Gyros or souvas that are wrapped and packed into perfectly fluffy pita and tender meats - it's the stuff of late-night dreams.
No longer simply considered to be late night alcohol mops, the good old souvlaki has lifted its game - and dare we say it, gotten a little bit fancy. Whether you like your meat sliced of the spit, or larger chunks cooked off a skewer, Melbourne has it all. Not only that, we’ve far surpassed the days of lamb and chicken being the only options - we’ve found everything from soft shell crab to pulled pork to satisfy your late night (or early morning) needs.
Whether you're into the souva's street-saavy younger brother gyro (usually filled with chips, tomato, onion and special sauce), or the traditional souva, here's where to get Melbourne's best.
George Calombaris decided to up the ante when it came to souvlakis, and Melbourne heard the call and came in droves to see for themselves. Gazi's soft shell crab is perhaps the most popular choice, with mint, coriander, honey, and mayo all wrapped up in super soft flat bread. The duck also comes in as a close second, with chips, parsley, onion, pear, and mustard mayo. The inner city location is an excellent spot to start your night - that is, if you can nab a table during AFL season.
Yes, another gem from George, but we couldn’t resist. To get the best of both worlds, try The Bonegilla; a chicken and lamb combo with mustard aioli, chips, onions and parsley. Jimmy Grant has set up shop in five locations across Melbourne (CBD, Fitzroy, Richmond, Ormond and Eastland) so no matter where you are in Melbs, you’re never too far away from old mate Jimmy.
A 24hr souvlaki joint had to be added to this list - and as far as they go, Stalactites is an institution. Their famous souvlaki here consists of meat from the spit, gyros-style; go the traditional with tender marinated lamb, crisp lettuce, tomato, onion and homemade tzatziki wrapped in pita. For those looking for a ‘lighter choice’ souvlaki they also use grilled lamb or chicken fillet - just in case you’re feeling a bit health conscious at 4am. If you do happen to be swinging by for breakfast (we won’t judge) they also have a brekkie souva up for grabs.
Greek Street Food
If you’re looking for Greek food on the fly, then the name of this food truck kind of says it all. You can either choose between three different meat offerings: The Bahh, The Oink, and The Cluck (named for obvious reasons) or you can go all three with The Legend. This consists of three kalamati sticks of your choice with Greek salad and chips wrapped in pita bread with your choice of either eggplant or tzatziki dip.
Souvlaki’s don’t have to just be a 2am-in-the-morning kind of food - they also go down pretty well in the sober light of day. Demitri’s Feast serves up excellent Greek fare for breakfast and lunch, so don’t even think about swinging by for a late night souva. Honestly, we can’t decide between their Calamari Souvlaki with pickled peppers and ouzo aioli, or their Pulled Pork Souvlaki with tomato, tzatziki and cos lettuce. Best to get one of each, you know, to be on the safe side.
Helenic cuisine is at its best when the freshness of ingredients is a conscious focus, and cooking methods have been passed down from generations. The Chicken Souvlaki at Pireaus Blues includes two skewers of diced chicken fillet marinated and grilled, served with lemon potatoes, pita, and seasonal garnish. A lamb option is available as well, and gluten free is available on request, so nobody has to miss out.
Orexi Souvlaki Bar
If you’re feeling adventurous and wish to forgo the usual chicken and lamb souva, Orexi has some intriguing options. We especially like their cross-cultural Mexicana with marinated lamb, spicy salsa, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado dip, and shredded cheese. For the vegetarians out there, Orexi has two options that you can get stuck into: a chargrilled zucchini, eggplant and capsicum version, and the ever-faithful falafel.
Ladies and gents, we have found Melbourne’s healthiest souva. Foddies make their own gluten free pita bread and low FODMAP (a bit tricky to explain here, but worth looking up) and lactose free souvlaki for our friends who have an intolerance or two. The souvlaki contains marinated grilled lamb, lettuce, tomato, chips, and that house-made tzatziki we mentioned in pita of your choosing, and served with a Greek salad to ensure you get all the greens and then some.
Kalimera Souvlaki Art
There’s a whole lotta love going into these souvlakis, with ingredients such as herbs picked straight from their garden, to handmade and charred pita. The pork is an excellent option, whether you want a sliced up gyros or served on a skewer, filled to the brim with fresh tomato, onion, housemade tzatziki and chips. It’s true, at Kalimera the souvlakis truly are an art form.
The D’s Souvlaki
This roadside souvlaki set-up is not to be underestimated as the meat is cooked over charcoal instead of gas, giving it an extra oomph of flavour. Despite how good their savoury offerings are, The D’s has been especially added to this list because of their dessert souvlaki. Yes, you heard us correctly... Melted Nutella is spread generously on pita, and then covered with strawberries and icing sugar for a little extra sweetness.
Lamb On Chapel
Delightfully self-explanatory, Lamb On Chapel does some of the best lamb souvas in Melbourne. Shortened to L.O.C (for when you go hunting for this local gem), these giant souvas are served with lashings of garlicy tzatziki, piles of onion, and a generous handful of fresh veg. These are godzilla-sized souvlakis folks, so we highly recommended settling in and preparing for a long haul.
Pork, pork, pork, we can't get enough pork on our forks. Port Melbourne's Skewer'd is the perfect joint to get your weekly pork fix, offering a very satisfying Pig Out gyro. Crammed between marinated lean pork fillets (this is the good stuff people), this gyro is a heavenly pocket of chips, tomato, onion and tomato mustard sauce. You'll have to channel your inner little piggy to munch thorugh this deliciously tender monster.
Need more meat in your life? Who doesn't. Check out our Fave 5 Burgers in Melbourne for some more beef, lamb 'n chicken!
Image credit: Jimmy Grants Facebook