Souvlaki: The Delicious 'Hamburger' Of Greece

  • by XpatAthens
  • Friday, 20 February 2015
Souvlaki: The Delicious 'Hamburger' Of Greece
Souvlakis are the hamburgers of Greece. At least they were until hamburgers arrived and now hamburgers are the hamburgers of Greece. Souvlaki shops have become more scarce and fast food places more plentiful, though you should not have trouble finding a souvlaki if you want one. It is usually meat of some sort, beef, lamb, pork or 'unknown' that is on a giant vertical rotisserie. The souvlaki 'cook' slices off the meat as it becomes done and puts it on a round pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onions, and sadziki, a cucumber-yogurt-garlic sauce that in my opinion is what makes souvlakis great.

In some souvlaki shops the meat is skewered and sometimes you can get ground beef, which is generally known as beefteki. In some upscale souvlaki shops you can get chicken souvlakis and even swordfish souvlakis (Very rare. I think there is a place next to MacDonalds at Syntagma where I saw it). Souvlaki comes in wax paper which keeps it all together and you eat it like you are peeling a banana. It can be messy but who cares?
When I was a kid I could eat three or four of them easily but now I have trouble imagining eating one. But that is only because the only time I would eat in a souvlaki shop would be in the day because dinners are eaten in tavernas as a form of entertainment as well as sustainance and who wants to eat a big greasy sandwhich when it is 95 degrees out? Well, many people do and they are still quite popular day or night. In fact when I tell my old friends who used to live in Greece I am going there, they always ask me to bring them back a souvlaki. One American kid from the US Airbase filled a suitcase with souvlakis when he left Greece after his father's tour of duty was over. So you see the power of the Souvlaki is strong and unless you are the most militant vegetarean you should not leave Greece without trying one.(You can get them without meat too.)
The great thing about souvlakis is that they are cheap and if your kids are hungry you can send them to the souvlaki shop for dinner. They can go and order for themselves and it will be a sort of adventure and fill them with confidence in their ability to survive in a foreign culture. Besides the souvlaki in the pita you can find street vendors selling souvlaki kalamaki which is skewered meat with a regular piece of bread instead of pita and no onions, tomatoes or sadziki. 
The Best Souvlaki Shop in Athens
Ask any taxi driver which is the best souvlaki shop and they will tell you it is Thanasis across the street. Is it the best? Who knows? Others say Kostas on Adrianou is the best. Some people like the souvlaki in Platia Iroon in Psiri. Probably the best is in some neighborhood tourists never visit. If you have a favorite let me know. See Readers Souvlaki Reviews The most popular Souvlaki shops are those at the end of Metropolis street right at Monastiraki square. The one on the corner is owned by the same guy who owns the famous old Taverna Sigalas, right next door. His name is Spiro and his picture is everywhere, happily posing with famous people, Greeks and international. In fact it is my personal goal to have my picture up there with Spiro one day since it is sort of Greece's answer to Gruman's Chinese Theater. So if you want to do a little active campaigning for me feel free to ask Spiro or the waiter when will he have Matt Barrett in one of his pictures. Generally you have to be a little more famous than I am but with the help of some of my readers maybe we can speed up the timetable and ensure my immortality.




 Copied with permission from Matt Barrett's