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.
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.
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.
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!
Spanakopita – Spinach Pie
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!
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, 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.
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 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.