Kostas: Wrapped up since 1950

The beloved, old-fashioned souvlaki joint near Syntagma has become something of an institution and a favorite pit stop for locals and tourists.


Every day, at 6.30 in the morning, Kostas Lavidas enters his shop. He cleans up and then begins preparations for the day, washing and cutting tomatoes and parsley, lining up pita wraps, yogurt and chili powder so that they are all in their place.

At around 9.00, the daily meat delivery arrives. He checks his meat skewers one by one, which takes an hour, rejecting fat it must be lean meat and checks the mince. He puts nothing but salt and pepper in the mix for his oblong beef patties  avoiding bread or spices. He then shapes them and immediately starts cooking

 

Customers start arriving early, as do the orders, and by 3 p.m. he’s already sold them all. He’s been doing this for nearly 20 years and claims he’s the best at wrapping souvlakis.

“The pita wraps are thin and oil free, just crispy enough and perfectly charred from the cast-iron grill plate.”

THE PLACE

Kostas’ grandfather had a souvlaki joint in Plaka, on Adrianou St, since the 1950s. He learnt from him, and decided that that’s what he wanted to do too. When he left for military service, he asked his grandfather to keep the shop open just a little longer and he happily obliged. Kostas left Plaka in 2008 and relocated to Syntagma. “I did not want a bigger shop, so I just renovated the premises we moved in to.”

The atmosphere

The old shop was tiny, and the new one is only slightly larger. A favorite relic of the old shop, a sign reading “No Stress” hangs over the grill, as do a few others here and there. Newspaper and magazine, articles about his shop hang from the walls as well as foreign guidebook clippings which recommend it as a place not to be missed when it comes to Athenian street food, and with good cause.

The food

 Souvlakis are light and small and you’ll need three to feel full. The pita wraps are thin and oil free, just crispy enough and perfectly charred from the cast-iron grill plate. You can choose a beef patty or pork.

 

Tzatziki is not an option. It makes sense to leave it out in terms of labor and for gastronomical reasons, as  yogurt adds freshness to the combination. “This is how we’ve always done it,” says Kosta.

Tomatoes are sweet, even in the winter and the liberal sprinkling of parsley adds a crunch, while the chili powder adds heat. The souvlaki can be made as spicy as you want. For the hard-core types, he adds chili flakes or chopped fresh chilies.

Kostas’ souvlaki shop is an attraction for tourists, well-known in the neighborhood and with a loyal customer base. And although it’s a grill house, it is spotlessly clean. Don’t be surprised when he reaches out with a pair of tongs to take your money notes you as you pay.

The cellar

Beer and soft drinks, Greek and foreign. And moonshine for friends.

“Kostas’ souvlaki shop is an attraction for tourists, well-known in the neighborhood and with a loyal customer base”

INFO

5 Mitropolis and Pentelis streets, Syntagma • The shop can be reached on foot. It’s a lot harder by car, unless you park in one of the many indoor and outdoor parking areas nearby.

• Tel. (+30) 210.322.8502

 

• Open daily from 09.00-15.00. Do not be surprised, however, if he’s already sold out by the time its 3 p.m.

 •  Cost: €2.30 for souvlaki wraps, €1.90 euros for grilled meat on skewers (souvlaki) with a pita on the side.



Read More

GASTRONOMY

Everything in the Middle: 8 Excellent Athens Restaurants for Sharing Food

These restaurants in the heart of Athens celebrate the quintessentially...


GASTRONOMY

Recipe for Summer: Watermelon Ice Cream

A delicious frozen dessert to make when you have watermelon...


Editor's Pick

The Mysterious Chronicle of the “Theft of the Century”

In an elaborate art heist worthy of a Hollywood movie,...


Athens

Athens Walks: Exotic Trees and Plants in the Western Suburbs

The Julia and Alexander N. Diomedes Botanical Garden, a green...


Greece Is Blog Posts

An Ode to Local Products

BY Yiouli Eptakili

No more avocado toast and croque-madames. From Thessaloniki to Crete...

read more >

How Can Greece Become a Gastro-Tourism Destination?

BY Yiouli Eptakili

It’s about more than just taking a trip...

read more >

Leaving Room in Greece for Everyone

BY Greece Is

Labor Day, this year September 5, marks the...

read more >