A trip to Greece equals an exciting journey through Greek gastronomy; after all, it is common knowledge that in order to get a fully local experience when traveling around the country, trying local delicacies and diving into the mouth-watering Greek cuisine is definitely a must do. For that reason, here we present to you some dos and don'ts of eating in Greece to help you transform your trip to an unforgettable Greek culinary adventure!
Do try the street food
The world-famous Greek souvlaki wrap - credits: gioiak2/Depositphotos.com
We can't stress this enough, but if you want to feel like a local and explore the most exquisite cuisine in the world, try the Greek street food! Undoubtedly, the king of Greek street food is the world-famous souvlaki. Available in every corner around the country, it is perhaps the cheapest way for you to enjoy a full meal. Fresh vegetables, fries and delicious sauces such as tzatziki, are sided with meat wrapped in warm pita bread. There is a variety of meat you can choose to add to your souvlaki such as gyros, chicken or lamb. In some places, there might be vegetarian options available such as halloumi cheese or falafel.
Tip: Ordering souvlaki in Greece might turn out to be quite a task depending on where you are. In Athens and generally in the southern part of the country souvlaki means the whole wrap, while in Thessaloniki and the northern part of Greece this is not the case. There, you have to ask for a pita with souvlaki, otherwise, you will end up holding just a skewer of meat, and no one deserves that kind of disappointment!
Traditional koulouri - credits: vovidzha/Shutterstock.com
The most popular street snack in Greece, apart from souvlaki, is koulouri. Koulouri can be found all around the eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Balkan countries, but each country claims to have a different recipe for it. The traditional koulouri in Greece is a circular thin bread with lots of sesame seeds covering it. It is hands down the favorite breakfast option for Greeks along with a cup of Greek coffee. Get yours from a traditional vendor on the street; it will set you back only 50cents and it will be a treat to your senses!
Spinach pie - credits: Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com
In case you feel hungry while walking around Athens or another Greek city, the cheapest way to fill your tummy is to choose from an array of traditional pies. Spot the nearest bakery shop and get the chance to try spanakopita (spinach pie), tyropita (cheese pie), or ask the baker to recommend something new. When it comes to pies, the sky's the limit! Each region is particularly famous for a type of pie depending on the season and its ingredients. Therefore, keep your eyes open and follow the scent of the freshly baked phyllo pastry to enjoy a piece of a traditional Greek pie!
Apart from the options mentioned above, there is an endless amount of options regarding Greek street food. From seafood to middle-eastern delicacies, Greece has it all! Do not hesitate to ask the locals and find the place that suits you best!
Do taste the traditional Greek cuisine
Traditional Greek moussaka - credits: Timolina/Shutterstock.com
A quick bite is nice, but not as nice as a full Greek meal consisting of traditional Greek dishes, such as mousaka or pastitsio. Layers of flavor in the form of mince, pasta, and béchamel await you in almost every local restaurant, along with an array of other local delicacies. One of the best places to try local dishes in the heart of Athens is -ironically- 'Lesvos', the meze restaurant in the neighborhood of Exarcheia, where you can try delicacies from the island of Lesvos in affordable prices. The local dishes of grilled octopus, fried courgette balls and local cheeses will make your mouth water, while its friendly staff and old-time aesthetic will seal the deal! Other areas that Athenians love to go out for food are the picturesque neighborhoods of Psyrri and Monastiraki right at the city center. There, all you have to do is to have a walk through those neighborhoods and find a place that, along with delightful culinary creations, offers a magnificent view of the Acropolis!
Do ask the local people for information and advice
Greek grandmothers - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com
Don't let your ego get in the way of your wonderful trip to Greece! You are in a foreign country, so it is normal to be unaware of the best places to go, the best things to see and the best spots to eat (although a short exploration of our blog would have given you the insight you need, we're not going to be bitter about it!). Lucky for you, loving food is in the Greek's DNA, therefore, you can get advice from locals about the best places to eat. Most probably, they will introduce you to a cheap, off-the-beaten-path restaurant where you are going to taste unique Greek flavors. The hospitality of the locals isn't just an urban myth and you'll soon figure it out yourselves. They'll be more than happy to give you advise and help you in any way possible, so as to ensure you love Greece just as much as they do!
Don't say 'no' - keep an open mind!
Friends enjoying their meal and drinking ouzo - credits: Nadir Keklik/Shutterstock.com
Once you find the delicious and affordable restaurants Greece is known for, you will enjoy not only the food but also the hospitality of the owners, who are sure to will propose some dished to you. You shouldn't refuse. They know better, and they want you to have a good time and trie the best of what they have to offer. They will probably even treat you to a traditional Greek drink like ouzo, tsipouro or rakomelo. Again, refusing it won't get you far; drink with them, but be careful to drink with reason, the Greek liquors are quite strong. Alternatively, If you don't want to drink alcohol, you can just take a sip and thank the locals for their hospitality. Furthermore, keep in mind that the Greeks prefer to use their fingers rather than cutlery on many occasions - especially when chicken legs and steak bones are involved. Don't judge! Instead, follow their lead and you might notice that food tastes better that way.
Do praise the cook
Joyful summer meal - credits: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos.com
If you are enjoying your food, don’t hold back; offer your compliments to the people responsible for your exquisite meal! They will appreciate your kindness and it will make their day. If you enjoyed both the service and the food, don't forget to leave a tip. The locals are generous tippers and when they have a good time they make sure everyone responsible for it knows it! Don’t stress over the amount of money, your gesture is more important.
In conclusion, the Greek eating etiquette consists of few and simple rules. Don’t settle for less when it is easy to find more, cheaper, and better food. Don’t say no to treats and offers, but don’t get carried away -a hangover is fun only as a film. Compliment and show your gratitude to the owners and waiters. Be open to advise from the local people and explore the culinary excellence of Greece. Don't forget you can also plan your own culinary exploration of Athens or check one of our Greece tours to optimize your gastronomic experience in our country in an easy and clever way that will ensure you get to live your myth in Greece to the fullest!