A Guide to Eating and Drinking in Greece



A typical ytaverna[ this one ison the island of Naxos. Credit: Heiko Gorski (Moonshadow)

When you are in a foreign country and going don’t speak the language, you might feel some trepidation about eating and spend your time ferreting around supermarkets or the ubiquitous ‘mini-markets’ in Greece, looking for things that can be unwrapped and eaten. The mini-market is the equivalent of the British corner shop.


An eatery in Greece at night. Credit:Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium

There are two basic types of restaurant in Greece, the taverna (ταβερνα), which is generally cheap and provides you with traditional Greek food, and the estiatorio (εστιατωριο), the slightly more expensive restaurant. Fear not! The Greeks are proud of their cuisine and will help you make your choice! They will try to persuade you into having a seafood platter which is probably the most expensive dish on the taverna menu, but be firm and ask the price before ordering. Large fish are sold by the kilo, so again, ask for it to be weighed in front of you and then decide whether or not you want it.


A selection of different ouzos. Credit: rutger2

As for wine, ask to have a carafe or half carafe of the house wine.(Often it’s sold by the kilo.) It will probably be as good or better than the stuff you pay more for which comes out of a bottle. You can choose between red or white although sometimes there is also a rosé on offer. Have a Greek coffee to end your meal with a Greek brandy perhaps (Metaxa) which comes with stars 7 stars being the most expensive and smoothest.  As an aperitif, try the ouzo – with water and ice. You can get small bottles of it to share as these give you two measures. You can put the water in the ouzo or drink it on the side. There is also raki which is a clear ‘brandy’ or perhaps I should say firewater which is not to be confused with Turkish raki.


Greek and Turkish coffee are actually the same thing. Credit:Yousefmadari at Malayalam Wikipedia

Greek coffee is basically the same as Turkish coffee, but if you ask for a Turkish coffee you will be told that there is only Greek coffee and some waiters may get a tad huffy. You get it in three ways, sweet (glyki), semi-sweet (metrio) and with no sugar (sketo).

I have terrible trouble ordering coffee for myself as I don’t like sugar and skata (meaning shit) is very similar to sketo! I was once in a mountain village in Crete with other people and managed to get the order done in Greek until it came to my coffee when I asked for the wrong type! The caféneion we were in had seen better days and had a sad, grimy calendar on view which was several years out of date, and oil stains up the walls. We were sat at a rickety table on similar chairs outside this establishment and the owner thought I was being rude and casting aspersions on her establishment. I hastened to apologize and explain my slip, but I lapsed into Turkish which was frowned upon! There was a priest and a student sitting behind us and after they had stopped howling with laughter, the priest explained that I was a tourist not a snooty Athenian. After that all was well as I had tried, at least, to speak Greek.


A bottle of Mythos beer (lager). Credit: Phyrexian

Incidentally there is also a Greek beer called “Fix” which used to be around in the 1980s but which was discontinued, although it’s back again now. Mythos beer is very good and cheaper than the more famous international brands.

A Greek menu is full of surprises but more of that in my next post!


About lynnee8

I have travelled extensively both for business (I am a teacher and teacher-trainer of English as a Foreign Language) and pleasure. I have just come back from Pakistan where I lived for 4 years. I love Greece and have lived there for more than 10 years although not all at one time.
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8 Responses to A Guide to Eating and Drinking in Greece

  1. The “system” of taverna and estiatorio reminds me of the one in Italy where they are called trattoria, enoteca or ristorante. Can you also recommend any hotels in Athens? I’m already browsing sites, but would also like to get some other inspirations and insider tips.


    • lynnee8 says:

      Hi Yes i would recommend the Hotel Nefeli in Plaka (http://www.hotel-nefeli.com/) which is a medium-priced hotel, but for cheaper there is the Student’s Hostel in Kidathenaeion St which is a great place if you don’t mind a dormitory room (around 20 euros a night) http://www.studenttravellersinn.com/. I wouldn’t recommend staying in Ommonia as it can be dangerous at night. If you are looking for an upmarket hotel there’s the Grande Bretagne in Syntagma Square, or the Athens Plaza or King George. Hope this info helps.


  2. lynnee8 says:

    Nefeli is a great place to stay!


  3. Abbas says:

    Hi, what do you mean by drinking?


  4. Pingback: Eating out for Vegetarians in Greece and Turkey | Writing and Travel

  5. Pingback: Eating and Drinking in Greece | Writing and Travel

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