The best souvlaki in Piraeus
We went where it all began for Greek souvlaki and visited some of the oldest souvlaki places in Piraeus (and its outskirts), but also some more modern spots that remain faithful to the tradition of the authentic Greek street food.
- Author: Dimitris Koupritziotis
- Photos: Νίκος Μυλωνάς
Souvlaki is without a doubt the national street food of the Greeks. Its history, in the form it maintains up until now, started in 1924 in the greater area of Piraeus (The first shop that ever prepared and served souvlaki was located in Nikaia, a Piraeus neighbourhood, in 1924).
We decided to walk around Piraeus (and its outskirts) in order to try souvlaki in its most authentic version at some of the best traditional souvlaki places one can find in the entire city of Athens.
It is the second most historic restaurant in the area and it’s located in Drapetsona. Avraam Savvidis was from Pontos and grew up in Instanbul, while his mother was Armenian. He came to Greece in 1924 and 14 years later he opened the souvlaki shop. After his death, his daughter took over the shop, until they sold it to its current managers, who maintain the tradition, the decoration and the flavour of the kebab, like the original owners used to serve it.
Avraam remains charmingly nostalgic, almost to the point of cult, with a yard that is packed with costumers each summer. Its souvlaki has generous portions of meat, the kebab is delicious and the pita bread fluffy and slightly spicy.
Avraam: 3 Socratous st, Drapetsona | Phone: (+30) 2104651841
Karabelas has a 47-year long history, its current owners, Spiros and Eleni took over 30 years ago. Since then, in this venue that takes you back in time, together they’ve been making their own giros, their own burgers and their own chicken kalamaki, which they grill right in front of you.
Eleni puts an amazing – and a bit spicy- red sauce in her souvlaki, that slightly tingles your palate and its a delicious addition to its taste.
Karabelas opens at 6 pm, stays closed on Sundays, and if you don’t get there on time, you might not get to taste even a morsel from the shop’s amazing giros – it’s so good, it’s all gone before you even know it!
Karabelas, 51 Pilis st. Piraeus | Phone: (+30) 2104112622
Giorgos is located on the street that leads to the port. It opened its doors in 2019 in the old flea market of Piraeus and it’s the only shop in the list that is not historic, but makes its souvlaki as souvlaki used to be, with the old philosophy, of “gusto and taste”.
It’s open from 11 a.m. until 7p.m. on weekdays, and up until 6pm on Saturdays. Grigoris Tsakiris has had a long experience in the food industry, and alongside his son, Giorgos, they pride themselves on making souvlaki using their own handmade pita and high quality meat.
Two small and fresh burgers straight from the oven, airy yet crispy pita, sweet paprika that adds flavour to every bite, quality tomato, a few slices of onion, parsley and a dab of red sauce that brings everything together. That’s their souvlaki wrap.
Giorgos: 18 Gounari st, Piraeus | Phone: (+30) 2114033388
Our next stop is at Kokkinia, a neighbourhood that feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Serkos is located in a tiny square called Neraida, that is filled with the delicious aroma of everything that is being grilled at Serkos’s barbecue.
Here you can find Serkos’s famous kebab. The souvlaki shop opened its doors -and lit its barbecue- for the first time in 1972 by Serkos Hanikian, hailing from Armenia. He was making souvlaki even before, since 1955, as stated on the shop’s sign. Today, his daughter, Anni, and his son, Eventis, run the place and thankfully, not a lot has changed. The decoration remains the same, everything is grilled on the barbecue by Anni (who also wraps each souvlaki herself), the fries and homemade and fragrant, while the tables have the old-style paper tablecloths that restaurant tables used to have.
The kebab is soft and airy, thanks to its hour-long marinating, the onions give some intensity and the tomato, along with the tzatziki sauce, cool down the souvlaki wrap. Apart from the kebab, you can also try kalamaki from chicken thighs and pork.
Honouring the owner’s Armenian heritage, in the menu you can also find lahmacun, Armenian sujuk and pasturma.
Serkos: 39 Ionos Dragoumis st., Piraeus | Phone: (+30) 2104928297
Enty is one of the most historic souvlaki restaurants, not just in Nikaia, but in the entire city of Athens. It’s one of the few places that locals adore and avoid letting outsiders know about it-they consider it their well kept secret.
Its kebab recipe is also a secret and has stayed the same since 1946, when the Armenian Grandpa Hovsep passed the torch on to his son, Enty. Since 2004 the restaurant has been run by Vardan Vagelis Minasian and Hatchik Stavros Harouchounian, who have kept the recipes exactly as Grandpa Hovsep used to prepare them.
Traditional beef burger, airy, inside a pita without extra olive oil, onion, parsley and tomato. Nothing else. Just a reminder of what good, quality, traditional souvlaki really is.
Enty: 4 Karakoulouxi st, Nikaia | Phone: 2104926117, 6994950099