Souvlaki GR Truck's New Restaurant on the Lower East Side
Souvlaki GR, the winners of last year's Vendy for Rookie vendor, now have a wheel-less home on Stanton Street. Don't worry though, they're not ditching the mobile business. They'll still be parked at 21st and 6th Avenue from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and Spring and Mercer Streets from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
The menu is essentially the same inside the bougainvillea-lined brick-and-mortar space, but with a Greek salad (or horiatiki; $7), pita platter with Greek dips (pikilia; $10), ouzo soda, frappe ($3), a beer and wine list (to come in the next couple of weeks), and a newsstand covered in fashion glossies and National Geographics with headlines in alphas and omegas, and imported snacks. Feel free to flip through the magazines (if you understand Greek!) but unfortunately they can't sell any of the wrapped chocolates and biscuits (that would require a special permit).
"We don't want to be a Greek restaurant or coffee shop. We're a souvlaki shop!" said co-owner Abby Sierros, when asked about menu additions. Don't expect any moussaka here, though they do have an old-fashioned Greek coffee-making gadget that heats up each serving of grounds and water on a bed of hot sand.
They're also whizzzzing up foamy frappes in tall glasses (using Nescafe, just like the Greeks do it). Once the liquor license is all squared away, they'll have a few Greek wines (a rose, red, and white including retsina) and New York state beers (like Saranac and Lake Placid's Ubu Ale).
"We're big snowboards and into that whole Après-ski thing," said Sierros. After the slopes, she goes straight to the cold beers and souvlaki.
It's the same great 'vlaki we first discovered on the truck last year. At the restaurant they're doing all the usual suspects: charcoal-grilled chicken and pork ($4.50 each) with tomato chunks, red onion, cooling tzatziki, and of course the french fries hanging out. They also have a veggie option: basically the Greek salad swaddled in a pita blanket. Our favorite is still the bifteki ($5.50) though: ground beef laced with spices and wrapped with the same fixin's, plus feta.
Their feta is really good too. Salty and refreshing, the big white crumbles top the hand-cut Greek Fries, along with oregano, salt, and pepper. The fries are so popular, they're getting all the deep-fryer basket love. For now, no loukoumades, the Greek dessert doughballs mentioned on the menu.
"Dip one of those fries in the tzatziki—forget about it," recommends Sierros. If you're one of those fries-in-mayo dunkers, this might implode your mind. You get a tub of the tzatziki on the pitta platter, with a pile of fresh-baked pita triangles, kalamata olives and other mini sides: hummus, taramousalata (a Greek caviar made with mashed potatoes base and salmon egg roe—pink spreadable fishy-ness) and melitanosalata (soft, roasted eggplant). It's nice to munch on, especially since you'll inhale each 'vlaki in about four bites, and still feel peckish.
Two 'vlakis (at least) recommended per person.
While waiting for the liquor license until later this month, you can simulate the booze experience with a non-alky Ouzo soda. It's like a watered-down version of the anise-flavored spirit, and made by one of their New York-based Greek customers.