The Difference Between a Greek and Mediterranean Restaurant

October 16, 2020 at 5:00 AM
Learn the differences between a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant

If you’ve ever eaten at a Mediterranean restaurant, you’ve likely seen Greek food listed on the menu. And, if you’ve ever eaten at a Greek restaurant, you’ve probably seen items or the restaurant's biography use ‘Mediterranean’ to describe its origins. The words are often used interchangeably by restaurants specializing in either cuisine—but there are a couple of differences.

One of the things that confuses some people is the fact that Greece lies on the Ionian, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. Its geography makes it a Mediterranean country, but its food is uniquely Greek. And these are a few of the distinctions.

How Greek food is different from other Mediterranean dishes

While ‘Greek’ and ‘Mediterranean’ are often used interchangeably, they are not completely synonymous with one another. Similarly, other Mediterranean countries’ dishes share similarities but boast their own unique offerings, and Greece is no different.

Greek restaurants like the Black Olive typically offer a wide range of Greek staples on their menus that are unique to the country, including:

  • Taramasalata
  • Manouri cheese in grape leaves
  • A variety of olives
  • Dolmades
  • Courgette balls (kolokythokeftedes)
  • Souvlaki

These items are most commonly associated with Greece, but can be found on some Mediterranean restaurants’ menus simply as ‘Mediterranean.’ Mediterranean is essentially a blanket term to encompass all of the countries that lie along the Mediterranean Sea, stretching from Spain in the west to Syria in the east, and Slovenia in the north to Lybia in the south. It is a massive body of water that touches several countries’ shores.

The massive Mediterranean

Because of the size of the sea and the unique climate that affords some of the world’s most unique and delicious fruits, vegetables, and seafood, there’s certainly overlap in much of the diet, hence the popularity and adoption of the Mediterranean Diet in the U.S. and across much of non-Mediterranean Europe.

Common Mediterranean dishes and items include:

  • Legumes
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wheat
  • Grapes
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Hummus
  • Fresh fish, usually grilled or baked
  • Cheese and yogurt

Each country that hugs the Mediterranean Sea has its own national and regional delicacies that vary from others in the region. After all, the Mediterranean’s size means it’s virtually impossible that countries on opposites ends of the sea would have the same dishes.

For example, wheat products in Greece are dissimilar to types of bread eaten in Libya, Spain, and northern Algeria. The same is said for types of cheeses produced in Greece to those made in Mediterranean France and Tunisia.

In short, Greek food is Mediterranean food—but all Mediterranean food is not the same as Greek food. Countries across the sea use many of the same ingredients, but regional variations on both the variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, spices, and seafood give each country its own unique dishes. Greece’s specialties stand out among other countries’ because of their unique, delicious pairings and combinations, and the rich history that surrounds them. You can find many classics and reimagined classics on our new pick-up menu.

Experience Greek delicacies with The Black Olive

Whether you’re ordering for a cozy night in or you’d like to join us Greek dishes made just for you.