A Sampling of Food Cities in Greece
Whether you prefer fine-dining or experiencing the vibrant flavors of local tavernas, Athens is truly rich in dining options featuring delicious authentic cuisine. Cheese, light red wine, and salads remain the favorite food of the locals, so you will find a large choice of them on each menu in this city. Many national cuisine restaurants in Athens still cook the majority of food in old stone ovens, which gives the food an incredible taste. Pastries cooked in such ovens taste exceptionally amazing.
Not only restaurants, but also local markets are great for enjoying national delicacies. Varvakios market offers many interesting products by local farmers and producers. This market is located in the heart of the city. Many local sellers offer sampling of all the food they sell, so a simple walk in the marketplace can easily turn into an exciting gastronomic quest. Oftentimes, you can find popular national dishes right at the small street stalls that sell such local foods as souvlaki skewers, various types of kebab, and gyro - a special type of kebab typically eaten by locals, and very comfortable to eat on the go.
It is also important to mention the delicious local wines of Athens. Neighborhoods of Athens are famous for Vinsanto wine, which you’ll find for sale all over the city.
Must Savor Specialties: One of the most popular traditional Greek dishes, Moussaka, is a baked dish made with sautéed aubergines, minced beef cooked with tomatoes, creamy bechamel sauce and topped with a fluffy layer of cheese. Saganaki - Fried Cheese, a classic representation of Greek food. Souvlaki (grilled meats) can be found at many street food vendors and best enjoyed as gyros or wrapped in Pita bread and served with dips and sauces such as Tzatziki. Kolokythokeftedes (Courgette Balls), a tasty veggie treat that is a popular dish served all over Greece. It’s like a lightly fried fritter with dill and mint, slightly creamy inside because of the Feta cheese filling and goes so well with Tzatziki. Definitely a must eat authentic Greek food.
The resort of Santorini is known around the world for its vibrant seascapes, along with an excellent variety of gastronomy establishments. The yummy Greek food around every corner of the island is one of the biggest draws to Santorini. Between the traditional tavernas and smart supper spots, visitors can find fresh seafood, family-run restaurants, and modern Mediterranean dishes. Many tables are angled just right to watch the sunset over the caldera, making every evening meal something quite special. For more information on food in Santorini, click here.
Santorini Island has a rich tradition of wine production that dates back to Ancient times. Experience the local wines of Santorini with an exclusive wine-tasting, for wine lovers and connoisseurs.
Must Savor Specialties: Fava me Koukia, mashed up fava beans; Tomato Gefthedes, Tomato fritters; Saganaki, Fried cheese in filo pastry covered in honey; and Keftes/Kofta - ground meat somewhat like sausages.
The island of Crete is complex and proud with wild, mountainous terrain and a strong traditional culture. The island has one of the oldest and most delicious gastronomic traditions in the world. Cretan cuisine is renowned both in Greece and internationally for its unique ingredients and flavors. It is definitely similar to the rest of Greece, but there’s something unique about the Cretan way of cooking. It’s healthy, it’s fresh (so fresh!), simple, yet extremely flavorful and of course, delicious! It is based on simple techniques, it’s the variety of local produce that distinguishes this dishes: mountain herbs and greens, bulbs, unique cheeses, fresh fish, the famous Cretan oil, and raki, a bracing grape brandy. For more information about food in Crete, click here.
Must Savor Specialties: Olive Oil, referred to as ‘Liquid Gold’ in Crete - Nothing is cooked without it. Dakos consists of chopped tomato, fresh cheese, herbs and olive oil placed on top of a Paximadi (rusk), think along the lines of bruschetta, but better. Cretan Cheeses can be found all over the island and with most all meals. Fried snails (Chochlioi boubouristi) is a local delicacy that has been eaten here for centuries. Locally, women collect the snails by hand and the creatures are cooked up live. Lastly, for something sweet, be sure to try Cretan Cheese Pies (Kalsounia). These are unique - Made with handmade pastry dough, usually shaped into tiny cups, and stuffed with delicious fillings, the fillings vary - every region has its favorite.
Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades Islands, is the greenest island in the region, and supplies much of the fruit, vegetables, and meat served at restaurants and hotels on the surrounding islands. Naxos is particularly known for its potatoes, citrus fruits, kitron (a citrus-based liquor), cheeses, lamb and goat, wine grapes, honey, and fresh fish. You’ll also find an excellent variety of wines, especially white wines. The top wine regions in Greece are the Cyclades, the Peloponnese, and Macedonia regions.
Most of the restaurants in Naxos Town are located either along the port or inside the maze-like old village. Restaurants along the port have amazing sunset views, but the food is usually better inside the village. Many tourists flock here to feast on its gastronomic delights.
Must Savor Specialties: Roasted pork or chicken from the spit, grilled, fresh, tasty meats usually served with fried potatoes; Lemon Roasted lamb with steamed rice; Naxian Greek Salad; Gyro Platter, this is the same as a gyro, just spread out; and Kebob plates come in a variety of meats, like ground lamb and pork wrapped around a skewer and grilled. You get this with potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Kefalonia, as it is one of the larger islands in Greece, is blessed with fertile agricultural lands. They grow their own olives, vegetables, fruits, and amazing livestock like sheep and goats. The quality of food here, as is with Zakynthos and Crete, is phenomenal. Plump lemons, hand-pressed olive oil, tender lamb - Kefalonia’s cuisine draws upon the natural agriculture of the island. That’s not to say it’s all farm-to-table: seared halloumi tops the list for cheese-lovers. Local wines like Robola and Muscat are also excellent. You can also enjoy touring a few of the vineyards and wine tastings while here.
Must Savor Specialties: Some traditional products such as local honey, extra virgin olive oil and sheep yogurt, all dominate the local products, but also some local recipes, like 'Meat pie' (baked pastry stuffed with mutton, pork and beef, as well as onions, garlic, potatoes, rice, spices and tomato) and “Bakaliaros with agliada”, are a must-try when visiting Kefalonia. The classic fish dishes are stockfish or cod with agliada, which is a sauce made of boiled potatoes grinded in a mortar with garlic, olive oil and lemon. Salt cod fritters are also very famous here. Bourbourelia is another traditional dish of Kefalonia (bean soup with salt, pepper, and olive oil).
Mykonos has a long heritage with many Greek staple ingredients such as cheese, olive oil and fresh vegetables featured in dishes. Other Greek classics found here include Moussaka, Pastitsio, Souvlaki and Gyros. The island also has a few foods all its own. The most notable of these are kopanisti, a cheese famous for its spicy, aromatic taste, Ksinotira, a favorite local appetizer and louza, a dish made from thin slices of spiced and cooked port.
The island is also home to many fishermen. The seaside bars and eateries are a wonderful place to enjoy the catch of the day. The seafood is fresh, usually flavored with the delicious olive oil from the region. However, you might be surprised to learn that many of the most traditional Greek recipes popular with locals are actually meat-based.
The island is also famous for its appetizers called Meze. The island’s answer to Spanish Tapas is a delicious treat to enjoy with friends. A mixed dish of appetizers is best accompanied by Ouzo, the popular traditional liquor of Greece.
For something sweet in Mykonos, try the amygdalota, the traditional almond cookie of the island. Of course, these must be accompanied by soumada, an almond and rosewater flavored non-alcoholic beverage that is ubiquitous on the island. For more information about food in Mykonos, click here.
Must Savor Specialties: Kopanisti is a fine cheese that is a thick and creamy, spreadable texture, with a peppery and intense flavor, and yellowy-pink color; Kremidopita (onion pie) is one of many Mykonos delicacies associated with Easter; Amygdalota is a traditional sweet with a distinctive rose aroma and almond flavor; Mostra is a quick and easy recipt prepared with large barley rusk, spread with kopanisti cheese and a large ripe tomato, which is diced and lace on top along with olive oil, oregano, and capers, popularly served as an accompaniment to ouzo; Kafematika is Mykonos version of sausage with black-eyed beans, the sausage is sun-dried rather than smoked (as the island never had much wood around to be used to smoke the meat); and Melopita (honey pie) is a sweet pie made with the traditional Mykonos cheese, tirovolia.