If you're about to visit a Greek restaurant for the first time, you're in for a treat. Greek cuisine is truly delicious — brimming with flavors and textures. Anything on the menu is almost certain to satisfy your palate, but there are a few classics to make sure you order the first time around.
Souvlaki is perhaps the most common meat dish in Greek restaurants. It's traditionally made with beef, but some restaurants offer a chicken version, too. The meat is marinated in a blend of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings, which both tenderize it and give it a delicious flavor. At most Greek restaurants, you can order a souvlaki dinner where the meat comes served with some side dishes. Or, you can order a souvlaki wrap, which is pita bread stuffed with souvlaki, feta cheese, olives, lettuce, Greek dressing, and sometimes a few other ingredients like tomatoes or onion.
Order a plate of dolmades for your table to share. They're a classic Greek appetizer sometimes called "stuffed grape leaves." They taste nothing like grapes, but the leaves themselves are really tender and mildly sweet. The stuffing has a rice base with a variety of seasonings and some vinegar. Dolmades are typically eaten in two bites, so everyone can have one or two before the main course without becoming too full.
Spanakopita is a spinach pie, which is so much more delicious than it may sound. The crust is made with flaky phyllo, which is traditional in Green cooking. It's so tender and flaky you barely have to bite into it. The filling is made with eggs, spinach, and cheese, which makes it creamy and delectable. This is a great dish to enjoy as a side, or even as a main course if you're looking for something meatless.
Even if you're not someone who typically orders dessert at a restaurant, it's worth doing so at a Greek restaurant. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert made with phyllo dough, honey, and nuts. It's so tender, lightly sweet, and delicious. You can order a piece to take home if you don't have room after your meal. It transports well and should stay fresh for a couple of days.
If you try these dishes your first time visiting a classic Greek restaurant, you're in for quite a treat. Don't be afraid to over-order. All of these foods are great the next day.