I am a huge fan of all food. Sweet, savory. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fancy food and comfort food. I just love food. I had tried Greek food from home though and it did not rank high on my favorites list. So of course, I was not looking forward to the food in Greece, but holy crap was I surprised. I only had three days in Athens and two days on the islands though so I didn’t get to try as many different things as I would have liked. Plus I’m the terrible type that once I find something I love, I eat it all the time.
Out of nine different countries that I visited on my Ultimate Europe Trip, Greek food was my favorite or a close second behind German food. It was actually pretty healthy too! Except when I ate dessert three times a day… But I did plenty of walking. Here are the five foods that you have to try while you’re in Greece.
I’ve never eaten Shepherd’s Pie, but from what I’ve heard about it these sound very similar. It’s an eggplant-based dish (sometimes potato-based) with ground meat, veggies, and lots of spices. The story is that the Turkish people brought the dish to Greece and it has a French influence with the Bechamel sauce that goes on top. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t my favorite dish, but it’s such a tradition that you really should try it. During my trip EF Ultimate Break offered an option to go to a traditional Greek dinner with food and dancing. I chose not to go because you had to book ahead of time and like I said, I wasn’t expecting much from the food. But everyone that went said that they had Moussaka here and it was amazing!
This is one of those foods that I had tried at home and decided I didn’t like it. Then I got to Greece, ate it, and absolutely loved it. Made primarily of chickpeas, the falafel I tried was so creamy on the inside with a crisp outer layer and a wonderful flavor. This was served at our Welcome Dinner the first night we all spent in Athens. It was served with fries, hummus, pita, and a mixture of chopped tomatoes & veggies. They brought it out family-style where they bring out large plates of food and everyone just takes what they want onto their own plate. I could have eaten the whole plate myself.
I found that this was served so many different ways and I loved trying each one of them. I had them served on a skewer with fries and then over a whole pita round covered in tzatziki sauce. They were served as little grilled chunks of meat with grilled tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Also served almost like barbecue. The meat is shredded and served with pita, vegetables, and tzatziki sauce. The common denominators are usually pita and tzatziki sauce as you can tell. No matter how it’s prepared it is so very good and a healthy meal. There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet is so popular guys.
My absolute, number one favorite meal in all of Greece and probably the iconic Greek food in America. There were so many food stands or little shops selling gyros and you just have to find a hole-in-the-wall and they probably have the best. I recommend asking a local to find the best place to find a gyro. This dish is basically the greek version of a sandwich. The meat is either shaved typically pork, lamb, or chicken and it is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Then there’s tomatoes, onions, some herbs, and of course tzatziki sauce. All this wrapped up in a warm pita and some places will add french fries on top of all that! It is definitely one of the most popular dishes here but for very good reasons.
I had to include a dessert in this list. These look like doughnut holes, but instead of a dense doughy texture it is light and airy with a crisp outside from where it has been fried. They are served different ways depending on where you go with different toppings. I tried one with honey and cinnamon and then went to a specialty shop and they had any topping that you could imagine. I ordered the one with apple filling topping and vanilla ice cream and my two friends had cinnamon with pistachio ice cream and cookies & cream with strawberry ice cream. Does this not look so good!?
Food is such a great way to connect with the culture of a place that you visit. It’s such a personal thing and so many dishes are passed down from generations before. If you’ve never looked at the history of a certain food that’s also pretty interesting especially since the countries in Europe are so different yet so close together that you can see their influences crossing borders with food. It can definitely bring people together. I see that in my own family because we use it as an excuse to get together weekly. I mean, who doesn’t love a good potluck?
Experience Greek Food
Food Tour – This is my favorite way to do a city tour because food is such an indicator of the history of a location. The best ones are put on by locals because then you can get an insight into their everyday lives. Plus if you had a choice between a regular walking tour and a walking tour WITH food why would you choose the regular one!? Just saying but maybe I’m food obsessed. We’ll never know.
Dinner with a Show – Another popular option is to have a traditional Greek dinner while watching a Greek dance. I know with my tour group they said the crowd was involved a good bit in the show they attended. One girl even got to smash a plate. They also had a beautiful view of the sunset over the city of Athens. I definitely regret not going to this event.
Ask a Local – This got us to the best gyro place around the Acropolis. After our tour we asked our guide where she would recommend to eat and she told us exactly where to go. It didn’t look like much, but it was amazing. When I travel I talk to locals all the time whether it’s a cashier at a convenience store, a tour guide, or boat captains/first mates. They are your best resource so don’t waste the chance!