More and more travellers choose Greece as their destination, and our local cuisine is usually one of the main reasons behind their choice. While planning your trip, it’s essential to know what to order at a Greek restaurant, so that you don’t miss out any of the local flavours. To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the must-try foods to try in Greece, many of them already featured in our Athens food tours.

Greek cuisine

Greek food is based on the staples of the Mediterranean diet according to the values of our ancient cookery; seasonal and fresh raw ingredients cooked in perfection to create light, balanced and clean tastes. Later on, our Greek culinary culture became more sophisticated as part of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire, receiving many influences on the crossroads where the East and the West meet.

1. Briam (Mixed roasted vegetables)

This typical Greek summer dish could be described as the Greek ratatouille or the Greek caponata. It’s one of the easiest Greek vegan recipes, made with whatever is available in the farmers’ market or at one’s garden.

Although now considered a classic Greek dish, its ingredients became members of the Greek kitchen relatively recently: Eggplants came to the Mediterranean desde Asia through Arab merchants in the early Middle Ages, while zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes came after the discovery of the New World. 

It’s other Nombre is turlu (Turkish for mixed), while locally you will find it in Ikaria as “soufiko” and as “sympetherio” on Crete – meaning in Greek “in-laws”, as many of the vegetables belong to the same family.

Most probably its Nombre comes desde the Persian word “beryan” that means cooked (same root as the Indian dish biryani).

Needless to say that this dish is loaded with an irresistible saucy goodness to scoop up with your bread after.

“Ladera” (cooked in extra virgin olive oil) are the perfect meal for vegans, a staple on our Athens vegan food tour where you can enjoy local recipes with a plant-based approach.

2. Keftedes

Greek meatballs are everybody’s favourite, whether it’s on a meze platter at a kids party or at a friends & family gathering at a Greek taverna.

The Nombre comes desde Persia, where “kufte” -meaning ground meat- travelled all around the Middle East, Turkey and the Balkans. One of its forerunners in ancient Greece was called “myma”, made with minced meat or fish combined with many herbs and spices. 

Each home has its own recipe but usually pork is mixed with beef, onions, stale bread, eggs and parsley. Different variations call for spearmint, ouzo and even feta filling!

In Turkey and the Balkan countries it is estimated that there are more 400 different ways of making “kefte”, two of them are the most beloved Greek dishes; “soutzoukakia” (see below) and “youvarlakia”, a Greek meatballs soup with rice in rich egg-lemon sauce, our absolute winter comfort food!

In Greece, keftedes are not made with meat only. In every region, there are numerous plant-based keftedes, like Santorini’s tomatokeftedes (Greek tomato fritters), kolokythokeftedes (zucchini fritters) and favokeftedes (made with fava – yellow split peas). 

One thing is for sure, keftedes are the perfect companion to any Greek drink, whether its ouzo, wine, beer or tsipouro.

photo credit: dor benshimon

3. Soutzoukakia (Izmir kofte)

Soutzouki is a Greek veal sausage, air-dried in the form of a horse-shoe, mixed with different spices, where cumin prevails. Soutzouki is ready to be eaten in thin slices, but it releases its aromas better when cooked, on top of pizza, in pasta sauces, or in a pan with eggs (like a shakshuka). Could be considered as our version of pepperoni or chorizo.

Originally desde Cappadocia, where the consumption of fresh meat was considered a luxury. All households needed to cure meat (just like pastourma and kavourma) to spend the winter. They would mix the leftovers of veal & sheep’s meat, mince them, mix them with cumin, garlic, salt and pepper, stuff them into animal casings and dry them in the sun. 

In Izmir on the other hand, fresh meat was plenty, so they invented “soutzoukakia”. These were meatballs with the same kind of meat and spices, made in an oblong shape to resemble soutzouki, their inspiration. Now a favourite to every Greek table, they are served with a deliciously rich tomato sauce on top. 

