and onions and sprinkled with olive oil and Mediterranean herbs, mostly oregano.

1.2. Tzatziki

Tzatziki - classic Greek dip of cucumbers
Tzatziki – classic Greek dip of cucumbers

Tzatziki is an extremely popular dip made of yogurt and finely cut cucumber, with addition of fresh garlic and often dill. It is an appetizer or side dish.

1.3. Spanakopita / Tiropita

Spanakopita or Tiropita
Spanakopita or Tiropita

Spanakopita or tiropita is a layered filo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese, similar to börek.

1.4. Saganaki

Feta saganaki
Feta saganaki

Saganaki is a fried slice of feta cheese. As simple as it sounds, it’s really delicious and makes a great appetizer.

Apart from feta cheese saganaki, there exists also a shrimp saganaki, which consists in pan-fried shrimps.

1.5. Kolokithokeftedes

Kolokithokeftedes - zucchini fritters
Kolokithokeftedes – zucchini fritters

Kolokithokeftedes are definitely a typical Greek food – a delicious meze or starter. They are vegetarian fried zucchini balls with feta cheese and mint. The fritters are crispy on the outside and pleasantly melting inside. They are usually served with yoghurt sauce.

2. Typical Greek Food: Vegan Dishes

2.1. Fava

Fava - Greek vegetarian dip
Fava – Greek vegetarian dip

Fava is a dip similar to hummus, but made of yellow split pea, with a distinctive taste. It is served as an appetizer and it’s a really interesting taste to try.

2.2. Yemista

Yemista - Stuffed vegetables
Yemista – Stuffed vegetables

Yemista (or Gemista) is a popular and delicious vegetarian dish consisting in baked stuffed vegetables – one of my favourite Greek dishes. These can be peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines or even onions hollowed out and stuffed with rice mixed with chopped vegetables and herbs, and baked in the oven.

There exists also a non-vegetarian version filled with minced meat.

2.3. Fasolada

Fasolada
Fasolada

Fasolada is a vegetarian bean & tomato soup with carrots, onions and olive oil and seasoned with Mediterranean herbs.

2.4. Dolmadakia without meat

Vegan dolma or dolmadakia
Vegan dolma or dolmadakia

Dolmadakia are grape leaves stuffed with rice with mint and lemon, forming little rolls. They exist in both vegan and meat version (description below), so always ask to be sure. You can find them in every Greek tavern.

For vegan desserts see below in the section 5: Desserts.

3. Typical Greek Food: Seafood Dishes

3.1. Grilled Octopus

Grilled octopus
Grilled octopus

Octopus is very popular in Greek cuisine. Usually it is served grilled, with lemon and sometimes garlic.

3.2. Grilled Squid – Calamari

Grilled squid - calamari
Grilled squid – calamari

Grilled squids – also called calamari – served with lemon is another classic Greek food – liked by many because it’s low on calories. Calamari are usually served simply with olive oil, salt and lemon, and sometimes with a sauce aside.

3.3. Fried Calamari & Prawns

Fried squid - calamari - with shrimps
Fried squid – calamari – with shrimps

A more caloric version in which calamari – and often prawns or shrimps – are served, are breaded and fried calamari and prawns, also served with lemon and sometimes yoghurt sauce. For some people this way of serving is more tasty.

3.4. Grilled Sea Fish

Grilled seabream - a typical Greek dish
Grilled seabream – a typical Greek dish

Fish freshly caught in the Mediterranean Sea is one of the most popular dishes in Greek food. The Greek way to prepare fish is simple, aimed at preserving its natural taste without ruining it with unnecessary additions. It’s just grilled and sprinkled with ladholemono – a lemon and oil dressing and salt, and only sometimes lightly fried.

Typical species of fish in Greek cuisine include: lavrakisea bass, tsipoura – seabream, gádos cod, barbouni – red mullet and marida– whitebait.

3.5. Mussels

Mussels served simply with lemon and salt
Mussels served simply with lemon and salt

In Greek cuisine, mussels are a popular dish. They are usually served simply accompanied by lemon wedges and salt, without extra additions like herbs or vegetables.

3.6. Taramasalata

Taramasalata - fish roe spread
Taramasalata – fish roe spread

Taramasalata is a typical Greek dish, eaten a lot throughout the country. It’s a paste made of olive oil, onion, lemon juice and fish roe. It is usually served as a meze or a spread for pita bread slices, often accompanied by vegetables.

4. Typical Greek Food: Meat Dishes

4.1. Moussaka

Moussaka
Moussaka

Moussaka is a casserole made of layers of fried aubergine with potato and spiced minced meat.

4.2. Dolmadakia / Dolma

Dolmadakia
Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia are small rolls made of grape leaves stuffed with rice and usually lamb or beef meat, with aftertaste of lemon. Often you can order also a vegan version. They are served as an appetizer.

4.3. Gyros

Classic Greek food - Gyros wrapped in pita bread
Classic Greek food – Gyros wrapped in pita bread

Gyros is the world-known typical Greek food. It is pork meat roasted on a spit and then sliced. There are two ways of serving it: as a gyros plate – accompanied by French fries, vegetables and tzatziki, or more fast-food version as a pita gyros – meat rolled altogether with French fries and vegetables and yoghurt sauce and wrapped in a pita flatbread.

4.4. Souvlaki / Kalamaki

Another typical Greek food - Souvlaki - meat skewers
Another typical Greek food – Souvlaki – meat skewers

Souvlaki, also called Kalamaki, is a very well known Greek dish – it’s a brochette of pork and/or lamb meat.

