To eat and drink in Greece is an experience to remember, from high-class restaurants to welcoming tavernas. Greeks are not food snobs but they love their food to be fresh, wholesome and well cooked and without the embellishments often offered in so-called high-class European restaurants. Greek families like to go out and eat together, in some restaurants they go into the kitchen to select their food and like to take their time enjoying their meal. Western influences in cooking, together with the traditional Greek cuisine, have resulted in an extensive variety of eating establishments.
Restaurants: the traditional Greek restaurant (estiatόrion) is one of the most enjoyable places to eat, serving good local food and wines, often in pleasant surroundings. Some traditional restaurants in the cities can be expensive. A cheaper alternative is the mageiriό restaurant, often no menu is presented and the choice is limited, but you will be served good food and wines from the owner’s village or island. Even cheaper than the mageiriό is the koutoύki restaurant, these are normally in student and working class areas. Regional cooking is served in many of the restaurants, from charcoal grilled food such as pork, lamb and fish dishes in the south to tripe dishes served in the north of Greece . Menus in traditional is often short, with a few starters (mezédes) and about eight or nine main dishes, followed by desserts or fruit; these are served with a selection of local or national wines.
Tavernas: the traditional taverna, known by many a tourist, offers snacks to excellent meals and wines. Like restaurants, the variety of dishes served varies from region to region, meat or fish dishes served in a variety of ways. Some tavernas are nearly indistinguishable from restaurants with their rich clientele; others are more homely, whether they are on the beach or in the countryside.
Cafes: cafes known as kafeneia are at the centre of Greek life, they are not just a place to take refreshments, and they are often the social and communication hub of a village. Locals come here, mainly the men to discuss the ways of the world or just for a bit of old fashioned gossip.
Bars: vary from the cosy to the brash tourist bars on the islands. Some bars may have traditional music others are more like discos. Therefore, there is something for everybody.
Ouzeri: primarily serves ouzo together with a plate of snacks and a jug of water, relativity cheap these can be good fun if you do not overdo the drinking of the ouzo.
Fast food: All though the invasion of American style fast (junk) food is to be found in the cities and some of the touristier island, try the local fast food. Souvlaki and gyros are to be recommended, street vendors sell a wide range of snacks, and bakeries sell pies and savoury rolls, whilst those who have a sweet tooth may like to try the zacharoplasteio (shop of the sugar sculptor) who serve a wide range of sugary delights.
Vegetarian food: is not a problem as the variety of fresh vegetables offer the vegetarian a wide range of choices. Vegans may have a bit more of a problem, but as dairy products are little used in Greek cooking its still possible to eat well.
Picnics: buy some wine, bread, cheese and fruit and head for the hills. Probably one of the best ways to enjoy the Greek countryside is with good food and friends or a loved one.