Last year, I went on a business trip to Athens and Kefalonia, which turned out to be delightful despite having to resign. Now, let’s talk about the food. Compiling this list was quite challenging, given the sheer variety of delicious dishes Greece has to offer. Nevertheless, the following stood out to me.
Moussaka is a beloved dish in Greece that consists of layers of ground meat, fried eggplant, and mashed potatoes, all covered in creamy béchamel sauce and baked in the oven. This dish is similar to lasagna and is a must-try when visiting Greece. Those who follow a vegan diet can also enjoy this dish, as a vegan version is sometimes available. I personally enjoyed moussaka in both Ithaca and Kefalonia, but the one in Kefalonia stood out due to the high quality of the ingredients used.
Koulouri is a popular breakfast item in Greece, particularly in large cities like Athens. These bread rings are covered in sesame seeds and can be found sold from small carts along the road or offered as part of the breakfast buffet at hotels. While it may not be everyone’s favorite, trying koulouri at least once is a must-do since it’s a staple part of the Greek breakfast scene. During my travels, I encountered koulouri frequently, including at the Elektra hotel where I was staying in Athens.
Loukoumades are a popular Greek dessert that consists of small fried doughnut-like balls soaked in honey syrup and sprinkled with toppings such as cinnamon or crushed walnuts. These bite-sized treats are a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. They can be found in many bakeries and restaurants throughout Greece, especially during festivals and holidays. In addition to the classic toppings, some places may offer modern variations with chocolate or fruit sauces. I personally loved these addictive treats and highly recommend trying them if you have the chance!
If you’re looking for a delicious and filling meal that you can find almost anywhere in the world, look no further than souvlaki! This popular Greek dish consists of grilled meat skewers, typically made with beef, chicken, or pork. Souvlaki is often served with a side of tzatziki, a flavorful yogurt sauce, as well as pita bread and salad. Whether you’re in Athens, Cape Town, or anywhere in between, you’re sure to find a local eatery that offers this mouthwatering dish. In fact, souvlaki is so beloved that it was the first thing I had for supper when I arrived in Athens. So why not give it a try and discover why this simple yet satisfying meal has captured the hearts and taste buds of foodies around the world!
If you’re looking for a delicious Greek side dish to try, why not give dolmades a taste? These bite-sized treats are typically made by stuffing vine or grape leaves with flavorful rice that’s been seasoned with herbs and a hint of lemon. Some versions even feature meat, while others are strictly vegetarian with rice-only filling. The parcels are then folded over and steamed to perfection. I first tried dolmades on a trip to Kefalonia. I haven’t had the ones with meat inside so I have to try it one day.
The Greeks love their pies and you can find many varieties, from those made with enriched dough to those made from flaky phyllo (also filo) pastry and filled with anything from aubergines or meat to greens or cheese. The most classic is the spanakopita – phyllo pastry layered with feta cheese and spinach and flavoured with dill. Another favourite is tyropita – crunchy phyllo pastry wrapped around a savoury cheese filling.
A bit like a kebab, a gyro is a typical Greek sandwich. It consists of pieces of meat (usually chicken, pork, lamb, or beef) cooked on a rotisserie and wrapped in a flatbread or pita along with salad, onions, and a variety of sauces.
Found all over Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East, baklavas are small sweet pastries soaked in honey-like syrup and layered with crushed nuts such as walnuts or almonds. In central Greece, they are made with almonds, in the eastern regions with walnuts, and in northern Greece with pistachios. I had baklava in Germany for the first time and it’s also sold in South Africa so it wasn’t a new treat but if you’ve never had it try it out.
Tiropita is made with flaky phyllo pastry, expertly wrapped into a triangular shape, it has a rich and creamy cheese filling. The creamy texture of the cheese filling paired with the crispiness of the phyllo pastry provides a delightful contrast of flavors and textures. Some versions of Tiropita are drizzled with honey like the one pictured below.
Fried cheese, need I say more. This is Greek cheese which is melted and served just as a huge block. It is an appetizer and I never had this before visiting Greece. It was by far one of my favourites. I don’t have a photo of it before it got devoured so yeah it’s so good. There’s a recipe on how to make this here: https://www.mygreekdish.com/recipe/saganaki-pan-seared-greek-cheese-appetizer/
All the fish I had was good and Cape Town is a coastal city. My dad owned a small fishery business once upon a time. What I’m saying is I know when fish is good and when it isn’t. If you do order calamari just know that they do sometimes serve it as tentacles not chopped up. You should also try the shrimp and prawns
Choriatki is a Greek salad. The best part is that it comes with a massive block of Feta cheese on top of olives, tomatoes, cucumber, and onions. It’s topped with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. All the things I like. In South Africa, the feta is always chopped up into teeny tiny pieces so it’s not the same. If you want to make it yourself follow this recipe https://www.olivetomato.com/authentic-greek-salad/
Big beans cooked in a tomatoe sauce it’s one of the more healthy meals. I had this at Oddy’s in Kefalonia and I enjoyed it but it wasn’t attacked by the other people I was dining with.
The lamb in Greece is top quality. It’s worth trying. I had this dish at Ithaca island, after taking a boat trip from Kefalonia. The meat was juicy and tender. The addition of white and wild rice was interesting. I couldn’t find my whole meal so I had my lunch for dinner as well and it reheats fabulously.
A popular dip it pairs well with veggies and meat. You can dip chips in it and bread as well. Made with plain greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh mint. I’ve made this before. and it’s easy to whip up at home.
Lots of the vegetables at restaurants were either baked or fried and I can’t lie I loved the deep-fried veggies. I know it’s not healthy but hey you only live once. And it’s not every day that I get the chance to eat in Greece.
There’s no dessert like free dessert. I didn’t order this one, my co-workers went out to eat and got this for free. It’s shredded phyllo dough drenched in syrup that’s topped with custard and then whipped cream, yummy.
There are olives and roasted red peppers stuffed into this bread. But, I can’t find the Greek name for it. I’ve searched so if you stumble across this post and you know the name of this bread please let me know.
I got lost in Athens on my way to the pizza joint. I walked past the changing of the guard which was great luck since I never had I chance to see it again. I kept walking around in circles so I ended up taking a 5-minute uber ride. It might be the relief of getting there, coupled with extreme hunger but wow I loved this pizza. It was cheesy and the base was not too thick. Plus, I wanted something that reminded me of food at home at this point of my trip the pizza ticked all the boxes.
I took a walking trip alone through the woods to get to the beach and bought the ice cream pictured on the left. Chocolate with chocolate chips, a winning combo. The ice cream on the right is the second dessert I got for free with my coworkers. I love sweet things and the ice cream in Greece hit the spot because it’s very creamy.
And that’s a wrap or should I say a gyro lol. If you’ve been to Greece what did you enjoy eating. I spent almost two weeks divided between Athens and Kefalonia but it wasn’t enough time to go island hopping and try all the different food. I’d love to hear from you since there are lots of Greek restaurants in Cape Town where I can hopefully find your suggestions.