Journey through Ancient Greece


Eating out in Greece

Lunch at the foot of the Acropolis

You can eat out at anytime of the day or night in Greece. The locals tend to eat late, with lunch starting around 3pm and dinner after 10pm (you won't cause raised eyebrows arriving at midnight). Prices are fairly standard with restaurants or tavernas on the tourist beaten track, often with music, being slightly more expensive.

Snack bars (Kanteenas) and take away food: You will find lots of places in Athens, and often at the sites, selling filled rolls and tir?es: cheese pies, spinak?es: spinach pies, souvl? me pita: kebab in pitta bread , also various sticky cakes dripping in honey such as baklav?

The Taverna: This is the traditional Greek restaurant, often somewhat scruffy looking, with small square tables, with paper cloths, on the pavement often across the road from the taverna. (Outward appearance is no guide to quality of food!)
Service is informal, and you can have as much or as little as you like; you can also linger as long as you like and won't be expected to make room for other diners.
Menus are usually translated into English (sometimes with curious results), and waiters usually speak some English. If you don't understand and to ascertain what is available it is perfectly accepted practice to go in the kitchen and point to what you fancy.

Some of the most common dishes you will come across are:

As starters, (mez?es) or a light lunch, or several as a meal:
yogurt and cucumber (and lots of garlic!), sagan?: fried feta cheese, dolm?s: stuffed vine leaves, melits?sal?a: aubergine dip (sal?a is used for dips as well as salads as we know them), horiat?: 'Greek salad', tomato, pepper, onion, olives and feta cheese , fried aubergine (melits?s), courgette (kolokithakia) or pepper (piper?, kh?: boiled spinach. 'Mezes' on the menu will be a mixture of these, and sometimes comes large or small and with pitta bread. Y?ntes (big beans): haricot beans in tomato sauce (no relation to Heinz!), melitz?s iman: stuffed aubergine, dom?s yemist? stuffed tomatoes (meat), dom?s yem?es me r? (tomatoes stuffed with rice) and briam: stewed vegetables are often found in the section called 'cooked in oil'', and can be eaten as a starter or a main course as can mousak?

Lunch time on Thasos

Fish: There is often a wide choice of fish and sea food: calamari: squid, octopedi: octopus, glessa: sole, sinagrida: sea bream, tonnos: tunny. NB: The menu often shows these priced by the kilo. Be careful; it's difficult to judge what it will cost and can be expensive.

Meat: In general the meat in Greece is of very good quality. You will usually find grilled (often on charcoal) arn?: lamb, arn?: mutton, khirin?,: pork and kot?li: chicken. Gyros is small pieces of pork with tsatsiki and salad and pitta bread, (often one portion is enough for two). Sometimes, under 'Today's Dishes', you will come across stif?: beef or rabbit with onions and tomatoes, or keft?es: meat balls, and of course mousaka.

comes in bottles (buk?a), carafes (kar?), often an orange metal jug, or by the glass (pot?). The local wines (often ros?or rets?
are the cheapest, often priced by the kilo, (a kilo carafe of retsina can cost as little as €2). Half carafes (500 gr) and quarter (250 gr) are available. Greek bottled non resinated wine can be as much as €10 and French wines, not often available, even more.

Bottled beer, (bira) commonly Amstel, Heineken and Mythos, is always available, and occasionally, draught.

Ouzo, the aniseed flavoured spirit drunk by the Greeks at all times of the day, is a very cheap, (and powerful!) aperitif, although it is not available in all restaurants. Metaxa is a cheap and drinkable brandy, which comes in large measures!

Orange juice (portakali) is often made from fresh oranges. At site kanteens it can be expensive (€3 but is very good.
Water (ner?/i>is drinkable from the tap or available in bottles, small bottles cost €1.5 and can be bought at most street kiosks.

Coffee is complicated! Filter coffee is almost non-existent; the locals drink 'Greek coffee', a very strong brew in tiny cups. You'll be asked if you want milk 'me g?', or sugar: kaf?metrios (medium strength with little sugar) and kaf?sketos (without sugar). 'Nes' or Gallikos coffee if you want something less powerful. Frapp? iced coffee is widely available, as is hot chocolate. Note: You will notice that the coffee shops or 'kafenion' are men only refuges! For mixed company try the 'zacharoplsteion' where you can have coffee and cakes.

Music at Xinou's taverna, Athens

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For good Greek food in Athens click here

Greek restaurants elsewhere: