Know your souvlaki (clockwise from left): Greece’s flag, Kokoretsi on a spit, horiatiki salad, grilled whole lavraki (or sea bass).

Fresh off my third vasilopita win in four years – read on if you have no idea what that means – I am proud to share my knowledge of Greek cuisine with this list of 60 food and drink terms. No, bundt cake is not included (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, anyone?) The list includes everything from aperitifs to desserts, so brush up on your Hellenic kitchen vocabulary and head out to one of your city’s best Greek restaurants for some lamb intestines and shots of ouzo. Opa!


  • Frappé – A foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee
  • Gia sas – “Cheers!”
  • Kafenio – A café, where people often socialize and play games of cards
  • Ouzo – An anise-flavored aperitif widely consumed in the country
  • Mastika – A brandy-based digestif native to the island of Chios
  • Metaxa – A distilled spirit that is a blend of brandy, spices and wine
  • Retsina – A white or rosé resonated wine

General food

  • Arni – Lamb
  • Brizola – Steak
  • Feta – A rich cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk and cured in brine
  • Filo – Paper-thin sheets of unleavened flour dough
  • Fourno – Oven
  • Kali orexi – “Bon appétit!”
  • Kotopoulo – Chicken
  • Lathera – Dishes cooked in oil, often vegetarian
  • Meli – Honey
  • Mezedes – Small dishes, similar to the Spanish concept of tapas
  • Octapodi – Octopus, traditionally served grilled
  • Pikilia – An assortment of appetizers
  • Pita – A round pocket bread dipped in spreads or used with meat dishes
  • Psito – A method for roasting meat in the oven
  • Tapsi – A traditional baking dish
  • Taverna – A small restaurant serving traditional cuisine
  • Yiaourti – Yogurt

Soups and stews

  • Avgolemono – A chicken soup with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth
  • Fasolada – A meatless bean soup
  • Psarosoupa – A fish soup
  • Stifado – A stew, typically made from meat, tomatoes, onions and herbs

Traditional dishes

  • Barbouni – A small fish, often eaten whole. Also known as “red mullet”
  • Dolmades – Stuffed grape leaves
  • Gigandes – Giant baked beans
  • Gyro – A dish of meat roasted on a vertical spit. Often served in a sandwich
  • Horiatiki – Traditional Greek salad
  • Keftedes – Meatballs cooked with herbs and onions
  • Kokoretsi – Seasoned lamb intestines
  • Kolokithokeftedes – Zucchini fritters, often served with tzatziki
  • Lavraki – European sea bass
  • Marida – Little fish, lightly fried and eaten whole
  • Melitzanosalata – An eggplant dip
  • Moussaka – An eggplant-based dish with spiced meat and béchamel
  • Paidakia – Grilled lamb chops
  • Pastitsio – A baked pasta dish with meat and béchamel topping
  • Rolo Kima – A traditional meatloaf stuffed with boiled eggs
  • Saganaki – Fried cheese, named after the small frying pan it is cooked in
  • Souvlaki – Small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables on a skewer
  • Spanakopita – Spinach pie
  • Spanakorizo – Spinach and rice cooked in lemon and olive oil sauce
  • Taramasalata – A spread made from fish roe
  • Tsipoura – Sea bream
  • Tzatziki – A sauce made out of strained yogurt, cucumbers and garlic
  • Yemista – Tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice
  • Youvetsi – Lamb with orzo


  • Baklava – A rich pastry made with layers of filo filled with nuts and honey
  • Galactoboureko – A filo pastry with a rich custard filling
  • Loukoumades – Fried balls of dough drenched in honey with cinnamon
  • Kourabiedes – Light almond shortbread served during the holidays
  • Melomakarona – Cookies with honey and walnuts served during the holidays
  • Ravani – A sweet cake made of semolina soaked in syrup
  • Tsoureki – A sweet, egg-enriched bread served at Christmas and Easter
  • Vasilopita – New Year’s Day cake. A coin is baked in and the person who finds it is said to have good luck for the year

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