Restaurants in Greece: A Friendly and Informative Travel Guide
Greek cuisine is world-famous for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and delicious mezze-style dining. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to a selection of outstanding Greek restaurants that cater to a wide range of palates and budgets. We’ll also share some insider tips on how to make the most of your dining experiences in Greece. So, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Understanding Greek Cuisine
- Top Destinations for Food Lovers
- Tips for an Unforgettable Dining Experience
1. Understanding Greek Cuisine
Greek cuisine is characterized by its simple, yet flavorful ingredients, including olive oil, fresh vegetables, fish, and meats. Traditional Greek dishes often feature a combination of herbs and spices, like oregano, thyme, and rosemary, which lend a unique and aromatic quality to the food. Some must-try dishes include:
- Moussaka – a baked dish made with layers of eggplant, potatoes, minced meat, and béchamel sauce.
- Souvlaki – grilled meat (usually pork or chicken) served on skewers, often accompanied by pita bread, tzatziki, and a side salad.
- Horiatiki – a traditional Greek salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and feta cheese.
- Saganaki – pan-fried cheese served with lemon and bread.
- Spanakopita – a spinach and feta cheese pie wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry.
Now that you have an idea of what Greek cuisine is all about, let’s explore some of the best food destinations in the country!
2. Top Destinations for Food Lovers
The capital city of Greece, Athens, boasts an impressive culinary scene that ranges from traditional tavernas to modern fusion restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani – a traditional Greek deli and restaurant specializing in cured meats, cheeses, and other delicacies. Try their selection of cold cuts and cheeses, or order the Karamanlidika sausages, a house specialty.
- Mani Mani – a modern Greek eatery that combines traditional flavors with contemporary techniques. Don’t miss their delicious homemade pasta or their creative seafood dishes.
- To Kanoni – located near the famous Plaka district, this casual taverna offers a fantastic view of the Acropolis. Enjoy their mouth-watering souvlaki, grilled octopus, and fried zucchini.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and offers a diverse culinary scene. Some must-visit restaurants include:
- Estrella – famous for its brunch offerings, this cozy eatery is a great place to start your day. Try their “Bougatsan” – a unique combination of bougatsa and croissant, filled with sweet or savory ingredients.
- To Ellinikon – for an authentic taste of Greek cuisine, head to this traditional taverna. Sample their hearty meat dishes, fresh seafood, and flavorful salads, all while enjoying the lively atmosphere.
- Extravaganza – this upscale restaurant offers a modern take on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, using seasonal ingredients and innovative techniques. Be sure to try their deconstructed moussaka or the grilled octopus with fava bean purée.
Crete, the largest island in Greece, is renowned for its fresh, locally sourced ingredients and vibrant flavors. Here are some standout restaurants:
- Prima Plora – this seaside restaurant in Rethymno offers stunning views and an exquisite menu focused on Cretan and Mediterranean cuisine. Try their seafood risotto or the slow-cooked lamb in honey and thyme.
- Peskesi – located in the heart of Heraklion, this restaurant highlights traditional Cretan dishes with a modern twist. Be sure to sample their dakos salad or the rabbit stifado.
- Chrisostomos – situated in Chania, this family-run taverna is famous for its wood-fired oven and mouthwatering dishes like lamb with artichokes or stuffed zucchini flowers.
This picturesque island is not only famous for its stunning sunsets but also its delicious food. Check out these top picks:
- Selene – a fine dining restaurant in Pyrgos, Selene focuses on showcasing the flavors and ingredients of Santorini. Try their tomato fritters or their Santorini lobster pasta.
- Metaxi Mas – located in Exo Gonia, this cozy taverna serves up traditional Greek and Santorinian dishes. Don’t miss their slow-cooked pork in wine sauce or their fava bean dip.
- Oia Vineyart – a perfect spot for wine lovers, this restaurant in Oia pairs local wines with Greek and Mediterranean tapas. Be sure to try their grilled halloumi or the seafood saganaki.
Mykonos is known for its vibrant nightlife and upscale dining scene. Here are some restaurants worth visiting:
- Kikis Tavern – a hidden gem in Agios Sostis, this small taverna serves up delicious grilled meats and seafood, accompanied by fresh salads and breathtaking views.
- Spilia – this unique restaurant is located inside a cave by the sea in Agia Anna. Indulge in their fresh seafood dishes, such as lobster spaghetti or grilled fish.
- M-Eating – located in Mykonos Town, this modern eatery offers an innovative take on Greek cuisine. Try their shrimp saganaki or their slow-cooked lamb shank.
3. Tips for an Unforgettable Dining Experience
To make the most of your culinary adventures in Greece, keep these tips in mind:
- Be adventurous – don’t be afraid to try new dishes or visit small, family-run tavernas. Sometimes the most memorable meals come from unexpected places.
- Ask for recommendations – locals know best, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice on where to eat and what dishes to try.
- Embrace the meze culture – Greek dining is often centered around sharing a variety of small plates, or meze. This is a great way to sample multiple dishes and flavors.
- Take your time – Greeks often take their time when dining out, lingering over meals and conversations. Embrace this slower pace and savor your dining experience.
- Reservations – popular restaurants, especially in tourist areas, can fill up quickly. Make reservations in advance to avoid disappointment.
With a wealth of delicious dishes and unique dining experiences awaiting you, Greece is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. So, put on your stretchy pants and get ready to indulge in some of the best food the Mediterranean has to offer.