The key element of Greek cuisine is simplicity. If you look through old cookbooks, you will find that most recipes are based on just a few ingredients: a protein, some oil, some herbs and perhaps yoghurt. The best dishes feature Mediterranean flavours without being too heavy, overbearing or needlessly complex. We took a tour of the best.
If you want to sample the pillars of Greek cuisine, Athens is a good place to start. You’ll want to try souvlaki, and the best place to go is Thanassis at Monastiraki Square. This restaurant is always packed, so take a seat outside where you can enjoy one of their skewers of extra juicy meat dipped in fresh and cool tzatziki sauce and rolled in a crispy bread pie with tomato and onions. The kebab there is also a must. Those dishes, along with the famous layered musaka or slow-cooked lamb kleftiko, are classics and delicious, but if you go to Greece and only ate that, you would miss out on the essence of our food. Sometimes the most authentic dishes are found outside the big cities.
If you love fish, go to the southern and eastern suburbs of the capital. Take a trip to the port of Lavrio about 69 kilometres from Athens, where you’ll find a welcoming restaurant called Syrtaki on Sounio Avenue. It’s one of the most famous and popular fish taverns in the area and it follows the rules of simplicity. There’s nothing fancy here, just delicious fresh fish, fresh seafood and fresh salads.
If you love meat, then head north from Athens to Penteli. The area, which is part of the Athens metropolitan area, is just a half an hour’s drive from the city centre. Look out for Christos & Olimbia, an old family tavern located on the central square in Old Penteli. It comes highly recommended for its excellent T-bone steaks, pork chops, lamb and the reasonable prices.