13 Foods Worth Trying at a Greek Restaurant


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You know what a gyro is and the delicious yogurt sauce that tops it, which you can neither pronounce nor spell (i.e., tzatziki). But are there other healthy and delicious options you are missing out on at your neighborhood Greek restaurant? Here are some other menu items to consider. “Kali Orexi!” (Bon Appetit!)

1. Papoutsakia
According to the Greek cooking and hospitality blog kopiaste.org, papoutsakia means “little shoes,” which this dish resembles.

Is it healthy?
Featuring eggplant stuffed with ground beef, this recipe is reasonably healthy as long as the chef takes it easy on the béchamel sauce and the cheese.

2. Loucanico
Loucanico (or loukaniko) is the Greek word for sausage, which is much like Spanish chorizo sausage in that it tends to be pretty spicy.

Is it healthy?
This sausage can be on the fatty side, so try to share it with others as a simple appetizer.

3. Dolmades
They sound exotic but you’ve probably had these stuffed grape leaves in your Greek salad at many diners. Most people either adore them or they push them to the side along with the ubiquitous peperoncini.

Is it healthy?
Absolutely. Typically stuffed with rice and spices then simmered in broth, these little appetizers are a very healthful choice. Even a little lean ground lamb won’t hurt the calorie count too much. Eat your peperoncini too—they’re good for you!

4. Skordalia
A traditional dip made from mashed potatoes and garlic, served with pita or vegetables.

Is it healthy?
Dipping bread in mashed potatoes is a deluge of simple carbs that your body doesn’t need. You’re better off dipping cucumbers, or other veggies, rather than the pita.

5. Shrimp Saganaki vs. Saganaki
Despite their names, these two dishes are actually nothing alike. The reason for the confusion is because both are cooked in a sagani—a traditional Greek cooking pan—and anything cooked in a sagani gets the name “saganaki” added on to it. Thus just plain “saganaki” is commonly fried cheese, while “shrimp saganaki” is a dish of shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and feta.

Are they healthy?
Stick with shrimp saganaki for a healthy, vegetable filled appetizer. Fried cheese, while delicious, is not a healthy low-fat appetizer.

6. Pastitsio vs. Mousaka
Both of these are casseroles. Pastitsio is often referred to as Greek lasagna; it’s a layered pasta dish with either beef or lamb in tomato sauce, and creamy béchamel. Mousaka combines vegetables and meat with a cream sauce.

Are they healthy?
The béchamel in both adds a good dose of fat and calories. You may want to skip appetizers, and dessert, if you care to indulge in these dishes.

7. Souvlaki
Grilled skewers of meat are on every Greek menu. Choose chicken, pork, lamb, or beef, and get them as a platter or as a sandwich.

Is it healthy?
Low-fat protein, veggies, and pita, plus a touch of yogurt sauce, equals a very healthy choice.

8. Pikilla
Pikilla is an appetizer sampler of grilled or fried meats and/or fish. As the blog organicallycooked.com notes, the healthiness of this dish depends on the location. Some restaurants “use ready-to-cook, mass-produced food to serve in a pikilia, while others cook everything from scratch.”

Is it healthy?
It depends on the place. You have to ask. Skip one that is heavy on the fried foods and creamy dips.

9. Taramosalata
Hmm, sounds exotic should you try it? Well if you like roe—aka fish eggs—give it a go. This dip is a traditional carp roe mousse.

Is it healthy?
Yes, if eaten sparingly. It is mostly fat in many cases, yet it’s full of the healthy fats found in fish.

10. Briam (Tourlou)
A mixture of Mediterranean vegetables roasted together.

Is it healthy?
Yes, go for it!

11. Gigandes
Basically Greek baked beans.

Is it healthy?
Gigandes are packed with fiber, and as long as they’re not too sweet they are a nice side dish.

12. Avgolemono
A simple lemony chicken-orzo soup thickened with eggs.

Is it healthy?
Yes, a perfect choice for a filling appetizer.

13. Baklava, Galaktoboureko, Kataifi Ekmek, and Bougatsa
All of these Greek desserts are towering pastry combinations of honey, phyllo, nuts, and sometimes rich custard.

Is it healthy?
Is dessert ever healthy? Skip it if you are concerned about calories. All of these are heavy and sweet.


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