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10 Must Try Greek Specialties In Athens

Greek Cuisine
Greek Cuisine | © Steve Outram / Alamy Stock Photo
Whether you prefer fine-dining or experiencing the vibrant flavors of local tavernas, Athens has something to offer every taste. While there are so many unique Greek specialties, the following 10 are particularly delicious. We’ve also included a selection of the best restaurants to try these dishes.

Saganaki

This is an appetizer for cheese lovers! Yellow, hard cheese (one of many kinds, such as kasseri or gruyere) is fried in a specific way that creates a crunchy crust. When you bite into saganaki, the melted cheese inside will fill you with ecstasy. Tip: Sprinkle fresh lemon juice on it.

Saganaki, grilled Graviera cheese © Steve Outram / Alamy Stock Photo

Mpakalotaverna

Mpakalotaverna is a small, rustic tavern serving traditional mezze, as well as main dishes. Enjoy a generously sized lunch or dinner while listening to melodic Greek tunes. The Greek salad comes highly recommended, as is the saganaki drizzled with squeezed lemon.The restaurant doesn’t take reservations.

Horiatiki Salata – Greek Salad

Bright red tomatoes, refreshing cucumbers, shallots adding spiciness, and the obvious Greek olives, sprung with extra virgin Greek olive oil and a large piece of creamy feta cheese on top, seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano. In some places they may add capers, which adds a sour touch, similar to the effect of vinegar. Light, mouthwatering and traditional!

Greek salad with feta cheese © Mikael Damkier / Alamy Stock Photo

Fava

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Greek, Vegetarian, $$$
Vlassis restaurant interior
Vlassis restaurant interior | Lonely Planet / Getty Images
Its origin? Santorini Island. It is a creamy starter you may (or must?) spread on your bread. On first sight, you’ll think you’re eating hummus. However, It has a unique flavor and is made using fava, the Greek term for yellow split peas (not broad beans, which are commonly known as fava beans, as well). Fava comes in many shades, with the most common being a sunny yellow. It is drizzled with olive oil and onions and is vegan friendly.Where to eat it:Vlassis RestaurantVlassis specializes in traditional Greek cuisine of the highest quality and presents each of its dishes beautifully. Either try the lavish dish of the day or pick one of the flavorful appetizers, hot dishes, fresh salads, or irresistible desserts. Fava is one of the many spreads Vlassis Restaurant prepares, and you have to try it.
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The translation of spanakopita is ‘spinach pie,’ an authentic and fresh pastry full of vitamins and goodness. Spanakopita is a filo pastry filled with spinach, different kinds of herbs and cheeses (mainly spicy feta cheese), spring onions, eggs (to bind the ingredients), and olive oil. The flaky crust makes this is a messy dish to eat, but it is wholeheartedly worth the crumb-filled chaos!

Spanakopita, Greek spinach pie with feta cheese and filo party © jefftakespics2 / Alamy Stock Photo

Tomatokeftedes – Tomato Balls

Greeks eat many kinds of fritters: cheeseballs, zucchini balls, meatballs, potato balls, grass balls. But, tomato balls are sweet, soft, and full of herbs and, of course, lycopene. Usually served with yogurt sauce, this specialty, originating in Santorini, is definitely one you should savor.

Moussaka

Moussaka, though not exclusively a Greek dish, is famously associated with the cuisine of Greece. A marriage of eggplant and potatoes in some recipes, with minced meat on bottom and an indulgent serving of béchamel on top, this dish is baked to perfection in the oven. It is definitely a tasty specialty, occasionally suffused with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Moussaka can be quite heavy, so it is best consumed as your main meal of the day.

Moussaka on table of traditional restaurant on Crete © Jaroslav Girovsky / Alamy Stock Photo

Pastitsio

Pastitsio is similar to moussaka in that it is cooked as a casserole and is an all around, crowd-pleasing specialty. This dish consists of minced meat layered with pasta and a tomato-based sauce and is usually topped with béchamel. It is baked in the oven until a slightly crisp surface appears. Pastitsio is creamy, rich in flavor and textures, and undoubtedly a staple in the menus of Greek mothers and giagiás.

Gemista

Gemista simply means ‘stuffed.’ Different variations exists in Greek cooking, such as stuffed tomatoes, zucchinis, and bell peppers filled with rice, herbs, spices, pine seeds, and tomato sauce. Each gemista dish is baked in the oven and served with crispy potatoes, as well as drizzled with olive oil and any leftover tomato sauce. In some restaurants, it may be accompanied with Greek yogurt on the side.

Gemista, stuffed tomatoes and peppers © dinosmichail / Alamy Stock Photo

Fish Soup

Bar, Restaurant, Greek, $$$
Depending on the season, different types of fish are added to this healthy soup, which always offers a fresh, rich, and flavorful taste of the sea. It is obviously a great choice for seafood lovers, a light specialty prepared with vegetables and a strong dose of lemon.Where to eat it:Hotel Grande Bretagne Roof Garden Restaurant & BarAt the elegant roof garden of the Hotel Grande Bretagne, there is a luxury restaurant. Offering a panoramic view of Athens from Mt. Lycabettus (pronounced likavitos) to the Acropolis, this restaurant offers an assortment of gourmet specialties with Mediterranean aromas and modern touches to traditional recipes. One its most vibrant dishes is the Aegean soup, full of fish and enriched with a smooth and decadent tomato sauce.
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Briam

Cafe, Restaurant, Greek, $$$
Briam is a roasted and tasty selection of simple Mediterranean ingredients. Namely, seasonal vegetables such as eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, shallots, carrots, and garlic mixed with herbs and topped with a fresh & vibrant tomato sauce. It is mostly considered a summer dish, combining many special flavors. You should enjoy this dish with a block of salty feta cheese and crunchy bread.Where to eat it:The Acropolis Museum RestaurantOn the second floor of the Acropolis Museum, with a breathtaking view of the Acropolis, this amazing restaurant offers an array of salads, starters, snacks, main dishes, and sweet courses based on local specialties. Enjoy a version of briam with baked eggplants, tomato sauce, and gruyere. There’s also a children’s menu.
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