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Greece: 12 Foods to Try During Your Trip to Greece

When I used to think of different varieties of cuisine, Greek food never topped my go-to list, so when I found myself booking tickets to visit Greece over the summer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Now, Greek cuisine is some of my favorite food in the world. All I need is a delicious gyro and I am good to go. Below are some of the must-try Greek foods you should search for during your visit...

1. Gyro & Shawarma

What is it? Originally lamb, but now typically also pork or beef, served on a platter or pita wrap, with optional additions of lettuce, tomato, potato, onion, and tzatziki

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Like previously mentioned, gyros are my weakness. They can be found all over the country, as common and easy as a turkey sandwich, and are a perfect lunch to grab either on-the-go or sit-down-and-casually-stuff-yourself (a personal hobby of mine). Every time I looked at a menu, I had to convince myself to try something new instead of going for the gyro dish again. People debate what the real difference between gyro and shawarma is, but generally it is the way that this combo comes served to you and how the kebab meat is prepared. Sometimes it’s a “make your own” situation, and sometimes it all comes in a wrap of pita combined for you. Make sure to try all the different ingredients (meat, tzatziki, french fries, veggies) in one bite. Not cute, but so delicious.

2. Tzatziki

What is it? A dip or sauce consisting of strained/Greek yogurt mixed with cucumbers, olive oil, garlic, and other simple seasonings

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Tzatziki will be found on most menus as a starter or an addition to your meal. Think of it as a dip that can be added on top of what you’re eating, or eaten as its own entity with some pita or veggies. If you like greek yogurt, you will like tzatziki. It is tangy and fresh tasting, and one of my favorite additions to most Greek dishes. Sort of like mayo or sour cream, it’s an acquired taste, but if you like it, you will find yourself using it to top all of your meals.

3. Greek Yogurt

What is it? Yogurt that has been strained to remove its whey/liquid, making it thick and sometimes sour

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Also known as “strained yogurt,” Greek yogurt has become a hip and common food in the United States. Almost all popular brands of yogurt have made some sort of “greek yogurt” line. Like tzatziki, plain Greek yogurt is an acquired taste, tangy and thicker than your common yogurt. It is also wonderfully full of probiotics that encourage healthy digestion (perfect after eating all that lamb), which is why it is commonly eaten as a refreshing breakfast food. Make sure to try authentic cold greek yogurt with some fruit while taking a break from the hot sun in the summertime. It is the perfect healthy treat.

4. Grilled Halloumi

What is it? Semi-soft cheese often coming from goat’s or sheep’s milk that has a high melting point, allowing it to be grilled and crispy

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No matter what country you find me in, expect me to be on the hunt for some cheese. Halloumi is an interesting and less common type of cheese, with a high enough melting point that it can be served grilled and crispy. Don’t necessarily expect to spread this on a cracker; go ahead and grab a piece and bite right in. If you’re a cheese lover like me, this is something that should be on your bucket list as “must-try cheese.”

5. Spanakopita

What is it? A pastry pie traditionally filled with spinach, feta or ricotta cheese, onions, and seasoning

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Another great Greek dish I was pleasantly surprised by. Sure, I will eat anything, but in the way of veggies I would say spinach is my number one. I eat it daily. So, this was like the dream dish for me. This layered crispy pastry pie is filled with what some might compare to spinach dip. It is cheesy and delicious, and likely to put you in a food coma if cooked correctly.

6. Moussaka

What is it? A layered baked dish, traditionally of meat, cheese, tomatoes, and eggplant

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Now a popular vegetarian dish, traditional moussaka was baked with ground lamb and layers of eggplant in a casserole-type style. With tomato and sauce filling and cheese melted on top, it now can also be found with beef, egg, zucchini, potatoes, and other delicious veggies. Although this wasn’t my favorite dish in Greece, it is definitely a must-try if you are visiting the area. Expect to taste the eggplant.

7. Greek Coffee

What is it? Strong, black coffee served with fine grounds in it

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Now, I am as addicted to coffee as any person living and working in Washington, DC. But even I will admit, this is strong coffee. Don’t expect it to go down too smoothly; it is served a little bit bitter, with the grounds still in it. Some add sweetener, I tried it both ways. Maybe go with the sweetener. All that being said, it was delicious and pure coffee that definitely kept my energy levels high and happy as I walked around the different cities of Greece.

8. Ouzo

What is it? Greece’s popular aperitif, commonly about 96% alcohol by volume.

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Why not try some of the local drinks, as well? Like cuisine, it’s fascinating to me to taste-test the variety drinks that can be made around a central thought. So many cultures have a local aperitif, whether it be vermouth, sherry, or gin. Greece’s popular aperitif is called “Ouzo.” Try a shot of it after dinner, or mixed into a cocktail like the one pictured here. Live a little!

9. Saganaki

What is it? A fried cheese block made from a variety of different cheeses and then popularly prepared in flames and a frying pan, sometimes even at your table for entertainment

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For this dish, I don’t care if you’re a cheese lover or not. This is one of the best and most popular dishes in Greece. Haven’t you ever seen flaming cheese brought to the table at the local Greek restaurant? That is the delicious and must-try saganaki dish. Once it cools down a little, you will have a variety of things to dip and eat with it, so make sure you try it all! It is great as an appetizer or after a meal with one last shot of ouzo to fill your stomach to the brim. I, honestly, would eat this all day if I could.

10. Fresh Seafood

Like? (Mussels, Shrimp, Fish, Octopus)

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I will say this time and time again, always get fresh seafood when you can. Can seafood be more fresh than from a tiny Greek island surrounded by fishing boats? They have any kind of seafood you can imagine if you visit the Greek Islands, found on every menu; you’ll be overwhelmed by how many common dishes can be created into a new seafood dish. Eat it all, you won’t regret it.

11. Greek Salad

What is it? Chopped up veggies, typically including tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and lettuce, traditionally topped off with feta cheese, some seasoning, and a heavy dose of olive oil

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You’ve seen it on every menu in town, but why not try it where it all began? The sun in Greece allows for fresh fruits and veggies to grow practically all year round, which is what makes it famously one of the “blue zones” of the world. Make sure to try an authentic Greek salad at least once while you are there. It will help your stomach recover from all the cheese and meat.

12. Baklava

What is it? Layers of phyllo (unleavened dough) stuffed with nuts, honey, syrup, and spices

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This treat is a must-try when roaming the streets of Greece. You will find a variety of different family-owned bakeries, full of a variety of different pastries. Baklava is sticky and sweet, full of nuts and spices. Make sure to try a couple of different flavors, and definitely have a place to wipe your hands off afterwards.

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

Written by Emi Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy

Photography by Emi Lungmus


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