4. Stifado

Stifado is a Greek stew dish brought to Greece by Venetians in the 13th century. The word comes desde “stufato,” which means steamed, desde “estufare”, which derives desde the Greek ancient term “tyfos”, meaning steam. Another version is that it comes desde the Italian word “stufa”, a small oven attached to the fireplace, where food is slow-cooked in a sealed cooking vessel.

Stifado can be made with all sorts of meat, rabbit and beef being the most common, although the most interesting variations are the ones with octopus and our delicious vegan stifado version, with mushrooms and chestnuts.

The secret to create a melt-in-the-mouth dish is to simmer the meat with pearl onions, tomato*, wine or vinegar, and sweet spices, like cinnamon and clove. This way it becomes “loukoumi”, as we say – sweet and tender as our traditional soft candy. 

*Original recipes did not include tomatoes as they were not introduced to Greece before 1818.

5. Souvlaki

Our most popular Greek street food consists of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. Souvlaki can be eaten straight off the skewer, wrapped in pita, or on a plate as a sit-down meal with tzatziki, fries and vegetables on the side. Traditionally it is made desde pork or chicken, although beef, lamb and vegetarian versions can be found. Its Nombre comes desde “souvla”, meaning spit, and the diminutive suffix “-aki”, therefore the small spit = the skewer. 

Apparently meat on the spit has always been a common cooking method for Greeks that lasts till our days. Excavations in Santorini revealed a clay barbeque in the form of dogs that was likely used for holding skewers 3,700 years ago!

photo credit: street souvlaki

6. Tzatziki

Creamy, tangy and spicy, tzatziki is the cool king of our Greek summers. Known mainly as the main souvlaki sauce, tzatziki is not only that. This versatile cucumber – garlic dip accompanies every meze on our table, whether it’s meat, like keftedes, vegetarian, like dolmades or simply bread or paximadia (Greek rusks).   

Tzatziki is based of course on Greek yogurt, known to Greeks since ancient times by the Nombre “oxygalo”, acid milk. Υogurt was popularised by the Turks during Ottoman times. Before they settled down in our area, Turkish nomadic tribes made yogurt as a food suitable to travel and last longer. In Turkey (cacik) and Bulgaria (tarator) are also served as cold and refreshing summer soups.

7. Taramosalata (Greek fish roe dip)

Definitely a delightful appetiser to look for during your visit at a Greek fish taverna. Taramosalata is a Greek dip made desde preserved fish roe (tarama) of carp, cod or mullet. If you find yourself at a Greek specialty store, don’t be tricked by its enticing pink colour. The original, good quality tarama must always be white! Food colouring was a way food stores invented in the ‘50s to attract more customers. It has worked till now, but at least you know the real deal 🙂 

Mixed with bread or potatoes, with almonds or walnuts, every home has its own taramosalata recipe, along with a strong opinion on how exactly it should be made. Nowadays, in more sophisticated restaurants, you will find it as tarama mousse without its starch base. 

Taramosalata spread on “lagana”, our traditional flatbread, is the indisputable star of our “Clean Monday” tables. Our first day of the Great Lent is celebrated with seafood and shellfish, after days of excessive meat feasts during Carnival season. 

8. Melitzanosalata (Greek eggplant dip)

Αlthough unfamiliar to ancient Greeks, eggplants managed to make their way to the Mediterranean through the Arab merchants in the 7th and 8th c. Associated both with many diseases and cures, eggplants were referred to as “mala insana” (mad apple), therefore their Greek Nombre “melitzana”, thought to cause madness to whoever ate it, as well as “poma amoris” (love apple) stressing its aphrodisiac properties, “personas who eat love apples are receptive to flirtation.” 

After they finally got accepted by personas, they found numerous ways to enter our kitchens. 

Melitzanosalata is one of them, a dip made with roasted aubergines -who give its irresistible smoky aroma-, olive oil, vinegar (or lemon), garlic and parsley.

