What to eat and drink in Greece

Greeks love consuming out, sharing impossibly massive meals with household and pals in a drawn-out, convivial parade of dishes. Whether or not you are consuming seafood at a waterfront desk or sampling up to date Greek delicacies beneath the floodlit Acropolis, eating out in Greece isn’t nearly what you eat, however the entire sensory expertise.

Take a cue from the locals and go straight to the supply, heading to seaside fishing hamlets for recent fish or mountain villages for native meat. Hunt down tavernas that produce their very own greens, wine, and oil, the place the fried potatoes are hand-cut and recipes are handed down by way of generations. Regional variations are a delight to discover – no two meals would be the identical – and these are some hints for get began.

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Fast, low cost and scrumptious, souvlaki is a good introduction to Greek meals © visualspace / Getty Photographs

Devour Greece’s favourite avenue meals, souvlaki

Greece’s adored quick meals, souvlaki, comes as both gyros (meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie) or skewered meat variations wrapped in comfortable pita bread, with tomato, onion, and lashings of tzatziki. They typically throw in some French fries, to present it a little bit further heft. Often, you’ll be selecting between pork or rooster, however every now and then, you may encounter lamb. Should you’d prefer to eat it proper there after which, ask for it “sto heri” – in hand.

The place to strive it: Kostas in Athens – or any city in Greece.

Savor succulent fish and seafood

What’s a visit to Greece with out seafood, in all its variations and glory? Fish is commonly grilled complete and drizzled with ladolemono (lemon and oil dressing). Smaller fish reminiscent of barbounia (purple mullet) or maridha (whitebait) are flippantly fried and you may eat the whitebait or anchovies complete, or delicately nibble the meat off the bones. Octopus is grilled, marinated, or stewed in wine sauce.

Different standard seafood dishes in Greece embody soupies (cuttlefish) or calamari filled with cheese and herbs, and psarosoupa (fish soup) – which is available in as many variations as there are kitchens. The easiest way to keep away from imports is to hunt out tavernas run by native fishing households, then at all times pick your fish and ask what it weighs if you wish to know the value (generally staggering). Better of all, eat it on the shore.

The place to strive it: Four Seasons Hydra, Hydra; Varoulko (Athens and Santorini); Captain Pipino’s, Antiparos.

Seize some nice grilled meat

Greeks are masterful with grilled and spit-roasted meats. Along with souvlaki, get pleasure from païdakia (lamb cutlets) and brizoles (pork chops) or recent fish and calamari. From Tsiknopempti – a vacation when grilled meat is eaten earlier than Lent – to the Easter celebrations the place lamb is both grilled or spit-roasted to interrupt the quick, and even a fundamental meal in a psistaria (restaurant serving grilled meals), remember to choose the skewers or chops up along with your palms. No dainty silverware wanted. Sides are sometimes easy: potatoes, greens and dips.

The place to strive it: Telis, Athens; Steki tou Ilia, Athens; Vassilis, Alyki; Klarinos, Lefkes.

Moussaka on a table at an outdoor restaurant table in Athens, Greece
Implausible moussaka will be discovered all throughout Greece © MarioGuti / Getty Photographs

Fake you’re at Gramma’s home, with mayirefta

Dwelling-style, one-pot, baked or casserole dishes, mayirefta are a staple of taverna life and subsequently within the pantheon of typical Greek dishes. Stroll again into the restaurant to peruse what’s on provide. Ready early, these dishes are left to chill to boost the flavors and an excellent look will whet your urge for food as you select.

Effectively-known mayirefta embody moussaka (eggplant, minced meat, potatoes and cheese), yemista (greens filled with rice and herbs), lemonato (purple meat or rooster with lemon and oregano) and stifadho (candy, stewed meat with tomato and onion). However there are infinite varieties, some vegetarian or vegan; others hearty meat, typically served over rice, orzo, or pasta.

The place to strive it: Mira, Parikia on Paros; Tereza, Myrsini on Tinos; tavernas throughout Greece.

Enjoyment of a mezedhes smorgasbord 

These small dishes are normally shared and might function a full meal or just appetizers to dishes but to return. Classics embody tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic), melitzanosalata (aubergine dip), taramasalata (fish roe dip), fava (split-pea puree with lemon juice), and saganaki (fried cheese). Additionally look ahead to keftedes (meatballs), loukaniko (pork sausage), grilled gavros (white anchovies), and dolmades (rice wrapped in marinated vine leaves). Traditional pairing? Ouzo!

The place to strive it: Tzitzikas & Mermingas, Athens; Halaris, Piso Livadi on Paros; To Maridaki on Hania, Crete; and Ston Pyrgo, Amorgos.

A slice of greek pie spanakopita in someone's hand
Spinach-filled spanakopita is only one kind of pie value making an attempt in Greece © Shutterstock / Fascinadora

Crunch into crispy pies

Bakeries make infinite variations of tyropita (cheese pie) and spanakopita (spinach pie), plus different pies, normally primarily based on regional components. In Crete, there may be the luscious custard-filled bougatsa, in addition to a seemingly infinite number of cheese pies with totally different herb and taste accents, from honey to anise.

