Phyllo-wrapped feta cheese in Greece
Food & Drink, Greece

13 Delectable Greek Foods I’d Fly Back to Greece For in a Heartbeat

I must owe the fact that I left Greece without gaining 20 pounds to some sort of miracle–I could’ve sworn at least 75% of my time there was spent eating.  My love affair with Greek food began the moment I arrived and carried on all the way through to the end.

In no particular order, these are some of the Greek delicacies that might just lead to a return flight to Athens sooner than later.

Olive Everything

Plain olives.  Olive oil.  Olive bread.  Olive spread.  In Greece, where the olive tree was first cultivated, it only makes sense that olives rule supreme.  The country contains 150 million olive trees over an area of 2.4 million acres and produces 400,000 tons of olive oil per year.  This delicious and nutritious oil is a major staple of the Mediterranean diet, and olives have weaseled their way into just about every type of dish you could imagine.  It’s a good thing I’ve recently discovered my own profound appreciation (bordering on obsession) for olives because I would have been hard-pressed to avoid them in Greece.

Enjoying my olive oil and olive spread with a view of olive trees at Hotel Europa, Ancient Olympia

Enjoying my olive oil and olive spread with a view of olive trees at Hotel Europa, Ancient Olympia

Pita Bread

Ah, the pita, the world’s most versatile little pocket of bread.  Another staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean diets everywhere, the pita can be eaten in a variety of ways and for any occasion.  This pizza-like bread topped with feta was a pre-lunch appetizer at a restaurant called Elaionas in Aliki, a small village on the island of Paros.  Pita is also ideal for dipping or filling to create a sandwich.

Pita bread with tomato sauce and feta cheese

Pita bread with tomato sauce and feta cheese


Strained yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice and dill might not SOUND all that appealing, but this combination creates one of my absolute favorite Greek flavors.  Tzatziki comes as a dip or as a topping for grilled meats. Whenever I went a few days without it, I’d be hit with a nasty tzatziki craving that wouldn’t go away until satisfied.  Luckily, you can find it in any Greek restaurant.

Tzatziki and some other delicious dips on the island of Ios

Tzatziki and some other delicious dips on the island of Ios


The word ‘souvlaki’ is a confusing one, even sometimes for Greeks.  It can be used as an umbrella term for a variety of grilled meat dishes, or it can mean a very specific plate of grilled pork skewers accompanied by pita bread, a small salad, tzatziki and french fries.  Either way, souvlaki is the most popular fast food in Greece.  And it’s cheap, too!  I ate gyros pitas once a day on average, because a) they’re delicious and filling and b) they rarely cost me more than €2.50.  The fact that they’re doused in tzatziki sauce only sweetens the deal.

A gyros pita in Athens

My first gyros pita in Athens

Greek Salad

Traditional Greek salads are light and refreshing.  They make the perfect midday meal when the heat makes it hard to eat anything else, or they can be shared as an appetizer before a meaty dinner.  The main ingredients are cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and a block of feta cheese, although on occasion they also contained capers.  Greek salads are typically seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed with olive oil.

Greek salad with a slight variation--local cheese from the island of Ios

Greek salad with a slight variation–local cheese from the island of Ios

Eggplant Saganaki

This baked, vegetarian appetizer is actually quite simple as well–it’s made by layering eggplant with tomatoes and feta cheese, seasoned with garlic and herbs, and topped with even more cheese.  It’s amazing by itself or eaten with bread, and it’s not so heavy that you won’t still have room for your meal.

Mmm...eggplant saganaki

Mmm…eggplant saganaki

Phyllo-Wrapped Feta

Much to my disappointment, I only came across this glorious dish one time while in Greece.  This honey-drizzled, raisin-showered, sweet and salty delight was by far one of my favorites.  It combines so many of my favorite things!  Cheese!  Carbs! Fried stuff!  What more could a girl ask for?  Kudos to Hotel Europa in Ancient Olympia for giving me something to dream about until my next trip to Greece.

Phyllo-wrapped feta cheese in Greece

Have you ever seen anything so divine?


