From Toronto to Melbourne, from London to Detroit, Greek food has spread around the globe, but there’s no better place to discover it than Athens. Whether meze, olives, moussaka, or octopus, here are some must-try dishes from the Greek capital.
Olive Oil: Greeks have been growing olives for around 5,000 years, and different regions compete passionately for the title of the best. There’s nothing like an olive oil tasting to discover the wealth of flavors—fruit, grass, almonds, mint—that hide inside an artisan Greek oil.
Seafood: Greece is a seafaring nation, and seafood is an Athens must. Savor melt-in-the-mouth calamari or an octopus salad; brave the intense tang of raw sea urchin or the simple freshness of grilled red mullet; and don’t miss traditional fish soup.
Kebabs: No Greek village is complete without the rich scent of barbecued pork drifting above the vines. Souvlaki—a skewered kebab generally made with pork—is a must, while gyros are the local answer to the doner kebab.
Meze: Meze, little tapas-style appetizers, are at the heart of any Greek evening. Besides Mediterranean favorites such as hummus, savor stuffed vine leaves, tzatziki yogurt dip, or smoky, citrusy taramasalata. Wash them down with ouzo or raki.
Pastries: Spinach pies, cheese pies, and sticky-sweet baklava dessert have one thing in common: phyllo pastry, a tissue-thin dough that many Greek cooks still learn at their grandmothers’ knees.
Moussaka: No neighborhood taverna is complete without this hearty, warming blend of ground lamb, eggplant, and bechamel sauce. And, yes, it works in summer too.