Greece Travel Guide logo

Greece Travel Guide

Athensguide

 Greek Island Guide

Lesvos

Hotels of Greece

Turkey

Paris

Dimitra's Guide to Souvlaki

A true Athenian shows you how to order a souvlaki in Greece and where to find the best ones in Athens

It is a confusing subject but let's clarify some things. First, it is souvlaki and plural souvlakia : )  In Athens and the south, asking for a souvlaki ap' ola will result in bringing you a wrapped pitta with with pork skewed meat, sliced tomatoes, tzatziki, sliced onions with parsley and sometimes fries. In Athens and the south (This applies to most islands as well) souvlaki are never called a sandwich. In the north sandwich is a generalization but be careful because they also wrap all the variations in a bread sandwich. Not that it's not tasty, but if you 've never tried souvlaki you need to try pitta-souvlaki first. Best bet is to just ask for pitta souvlaki.

To be sure you get exactly what you want, order a:

1. pitta-souvlaki (with pork skewed meat, sliced tomatoes, tzatziki, sliced onions with parsley and sometimes fries)
2. pitta-kotopoulo (with chicken skewed meat, accompanied with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, mayo-mustard-ketchup mix sauce and occasionally fries)
4. pitta-gyros (pork doner sliced, sliced tomatoes, tzatziki, sliced onions with parsley and sometimes fries)
5. pitta-gyros kotopoulo (chicken doner sliced, accompanied with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, mayo-mustard-ketchup mix sauce and occasionally fries)
6. pitta-kebab or pitta-mpifteki (lamb or beef minced kebab, accompanied by sliced tomatoes, sliced onions with parsley and sometimes tzatziki  and fries)

All souvlakia are usually seasoned with paprika and salt after all condiments are added and before being wrapped.

Ap' ola means "with everything" so it will be with the above condiments. If you want something left out, better name exactly how you want it.

Pediko means (literally children's) without tzatziki and onions.

As an Athenian having being served the stunt of whole platter or nothing, I would avoid like hell going to Mpairachtaris on Mitropoleos street, Monastiraki, the one with all the famous persons photos visiting his shop. He had the nerve to tell us that souvlakia were
only served on the go and not in tables when they were perfectly mentioned and priced on the menu. Of course we left and never came back.

Across the street is Thanasis who has the BEST pitta-kebab (or pitta-mpifteki). This one you must try! But because he is the best on kebab, there is not a large variety of other foods on his menu. From souvlakia, he only serves pitta-kebab. He has pork and chicken
souvlakia but on a large platter and no pitta. He also serves kebab merida (platter) that is 4 kebabs on a plate with 2 pittas, grilled tomato and sliced onions with parsley. YUMMM! (The platter is far better because of the grilled tomato sweetness)

If you want to try the other varieties, your best bet is to go to a corner neighbourhood shop (usually a standing queue is the good sign) and see what's available. Avoid the chain franchise shops like Loxandras, Pitta tou Pappou, Pitta Pan etc. - they are not even close to what a real souvlaki actually is, just fast-food imitations!

In corner shops, 1 souvlaki-pitta costs about 1,70, fries 1,60 tzatziki 2,30 (prices for takeaway). Generally with 2 souvlakia you are full and that only costs 3,40 for a meal!

Return to Athens Survival Guide Souvlaki Page

Return to Athens Survival Guide