How to order a Greek Souvlaki in Greece

How do you order souvlaki in Greece, especially if you are not familiar with regional differences? Here comes the tricky part. The biggest difference exists between Greece’s South and North.

Greek souvlaki with pita bread

Greek souvlaki with pita bread

If you are somewhere south, including islands, or in Athens itself, when you order souvlaki, you get grilled meat pieces in pita bread, along with sliced tomatoes, tzatziki, sliced onions with parsley.

In Crete fries will come to the combination as well. Athenians usually do not add chips or fries to their pita souvlaki, but  you can always ask for them, if you wish.

If you want only the meat on the skewer then be sure to order “kalamaki souvlaki”. Now, if you are in Thessaloniki or somewhere in the Northern Greece, if you order a souvlaki, you will get “kalamaki”, or a skewer. In Thessaloniki, if souvlaki is wrapped in pita (or any other bread) it’s called sandwich.

In any case, be careful in Thessaloniki when ordering since if you ask for kalamaki, you may end up with a straw, since “kalamaki” means that as well. But, that will be just a joke.

Differences of Souvlaki In Greece

greek souvlaki with pita

Kalamaki, greek souvlaki on a wooden skewer

Important is to say that pita souvlaki ingredients differ a little depending what kind of meat you order. The combination mentioned above is traditional and goes with the traditional pork souvlaki.

If you want chicken souvlaki, the suggested combination of additional ingredients includes lettuce, mayo and mustard, instead of tzatziki. And so on, depending on the kind of meat you want.

Another difference is that pita souvlaki can contain different kind of meat:

  • gyros (very thin slices of pork meat)
  • pork kalamaki, pieces of pork meat on a skewer (kalamaki)
  • chicken kalamaki
  • beef kalamaki
  • kebab
  • chicken gyros
  • chopped lamb.
  • If you are vegetarian, you ask for patatopita, and you get your meat-free version of souvlaki.

And maybe last, but not the least difference is that you can order “souvlaki ap’ola” – which means souvlaki with everything. Well, that “everything” includes tzatziki in Central Greece, South and the Islands, but not necessarily in North.

Unlike the souvlaki from special shops, in taverns and restaurant you will have one more option: Merida-souvlaki! A portion of all souvlaki ingredients spread out on a plate. It’s a bigger amount of food and meat comes on a metal skewer.

Complicated? Maybe, but it’s all about mouthwatering tastes and that is what is most important when it comes to souvlaki in Greece.

One Response to How to order a Greek Souvlaki in Greece

  1. john November 14, 2010 at 14:16 #

    In Crete, when you order souvlaki ap’ola, or any other kind, you will never get tzatziki in it. You will get it with yogurt ! If you want tzatziki, you will have to ask for it explicitly, but bear in mind that most souvlaki-shops may not have at all.

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