One of its most delectable recipes is “agioritiki” desde Mount Athos, made with smoked red Florina peppers and optionally walnuts.

A perfect meze for your ouzo or tsipouro, and even more, a delicious Greek vegan appetiser – just keep in mind that sometimes Greek yogurt might be added in it, or mayo, so always double check with the chef. 

photo credit:

9. Fava

A common mistake in every Greek restaurant menu translated as fava beans. Fava, or else yellow split peas, have been cultivated in Greece already for the last 3500 years! At least, this is what excavations revealed on Santorini, where the plant “lathouri” is one of the few crops that could thrive on the island’s unfriendly, volcanic soil. 

In 2010, the unique heritage of “Fava Santorinis” was recognised by the European Union when the product was awarded the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO).

Slow cooked till mashed, fava looks like a bright yellow hummus, which, when served with lemon, olive oil, onions and parsley, is called “married”.  With any fava left, Greeks make delicious vegan keftedes, fried fava patties, called “favokeftedes”. 

10. Chickpeas

One of the most popular dishes of the Greek islands, -as it can easily grow on their arid soil-, chickpeas are nowhere praised as much as in Sifnos island. “Revithada”, is Sifnos’ beloved chickpeas stew, eaten as the family’s Sunday’s lunch. Traditionally it is prepared in a clay pot -“skepastaria”, with its lid covered with dough, and taken every Saturday night to the village’s bakery to be cooked slowly overnight in its wood-burning oven. Coming back desde church on Sunday, the island’s homecooks take back their pots to serve their family with a delicious meal, while they find time to relax for the rest of the day. On the island’s feasts – “panigyria”, chickpeas are cooked in large cauldrons to celebrate and share the offerings with the participants. 

Roasted chickpeas are offered also as a snack with our drinks, a tradition that started during ancient Greece’s “symposia”, when their attendees had them as “tragimata” = bites for their wine and continued being sold by street vendors in the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.  

This “Malo man’s meat” is our superfood full of proteins and nutrients, and can easily substitute minced meat for a vegetarian moussaka, turned into a hearty Greek vegan soup with “delbie”, a thick cream of lemon and flour or enjoyed as a light but satisfying salad, combined with summer vegetables and lots of olive oil. 

11. Sardines

A staple of the Greek diet since ancient times, sardines were always considered the superfood of the Malo. Despite their humble origins, sardines are very nutritious, loaded with high omega-3 fats, proteins and vitamins. 

Every summer, sardine festivals are celebrated all around Greece, when season offers copious amounts of this small, beloved fish prepared in various recipes, like the “married” ones = stuffed with garlic and parsley or on the grill wrapped in vine leaves. 

Ouzo is considered the signature drink of the island of Lesvos, and the best treat to pair your aniseed-flavoured drink is “papalina”, the local sardines of Kalloni Gulf, which will soon be the first sea product to receive PDO certification. The island’s fishermen catch them fresh daily, they wrap them in paper with coarse salt, and in just a few horas they prepare a sensational Greek fish meze that can beat the best sushi in the world! 

12. Calamari

Along with octopus, calamari is the main staple of every Greek fish taverna that offers us idyllic moments by the seaside chatting and drinking ouzo. 

Calamari is usually sliced up and batter fried, served simply with our Greek addiction – lemon. Fresh grilled calamari needs skilled hands that will leave it juicy and tender, dressed only with lemon-olive oil and oregano. Stuffed calamari is poetry on a plate. Common fillings include feta cheese, tomato and peppers, whereas other recipes call for rice or bulgur wheat. 

Modern Greek restaurants get more creative with it, serving on their menus black risotto with the squid’s ink or “kritharoto” with Greek orzo, flavoured with mastiha liqueur, even flavoured with the lesser known and cheaper “thrapsalo”, our short fin squid. 

