Have you recently asked yourself: where can I find the best Mediterranean food near me? The answer is simply SVL Souvlaki Bar. Our casual and modern fast-food restaurant is a haven of Greek specialties, offering anything from the classic souvlakis and gyros to traditional desserts and salads.
When people think about the Mediterranean cuisine, usually Greek food is the first one that comes to mind. That’s because many Greek dishes have made their way into the world over the course of many centuries and charmed everyone with their unique fresh flavors.
Greek cuisine is actually a major part of the much larger Mediterranean cuisine. The two terms are therefore not synonymous, although they are often used interchangeably. Greek food shares a lot of key ingredients with other cuisines in the Mediterranean family, but it also boasts many unique dishes of its own (most of which you can find right here at SVL Bar!).
What is Mediterranean food?
The Mediterranean cuisine does not represent one single ethnicity or culture, it covers many countries along the Mediterranean Sea coast, including Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt and of course, Greece. These countries share a love for minimally processed dishes, using plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, and a fair amount of dairy, meat and seafood.
The dominance of fresh produce and herbs in the Mediterranean is not random, but rather it is heavily influenced by the mild climate of the region. Fruits and vegetables thrive under warm temperatures, moderate rainfall and plenty of sun, and that leads to bountiful harvests year after year. With such an abundance of crops, it would be a pity not to base an entire cuisine around them.
What are the main characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine?
The Mediterranean basin spans far and wide, from Europe to Asia and Africa, and each country situated along its coast comes with its own culinary staples. Still, there is a lot of overlap between all the different cuisines that make up the massive Mediterranean cuisine, both in terms of ingredients used and preparation methods. Let’s go over some common elements of Mediterranean food:
Raw organic produce, as local and fresh as possible
Given the abundance of vegetables and fruits in the Mediterranean region, many dishes are based on organic products that are grown and harvested locally. Tomatoes, olives, lemons, mushrooms, peppers and onions are some of the main vegetables you’ll find in just about any house or restaurant serving Mediterranean food.
Meat, poultry and seafood
Mediterranean cuisine is well known for its focus on vegetables, fruits and herbs, but meat and seafood also play an important role. Meat is usually grilled or roasted and seasoned thoroughly, to maximize its flavor. Many Mediterranean dishes of the fast-food variety (e.g. gyros, souvlaki) include meat such as chicken, beef, pork or lamb, which blend wonderfully with fresh vegetables and seasonings.
Variety of herbs and spices
Few cuisines are as generous as the Mediterranean one with their use of herbs and spices. Seasoning dishes the right way helps bring out their best flavors and aromas. There’s no end to the list of herbs used in Mediterranean cooking, but the most common ones are oregano, basil, dill, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and mint.
Most herbs can be used both dry and fresh, with the dry versions usually packing more flavor. As for condiments, garlic, sea salt, cinnamon and turmeric are the most popular choices for seasoning Mediterranean food.
A hallmark of Mediterranean cuisine, pita is the bread of choice for many countries along the Mediterranean coast. It is used in a variety of ways, the most popular one being as wrap for fast-food staples such as gyros, kebabs or falafel.
Cheese and dairy
Fresh cheese and dairy products are prevalent in Mediterranean cooking, with almost every country in the area having its own local favorite. Just to name a few, Greece has feta and Greek yoghurt, Cyprus has halloumi, Italy has mozzarella and ricotta.
Cheese pairs excellently with vegetables and whole grains and can be used in a variety of Mediterranean cuisine staples such as salads, wraps or hot dishes. Some varieties can be consumed on their own, with the right seasoning and some fresh-cut vegetables on the side or grilled in the case of halloumi.
When it comes to Mediterranean food, olive oil takes center stage. It’s the main cooking oil used in Mediterranean countries and the main source of essential fats. Olive oil is mostly used as dressing for fresh salads, but it also plays a huge role in the preparation of fried or roasted food, stews, and desserts. Currently, the largest consumer base for olive oil is, of course, Greece.
What is unique about Greek food?
With some elements of Greek cuisine shared with many other countries in the Mediterranean family, you might be left wondering: what unique dishes does Greece bring to the table? Here are just a few foods that are uniquely Greek:
Greek salad (Choriatiki)
Served as side dish or starter, the Greek salad made from tomatoes, olives, cucumber, feta and an olive oil drizzle is a must-have for Greek food enthusiasts. You can enjoy a delicious authentic Choriatiki salad right here at SVL Bar, and pair it with one of our other Greek delights for a full flavor experience.
Though several other variations exist, the Greek souvlaki is the most popular version and one of the most beloved Greek fast-food options available. Usually served with tzatziki, vegetables and fries on the side, the souvlaki is a wonderful meat-based dish highlighting some of the best flavors in Greek cuisine. For a taste of authentic Greece, have a Greek souvlaki at SVL Bar!
Greeks may be all about fresh vegetables and roasted meats, but they have plenty of options for dessert as well. One of the most popular Greek sweets is the galaktoboureko, a phyllo pastry with a crispy shell and a juicy, buttery custard filling. Experience the finest Greek treats for your sweet tooth with a visit to SVL Souvlaki Bar.