Most people have surely heard of feta cheese, Greek salad and tzatziki, but there are many more interesting meze dishes that you shouldn’t miss when in Athens. If you want to dine like a real local in the Greek capital, then you absolutely must go out for meze! Meze means a selection of small dishes that match perfectly with raki or wine. It’s basically the Greek version of tapas or antipasti. Our Athens local Manos has shared his top five favourite meze dishes.
Ntakos is a typical Greek dish that follows the basic rule of Cretan gastronomy – simplicity! It’s a big piece of soaked barely rusk topped with diced tomatoes, crumbled mizithra (a local cheese that’s similar to feta), olives, oregano and olive oil. If Greece has a taste, then this is it.
Photo credit: topsyntages.gr
Another product of Crete that has managed to conquer Greek gastronomy is graviera. It’s a hard yellow cheese that’s slightly spicy and full of flavour. It’s a typical meze dish served in restaurants, and is best accompanied with raki. Many places serve it with honey and sesame seeds, which make it even tastier!
Photo credit: Σπύρος Βάθης
Taramosalata is a dip made from fish eggs. No, it’s not caviar and it’s certainly not as expensive. It’s pink in colour and has a unique taste. Greeks prefer to eat it when fasting before Easter. It’s a great meze dish and also a good friend of raki.
Photo credit: Alpha
This is possibly my favourite meze dish and it’s highly likely to become your favourite as well. It takes a lot of effort to make dolmadakia, and local cooks know how to do it best, especially our grandmothers. Dolmadakia are vine leaves stuffed with rice, onion and dill, but you might find them stuffed with minced meat as well. They’re typically served with lemon.
Photo credit: Lesya Dolyk
5. Bekri meze
The basic ingredients of this dish are wine and chunks of pork or beef, which are cooked with vegetables, herbs and spices until the liquid turns into a mouth-watering sauce. The most common vegetable used in bekri meze is the bell pepper, but the recipe varies from place to place.
Photo credit: Kirk K
For more local recommendations read:
- What locals like to do in Athens
- Where locals like to eat in Athens
- Where locals like to party in Athens
Special tip: For a more authentic Athens experience, get the Like A Local mobile app
Manos is a student at the Agricultural University of Athens. He’s a passionate explorer and keen hitchhiker who has travelled extensively in Europe. He lives in the very centre of Athens, which means he’s always on the move scratching the surface of his city to uncover its hidden gems. He still doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, but one thing he knows for sure is that travelling will be a part of it.
Opening photo credit: Magali L’Abbé