A Tale of 2 Souvlakis
Where Metropoleos street meets
Monistiraki square are several
souvlaki shops, next to and facing
each other, each one just as good as
the other. But you must be careful
here. If you sit down and order a
'souvlaki', the waiter will return
with an enormous plate filled with
salad, chopped pita-bread and a skewer
or two of meat. Of course this is not
the souvlaki you know and were
expecting. I remember seeing a family of tourists
who moments before had been bursting
with excitement over the anticipated
arrival of their first souvlaki in
Greece, then stare in astonished
disbelief at the five plates put
before them. Sadly they ate them,
thinking they had made some kind of
tragic mistake when they ordered. They
had not made a mistake. While everyone
in the world knows what a souvlaki is,
these restaurants have given the word
a new meaning. The reason is simple.
The cost of a sandwich versus the cost
of a whole meal.
When they tried the stunt on us my
friend Dorian confronted the
"What the hell is this?" He
"It's a souvlaki", said the waiter.
"It's what you ordered".
"I didn't order this." said my
"Sure you did. I took the order
myself. See it's written right here."
(He showed us an illegible scrawl on a
piece of paper.)
"If this is a souvlaki, then what do
you call the skewer of meat with
tomatoes, onions and sadziki wrapped
in pita-bread?" Dorian asked.
", smiled the waiter with an
embarrassed look on his face that told
us that he knew he had been trapped by
a couple of experts.
"Take these away and bring us two
souvlakis. The kind they sell as
souvlakis everywhere in the world
except here." Said Dorian.
The waiter returned smiling with our
So when you go to one of these places be sure to tell them
. It should look like the thing I am eating in the picture at the top. This article will cost the
Greek economy billions of drachma in
lost souvlaki revenue but at least
souvlaki lovers of the world will
return home fulfilled. If it is in a
plate, laying flat, with more then one
skewer of meat, then send it back.
(unless you want the platter, which
actually is pretty good
I have gotten more e-mails
about the above story than just about anything in the guide. One
person even threatened me if I did not remove it. I didn't remove
it and I am still here. But in Greece where they take food serious
you have to be careful with what you say about souvlaki.
The Best Souvlaki Shop in
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 and others will say, no Kostas on Platia Ag Katerini is the best and as proof there is always a line of Greeks. Some people
like To Theiokon by the vegetables section in the Market. The view of many Souvlaki lovers is that this is just as good or better than anything you will find in Monastiraki and the service is quicker and the beer is colder and it is a lot less crowded. Probably the best is in some
neighborhood tourists never visit. My friend Corinne who has lived in Athens since 1970 says "I just love souvlaki and one of the best places in Athens is the Souvlaki Bar just off Ermou near Thission. Their souvlaki shots (mini pita wrapped souvlaki in shot glasses) with an array of different sauces are great!" If you want my opinion, well, the best souvlaki I have had was at Olymbos in Kypseli, on the corner of Odos Kypseli and Odos Zakynthos. Why was it so good? Well first of all
it was the first souvlaki I had eaten in a year. The second reason is that the shop is owned by the butcher shop next door which has a reputation as one of the best in Athens, and the key to good souvlakia is obviously the meat. The third reason is that it is the closest souvlaki shop to my apartment so I want it to be the best. If you take the 2 or 4 trolley from the National
Gardens (or the National Museum if you are there) to Kypseli and get off at the stop called Zakynthou (the 3rd stop once you turn up to Kypseli) and walk about 15 steps and you will see it. To get home cross the street and take the bus back. Or walk a couple blocks to Fokionos Negri where there are several more souvlaki shops that few tourists every go to.