Posted by on 31 Aug 2023
Besides Athens and Santorini, Thessaloniki is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience Greece at its liveliest and most cultural. The city is home to plenty of stunning art galleries and theatres and hosts many vibrant festivals each year.
Apart from that, Thessaloniki proudly holds the title of the food capital of Greece. Prepare to embark on a gastronomic journey as you explore the vibrant streets adorned with tantalising street food stalls and charming Greek tavernas at every turn.
Still trying to decide what traditional Greek dishes you should keep an eye out for on your holiday to Thessaloniki? Here are seven that you shouldn’t miss!
Pastry lovers have to try bougatsa—a Greek pastry made of flaky and delicate phyllo pastry filled with a sweet or savoury filling and topped with a dusting of sugar. Dessert lovers will enjoy bougatsas filled with sweet custard, while those craving something cheesy should try one filled with feta.
The locals in Thessaloniki are known to have bougatsa for their quick daily breakfasts along with a cup of coffee. If you want to live like an authentic Greek citizen during your holiday, you must get some for breakfast before a long day of travelling.
When it comes to traditional Greek dishes, you can’t go wrong with gyros. While it’s more of a street food than it is a wholesome dish, it’s hearty enough to make you feel satisfied.
Gyros is meat that is carved from pork or chicken slow-cooked on a “spit”, a type of rotisserie that stands vertically. The tender, succulent meat is then served on warm pita bread, creating an authentically Greek sandwich.
For the full experience, eat it with fresh vegetable sides like chopped tomatoes, onions, and garlicky tzatziki sauce.
Souvlaki is another popular meat dish in Greece. Instead of being served on pita bread, grilled meats like lamb, beef, pork and chicken are skewered and served with a plethora of sides and sauces. These include tomatoes, sliced onions, herbs like dill, and tzatziki sauce, which go perfectly with the meat.
The meats are usually cooked over an open flame, infusing them with a smoky and robust taste. Some Greek locals will even eat these skewered meats straight off the grill to make the most out of that smokiness.
Some traditional Greek dishes are heavily influenced by other cultures as well. For example, soutzoukakia, a famous meatball and tomato sauce dish, was brought back to Greece in the early 1920s from Izmir, Turkey. Of course, today, the dish has a Greek spin to it.
This dish consists of huge beef meatballs seasoned with cumin, pepper flakes, garlic, a bit of cinnamon then fried in olive oil to get a golden crust. It is then added to an indulgent tomato-based sauce that has lots and lots of red wine.
Soutzoukakia is best enjoyed with fluffy rice or warm pita bread. This is usually how it’s served in Thessaloniki restaurants and enjoyed by Greek families in their homes.
If you’re looking for an appetiser to share with friends over an hour or two of catching up in beautiful Greece, order an indulgent bougiourdi at a local taverna.
This dish is essentially feta baked with peppers, tomatoes, oregano and other aromatics to balance out the richness.
This melt-in-your-mouth, cheesy dip is served with olive oil and crusty pita slices that you can dip in the sauce. It’s a beautiful meze that goes well with some drinks.
Pie-lovers need to try spanakopita at least once on their trip to Thessaloniki. Spanakopita is a savoury phyllo pastry pie generously filled with feta cheese and spinach. This creamy, salty filling is made even more flavourful with a dash of parsley and dill.
You’ll usually see spanakopita in small, puffy triangles or rectangles, making them perfect for an on-the-go snack from a Greek café.
If you love casseroles, a heaping of moussaka will be perfect for you. This baked dish is made of layers of eggplant with indulgent bechamel and meat (usually lamb or beef) in between.
Vegans might enjoy a version that replaces the meat with grilled onions. It’s kind of similar to lasagna, but healthier and with that Greek touch.
Moussaka was originally from the Middle East, but was brought to Greece in the 1920s. Today, it’s a comforting, traditional Greek dish you’ll find in almost every restaurant you step foot in.
Did you know that your favourite summer Starbucks drink has roots in Greece? Yes, sweet and decadent frappé coffee has roots in Thessaloniki when it was created by chance in the 1950s.
The story goes that the drink came about when a Nestle employee at a convention in the city set out to make hot coffee but couldn’t find any hot water. Instead, he mixed instant coffee with sugar and cold water before shaking it hard with some ice cubes–and the iconic frappé was born.
Today, this coffee is perfect for beating the heat on a summer day while still enjoying your daily dose of caffeine. Make sure to get a frappé from a local Thessaloniki café during your stay in the city. It might go well with some of the pastries we talked about above!
Try These Traditional Greek Dishes in Thessaloniki
Whether you’re looking to sit down at a homey taverna for a hearty meal or looking for a quick pastry and coffee for breakfast to-go, there are plenty of delectable food options for you at Thessaloniki.
Just make sure you try everything on this list at least once on your trip so you can get the full gastronomic experience the city has to offer.
Excited to experience Greece on your upcoming holiday? Book a Greek holiday package with us to explore more of this vibrant, historic country!