Eating Souvlaki on Kalyvas
I am not sure which exactly is the most well known dish of the Greek cuisine. Most people know the greek salad, fasolada, gemista and many more but i am sure if you ask couple of…non greeks, a huge percentage will mention you also Souvlaki. The traditional fast food pita bread delicacy of greece.
During my time in this blog i have made several articles about it and described basicaly how people can make there own Greek style Souvlaki at home.
However, in this blog post i will do something different and speak about my favorite Souvlaki tavern in Athens. The place where you can go and taste really good souvlaki in a traditional place in Greece.
Whenever i was going to my friend Pavlina, where she lives in Koukaki, Athens and we were ordering for food, Kalyvas was our first choice. It wasnt though until we went on the tavern for the first time that i realised how special that place was. You see most of the times taverns will make a souvlaki with pork, chicken or beef. Not over here!
Well, obviously you can get this also but the best thing about this place is that you get inside your souvlaki like kokoretsi and kontosouvli.
Basically anything that Greeks ussually do in a skewer, you can have it over there on your souvlaki. Which is absolutely great if you ask my opinion.
The idea started years ago when various people that were partying all night in Greece, came to Kalyvas for a late snack and started to experimenting, asking from the owner to make a Souvlaki with any ingredient that he had on the spit at that time. The locals prefer it because it is quality meat cooked on the grill and because it is in a very beautiful spot, which especially in summer, is what you need to hang out and drink your beer or your wine. Traditional things.
Since 1993 when Kalyvas opened for the first place, Joanna runs the show. Well, technically now her three sons are responsible for it but she keeps the balances. Thimios, the largest, is responsible for the spits, Dimitri the middle one for wrapping and Kostas (the smallest one) responsible for service and the ntaraveri (chit chat) with the customers.
The Kalyva Family is from Trikala. In the 1970s mis Joanna and her husband fled immigrants in Germany and then returned to Greece settling in Koukaki. The grill opened in 1993, but his fame lasts from 1977. Ioanna- with her sister started a grill in a hole here in Koukaki in Dragon Street. It had only one window and each evening would gather an endless queue of people. Actors and various other known Athenians, sat outside in something crates -as there was nothing else; and ate in the greaseproof paper wrapped with meat, the ntomatoula and onion. In 1980, my mother started a shop next door and people came in Koukaki from all areas of Athens only for diples (local desert) . In 1993 they decided to open the grill “Kalyvas” . At that time in the walkway there were only three shops. Two decades later it is full of new small bars and restaurans becoming one of the most nicest and cozy places in Athens.
Lets take all a brake at this moment as i will need to speak about my personal favorite. Frygadeli. What is that? Basically is liver from beef wrapped in suet from lamp. (if i managed to translate it perfectly…) I know it sounds weird and discusting but it is one of those things you need to try if you are really into meat and proper grilled food. Obviously if you do have a cholesterol problem, you might as well pass…
In the words of Dimitris: “Our mother is the pillar of our shop. She prepares the minced meat, makes the burgers, the frygadeli and in general she doesnt leaves the shop until everything is taken care of. We were always famous about our grilled food but now we are more about our Wrapps because of the crisis i guess. Nevertheless, we never lowered the prices so we wont have to lower the quality”
And indeed they have quality food…
According there are a lot of tourists that come here often too. He distinctively remembers a story from the time of the Olympics back in 2004. Then some from BBC came to eat there at some point as they were leaving in some hotles close by. First two three, then more and then in the end a group of 50 people for a big table where they brought them 4 medals with a thank you card. That was the biggest compliment you can get as an owner as he says!
Well, i guess there is not much more to say about it. Going to a country that has so much to say about its cuisine, i think it is important to go to places that look and are traditional. That was exactly the feeling i was getting from “Kalyvas” and thats why i made the following post.
Surely talking about Souvlakia and grilled food you will have many opportunities to find the ideal one in Athens or in Thesaloniki or any other city in Greece. After all its a country proud of its cuisine. Nevertheless, its good to know that one place…
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