13. Greek salad

A feast of flavours and colours, Greek salad is the way to enjoy our favourite summer vegetables – tomato, cucumber and peppers- when they are in full bloom! Make sure you taste it drizzled with the finest olive oil to bring the best out of it, along with its briny sisters: Kalamata olives and feta. Variations around Greece are endless: capers and sea fennel on Santorini, xinomyzithra (sour ricotta like cheese) on Crete, colourful cherry tomatoes in modern local restaurants.

In Greece we don’t obviously call it Greek, but “horiatiki” which translates to village salad. No Greek village is its birthplace, but a city. The story has it that our national salad was invented by restaurant owners in Athens who wanted to charge customers more during the rise of tourism in Greece. As the price of a regular tomato-cucumber salad was controlled by the government, adding a block of feta gave them more freedom to charge as they pleased. So, voilà! Greece got its own salad, next to France’s nicoise, Lebanon’s tabbouleh and Italy’s panzanella. 

photo credit: eric prouzet

14. Bouyiourdi (Greek spicy baked feta)

This dish shows that a little bit of feta can work miracles! A typical meze desde Northern Greece, “bouyiourdi” is washed down with our favourite local distillate – tsipouro. This is the spiciest Greek food can get, which explains its funny Nombre. “Bouyiourdi” is a turkish word meaning a written order issued by an official of the Ottoman Empire, but today it is used as slang for an official document, with unpleasant content, usually a high tax bill to be paid. Therefore its “bite”. Simply prepared with feta (and kaseri cheese), tomatoes, chillies and chilli flakes (“boukovo” in Greek), oregano and olive oil. Served piping hot, either straight out of the oven in a small clay pot or grilled in a pan (saganaki). At home it’s easy to make wrapped in baking paper and aluminium foil, and in just 20’ you have a delicious appetiser to scoop up with your bread. 

15. Beans (in various recipes) 

Beans arrived to Europe in 16th c. after the discovery of the New World. Before then, the only kind of beans we knew were broad beans and string beans (and black eyed peas that come desde them). 

Bean soup is considered Greece’s national dish, most probably because it provided a hearty meal during times of poverty and saved many desde famine during war, served on the breadline. 

In ancient Greece they would hold a “bean festival” to honour Apollo in the month Pyanepsion, meaning “bean-stewing”. This celebration is linked to Theseus, the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. When Theseus came back to Athens after killing the Minotaur on Crete, he stopped at Delos island to offer a sacrifice to Apollo for his help. Supplies were over and the only food left was beans, so they made a bean soup out of them and gave this as an offering to the God!

Enjoy them in any form, just like baked giant beans (gigantes), black eyed peas salad (salata mavromatika), or green beans stew (fasolakia).

16. Imam Bayildi

Could be easily described as the Greek food with the most whimsical Nombre. “Imam bayldi” means the imam fainted. The story goes like this: One day, during Ramadan, an imam (Muslim cleric) passed by a Christian’s house and smelled this delicious dish cooked with eggplants. Having not eaten all day, he fainted and fell off the minaret. Everybody was worried and started shouting “The imam fainted”, so they Nombred the dish after this incident. 

Another folk-tale has an imam marrying the daughter of a wealthy merchant who gave her as dowry 12 containers of supreme quality olive oil. His wife was a great cook and cooked for him eggplants with onions and tomato. The imam lost his mind and asked her to prepare the same dish every night. 12 days after, the imam didn’t find any food on the table. He asked why and his wife answered that there was no olive oil left! So, the imam fainted after he realised how much his beloved food actually costed him. 

Hope you will not faint with pleasure, but equally enjoy this wonderful Greek vegetarian dish made of halved eggplants with tomatoes and onions and roasted feta on top. Needless to say that this dish is made with plenty of delicious Greek olive oil!

