Food in Greece – Everything you should know about Greece food culture

This guide to the Greece food culture will prepare you for many culinary adventures! Here’s everything you need to know about experiencing incredible food in Greece.

Greek Food Culture

Food is a huge part of Greek culture. There are literally hundreds of dishes! This guide to the food of Greece includes no less than 50 Greek dishes!

However, Greek food has to do with much more than just flavours and dishes. It’s all about the excellent ingredients, the lengthy procedure involved in preparing the food, and the culture of sharing dishes with others.

Essentially, it has to do with bonding with others through one of life’s greatest pleasures. Read on for a small introduction to what makes food in Greece so special!

Greek food - Dakos salad

It’s not Greek food without…

Olive oil and feta cheese! These are the two absolutely essential staples for any Greek person around the world – no, we are not exaggerating.

We take Greek olive oil and Greek feta cheese extremely seriously, and we are not prepared to use substitutes. In fact, there are very few Greek dishes where olive oil is not used.

Food in Greece - A typical Greek salad
As for feta cheese, to my knowledge, it cannot be replaced with any other cheese. I have tried – and failed miserably!

Variety of dishes

Food in Greece is made from fresh ingredients. We use vegetables, pulses, nuts, yogurt, cheese, grains, fish and small amounts of meat.

It’s no secret that Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world! A meal out, will typically include several small dishes (meze) which are shared with everyone, just like the bill.

Food in Greece - a Greek meal

Measuring system in Greek cooking

Most Greek cook books offer quantities when it comes to recipes. However, most Greek people, especially yiayias (grandmas) don’t really measure quantities when cooking.

The best measuring system in Greece is “with the eye”. Therefore, the question “how many olives go in a Greek salad?” doesn’t really have an answer.

Greek olives are amazing!
Similarly, if you ask for 300 gr of feta cheese at the supermarket, don’t be surprised if you end up with a half kilo packet. It’s assumed that it will be eaten!

Hours spent in a Greek kitchen

Many typical Greek dishes, like our famous moussaka, take hours to prepare. This is what makes Grandma’s food delicious!

During important holidays, like Greek Easter, food preparations can go on for days – but time spent consuming that food can be equally long.

After all,“He who receives his friends and gives no personal attention to the meal which is being prepared for them, is not worthy of having friends” (Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin).

Greek food - Stuffed peppers - Gemista

Some Greek food like home-made bread and gemista take a long time to prepare, but they are totally worth it.

Eating with friends

Eating food in Greece is a big thing. It’s a social event, where you get to share a lot more than just food.

To quote the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf”.

Greek food - Eating with friends

Meals that go on for hours are very typical of Greece – food, wine and good company make for a great combination!

Even in crisis times, Greeks go for long meals. That said, we might not order the amounts of food we used to do many years ago.

What time do Greeks eat Dinner?

The hours to eat food in Greece are quite different than in most European countries. It can take some getting used to for first time visitors!

Depending on their daily routine, a Greek person might skip breakfast. Instead, they could have a coffee or two and a small snack like a koulouri during the morning.

They will have some form of lunch around 2 pm, although an official lunch break at work is very uncommon.

Dinner time in Greece is usually late, after 9 pm, especially when it’s a dinner out with friends. In summer, some people will watch an evening film in an outdoor cinema, and then go for their evening meal at around 11.00 pm!

Note: On weekends, people can be seen having a meal at 4 or 5 pm. This is neither a lunch, nor a dinner – it’s something in between, depending on how late they were up the previous night!

Greek food - Taverna

Where to eat Food in Greece?

When visiting Greece, people are often surprised by how many different types of restaurants there are.

Here are some of the most common types of restaurants, which, confusingly, are often very similar to each other!

  • Taverna  – A basic restaurant with a huge menu, many meat dishes, and, typically, friendly prices
  • Psarotaverna – A restaurant offering many fish and seafood dishes
  • Estiatorio – A restaurant slightly more upmarket than a taverna, with a huge menu
  • Magirio – A basic taverna offering hearty, traditional Greek dishes and friendly prices
  • Inomagirio – A basic taverna offering hearty, traditional Greek dishes, house wine and friendly prices
  • Mezedopolio  A restaurant serving mostly small dishes, where the emphasis is on the company and the drink, rather than the amount of food
  • Ouzeri / Rakadiko – A small mezedopolio serving food to accompany our strong alcoholic drinks, ouzo or raki
  • Koutouki – A small, cosy taverna with an emphasis on house wine
  • Souvlatzidiko / Psistaria / Psitopolio – A place offering souvlaki!

Of course, the ultimate experience of eating food in Greece, is to eat Greek food in a Greek home, especially if the food is made by a yiayia!

A guide to Greek food culture and food in Greece. Ever wondered what time Greeks eat dinner, or what ingredients are essential to Greek cuisine? This guide to Greece food culture will help you prepare for many culinary adventures in Greece!

Have you ever enjoyed a long meal with great company in Greece? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!

Find out more about Greece

You might like to read these articles to help understand a little more about Greek culture:

Hi, I’m Vanessa!

Food in Greece - Real Greek Experiences

Hi! I am Vanessa from Athens, and I love helping people discover more about my country. I grew up among two grandmothers who loved cooking. My mom took up some of their best recipes and made them even better! While I love international cuisine (especially Asian dishes), I really think that the food of Greece rates very, very highly. Hope this guide on food in Greece has given you some insight!

2 thoughts on “Food in Greece – Everything you should know about Greece food culture”

  1. It’s great to know that most of the authentic greek food has a lot of olive oil and feta cheese in the ingredients. My partner and I are trying to eat much healthier this year and it’s really important that we have a real Mediterranean diet. WE love the ingredients that are in Greek food because they seem to be really great for our bodies.

    • That’s great! Yes we love Greek food, and we eat quite healthy as well! We are thinking to try and include a few recipes in the website – is there anything you’d be interested in?


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