Finding the best souva shop or ‘Souvlatzithko’s, as they’re traditionally known in Greek is a right of passage for any Melbournian. Graduating from the late-night corner stores to the dedicated souvlaki destinations operating across the city is all part of the journey.
While each Souvlaki may vary, we’re all chasing perfectly chargrilled Gyros, laid softly in a pita with Tzatziki, onion and tomato, the arguments over whether lettuce or chips belong is for greater minds to decide.
We’re lucky enough to have some of the best souvlakis right on our doorstep, and here is where to find them.
Kalimera Souvlaki Art
Meaning ‘Good Morning’ in Greek, Kalimera has become a pillar of the Souvlaki community in Melbourne, its store on the top end of Oakleigh’s main hub is constantly heaving with a raft of loyal locals. Serving up authentic Greek-style souvlaki, (that means no lamb) they have the option of pork and chicken Gyros which is served in a house-made pita with chips, tomato, and signature Kalimera sauce (a garlicky tzatziki yoghurt sauce with paprika). It’s hard to say if it’s the best souvlaki in Melbourne but it's right up there.
One of the shining stars of Oakleigh’s Greek restaurant community is Mythos GR. Spread across the ever-popular Eaton Mall, a strip of shops and restaurants that sprawl out onto the street with alfresco dining, Mythos is split across the Greek-food precinct with a shop on each side. The menu is traditional, and the souvlaki here is the standout. They cover all bases with lamb, pork, and chicken available with the option of Gyros or skewer on a pita with chips and a range of dipping sauces including Tzatziki, Eggplant, Hot Chilli, Hummus, and Tarama.
It’s all there in the name, Hella Good’s Souvlakis are some of the best in the business. Committed to keeping things simple and dishing up some of the tastiest souvlaki in Melbourne, Hella Good has a range of different souvas, but it’s hard to pass up their marinated lamb which cut straight from the spit. Lamb is typically only used on special occasions in Greek culture but we’re sure glad Hella Good has made an exception.
One of the longest-running Greek restaurants in Melbourne, Stalactites has become a souva institution, the restaurant has seen quite a bit through its tenure on Lonsdale Street since opening in 1978. Their Souvlaki offering is top of the range, with a classical approach each souvlaki comes in a grilled pita, with lettuce, tomato, with the option of lamb, chicken, or pork which is then topped with house-made Tzatziki. As well as one of the best souvlaki in the CBD they’re also one of the most dietary friendly, offering gluten-free pitas that are Coeliac accredited as well as vegetarian and vegan options, Oppa.
A relative newcomer to Melbourne’s Gyros community, Alati, which opened in 2020 is one of the most solid Souvlakis in Melbourne. Tucked amongst a strip of quiet local shops on Centre Road in Bentleigh, Alati, which means ‘salt’ in Greek is dedicated to creating some of the best souvlaki in Melbourne. There’s a big focus on quality produce here, all the way from the meat (pork and chicken Gyros) to the tomatoes, and you can taste it. There are several options to choose from traditional pork souvlaki, to newcomers like the Olympia, a soft-shell crab souvlaki and Melina, a plant-based meat souvlaki with caramelised onion, mushrooms and vegan aioli.
Right in the thick of it on Ormond Road in Elwood, Odyssey is a refuge for quality greek food in the area. The quaint restaurant offers up dine-in options but also moves hefty amounts of takeaway souvlakis out the door. With a selection of different charcoal-grilled options, you can choose from chicken or lamb Gyros, pork sausage, as well as beef and pork meatballs. They’ve also got a range of non-meat options including a fried calamari, and a grilled halloumi souvlaki with basil pesto and yoghurt sauce.
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Image credit: Sylvia Gabriel