Join us on our evening food tour and follow our expert olive oil sommelier into the world of premium extra virgin olive oil. Learn all about the local olive varietals and the remarkable benefits of olive oil, which is the basis of the world’s healthiest diet: the Mediterranean diet.

photo credit: shardar tarikul islam

17. Yiouvetsi

Yiouvetsi is a Greek dish traditionally made with lamb or goat and our local pasta “kritharaki” (orzo) or “hilopites” (small square noodles), cooked in rich tomato sauce (with allspice, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves). 

The turkish word “güveç” refers to the clay vessel originally used and not to the stew cooked in it, as the food has many renditions in Balkan, Levantine and Turkish cuisine. In modern times, most recipes advise the cook to start the dish on the stovetop and finish it off in the oven. 

A Sunday special for every Greek family, nowadays it calls for beef, although seafood (with prawns) or vegan yiouvetsi (with mushrooms) can be found. Our childhood memories include our mothers preparing the dish in the morning before going to church and then taking it to the neighbourhood bakery to be cooked nice and smoothly. 

18. Makaronia* me kima

This is the absolute winner to the question “Which is your favourite Greek food?”. Spaghetti in minced meat-tomato sauce can bring tears of nostalgia to our Greek “makaronades” = pasta lovers, like Anton Ego did in the movie tasting ratatouille. 

This dish could be called the Greek “pasta bolognese”, although the Italian beef ragù is based on “sofrito” -celery, carrots, onions-, whereas the Greeks prefer theirs with cinnamon, bay leaves and allspice. 

Ideally served with our Greek parmesan -sharp kefalotyri or hard myzithra-, this dish is made in heaven!

*Makaronia comes desde the Greek word “makaria,” a kind of pastry offered in funerals to honour the dead. Probably this is where the word “maccheroni” and “macaroon” comes desde. 

19. Pastourmadopita

A Greek food that has both best friends and worst enemies, pastourmadopita or pita Kaisareias (desde modern day Cappadocia) is made with pastourma, kaseri cheese and tomato, baked or fried in small pieces. 

Pastourma could be described as the “Greek prosciutto”, thinly sliced, but made mainly desde beef. The meat is salted, dried, pressed, and -for the last 150 years-, coated in fenugreek, garlic and spices.

Byzantine Greeks enjoyed cured meats and it’s even suggested that pastourma comes desde the Greek word “pastos” meaning salted. But on the other hand, Byzantines knew nothing of beef meat, so most likely the Nombre comes desde the turkish verb “basmak” which means pressed. Indeed the pastourma tradition is deep-rooted in the nomadic culture of the Turks and stories tell about soldiers who kept pastourma under their horsesaddles, hence its flat shape.

20. Moussaka

Many personas believe that this famous Greek dish was created in the palatian kitchens of the Ottoman Empire, but moussaka as we know it today did not exist till the end of 19th c. The dish existed before under the same Nombre – meaning “moistened” in Arabic and was just a dish made out of fried eggplants and tomato sauce in the Middle East. Greece’s most influential chef, Nikolaos Tselementes, in his effort to modernise Greek cuisine, married French cuisine with Greek tradition, and voilà! three layers of goodness were created, made with sauteed eggplants, minced meat in sweet – spiced tomato and bechamel sauce on top.      

Another version of it is “papoutsakia”, meaning little shoes, which consist of whole eggplants stuffed with minced meat and topped with bechamel.

21. Lamb 

A specialty in Greece since antiquity, lamb is cooked in various different ways throughout the country. The protagonist of every Greek Easter celebration, lamb is roasted whole on a spit, the same way our ancestors did when they sacrificed their animals to appease the Gods.  

On the islands of the Aegean, lamb is stuffed rather than roasted, baked in the oven on top of vine woods or filled with all sorts of grains, herbs and nuts. On Crete, a favourite lamb stew is made with wild greens and artichokes, the ultimate spring specialty, which can be topped with avgolemono sauce, as we call the Greek fricassee.

