Greek foods you have to try Photo courtesy of Reva Kulkarni

Galaktoboureko is a custard made of semolina flour baked in filo, or phyllo, a type of pastry in Greece that is made of extremely thin and nearly transparent sheets. Photo courtesy of Reva Kulkarni.
Loukoumades are a popular Greek dessert that are essentially fried Greek honey puffs with different syrups and toppings. Photo courtesy of Saanvi Kulkarni.

From desserts like loukoumades to the simplest, but still mouthwateringly delicious, foods like olives, Greek food is certainly something else. While there are billions of different cuisines out there, waiting to be tried, waiting to be loved, Greek food stands out far too much to be ignored, and once tried, it is impossible to forget.

To give you some idea of where to begin, scroll down to learn about five mouthwatering Greek dishes you must try! And remember, just because there are only five Greek dishes listed, by no means should you not try any other Greek food—all Greek food is simply irresistible.

1: Loukoumades

Pronunciation: loo-koo-maa-dayz

Crispy, warm, and absolutely bursting with flavor, loukoumades are ready to be your favorite dessert. Loukoumades, most popular all around the Mediterranean but especially in Greece, are essentially just fried Greek honey puffs. This dish has been enjoyed by many for the last 2,000 years, and is still a commonly served dessert at Greek restaurants.

According to the website “Mediterranean Dish,” loukoumades are made of a simple dough which are then fried until they become golden and crispy, but still soft on the inside. This dessert can be topped with different ingredients such as crushed nuts or chocolate sauce, and soaked in different syrups, most commonly honey syrup. Lukumades, a food chain in Athens, Greece, specializes in making loukoumades, just with different syrups and toppings.

Loukoumades aren’t just enjoyed by people now, despite being around for many centuries. As said by the ancient Greek poet Callimachus, loukoumades were originally one of the awards presented to the champions of the Olympic Games, which were introduced in 776 B.C.E. According to GRECO Truly Greek, a fast casual cuisine in Boston, MA., Callimachus refers to these sweets as “honey tokens.” This is the first mention of any pastry/dessert from around the world in literature. GRECO also states that loukoumades were mentioned in tales such as “One Thousand and One Nights” and “The Porter and the Three Ladies From Baghdad.” While we have come a long way from giving loukoumades to Olympic champions, these sweets are still held in high regard in Greece.

Recipes to make loukoumades at home are online, or you can order them from a local restaurant that offers them. The recipes are not difficult but they do entail time and patience.If you are going to try the above recipe, you may want to cut down the recipe. It says the recipe makes 25 loukoumades, but when I made them, it resulted in more. This is due to the fact that the size of the loukoumades the recipe says are larger than what I expected them to be, and larger than the authentic Greek ones I have tried before, so they make 25 big ones. However, if you go for a smaller size than what the recipe has, they will end up being more in number.

2: Galaktoboureko

Pronunciation: guh-lak-toe-bow-reh-ko

A widely popular dessert in Greece, galaktoboureko is a much sweeter dish than loukoumades. Even the biggest fans of sweet foods might be hesitant to finish one serving, but the first taste of galaktoboureko is something one may call heavenly—with the perfect crispiness of the phyllo and the soft, sweet filling inside.

Galaktoboureko is a custard made of semolina flour baked in filo, or phyllo, a type of pastry in Greece that is made of extremely thin and nearly transparent sheets. According to the food and travel blog “Global Kitchen Travels”, galaktoboureko, a dessert originating from the Ottoman Empire, was traditionally an Arabic and Greek custard pie. It is called kahi in some places throughout the Middle East, which is just another version of galaktoboureko.

The word galaktoboureko comes from the Greek word “galakto” meaning “milk” and “boureko” which is the Turkish word for “something stuffed in filo pastry.”

While galaktoboureko may be too sweet for you, it is still very much worth a try. There are galaktoboureko recipes online, but it may be more difficult and/or time-consuming than making loukoumades. Still, I reccomend that you do try them — and I guarantee that you will not regret it!

3: Greek pies

Different—and healthier—than the pies we often think of in the US, Greek pies make up a large portion of Greek food. Like galaktoboureko, greek pies are made of filo, or phyllo. There are different types of Greek pies, each with different fillings, and they can be both sweet and savory. One famous type of pie is spanakopita, or spinach pie. It may also be called spanakotiropita in northern Greece. The filling consists of spinach and cheese, normally feta, and altogether is a very flavorous Greek pie.

A few other types of pie in addition to spanakopita are tiropita, or cheese pie, as well as kotopita, galatopita, bougatsa, and many more. These pies are not recent creations—in fact, the types of pies have only been growing since the time of Ancient Greece. Pies were included in the Ancient Greeks’ daily diet, and to this day, they are continuing to please our taste buds.

What’s really unique about these pies is that wherever you go in Greece, whether it’s Athens or the islands of Crete, each place will have different recipes with their own distinctive flavors.

If you want to get a little more creative than simply sticking to an online recipe, I encourage you to experiment and see what unique pie flavors you can make!

4: Kolokythoanthoi

Pronunciation: kolo-kai-tho-ain-thoi

Kolokythoanthoi, or stuffed zucchini flowers, are a light and delectable dish that may also be called kabak cicegi dolmasi. Kolokythoanthoi are stuffed squash flowers, and are normally filled with a mixture of rice or cheese, as well as various herbs and spices, which give it its special taste. Healthy, light, and mouthwatering, this dish ideal as both an appetizer and main course, and goes perfectly with a side of yogurt.

The latest records of stuffed zucchini flowers can be traced to the early 20th century, where zucchini blossoms were stuffed for feasts during the Ottoman Empire, so this amazing dish isn't exactly new, either.

5: Kalitsounia

Pronunciation: kah-lit-soo-nya

And lastly, kalitsounia. These are small snacks/treats that can be different shapes and sizes, but commonly resemble dumplings, and are filled with cheese and herbs. Kalitsounia can be sweet or savory, and can be fried or baked. Whichever way they're made, however, they remain delicious and a must-have Greek food!

This scrumptious dish is the specialty of Crete, a Greek island, and is a traditional Easter treat. Different versions of kalitsounia are found especially in West Crete, around the Venetian cities Chania and Rethymno, according to “Peter Sommer Travels”.

Overall, kalitsounia is a scrumptious dish that can be eaten as an appetizer, light meal, or dessert, and is another mouthwatering Greek dish that you have to try.

Bonus: Other Quick Must-Tries

Of course, the classic Greek salad must be mentioned, as well as Greek yogurt. But don't forget Greek coffee, too - it is unique from the coffee you may be normally used to. You will also find a copious amount of orange juice in Greece, due to the abundance of oranges in the region. There is also boureki, which greatly contributes to Greek food, and is basically a delicious potato and zucchini pie.

Additionally, keep in mind that just because a Greek food is not on this list, that doesn't mean it isn't good! Greek food overall is amazing and a must-have for all foodies, as well as all non-foodies, from around the world.

Boureki (left) is another famous Greek dish that is essentially a zucchini and cheese pie and Greek salad (right) is perhaps one of the most widely known Greek dishes in the world, containing cheese (most commonly feta cheese), tomato, olives, and more. Photos courtesy of Reva Kulkarni.