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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Greece

Greece Food and Drink

Traditional tavernas in Greece serve anything from mezedopoleia (similar to Spanish tapas) with ouzo (aniseed-flavoured Greek liquor), tsipouradika (seafood dishes served with tsipouro spirit), to traditional Greek favourites in generous portions.

Greek food tends to use local seasonal produce. Cheeses, beans and 'ladera' (vegetables cooked in olive oil, garlic and tomatoes), grilled pelagic fish and fish soup are common in Athens and on the Greek islands.

In the mountainous regions like Epirus, Macedonia and Peloponnese, rich meat and tasty (savoury) pies dominate the menu.

Those with a sweet tooth should head for azaharoplasteio (cake shop), where a vast array of syrup-drenched Turkish-inspired goodies such as baklava and slices of chocolate-coated cakes like Black Forest gateaux are displayed behind glass counters. You can choose pieces individually and then have them put in a box to take away.

Restaurant hours are normally 1200-1500 for lunch and 2000-2400 for dinner. Opening hours vary according to the region and local laws – many establishments in popular holiday destinations stay open all day throughout summer. Waiter service is usual.

Specialities

• Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).
Gemista (tomatoes, peppers and courgettes, stuffed with rice and oven-baked).
Gigantes (big butter beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with olive oil).
• Moussaka (aubergine casserole with minced lamb, cinnamon, red wine and olive oil).
• Calamari (deep-fried rings of squid) or htapodia (octopus).
• Souvlaki (spit-roasted meat, generally pork or chicken).
• Stifado (a rich beef stew with caramelised onions, cinnamon and cloves).
Kokkinisto (a rich stew of either beef, pork or chicken cooked with red wine and tomatoes).
Horiatiki (Greek salad: feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, black Kalamata olives and fresh olive oil).

Tipping

12 to 15% is usual.

Drinking age

18.

Regional drinks

Krasi (wine - lefko is white, kokkino is red).
• Retsina (wine made with pine-needle resin).
• Ouzo (an aniseed-based clear spirit to which water is added).
• Raki (a sharp and fiery spirit made from distilled grapes).
Metaxa (a Greek spirit, similar to brandy).
• Greek coffee (thick and strong, and sugared according to taste).
• Frappe (frothy iced coffee made from Nescafe and drunk through a straw).