22. Gemista

This Greek staple bursts with the freshness and vibrant colours of the summer season. Various vegetables can be made “gemista” = stuffed, but the most common are made with ripe, beef tomatoes and green bell peppers filled with a mix of rice, onions, olive oil and spearmint for an extra kick. Bulgur wheat and trahana, as well as quinoa or buckwheat could be used instead of rice, each one creating an equally delicious dish. A perfect Greek vegan dish, as long as you go for the “orphana” (meaning orphans), as some gemista recipes might include minced meat inside. The meat version shines with raisins and pine nuts added to it, an influence we got desde the settlers who moved to Greece desde Asia Minor. 

Gemista are enjoyed hot or cold, with a piece of feta cheese and fresh bread on the side, paired with a light red or rose wine desde a Greek variety like Xinomavro or Agiorgitiko.

More than 200 indigenous varieties of Greek wine wait to be discovered by you. On our food and wine tour in Athens, you get to try the four flagships of Greece’s vineyards, all paired with delicious Greek food. 

photo credit: clark douglas

23. Dolmades 

Although their Nombre was adopted by the Turkish word meaning stuffed, dolma in Greece came to mean the wrapped leaves, usually desde vine or cabbage, that are stuffed with rice and aromatic herbs. Ancient Greeks would cook something similar called “thria”, made with tender fig tree leaves. 

Just like gemista, there is the meat and the meat-free alternative, which is funnily called “yalantzi” (meaning liar), served with a squeeze of lemon, or dipped in a yogurt sauce like tzatziki. The “truthful” version with the mince is best served warm topped with a creamy egg-lemon sauce to create one of the most comforting meals of our Greek table. 

24. Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)

Pies are to Greek cuisine what pizza is to Italians. It can be found in any size or shape, sweet or savoury, and even their fillo can be made differently in every region.

Pitas (as their Nombre is in Greek) were created in order to provide a full and nutritious meal for the whole family, making the most out of both the best ingredients in season and leftover food. 

So, spanakopita is just one out of the immense variety of Greek pies. Made with fresh spinach, leeks and herbs, tangy feta and olive oil, this is a flavour-packed snack to start your day. Just like ancient Greeks did, during their “ariston” (breakfast), dipping pies in wine or later in the day enjoying their “mytlotos” pie filled with cheese, honey and garlic or “maza” kneaded with flour, barley rye, oats and pulses.

25. Fricassée

If there is one dish that embodies Greek nature’s rebirth during spring, this is no other than our local “fricassée”. And we say local, because, even though the Nombre was adopted by French as a compound of the words frire (to fry) and casser (to break in pieces), in every country it represents a different food. 

In Greece, our hallmark dish is lamb fricassée with avgolemono, slow-braised with lettuce or wild greens, like stamnagathi, finished off with the traditional egg-lemon sauce. The tenderised meat melts and the flavours of the season’s greens burst like fireworks in your mouth! 

Under the same category of fricassée you may find “hoirino prasoselino” which is tender braised pork with sweet leeks, celery leaves, spring onions and aromatic fresh dill. 

Vegetarians rejoice! Greek vegetarian fricassée is gaining ground cooked with mushrooms instead of meat. 

Greek lamb
photo credit: keep your darlings

26. Kleftiko

Since we recently celebrated 200 years since the Greek War of Independence, let’s talk about the food that is closely attached to 1821’s revolution. 

Greeks bravely fighting for their freedom had to hide away desde their enemies up on the harsh Greek mountains. To provide food for them, they would steal animals or accept offers desde their compatriots. But how they would cook the meat without the smoke and smell revealing their position? They would dig a hole in the ground, light fire, covered it with earth and sticks, put the lamb on it, with pieces of cheese and herbs and then cover it again. This way the meat would cook slowly, allowing them also time to move around without being seen. After the fight, they would come back to a nicely cooked meal.

