Saturday, July 3, 2010

Greek Souvlaki

Enter the gyro (pronouced yeero).

When I was a kid, my mom would often drag me to the mall where she went on frequent shopping excursions. I found solace in these endless marathon shopping sessions by spending time in the bookstore flipping through comic books and then eventually picking up a snack at the food court. A food court in the mall. Not exactly the kind of place where you might expect to be introduced to a new and exotic food. But picture it: it was the mid-80s and I was a 12 year old boy (bowl cut and all) searching for something to eat in a big indoor shopping mall in the east San Francisco bay area. My usual snack was a square slice of pepperoni pizza and a soda. I rarely diverged from this all too familiar habit, but it was in the food court that I was introduced to something I'd never seen before.

Enter the gyro (pronouced yeero). A free sample persuaded me to try it and after a small bite - I was hooked. My then under developed palate told me that I liked everything going on in this Greek sandwich...even if I couldn't tell you back then what I liked so much about it. So here I am today and I have to tell you that I still love the gyro - and better yet - I can tell you exactly what I love about it. A great place to go for a quick, inexpensive gyro experience is Greek Souvlaki. We frequented this little gyro shop when I was a grad student at the U, but they've remodeled since those days and it's really quite nice on the inside. It's definitely a fast food kind of place, focusing on Greek delights. And the gyros here don't disappoint - luscious lamb meat, crisp tomatoes, a creamy yogurt sauce, a puffy hot toasted pita -the gyros here are delicious, savory, creamy, and crunchy. The perfect sandwich.

If you're looking to go outside the norm of the classic gyro there are a few options at Greek Souvlaki. One of my favorites is the Philly Gyro. The name Philly implies a cheesesteak feel and this sandwich certainly ties into this theme nicely. Sauteed peppers and mushrooms, and gobs of cheese top off this bad boy adding a depth of sweetness and earthiness to the classic gyro taste. If you want to go outside the realm of sandwiches, try out the Greek Spaghetti. The red sauce is oddly familiar but the addition of cinnamon really transforms the dish into something else. The cinnamon adds a heat or warmth to the pasta that is unexpected. Diving into it you immediately say to yourself, "Mmmm...what is that I'm tasting..."

There are a world of options for people who don't want to eat lamb (such as the chicken gyros), for vegetarians (like veggie gyros), as well as for those who want other classic Greek food (the kabob dish souvlaki, or filled grape leaves - dolmathes). For dessert the baklava is also great - crunchy layers of pastry with a gooey, sticky, nutty filling. An individual portion is small but filling and provides a great finish to your big, fat, Greek Greek Souvlaki is Greek fast food at its best. It's not super fancy, but the service is fast and the food delivers an important one-two: taste and value.

Greek Souvlaki ~ Salt Lake City, Utah
404 East 300 South
With locations in Murray and West Valley City

Greek Souvlaki No. 1 on Urbanspoon

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