4.5. Soutzoukakia

Soutzoukakia
Soutzoukakia

Soutzoukakia are hot meatballs of beef or pork, soaked in tomato (and sometimes wine) sauce, with aromatic herbs such as cinnamon, cumin and garlic.

4.6. Kleftiko

Kleftiko - traditional Greek food
Kleftiko – traditional Greek food

Kleftiko consists of pieces of lamb marinated in garlic and lemon juice and then baked on the bone in oven, together with potato wedges.

4.7. Pastitsio

Pastitsio - Greek casserole
Pastitsio – Greek casserole

Pastitsio is a Greek traditional dish made of layers of pasta, minced beef and béchamel sauce, baked in a casserole.

4.8. Papoutsakia

Papoutsakia - traditional Greek food
Papoutsakia – traditional Greek food

Papoutsakia is a classic Greek food, highly popular in this aubergine-loving country. These are baked eggplants stuffed with spicy minced meat, tomatoes and béchamel sauce, sometimes served with yoghurt sauce and walnuts.

5. Typical Greek Food: Desserts & Sweets

5.1. Baklava (vegan)

Baklava
Baklava

One of the most popular Oriental desserts that you really have to try. Baklava is a very sweet small dessert pastry made of layers of filo with the filling of crushed nuts (usually walnuts or pistachios) and soaked in honey or syrup.

5.2. Kataifi (vegan)

Kataïfi - typical Greek dessert
Kataïfi

Kataifi is a small sweet pastry similar to Baklava, but made of hair-like pieces of pastry, wrapped around a nut filling, also soaked in honey or syrup.

5.3. Bougatsa

Bougatsa - classic Greek dessert
Bougatsa

Bougatsa is a popular Greek dessert consisting in filo pastry with creamy custard filling, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

5.4. Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko
Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko is a filo pastry baked with custard filling and soaked in a lemon-flavoured syrup. Its filling is thicker and a bit more firm than in Bougatsa.

5.5. Pasteli (vegan)

Pasteli - Greek honey & sesame seed bars
Pasteli – Greek honey & sesame seed bars

Pasteli are sweet bars of sesame seed “glued” together with honey or caramel and sometimes with almonds, nuts or other seeds. They were basically the world’s first “fit energy bars” dating back to the antiquity :)

5.6. Feta Me Meli

Feta me meli
Feta me meli

Feta me meli is a classic Greek dessert made of a slice of feta cheese, wrapped with a layer of filo pastry soaked in honey, fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The external layer is crunchy, while the cheese becomes slightly creamy. It has a very interesting sweet and salty taste.

5.7. Portokalopita

Portokalopita - Greek orange cake
Portokalopita – Greek orange cake

Portokalopita is a juicy Greek orange cake made with fresh oranges, shredded filo dough and rich layer of syrup. It has quite an original taste.

5.8. Loukoumades

Loukoumades - sweet dough puffs
Loukoumades – sweet dough puffs

Loukoumades are small sweet balls of crispy fried dough covered with syrup, and often with cinnamon and crumbled walnuts.

6. Typical Greek Drinks

6.1. Greek Coffee – Ellinikos

Traditional Greek coffee
Traditional Greek coffee

I always find it fascinating that although coffee is consumed worldwide, there are so many traditional alternative ways of brewing it in different countries.

Greeks are great fans of coffee and they drink it daily. It is brewed using briki – a traditional copper pot with an elongated handle, and when ready, it is often served in it, with a cup aside.

6.2. Greek Alcoholic Drinks

Ouzo with typical Greek appetizers
Ouzo with typical Greek appetizers

The most popular Greek alcohols include the following:

The richness of Greek alcoholic drinks is such that we are preparing a separate article about them. You can read descriptions of different types of Greek liquers in the article on Typical Greek Products.

Eating in Greece – Typical Greek Taverns

Greeks appreciate tradition and simplicity, which is reflected in a very characteristic style of many local restaurants and taverns. Their atmosphere is created by the simple, often worn-out wooden furniture in white and blue colour, typically arranged just on the pavement in the shade of trees, with cats wandering around. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this atmosphere.

Read What and Where to Eat in Athens – The Best Restaurants & Areas

Read about Nightlife in Athens

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Do you have any other dishes to add to the list? Do you have any questions or comments? Write below! If you like the article – share it!

Author

Małgorzata Kmita

Chief Editor & Writer of euroviajar.com, a serial expat - I've lived in 7 countries, I speak 7 languages, and I travelled to 39 countries so far. I have a deep interest in understanding the culture and lifestyle of various countries and regions. I'm always looking for the authentic local habits, tastes and surprises that give a certain place its character.

3 thoughts on “Typical Greek Food – 30 Traditional Dishes & Desserts

Great! I’m a vegan traveller and I often have difficulties to find vegan food in some countries. Greek food seems to be always about gyros and feta, so I didn’t know what to expect. Thank a lot for the indications of Greek vegan foods and it’s nice to know also about sweets. I always thought baklava was made with butter, so it isn’t?

Hi Kate, I’m vegetarian so I understand well it can be a challenge to find something to eat while travelling ;) Some classic Greek dishes can be prepared in a version without meat and/or cheese if you ask for it. About baklava: Greeks use in most dishes olive oil and that’s the case of baklava, too – traditional Greek bakeries use olive oil, not butter. Again – always better to ask.

Thanks for the great list, i really loved the fasolada

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