A traditional Greek lunch is usually a multi-course affair that can include appetizers, main courses, sides, and desserts. Here’s a closer look at some of the common elements:

1. Appetizers (Mezze)

Mezze are small dishes that are often shared among the table. They are designed to stimulate the appetite and can range from simple to complex.

  • Tzatziki: A creamy dip made from Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Dolmades: Grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, and occasionally ground meat.
  • Saganaki: Fried cheese, often served with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Fava: A puree made from yellow split peas, typically garnished with olive oil, onions, and capers.
  • Hummus: Though not originally Greek, hummus is commonly enjoyed and is made from blended chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.

2. Salads

Greek salads are a staple at lunch, featuring fresh, seasonal vegetables.

  • Horiatiki (Greek Salad): Made with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, green peppers, and feta cheese, all dressed with olive oil and oregano.
  • Marouli: A simple lettuce salad often accompanied by dill and spring onions, dressed with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

3. Main Courses

Main dishes are hearty and often showcase the diversity of Greek culinary traditions.

  • Moussaka: A layered casserole with eggplant, ground meat, and béchamel sauce.
  • Souvlaki: Grilled skewers of marinated pork, chicken, or lamb, served with pita bread and tzatziki.
  • Pastitsio: A baked pasta dish similar to lasagna, with layers of pasta, ground meat, and béchamel sauce.
  • Gemista: Tomatoes and bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat.
  • Stifado: A slow-cooked stew made with beef or rabbit, onions, and a rich tomato sauce.

4. Sides

Greek lunches often include a variety of side dishes that complement the main course.

  • Horta: Boiled greens such as dandelion, served with olive oil and lemon.
  • Gigantes Plaki: Large white beans baked in a tomato sauce with onions and herbs.
  • Lemon Potatoes: Roasted potatoes flavored with lemon, olive oil, and oregano.

5. Bread

Fresh bread is always present at a Greek meal, used to mop up sauces and dips.

  • Pita: Soft, round flatbread.
  • Horiatiko Psomi: Traditional country bread, often made with whole wheat or a mix of grains.


Lunch in Greece is often accompanied by a variety of beverages, depending on the occasion and personal preferences.

  • Water: Usually served at every meal.
  • Wine: Local wines, both red and white, are popular choices.
  • Ouzo: An anise-flavored spirit that is typically enjoyed with mezze.
  • Tsipouro: A potent grape-based spirit similar to ouzo but without the anise flavor.


A typical Greek lunch might conclude with a light dessert, especially if it’s a weekend or a special occasion.

  • Fresh Fruit: Seasonal fruits such as watermelon, grapes, or figs.
  • Greek Yogurt with Honey: Thick Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and sometimes topped with nuts.
  • Baklava: A sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough, filled with nuts and honey syrup.

The Experience

Greek lunches are not just about the food but also about the experience. They are typically enjoyed slowly, with plenty of time to savor the flavors and enjoy the company of others. This leisurely approach to dining is a key aspect of Greek culture, promoting a sense of well-being and community.

A typical Greek lunch is a celebration of fresh, wholesome ingredients and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones. From the vibrant mezze and hearty main dishes to the refreshing salads and delightful desserts, each component reflects the rich culinary heritage of Greece. Whether you’re enjoying a simple salad and bread or a more elaborate spread, a Greek lunch offers a delicious and nourishing glimpse into one of the world’s most beloved cuisines.

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