I knew Greek food would quickly become one of my favourite cuisines before arriving in the country. Syrupy-soaked phyllo, savoury pastries, garlicky tzatziki – what’s not to love? Plus, food just tasted better in Greece: the produce more fresh, the seasonings more aromatic, the flavours more prominent. Most dishes seemed to have a common theme – they were simple, prepared with only a few ingredients, and brimming with delicious and distinctive flavours.
Please excuse the obnoxious use of superlatives in this post, but the food I ate in Greece was just that good.
Cretan Feast – Taverna Diomataris, Athens
This was, hands down, the best meal I ate in Greece – and one of the most authentic and memorable dining experiences of my travels. Recommended by our lovely This is My Athens tour guide, Taverna Diomataris serves authentic Cretan food, with many ingredients sourced from the owner’s nearby farm. A few standout dishes were dakos – bread topped with olive oil, tomato, and mizithra cheese, kolokythoanthoi – zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and topped with yogurt, kastana stifado – chestnuts cooked with onions and tomato sauce, and melitzanes me feta sto fourno – oven baked eggplant with feta.
The food was so good, it nearly made me weep with happiness. Every dish was so simple, but so incredibly fresh, flavourful, and fragrant. I had almost forgotten what a proper ripe tomato should taste like until I bit into the dakos, and the chestnut dish literally tasted like Christmas. To top it all off, the owner insisted on inundating our table with carafes of homemade wine, and then gave us complimentary goat’s milk ice cream for dessert – which was the best ice cream of my life. The owner and staff were so welcoming, generous, and jovial – a bona fide depiction of renowned Greek hospitality.
Grilled octopus – Melitini, Oia
I relished the chance to eat fresh seafood daily on Santorini, and this grilled octopus from Melitini in Oia was one of the best seafood dishes I had. It struck the perfect balance in terms of texture, with a crisp, chargrilled exterior, and a tender, ever-so-slightly chewy centre. Its smoky flavour was enhanced with a zesty lemon and oregano seasoning.
All of the feta – Athens & Santorini
This salty cheese was a staple at every meal in Greece. Whether it was layered into a pastry, piled atop a salad, or simply baked and topped with chili, it was always an incredibly delicious accompaniment to any dish. My favourite version was a fried feta ball – essentially a savoury, cheesy doughnut – served at a restaurant in Firostefani. It was crispy on the outside and airy inside, filled with generous portion of creamy, tangy feta.
Loukoumades – Athens
My first morning in Athens, I stopped at cafe and ordered a plate piled high with loukoumades, or Greek-style doughnuts. These bite-sized puffs of dough are fried until golden brown, soaked with honey, and sprinkled with cinnamon. They’re light and airy, super sweet, and delectable little morsels.
Squid ink risotto – Kapari, Imerovigli
There are few things I enjoy more than a dish bursting with umami flavour, and that’s exactly what I found with Kapari’s squid ink risotto in Imerovigli. It was incredibly creamy, topped with two perfectly grilled scallops. Each bite was characterized by the distinct salty, savoury flavour I find so irresistible in squid ink-laden dishes.
Winery snacks – Artemis Karamolegos Winery, Santorini
One of my favourite activities on Santorini was an afternoon spent sampling the island’s wine, and the food served at Artemis Karamolegos Winery was a highlight. It was simply a plate of nibbles to accompany our wine, but the quality and freshness of the ingredients made it memorable. From the rich tomato paste and sharp cheese to the salty olives and tangy capers, the flavour combinations were complementary and delicious.
Tzataziki – Athens & Santorini
This classic dip is an example of Greek food at its best – a simple dish, fresh ingredients, and tons of flavour. I ordered it at least once a day – if not more – while I was in Greece. The thick, creamy yogurt and perfect combination of cucumber, garlic, dill, and olive oil was irresistible.
Gyros – McDaniel’s, Fira
Gyros are probably the most popular late-night snack option on Santorini, but I think their deliciousness deserves to be enjoyed in a sober state. The gyros from McDaniel’s in Fira were fantastic – filled with fresh meat shaved from their skewer (or a falafel or vegetable patty), tomatoes, lettuce, onions, tzatziki and fries wrapped in a soft pita. I devoured one on the spot, and then immediately ordered a second to take with me to the airport.
Have you tried any of these dishes? What’s your favourite Greek food?