5 traditional dishes to expect when in Greece and Cyprus

When you embrace a new experience in a different country, tasting the cuisine is vital on the ‘to do’ list.

Greece and Cyprus are famously known for their classic dishes such as Gyros, Souvlaki, Kleftiko and Moussaka. However, there are plenty of traditional dishes that are full of flavour and to be explored. Here are 5 dishes that you must try when in these countries.

Moon pie (Greek word/pronunciation: Fegaropita), Athens, Greece Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades
Moon pie (Greek word/pronunciation: Fegaropita), Athens, Greece copyright Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades

Moon pie (Greek word/pronunciation: Fegaropita), Athens, Greece

Forget about the Gyros you’ve tried, because it’s all about the moon pie. Moon pie consists of 2 layers of flat king sized pitta bread and has delicious ingredients in between them. It usually includes melted kasseri cheese, special sauce (mustard mayonnaise and herbs), gyros meat and vegetables. This then creates the concept of a pie. When served, it comes in the shape of a ‘half moon’ or ‘full moon’ and chips. Just think of it as a giant delicious pitta bread toastie with Gyros meat. Once you take a bite, you won’t stop. In Greece, you can find this dish at souvlatzidika which is the place that sells souvlaki. Moon pie isn’t typically found in any souvlatzidiko shop in Greece. So if you want to try this delicious ‘pie’, then stop by the popular souvlatzidiko, O Meraklis. Don’t be surprised if this place is constantly busy, as they provide large, scrumptious dishes for such low prices.

Address: Agiou Meletiou, Sepolia, Athens, 183-10443, Greece

Opening times: 11am-11pm

Price range: 1-8 Euros Telephone number: +30 21 0515 2210

Tava, Southern Cyprus Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades
Tava, Southern Cyprus Photographer: copyright Adrianna Anastasiades

Tava, Cyprus

Tava is a traditional dish that can be found in food tavernas and restaurants in both parts of Cyprus. The dish is made from simple ingredients, but it tastes incredible when they’re combined. There are three different types of meat that can be used for this dish; chicken, lamb and pork. Once cooked, the juicy meat slowly falls off the bone, the roast potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, the rich homemade tomato sauce is oozing with flavour as it contains the most important ingredient: cumin. Your tongue will salivate from the aroma of this dish, as the spice re-awakens all of your senses. If you want to have a sensational experience when eating this dish, then make sure you book a table at Militzis restaurant. This restaurant is famously known for their signature dish, Tava. Not only will you be served a great dish, but you will have a true dining experience in an authentic Cypriot restaurant.

Address: 42 Piale Pascha, 6026 Larnaka, Larnaca, Cyprus

Opening times: 11.30am – 11.30pm

Price range: 1-40 Euros Telephone number: +357 24 655867

Homemade gemista Photographer: John Selimas
Homemade gemista Photographer: copyright John Selimas

Gemista, Greece and Cyprus

This traditional dish is loved by both vegetarians and meat eaters. Gemista is roasted peppers, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes stuffed with rice or rice and minced meat. In Greece it is more popular to eat the vegetarian version, whereas in Southern Cyprus it’s popular with minced meat. This dish is filling, satisfying and bursting with flavours, and can also be enjoyed eaten hot or cold. Gemista can be found in any taverna and restaurant in both countries. However, if you are travelling to Athens, then make sure you dine at Liondi Traditional Greek Restaurant for vegetarian Gemista, which also has a view of the beautiful Parthenon. It’s recommended to order feta cheese and bread on the side with your Gemista, because it compliments it greatly. You can dip your bread into the sauce that bubbles over the Gemista and combine the feta cheese with the stuffed rice, which is a luscious combination.

Address: 19-21 Makrygianni Street, Acropolis, Athens, 11742, Greece

Opening times: 7am-12am

Price range: 1-30 Euros Telephone number: +30 21 0921 9994

Loukoumades, Greece and Cyprus copyright Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades

Loukoumades, Greece and Cyprus

Forget your sugar ring doughnut and try Loukoumades. These tiny deep fried dough balls will satisfy your sweet tooth. Traditionally they have drizzled honey on top, however you can have them with a modern twist by adding different toppings to them. These toppings can be melted chocolate, strawberries, Nutella, Oreos, sugar, melted white chocolate, strawberry sauce, cinnamon and sprinkles. It is a little taste of doughy heaven. If you are staying in Protaras, Cyprus, then make sure you stop by for dessert at Panikos’ Loukoumades. This small, outdoor restaurant is popular for these sweet goodies and will get you addicted.

Address: Protaras Avenue, 5289, Protaras, Cyprus

Opening times: 11.30am – 11.30pm

Price range: 1-10 Euros Telephone number: +357 99 684815

Ekmek ice cream, Athens, Greece Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades
Ekmek ice cream, Athens, Greece copyright Photographer: Adrianna Anastasiades

Ekmek ice cream, Athens, Greece

If you want to treat yourself to a Turkish guilty pleasure but with a Greek twist, then you need to take a spoonful of the creamy, sticky, Ekmek ice cream. The bottom layer is a traditional Turkish sweet pastry dish called Kataifi which is shredded phyllo pastry that has been soaked in honey, the layer above is whipped cream topped with homemade ice cream and crushed pistachios, as well as strawberry syrup and a biscuit. Forget about calorie counting, this sinful treat is a must have. The best patisserie to have this ice cream is at Hara. Not only have they been popular since 1969, but all of their desserts are freshly made.

Address: Patision 339, Athens, Greece

Opening times: 9:00am – 2.00am

Price range: 1-8 Euros Telephone number: +30 21 0228 7266

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