Greek Food and Drink

Greek food and drink for us is one of the highlights of any visit to Greece and the Greek islands, and across the website we have stories and advice from all over the country, from Athens to Zakynthos. 

Elderly man in Athens cafe.

We've visited wineries and olive oil factories on Crete, toured the wine museum on Samos, talked to some of the world's best bartenders in Athens, and even tried being a waiter in a restaurant on Zakynthos, which was incredibly hard work.

We've learned how they make unusual Greek products like rakomelo and petimezi, visited food growers, shops and, of course, tavernas and restaurants! We've got some advice on tipping, too.

First here's some general information about typical Greek food and drinks, and eating practices. After that are links to our Greek food and drink stories, first listed by topic and again afterwards by destination. Let's start with Greek drinks - yammas! (That's the Greek for 'cheers', in case you didn't know.)

Metaxa signIn the Metaxa Distillery in Athens

Greek Alcoholic Drinks

We've written a separate page on Greek Alcoholic Drinks, one about Greek ouzo, one about Greek raki, one about Metaxa, and one about Greek retsina, the country's unique resinated white wine.

Cup of Greek coffeeGreek coffee

Tea and Coffee

If you're someone who prefers a cup of tea rather than coffee, be prepared to be disappointed. You can get tea in Greece but it will usually be served as a teabag with some hot water. If you want milk, it will probably be served in one of those little cartons like you get at breakfast buffets. The taste isn't great. You can also find herbal teas, sometimes in surprising places, but don't expect to find them everywhere.

When it comes to coffee, there are various choices, all very different. Greeks love to drink Frappé. This is cold and usually instant coffee. It sounds a bit odd at first, but if you want a coffee fix on a hot day, it can be very refreshing once you get used to it. If you prefer a more conventional hot coffee, ask for it American-style.

What is specifically called Greek Coffee is different yet again. It's very intense in flavour and served in a small cup, like an espresso. It will, however, have the grounds in the bottom, so watch out for those and don't try to down it all. With Greek coffee you sip it, with sips of water inbetween. It also comes in three types, depending on the amount of sugar you like. If you like it very sweet, ask for a 'glyko' or 'glykos'. Most people prefer a 'metrio' or 'metrios', which is medium and has a little sugar to balance the bitterness of the coffee. If you want no sugar at all, it's a 'sketo' or 'sketos'.

Water in Greece

Greek tap water is perfectly safe to drink, though many people prefer to drink bottled water. If you don't like to drink bottled water because of the excessive use of plastic bottles, bear in mind that on some Greek islands there isn't sufficient water supply to cope with the needs of visitors, and water has to be shipped in. My choosing bottled water instead, you're reducing the amount of shipping needed, so always ask locally which it is better to do. 

Greek taverna with blue tablecloths

Greek Eating Places

Some differentiation is made between restaurants and tavernas, though there is some blurring at the edges. 

Restaurants tend to be more upmarket, or aspire to be, and you will probably get a proper wine glass and tablecloth rather than a little tumbler and a plastic cloth.

Tavernas are more homely, often family-run places, where children might be serving and the atmosphere is totally informal. The cooking may be every bit as good as in more expensive restaurants.

A Greek PsarotavernaA Psarotaverna

Psarotavernes specialise in fish, psistaries feature grills and spit-roasted items, ouzeri are more like bars but where snacks like the Spanish tapas will also be available.

Dress code in all but the smartest places is very relaxed.

It’s quite common to be taken into the kitchen and shown what’s cooking, rather than have the dishes explained to you.

By law, anything not fresh should be described on the menu as frozen. This particularly applies to fish.

Restaurant near Chania on CreteRestaurant near Chania on Crete

Booking a table is the exception rather than the rule, apart from in the most expensive places where you would not want to be disappointed. Elsewhere people usually just turn up and expect to find a table. If one is not available then the staff will either produce and set a new table, or ask you to wait till someone else has finished. Informality is the norm.

Eating Times

Breakfast is usually served from an early hour in hotels, and many cafés open for breakfast in resort towns from about 7:30 or 8 am onwards.

Lunch and dinner for Greeks are both late affairs. Lunch seldom starts before about 2 pm, and dinner from about 9 pm onwards. For the benefit of visitors, however, lunch will be available from about noon onwards, and dinner from about 7 pm, or even earlier depending on local demand.

Greek restaurant menuMenu at the Goules Taverna on Crete

The Menu and the Bill

Menus often show two prices, with and without tax, but you will pay the ‘with tax’ price. Most places will have menus in Greek and English, and in other European languages too. Service is usually included so there is no need to add a tip, but people often leave an additional small amount on the table or the loose change from the bill.

Greek Food and Drink Stories by Topic

Beer

Corfu Beer Festival

Dining Guides

Athens Dining Guide

Athens Eater's Guide

Food Tours

Athens Culinary Tours

Athens Food Tours

General

Greek Alcoholic Drinks

Olives and Olive Oil

Corfu Olives

Crete Olive Oil Tour

Regional Cuisine

Corfu Food and Drink

The Cretan Diet

Ikaria

Restaurants etc

Goules Taverna on Crete

Life as a Waiter on Zakynthos

The Snails House on Crete

Shops

The Herb Man of Kouses

Spirits

Best Cocktail Bars in Athens

Greek Ouzo

Greek Raki

Tipping

Tipping in Greece

Wine

Greek Retsina

Manousakis Wine Tasting on Crete

Museum of Samos Wine

Santorini Wineries

Stilianou Winery on Crete

Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

Zacharioudakis Winery on Crete

Zakynthos Winemaker

Unusual Greek Food and Drinks

How to Make Petimezi

Making Rakomelo on Crete

Greek Food and Drink Stories by Destination

Athens

Athens Culinary Tours

Athens Dining Guide

Athens Eater's Guide

Athens Food Tours

Best Cocktail Bars in Athens

Corfu

Corfu Beer Festival

Corfu Food and Drink

Corfu Olives

Crete

Crete Olive Oil Tour

Goules Taverna on Crete

How to Make Petimezi

Making Rakomelo on Crete

Manousakis Wine Tasting

The Snails House

Stilianou Winery

The Cretan Diet

The Herb Man of Kouses

Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

Zacharioudakis Winery

Ikaria

Ikaria Food and Recipes Book Review

Samos

Museum of Samos Wine

Santorini

Santorini Wineries

Zakynthos

Life as a Waiter on Zakynthos

Zakynthos Winemaker

Greek Food and Drink Pages

  • Zakynthos Winemaker

    Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus

    If you're wondering where to eat in Athens and Piraeus we have a few suggestions including some favorites around the Acropolis, Omonia Square, and Syntagma.

  • What Is Metaxa?

    What is Metaxa? Metaxa is an amber Greek spirit combining brandy made by distilling wine, sweet wine from Samos and a secret recipe of Mediterranean botanicals.

  • What Is Greek Raki?

    Raki is an alcoholic drink made with distilled grapes and anise, and popular in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, including Greece’s neighbour Turkey.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • Tipping in Greece

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to tipping in Greece from two Greece travel experts, including when to tip, what to tip and when not to tip.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • Santorini Wineries

    Visiting Santorini wineries is a popular activity on this Greek island in the Cyclades, whose volcanic soil provides a distinctive terroir.

  • Museum of Samos Wine

    A visit to the Museum of Samos Wine to learn about the muscat grapes that produce the best dessert wines in the world and also the Greek spirit, Metaxa.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • Life as a Waiter on Zakynthos

    Life as a waiter on Zakynthos tells what it was like for travel writer Mike Gerrard to work in a Greek restaurant, the Mantalena in Alykanas.

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