This is not a good photo.  It’s a terrible photo, in fact.  But even a dimly lit, grainy iPhone shot can’t negate the utter deliciousness of Greek moussaka.  Seasoned ground meat (beef or veal) is topped with a layer of thinly-sliced potatoes in a creamy, cheesy sauce, then baked to golden brown perfection.  Moussaka is so sickeningly rich I could actually feel my arteries constricting as I ate.  I couldn’t eat it regularly, that’s for sure, but the few times I did allow myself to order it, I never left a single bite behind.  This particular moussaka was enjoyed at a restaurant called Barriello on the island of Milos.

Moussaka on the island of Milos

Moussaka on the island of Milos


Though traditionally a Middle Eastern food, falafel is commonly enjoyed throughout the rest of the Mediterranean as well. These fried balls of chickpea are typically far too dry to eat on their own, so they’re best when accompanied by tahini or hummus for dipping.  I enjoyed falafel at a healthy vegetarian restaurant near Syntagma Square in Athens, aptly named Avocado.

Falafel at Avocado in Athens

Falafel at Avocado in Athens

Fava Bean Purée

This one is pretty much exactly what it sounds like–fava beans blended to a consistency perfect for spreading onto bread or a pita.  It’s a common appetizer on Greek menus, but the absolute best one I tried was at Elia, a restaurant widely regarded as one of the best on the island of Ios.  The menu leans more toward Greek fusion than traditional Greek, perhaps with the exception of the fava bean purée.

Elia Restaurant, Ios, Greece

Fava bean pureé accompanied by onion jam

Grilled Mushrooms

Again, not a great picture but man, if you could have tasted these mushrooms for yourself!  This particular variety tastes startlingly similar to meat, especially when grilled.  This was yet another treat enjoyed at the Taverna Garden of Hotel Europa in Ancient Olympia.

Grilled mushrooms in Ancient Olympia

Grilled mushrooms in Ancient Olympia

Pork ribs with Eggplant Purée

They told me the food in the north of Greece would be different from the traditional Greek food we’d had in the south.  I can’t say I noticed a huge difference, but there were a few exceptions, this eggplant purée being one of them.  Holy flavor explosion, Batman!  Don’t get me wrong, the pork ribs were pretty incredible too, but the garlicky blend of eggplant that came with them really knocked my socks off.  This was my lunch one afternoon in Thessaloniki, the port city in the Greece’s far north.

Pork and eggplant puree in Thessaloniki, Greece

Searching for flights as we speak…


I couldn’t leave out Greece’s sweet treats altogether, now could I?!  Baklava is actually of Turkish origin, but today many variations of the dessert exist in neighboring countries.  It consists of thin, crispy layers of phyllo dough and chopped nuts, all held together by syrup or honey.  It’s an absolute mess to eat but SO WORTH IT.

Baklava drizzled in chocolate, Paros, Greece

Baklava drizzled in chocolate

Greek food quickly made its way onto my list of favorite cuisines. Which country do you think has the best food?

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  • Reply Katelyn @Diaries of a Wandering Lobster July 19, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I seriously miss the Greek food! I was never a huge Greek food person before but after tasting authentic Greek food I’m a believer! And yes, phyllo wrapped feta I’d heavenly!
    Katelyn @Diaries of a Wandering Lobster recently posted…Hostel Review: Athens Backpackers Hostel – Athens, GreeceMy Profile

  • Reply Emma Hart July 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Oh my goodness, this post is pretty much every reason I love Greece. My favourite dish I had in Crete was Greek yoghurt topped with a thick layer of local honey. It was so incredibly divine!
    Emma Hart recently posted…11 Fun Things To Do In NoosaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 20, 2015 at 3:12 am

      Yesss the Greek yogurt is amazing too! There were actually a bunch more foods I could have included in this list if only I’d had decent pictures of them. Spinach pies, for one! I ate those things daily!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Think You Know Athens? Think Again.My Profile

  • Reply Justine July 19, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Yep, this is just ridiculous. I actually just booked a ticket to Athens after reading this…just kidding. But seriously, I’m tempted 🙂
    Justine recently posted…The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low SeasonMy Profile

  • Reply Elizabeth July 20, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Ah. The food looks SO tasty!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Breakout NL FridayMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 23, 2015 at 2:41 am

      Eating the local food was a definite highlight of my time in Greece!