The place to strive it: Bougatsa Iordanis, Hania on Crete; or Ariston, Athens.

Zap your palate with ouzo and different spirits

Ouzo – Greece’s well-known liquor – has come to embody a method of consuming and socializing, loved with mezedhes throughout lazy, prolonged summer time afternoons. Sipped slowly and ritually to cleanse the palate between dishes, ouzo is normally served in small bottles or karafakia (carafes) with a bowl of ice cubes to dilute it (turning it a cloudy white).

Ouzo is constructed from distilled grapes with residuals from fruit, grains and potatoes, and flavored with spices – primarily aniseed – giving it that licorice taste. The very best ouzo is produced on Lesvos.

Tsipouro is a distilled spirit, just like grappa, that’s made solely in Greece. It is created utilizing the leftover should from urgent wine and is normally quaffed as an aperitif. Tsikoudia, also called raki, is basically the Cretan model of tsipouro.

If the entire above is simply too harsh a shot of alcohol to your tastes, it’s possible you’ll properly desire the candy liqueur mastiha, made with mastic resin grown on Chios. It is a wonderful digestive.

The place to strive it: The World of Ouzo, Lesvos; and Mastiha Shop, Athens.

An empty romantic table for two on the island Santorini with the sea in the background and glasses of white wine
Greek wine is fab – the views from Santorini are too © Santorines / Getty Photographs

Sip on award-winning Greek wine

Greece’s wine business advantages from some age-old indigenous varietals with distinctive character. The up to date era of winemakers is producing award-winning wines from the nation’s premier wine areas, together with Nemea within the Peloponnese, the vineyards of Santorini, the Iraklio Wine Nation on Crete and Naoussa within the north.

White varieties embody moschofilero, assyrtiko, athiri, roditis, robola, and savatiano. The most well-liked Greek reds embody xinomavro, agiorgitiko and kotsifali. Home or barrel wine varies dramatically in high quality (white is the safer guess) and is ordered by the kilo/carafe or glass.

Greek dessert wines embody wonderful muscats from Samos, Limnos, and Rhodes, Santorini’s vinsanto, mavrodafni wine (typically utilized in cooking) and Monemvasia’s malmsey.

Retsina, white wine flavored with the resin of pine timber, turned standard within the Nineteen Sixties and retains a largely folkloric significance with foreigners. It is one thing of an acquired style however some winemakers make a contemporary model. It’s standard in Thessaloniki (the place the primary model, Malamatina, is made) and it goes nice with salty mezedhes and seafood.

The place to strive it: Estate Argyros Winery and Gavalas Winery, each in Santorini; Thymiopoulos Vineyards, Naoussa.

Vegetarians and vegans

Vegetarians are properly catered for in Greece since greens function prominently – a legacy of lean occasions and the Orthodox religion’s fasting traditions. The extra conventional a restaurant you go to, the extra vegetable choices you get, as a result of they observe extra of those fasting guidelines. Should you come throughout Lent, it’s a vegan bonanza at these locations.

Search for standard vegetable dishes reminiscent of fasolakia yiahni (braised inexperienced beans), bamies (okra), revythia (stewed chickpeas), briam (oven-baked vegetable casserole) and vine-leaf dolmadhes. Of the nutritious horta (wild greens), vlita (amaranth) is the sweetest, however different frequent varieties embody wild radish, dandelion, stinging nettle and sorrel.

Do ask, although, to ensure that the greens haven’t been ready in a meat-based broth.

For people who eat dairy, Greece’s areas produce many various kinds of cheese, most utilizing goat’s and sheep’s milk, with infinite variations in style. Other than feta, native cheeses embody graviera (a nutty, gentle Gruyere-like sheep’s-milk cheese), kasseri (just like provolone), myzithra (ricotta-like whey cheese) and manouri (creamy comfortable cheese from the north). Not discovered elsewhere in Greece, Santorini’s chlorotyri is a comfortable, creamy goat’s cheese that provides an area twist to the standard Greek salad or else turns up in dolmadhes within the island’s eating places.

A yr in meals

Artichokes and different recent greens abound whereas cheesemaking kicks into gear. Easter is widely known with tsoureki (brioche-style bread, generally flavored with cherry kernels and mastic) and dyed-red hard-boiled eggs.

Summer time
Watermelon, cherries and different fruit jam-pack markets. In August, Skala Kaloni on Lesvos celebrates its sardine competition, whereas within the Peloponnese you’ll be able to attend Leonidio’s Aubergine Competition.

Nuts and figs are harvested and raki (Cretan firewater) is distilled. Aegina’s pistachio business celebrates Fistiki Fest in mid-September. Raki or tsikoudia festivals are held in Voukolies and Cretan villages in November when olive oil is produced.

Olive harvest peaks. Honey cookies are eaten at Christmas to finish fasting. On New 12 months’s Day, the golden-glazed cake vasilopita is shared.