When you first arrive into a country and you don’t know what to eat, sometimes, it’s easier to start with street and bakery foods.
At least, that’s the way I approach it until I get a better idea of what the country’s food entails. That’s my toe-dipping approach to sampling foreign food. What can I say- I’ve got timid veggie tastebuds, especially if I don’t know if the foods will come impregnated with bits of meat.
Athens: Bakery cafes vs. restaurant sidewalk cafes
Walking around Athens, you’ll find restaurant sidewalk cafes are popular and attract crowds. It can be a little intimidating if you’re traveling alone. Also, the prices of menus force you to commit to a solid meal. Personally, I don’t like to commit to a 5-12 Euro meal, unless I know what I’m getting and that it’s primarily vegetarian. My wallet can’t afford to make wasteful mistakes.
Instead of jumping in the deep all at once, I roamed the streets in Athens in search of bakeries and street foods.
Greeks and eating on-the-go
The Greeks love being on-the-go, so cafes and bakeries often sell sandwich pies. I’ve seen anyone from young folks to elderly grandpas walking and eating sandwich pies. Even the wrappings are such that you can slide your sandwich out and eat without dropping crumbs.
Ultimately, I discovered Spanakopita after a long day of sightseeing on an empty stomach. I found it in a bakery cafe after at the base of Mount Lycabettus. It quickly became an easy go-to snack filler, whenever I needed a quick pickup during sightseeing. Not to mention, the fact it cost anywhere from 2-3 Euro a pop,… it was in my expendable budget.
What is Spanakopita?
Spanakopita is a very common fast food spinach pie sandwich you’ll find people eating in Greece.
Spanikopita consists of spinach and light spread of feta wrapped in a layered and light filo crust. Note to strict vegetarians: there is often egg whites in it, but during lent and religious occasions, there is a vegetarian/vegan version. Sometimes, the cheese is substituted for tofu.
They are either cut in slabs or in triangular sizes.
Another version of this is Tyropita, a cheese- filled pie.
Interestingly, something to note about Greek foods is that while you might find many breaded street foods with cheese fillings, the cheese is very light and subtle. Often, you can barely taste it.