There are several types of places to eat when you are in Greece. In tourist areas the menus are in a variety of languages, although you might have to query the more eccentric items on the menu. For example I have seen “squit’s cats” which turned out to be fried kalamari (squid), “nonsense balls”, which were courgette (zucchini) croquettes, and “pigs in flowerpots” (casseroled pork). If you have your own examples of such eccentricities please leave a comment below!
There are fast food joints, Greek style, which serve gyros and souvlaki, or kalamaki. These are pieces of meat that you can see turning, which are sliced and stuffed into pita bread along with salad and a yoghurt or mayonnaise sauce, depending on the type of meat you choose – usually chicken, beef or pork. You can eat these as you are walking along or have them wrapped and take them home with you. You can also have them delivered to our door.
In a taverna (ταβερνα), or restaurant (εστιατωριο), you can also have a souvlaki, but these are not the fast food type, but the shish kebab with chunks of meat and vegetables grilled on a skewer. That is why they appear expensive in comparison with the fast food variety.The tavernas are cheaper than the restaurants, and in Athens there are the brizolathika which specialize in pork chops: cheap and cheerful!
You can also find international fast food chains, although why you would venture into one in a foreign country is beyond me! In Athens you can find cuisines from around the globe, including Korean, Lebanese and Japanese, as well as those of the Indian sub-continent.
In Greece you can go from one eatery to another having a different course in each. For example, you could start with an ouzo and appetizers (mezedes) in a cafeneion or café-bar and move to a taverna for a main course and finish up in an ice cream place for a huge sundae. Then you can find a different café bar for a coffee or a drink. This is especially true if you are in the Plaka area of Athens, but it works all over Greece, except in very small villages.
Everywhere you eat you can get a Greek salad, which consists of tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, perhaps onion slices and a slice of feta cheese, sprinkled with oregano and olive oil is drizzled over it. There are other types of salad which are well-worth trying though – a rocket salad with slivers of Parmesan cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, capers and olives is good with balsamic vinegar for example.
Greek food is served warm usually. If you ask for it hot, it will come back piping hot having been microwaved, so be careful.
In winter there are wonderful stifados, made with meat (rabbit usually), lamb in egg and lemon sauce with artichokes and pork in a creamy sauce with celery. Of course there is also the ubiquitous moussaka, pastitsio (meat and pasta with bechemal sauce on top). Greeks are beginning to be more adventurous with their offerings as they realize that tourists actually go to ‘foreign’ restaurants, such as Chinese, Thai and Korean. There is much more to a Greek menu than moussaka these days.
If you are on an island of course, the fresh fish and seafood is wonderful although it can be expensive. Sardines and the small gavros (like whitebait) are good and cheap. Greek food is delicious when washed down with a good Greek wine. Forget the Retsina, sample some of the new wines! Kalo orexi as they say!