  • Reply Taylor Hearts Travel July 20, 2015 at 5:23 am

    As I’m a a veggie I eat a lot of these things at home, but am desperate to get to Greece to experience the ‘real deal’! I’m drooling as I type…!

    • Reply Leah Davis July 23, 2015 at 2:42 am

      Greece has lots of tasty veggie-friendly options! I hope you make it there soon 🙂

  • Reply Alex of Wanderlust Marriage July 20, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Great list of awesome Greek dishes! The country also has the best honey I’ve ever eaten. I wish I could find the same quality honey in Boston grocery stores as what my aunt buys from the Athenian market.

    Greece definitely has as good of food as the other best countries for food in Europe- France, Belgium, Spain, Italy & Croatia imo. My other favorite country for food is Malaysia- I ate some of the very best meals of my life there for great prices and loved the mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese.
    Alex of Wanderlust Marriage recently posted…Belgium and Netherlands Tour: Breweries, History & FoodMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 23, 2015 at 2:43 am

      I’d have to agree! I knew I’d love Greek food but I underestimated just HOW MUCH I’d love it 🙂 Malaysia does have a great mix of cuisines!

  • Reply Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 21, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Having been in Mexico for 4+ months at this point where the cuisine has been really carnivorous, I was wiping away the drool while reading this post! That Greek salad nearly had me in tears! (I actually made a similar one here the other night, but somehow I’m sure it would have tasted better in a little café or while staring out at the ocean…) What impressed me mos about the dishes you shared is that they actually seem to be quite light and healthy rather than being overly rich and heavy. Perfect summertime food!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Driving the Tequila TrailMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 23, 2015 at 2:46 am

      You’re right, with the exception of the moussaka, most of these foods are pretty light! I thought I’d have more meat dishes to write about, but I guess most of the barbeque falls into the souvlaki category. A very vegetarian-friendly place!

  • Reply Esther of Local Adventurer July 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    those grilled mushrooms look so good! we ordered tzatziki at every meal while we were there. 🙂
    Esther of Local Adventurer recently posted…Kayaking Channel Islands National Park with TingglyMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 23, 2015 at 2:48 am

      I easily could have eaten tzatziki with every meal! SO delicious! And great when it’s hot out because it’s light and citrusy 🙂

  • Reply Emily July 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I want this. All of it. Well, maybe nothing with a face. But the rest. I’m actually salivating right now. 16 months without feta is far too bloody long and must be fixed. Immediately!

  • Reply Meg July 24, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    You did a great job with these photos — they’re making me hungry!
    Meg recently posted…Lady LaoweiMy Profile

  • Reply Camille August 1, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Yes, Greek food (and Mediterranean in general) is so good in every way – fresh produce, and you can choose from as light or rich as you want!
    Camille recently posted…Tasting the Good Life in Parnu, the Summer Capital of EstoniaMy Profile

  • Reply Ashley August 1, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Sweet Jesus, I need to get to Greece ASAP! Although I’m fairly certain my body weight will double because everything looks incredibly delicious. Definitely worth it, though!
    Ashley recently posted…Climbing your First Munro: A Guide for the Unprepared and UnfitMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis August 1, 2015 at 6:19 am

      Bahaha I thought I would gain tons of weight too! I didn’t though, and I can only attribute that (possibly) to the fact that most things were actually quite healthy? Or I’ve just gotten better at keeping my portions reasonable!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Bewitching BelgradeMy Profile

  • Reply couplertw September 26, 2015 at 2:14 am

    Wauu, looks so good, always that I see Greek food I want to try every. Going to put these in my list. Thank you.

    • Reply Leah Davis September 30, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I just love Greek food 🙂

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