Popular local dishes
The traditional fast foods are gyros γύρος, "GHEER-ohs", not "JIE-rohs" as in "gyroscope", roast pork or chicken and rarely beef and fixings wrapped in a fried pita; souvlaki σουβλάκι, "soov-LAH-kee", grilled meat on a skewer; Greek dips such as tzatziki τζατζίκι, made of strained yoghurt, olive oil, garlic and finely chopped cucumbers and dill or mint; and skordhalia σκορδαλιά, a garlic mashed potato dip which is usually served with deep fried salted cod.
With its extensive coastline and islands, Greece has excellent seafood. Try the grilled octopus and the achinosalata sea-urchin eggs in lemon and olive oil. By law, frozen seafood must be marked as such on the menu. Fresh fish, sold by the kilo, can be very expensive; if you're watching your budget, be sure to ask how much your particular portion will cost before ordering it.
Greek salad called "country salad" locally, "HorIAtiki", a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and onion – all sliced – plus some olives, and occasionally green bell pepper or other vegetables, usually garnished with oregano. Traditionally it is dressed only with olive oil; vinegrette or lettuce are added only in the most tourist-oriented restaurants.
Fried potatoes often listed on menus as chips are a naturalized Greek dish, found almost everywhere. They can be very good when freshly made and served still hot. Tzatziki is usually a good dip for them, though they are still good on their own.
For dessert, ask for baklava, tissue-thin layers of pastry with honey and chopped nuts; or galaktoboureko, a custard pie similar to mille feuille. Other pastries are also worth tasting. Another must-try is yogort with honey: yoghurts in Greece are really different from what you used to see at Danone stores: to start with, genuine yoghurt in Greece is has 10% of fat. Fruit such as watermelon is also a common summertime treat.
For breakfast, head to local bakeries fourno and try fresh tiropita, cheese pie; spanakopita, spinach pie; or bougatsa, custard filled pie, or even a ""horiatiko psomi", a traditional, crusty village type bread that is a household staple, and very tasty on its own too. All are delicious and popular among Greeks for quick breakfast eats. Each bakery does own rendition and you are never disappointed. Go to the next Kafeneion with them and have it there with a Greek coffee to be local.
A popular drink is a frappe made with instant Nescafe, water, sugar , and sometimes milk. It is frothed and served over ice.
Greek cuisine is a blend of indigenous traditions and foreign influences. The fact that Greece has been neighbouring Italy and Turkey has left a major impact on Greek cuisine, and there are shared dishes with both of these nations. The traditional Greek diet is very Mediterranean, espousing vegetables, herbs, and grains native to the Mediterranean biome. Being a highly maritime nation, the Greeks incorporate plenty of seafood into their diet. The country is also a major consumer of lamb, beef, pork, and especially chicken--they're highly popular. Olive oil is a staple in Greek cooking, and lemon, onions, garlic and tomatoes are common ingredients. Bread and wine are always served at the dinner table.
The cuisine in Greece can be radically different from what is offered in Greek restaurants around the world. Greek restaurants abroad tend to cater more to customer expectations rather than offer a truly authentic Greek dining experience. One example is the famous gyros yee-ros, composed of various grilled fatty pork meats, a common item on Greek menus outside Greece. While it is a popular fast-food item in Greece today, it is actually a relatively recent foreign import adapted from the Turkish döner kebap and is considered by Greeks as junk food. It is never served in the home and is generally not found on the menus of non-fast-food restaurants.
Eating out is Greece's national pastime and a rewarding experience for visitors; however, not knowing where to go or what to do can dampen the experience. In the past, restaurants that catered mostly to tourists were generally disappointing. Thankfully, the nation's restaurant industry has grown in sophistication over the past decade, and it is now possible to find excellent restaurants in highly-touristed areas, particularly areas that are popular with Greek tourists as well. Thus, it remains a good idea to dine where Greeks dine Go search them at the times Greeks dine: 21:00-23:00. The best restaurants will offer not only authentic traditional Greek cuisine along with regional specialities but Greece's latest culinary trends as well.A good sign of authenticity is when you get a small free dessert when you ask for the bill. Bad signs are when desserts are listed on the menu, and also when the waiter is taking your plates away while you are still sitting at the table traditionally everything is left on the table until the customer is gone, even if there is hardly any space left.
Restaurants serving international cuisine have also made a presence in the country, offering various options such as Chinese, French, Italian, and international contemporary.
For things such as bread and fresh orange juice, the just-in-time principle is often used: bread or oranges are purchased by the cafe right after the first order is taken. So don't be surprised if your waiter returns to the cafe with a bag of oranges after accepting your order. And this is how fresh bread is guaranteed in most places.
McDonald's and Pizza Hut have made a significant presence in Greece over the past 15 years. However, they face strong competition from the popular local chains.
Goody's (http://www.goodys.com/page/) is the most popular fast-food chain in the country, offering a large variety of fast food meals, with numerous outlets throughout the country. A more recent chain is Everest (http://www.everest.gr/) which specializes in hand-held snacks. Flocafé (http://www.flocafe.gr/) is gaining popularity through its coffee and dessert items. There are also many independently-owned fast food businesses that offer typical fast food items, such as gyros. Many of these small businesses tend to be open late at night, and are popular with younger crowds on their way home from a night out.
In Greece, vegetarianism never took off as a trend, and restaurants catering strictly to vegetarians are practically non-existent. However, Greeks traditionally eat less meat per capita than northern Europeans and North Americans, and there are countless vegetarian dishes in Greek cuisine. Greeks are meat and dairy eaters, but because such a large percentage of their diet consists of pulses, vegetables, greens and fruits, a vegan or vegetarian visitor will not have any difficulty in finding a huge variety of vegetarian food all over Greece. The Porto Club (http://www.portoclub.gr/v...) travel agency offers a number of tours designed for vegetarians and vegans.
It's common to charge a cover fee in restaurants, especially of the intermediate to high quality ones, officially i.e. stating it in a receipt, such as €0.30 to €2 per person, which sometimes includes bread-bread sticks and some kind of vegetable or olive pate but if it's tending towards €2 you should really consider eating somewhere else.