Let’s go out for…Greek (what to eat)

Published November 12, 2015

What to know      What to eat  

If you're like most Americans, the typical Greek restaurant menu can seem like, well, Greek. Below are some classic menu items and must-trys, plus tips to help you add this healthy cuisine to your dining repertoire. 




Horiatiki salad Horiatiki salad
This classic Greek-village salad is traditionally made with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and topped with feta. A typical restaurant portion will have a SmartPoints® value of 13, with the feta and the vinaigrette pumping up the caloric value of this app into entrée territory.

Lighten it up: With its potent, piquant and salty flavors, a little feta goes a long way. If it’s in big cubes, take it and crumble it across your salad.For every ¼ cup of feta you take off the salad, you cut 4 SmartPoints value.

 Grilled octopus Grilled octopus
Roasted, then grilled for added flavor, octopus is tender low-fat white meat, served on its own or over salad, with a SmartPoints value of about 2 for a typical 3-ounce serving. FYI: Most grilled food, including octopus and meats, comes with ladolemono — the Greek secret weapon of flavor. Combining extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and fresh oregano, it can add 4 SmartPoints value.
 Hummus and pita Hummus and pita
Chickpeas are a great source of vegetarian protein, and you’ll sometimes see flavorful additions of garlic and sun-dried tomato, but you need to watch portions with this one. Figure on adding 2 SmartPoints value per 2 tablespoons, plus another 3 to 5 SmartPoints value for each small pita you consume.
 Avgolemono soup Avgolemono soup
Made with a base of chicken broth, the zesty flavor of lemon juice, eggs for added richness, plus a bit of orzo or rice, this is an unusually satisfying soup for one without cream or meat. It is also a smart choice at approximately 4 SmartPoints value per serving. To save 2 SmartPoints value, request this made-to-order soup without the yolks.




Grilled lamb chops Grilled lamb chops
A typical portion of four grilled chops has a SmartPoints value of about 3-7 (before adding oil or ladolemono). With around 13 grams of protein, this power food will have you thundering like a Greek god.
 Grilled whole fish Grilled whole fish
By choosing a grilled branzino, sea bream, or porgy, and requesting just lemon, you’ll tally only about 7 to 9 SmartPoints values for a typical fish of 1¼ to 1½ pounds.
 Yiouvetsi Yiouvetsi
This braised lamb-shank on the bone — the Greek equivalent of Italian osso buco — is considered the quintessential dish of any Greek restaurant. Despite its hearty, on-the-bone appearance, you’ll be lucky to get 6 ounces of meat. If you can refrain from devouring every drop of sauce, thickened with orzo, you should stay within about 8 SmartPoints values.

A lasagna-like dish of fried eggplant and meat slathered in béchamel, moussaka is a clear exception to healthy Greek cuisine. A typical restaurant serving has a SmartPoints value of at least 16. 

Lighten it up: Pass on the buttery béchamel. Eliminating 1/4 cup will trim 4 SmartPoints value.

 Souvlaki Souvlaki
Grilling is the best choice for meats, and these simple, lean cuts of chicken, lamb, or pork are pure protein on a stick. They come served with pita and tzatziki — a dipping sauce made from Greek yogurt, cucumber and garlic that contains about 2 SmartPoints value per 1/2 cup. A typical restaurant portion of 5 ounces of skewered meat will cost you a SmartPoints value of anywhere between 4 to 11.

Lighten it up: With pita bread at 3 to 5 SmartPoints value each, limit yourself to one sandwich. 

 Shrimp saganaki Shrimp saganaki
Sautéed shrimp are baked in the oven with tomatoes and feta in this relatively healthful restaurant favorite. With just a sprinkle of feta, you should be able to enjoy this distinctive seafood dish for a SmartPoints value of about 4. 




Baklava Baklava
In this decadent dessert, phyllo dough is brushed with butter and filled with walnuts, dripping with honey and cinnamon. Count on a SmartPoints value of 14 for a typical piece. Even in Greece, this is a dessert for special occasions, so treat it that way and share it.
Baklava Greek yogurt with fruit and honey
Americans have recently come to appreciate the rich, velvety texture of Greek yogurt, which typically packs more protein and calcium than regular yogurt but also roughly the same calories. A typical cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt has a SmartPoints value of 3, a low-fat one has 4, and a tablespoon of honey adds 4. Still, for a satisfying dessert with a lot of nutrients, you can’t beat this choice.





Ouzo Ouzo
This Greek liqueur is often sipped, or taken as a shot, after dinner. The anise flavor is similar to that of sambuca or pastis. With the same calories you’ll find in vodka, plus added sugar, that complimentary drink from the owner may cost more than you realized (7 SmartPoints value for just a jigger).

Given that ingredients, cooking methods and portion sizes can vary greatly among restaurants, all SmartPoints values for restaurant dishes are estimates.


Menu Decoder


Astakos: Lobster.

Bifteki: A grilled Greek meat loaf, or hamburger, made with ground beef, feta and mint.

Galaktoboureko: An egg custard dessert with flavors of lemon and honey.

Kalamarakia: Squid. Steer clear of the typical fried calamari (Kalamari) preparation in Greek-American restaurants.

Keftedakia: Small meatballs, usually offered as meze. 

Kreatika: Meat dishes.

Kyria Piata: Main courses, entrées. 

Lathera: Refers to one pot dishes, usually vegetarian, cooked in olive oil-based sauce.

Meze (mezedes): Denotes the section of the menu with appetizers, small plates and dips.

Mykonos: A Greek island of the Aegean Sea. The name is often applied to dishes of the region.

Orzo: A small pasta similar in appearance to rice grains.

Pikilia: A house variety platter of mezedes, designed for sharing.

Prota piata: First courses, appetizers.

Psarosoupa: A fish soup including a house variety of vegetables and seafood, similar to bouillabaisse.

Psomia: Breads.

Saganaki: A cooking method of broiling cheese, usually feta, gravieraor kefalograviera, in a small pan in the oven. Often practiced with shrimp. 

Souvlaki: Literally refers to anything on a skewer, but is most often meat served for eating with pita, with vegetables as an occasional addition.

Spanakopita: A spinach and feta pie wrapped in layers of phyllo dough, usually offered as meze.

Thalassina: Seafood. 

Tyropita: A savory pie of creamy cheese wrapped in layers of phyllo dough, usually offered as meze.