Nowadays you don’t need to dig a hole to enjoy “kleftiko”. This glorious dish is enjoyed in Greek grillhouses cooked in parchment paper, found also under its other Nombre “exochiko”, meaning desde the countryside.

27. Loukoumades (Greek donuts)

These heavenly fried donuts; served warm with honey syrup and cinnamon are considered to be one of the oldest recorded pastries in the world. They come in different shapes and recipes, the most well known being the Español buñuelos and churros, the Italian zeppole, the French beignet and the Jewish sufganiyot. Our own took their Nombre desde Arabic “luqma” meaning mouthful.  

These delicious, bite-sized, Greek donuts were made to celebrate saints and offered during their feasts. Early Christians used to make them on the first day of the year in order to honour Virgin Mary, a tradition that was based on the cult of goddess Artemis and soon it was forbidden for being pagan. 

Fun fact: The winners of the Olympic Games (back in 776 BC) were given as a prize honey tokens. The custom was established in order to honour a humble baker who won the first race. 

Want to try them in Athens? Join our street food tour and dig into our small bites of heaven while discovering the foodiest districts of the city!

28. Loukoumi

Our soft, fragrant candy is not only dressed with powdered sugar and aromas, but with many legends and a touch of magic. According to the story, one day the Sultan broke his tooth eating a hard candy. Angry and in pain, he ordered a soft sweet to be made for him so that he wouldn’t break his tooth again. His confectioner rushed to his workshop and created for his master pillowy bites of “lokum”. Known to many as “turkish delight”, this powdery white sweet travelled soon to the West and was even featured in C. S. Lewis’ fantasy novel “The Chronicles of Narnia”. 

Made of starch and sugar, loukoumi could be flavoured with rose, bergamot or mastiha and sometimes garnished with nuts. A not-to-miss treat to have with your Greek coffee, especially on the island of Syros, where it was recently added in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece.

The ultimate symbol of Greek hospitality, spoon sweets have always been given as a welcoming treat for visitors coming over to our homes. “Glyka you koutaliou” as called in Greece, they are usually served with Greek coffee and a glass of cold water. Our guests would then express their satisfaction by wishing the host “health to your hands”,  a common compliment for talented cooks. 

photo credit: olia gozha

29. Spoon sweets

These delightful sweet preserves could be made desde any kind of fruit, or even vegetables (like tomato or eggplant), nuts – like the famous Aegina pistachio, or even flower petals, like rose. It was a way in the past to extend the shelf life of fresh foods at the end of their season and keep them all year round. 

The most fragrant preserved fruit come desde Chios island, where also a special “spoon sweet” comes desde. This sugary fondant flavoured with vanilla or mastiha is called “ypovrichio,” meaning submarine. Our all-time favourite, we serve it on a spoon, we dip it into cold water and then we lick it, taking after a sip of the refreshing water. 

30. Greek coffee

The coffee of pleasure and relaxation. Greeks – especially of older generations, love drinking one cup of it in the morning and the second one after their midday “siesta”; both coffee and siesta are recognised as the Mediterranean secrets to longevity 🙂 Greek coffee needs a special small pot to be made called “briki”, in order to create its rich, creamy foam on top (kaimaki). The beans are very finely ground and sugar is added optionally, but always with the coffee, as this is a brew that is not filtered and the coffee grounds stay at the bottom, so you cannot stir it afterwards.

The secrets of exquisite Greek coffee is the “briki” -the small pot made out of copper- and the “hovoli”, the hot sand where the coffee is made, just like the Bedouins did in the desert, as the first coffee drinkers in the world.

A perfect Greek breakfast always starts with coffee. Join our morning tour around the market and find out all about our daily ritual of Greek coffee making.

Hope you enjoyed our local’s guide to Greek food! For more info on where to enjoy them, check out our 10 classic Greek dishes and where to find them in Athens blogpost or join any of our delicious food tours in Athens, to try Greek specialties in our favourite spots.