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My Quest to Find the Best Souvlaki in Athens – Here’s My 2024 Top 10

Craving authentic Souvlaki in Athens? We've done the legwork! Check out our updated 2023 list to satisfy those taste buds with the finest grilled delights the city has to offer.
My Quest to Find the Best Souvlaki in Athens - Here's My 2023 Top 10

Ever meandered through the annals of time, mouth watering at the very thought of souvlaki? From ancient texts with Homer’s mentions of “obelisk” (the wee spit) and the comedic writings of Aristophanes, to archaeological finds in Thira’s Akrotiri — spearheaded by Athens University’s very own, Professor Christos Doumas — hinting at a 1600 BC souvlaki, it’s undeniable: this dish boasts a past as rich as its flavors.

Remember those skewers from local fairs, sports arenas, or alongside the National Road? Ah, the taste of childhood memories! Often, it’s the nostalgic shimmer of the past that leads us on a culinary chase. Enter the art of wrapping. My mate Dimitris, a true connoisseur, always believed in a compact, non-bulky souvlaki, and vehemently opposed the inclusion of fries. It’s thanks to ‘masters’ like Kostas at Syntagma and Lefteris the Politis that carb-laden temptations are kept at bay in their joints.

Souvlaki? It’s a full meal deal! Pita, meat, veggies — the granddaddy of all street food. But for it to tantalize the taste buds, it demands time and pristine ingredients. There were eras when souvlaki hit a low, crammed with prefab potatoes and dubious meats, reheated to no end. But, its evolution also embraced veganism, formerly dubbed as “child’s portion” or “fasting”.

Heartwarming, isn’t it? To still have classic joints maintaining their flavors, while newcomers are eager to follow suit. Picking the perfect souvlaki is deeply personal. After all, taste is subjective and often intertwined with emotions, right?

Now, to dish out Athens’ top ten souvlaki spots — because, admit it, we all love-hate these lists — I’ve not only taken into account flavor and quality but also the memories each venue evokes. And that, my dear friend, is just my two drachmas, sans any commercial ties.

1. Kostas at Syntagma

Ah, a name that springs to mind whenever someone asks me, “Where can I grab an authentic souvlaki in Athens?” For me, it’s where the love affair with souvlaki began. A wrap filled with surgical precision, brimming with lean meat, the juiciest tomatoes, and that irresistible blend of yogurt, parsley, onion, and fiery red pepper. Since 1950, Kostas isn’t just a joint; it’s an institution.

📍Pentelis 5, Syntagma | 📞2103228502

2. Lefteris the Politis at Omonia

Seventy years and still going strong on Satovriandou Street in Omonia. But when Tassos Savvoglou (now third-generation) decided to expand the iconic souvlaki shop, my heart leapt with joy! Yet, my soul still gets pulled back to where it all began. Soft pita enveloping kebab, onions, parsley, tomatoes, and spicy paprika—all set against the city’s most surreal backdrop.

📍Satovriandou 20, Omonia | 📞2105225676

3. Achilleas and His Gyros

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of gyros—some might find that shocking. But when it comes to Achilleas, it’s the real deal. A tradition of crafting gyros since 1987 using meticulously chosen meat, marinated with a guarded secret. No wastage here, and no need for extra salt. Devour it with crispy pita, paired perfectly with tomatoes, onions, and that creamy tzatziki.

📍Spintharou 18, Neos Kosmos | 📞2109021391

4. Agrafa of Valtetsiou

There’s something charming about the gent serving you, who’s playful yet doesn’t tolerate nonsense, the eclectic crowd, and the ambiance that feels more like a vintage café than a souvlaki shop. Agrafa in Exarcheia stands out as an oasis of authenticity, the go-to comfort spot in the heart of the city.

📍Valtetsiou 50-52, Exarcheia | 📞2103803144

5. Rhodopolis – Kosmidis

Nestled amidst wooden décor adorned with stylish mirrors and cozy tables, it’s not just the ambiance that draws you in. Let’s talk about that spellbinding red sauce – oh, a recipe shrouded in mystery! It dances upon meatballs and bathes pita bread, perfectly completed by onions and tomatoes. A gastronomic treat!

📍 Adrianou 13, Drapetsona | 📞 2104623788

6. Lefteris of Kallithea

Lefteris in Kallithea is more than a name. It’s synonymous with mouth-watering souvlakis and that iconic establishment with a spacious courtyard in a serene neighborhood. When I want a treat, I double up on the wrapped meatball. Can’t get enough!

📍 Xenofontos 146, Kallithea | 📞 2109480535

7. Tomas

Before Tomas became the sensation behind some of the city’s most delectable kebabs, he was a renowned modelist, brushing shoulders with Athens’ illustrious. Now, his son Marios upholds a legacy, handcrafting kebabs with just beef, lamb, and a pinch of salt. Simple yet exquisite.

📍 Sarkoudinou 49, Neos Kosmos | 📞 2109015981

8. Volvi

There’s a charm in Volvi that gets me every time. It’s in the timeless tradition and the delightful simplicity. They swear by two codes: beef meatball and pork skewer. Choose a plate or a pita, and don’t even think of asking for fries, unless you fancy a chuckle!

📍 Evripidou 24-26, Athens | 📞 2111180587

9. Voskopoula for Short-Skewer in Pita

Family-run since 1980, Voskopoula is a gem – a modern-clad tavern holding tight to its traditional heart. Whenever my cravings set in for short-skewer in pita, this is my surefire spot.

📍 Sivoron 87, Galatsi | 📞 2102222363

10. Panerythraikos

Closing this list wasn’t easy with so many flavorful memories, but not mentioning Panerythraikos would be a disservice. It was my go-to souvlaki in my early twenties – the taste still lingers. Ah, those days of patiently queuing up, knowing well you’d order an extra wrap because it vanished in just three bites.

📍 Anaxagora 11, Nea Erythraia | 📞 2108000271

 

Ready to explore the heart of Athens? Dive into our guide to discover the best neighborhoods to stay in Athens, ensuring you’re at the epicenter of culture, cuisine, and charisma.

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