Studying abroad in Greece has been life changing for a variety of reasons, and one of the biggest reasons is the food. Normally at home, I don’t go out to eat more than three or four times a month. However, dining in Greece brings a whole new meaning to dining out. Greeks spend longer time at restaurants because for them, it is more of a social occasion rather than a simple meal . Their service is slower, and they don’t usually bring the check unless you flag them down and ask. The slower pace is actually nice when you’re not in a rush, giving you a generous amount of time to mingle and talk with your company.
In the first few weeks that my group and I arrived here, we went out to eat once a day or once every few days. We explored many areas of Athens, where we are studying, and found beautiful restaurants and café’s down every street. In some areas of the city, the prices of the restaurants are pretty inexpensive. Cafés have cheap coffee if you’re taking it to go, and the bakeries sell mouth-watering pastries, desserts, and croissant rolls at every corner.
I am quite adventurous when it comes to food, and I’m the one who tries all the traditional and weird sounding foods.
Here are the top 10 foods to eat in Greece that are my favorite dishes and desserts I have had so far.
Spanakopita has become my obsession here in Athens. It’s a traditional Greek food that is made in all shapes and sizes. You can get it for less than €2 and almost every café or coffee shop will sell it. It is made from phyllo dough with spinach (and sometimes feta cheese) inside. Delicious and perfect for on the go!
Another traditional Greek dish I love is Moussaka, which will make your taste buds explode. The top layer is a thick cream, followed by a layer of vegetables (normally eggplant, peppers, onions, and carrots) that are all roasted to perfection, and finally a bottom layer of beef. Many restaurants have this popular dish, and after tasting it I could see why. Although pretty hearty, this dish is a must-try.
3. Fruit and Yogurt Bowls
Everyone’s heard of, if not tasted, Greek yogurt from your local grocery store. But having Greek yogurt in Greece is a whole new experience. They typically use plain or vanilla yogurt as a base for these bowls, and it is a thick, pudding consistency. Topped with granola, seeds, and fruit, this bowl was something I definitely will recreate in my own kitchen.
4. Greek Salad- Horiatiki
Greek salads are slightly different at every restaurant you go to. However, the huge block of feta cheese on top is very consistent. Greek salads, also called horiatiki salads, are made of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and olives. A typical Greek salad is topped off with olive oil, oregano, and feta.
You can find this healthy entrée at any Greek restaurant and even some cafés.
Souvlaki is the skewered meat that is perfectly roasted, accompanied with a lemon to squeeze over it. The price may be different depending on whether you get it at a fast food place or at a restaurant. However, it is usually cheap and tasty. I almost forgot to take a picture before it was all gone! You can get souvlaki in a gyro, on top of a bed of vegetables, or just by itself- all are good options.
I’ve never been a big fan of gyros at home, but coming to Greece has changed my mind for the better. Gyros here are very versatile ranging from vegan options to meat lover. Normal gyros are stuffed with tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, onions, meat of your choice, and like the picture shows, French fries! Not to mention, they are wrapped in a warm and fluffy pita bread grilled or pressed- and now I’m hungry again.
This particular wrap was “goat-on-goat. The white creamy sauce was a blend of goat cheese and spices, and the tortilla encompassed roasted goat with a thin tomato and oil sauce. It was nothing like I have ever tasted before, but if I had to compare it to something, I would say it was similar to beef tips. This restaurant plated its food extremely well, and we all enjoyed a basket of bread to go along with our meals.
8. Grain Bowl
Healthy eating is easy in Greece because there are so many nutritious options. A restaurant we found on the way to school is organic and many of their options are vegetarian-friendly.
This dish is called the “Power bowl” and it consists of quinoa, avocado, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, goji berries, and it is garnished with spinach. More expensive, but keeps you full for hours.
Banoffee is a life-changing dessert. It is a combination of bananas, caramel, and toffee all mixed together to make a thick, pie-like creation. It is very rich, so make sure to split it with some friends. This delicacy is made slightly different at every restaurant, but the flavor is amazing and you can also buy it in bakeries to take home.
Last but far from least, gelato! If you go to Europe and don’t have gelato at least once a week, are you really in Europe? Gelato is easy to find in many tourist areas in Athens, and there are unique flavors that you wouldn’t find in America like banoffee (Like Banoffee). My favorite gelato place in Athens is Cookie Land, not only because the gelato is delicious and cheap (about €3), but also because they top your gelato with a cookie!
These are just the top 10 foods to eat in Greece I’ve had so far. I still have three more months of exploring here, so I’m sure there will be many more added to my favorites list in the near future!
Watch the video about 11 Top Greek Foods!