Tag Archives: Souvlaki GR

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures. NYC Food Cart Tour is my exploration of the hard-working vendors feeding NYC’s population every day.

When the Souvlaki GR truck is around, you truly feel like you’re in a small, provincial town on the beautiful Greek Islands of Mykonos or Santorini. And nothing is more authentic than the hand-cut french fries and the charcoal grilled souvlaki,


Category: Video

For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…

Maybe it’s because I went to theater school and learned the art of storytelling, but I always like to come full circle. Almost exactly a year ago, Time Out New York invited us to join them in an interview and dinner featuring an item from their new 100 Best list. They brought us and two others who had journeyed through the culinary landscape of their 2010 list to Souvlaki GR. Their pork souvlaki was featured on the “new” 2011 list (the one I’ve now completed). The night at their brick-and-mortar location in the Lower East Side was full of photos, conversations, and anecdotes. So I didn’t really get a chance to be critical.

I’ve had many chances over the last year to examine this souvlaki, but I thought it would be a fitting end to the gluttonous adventure to re-visit it now.

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I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 45: PUPUSAS at EL OLOMEGA

The winner of this year’s NY Vendy Awards (the awards given out every year to food carts and trucks) was Solber Pupusas, which has been serving pupusas at the Red Hook Ball Fields for the last 10 years or so. But about a decade before Solber pulled up to the soccer park, El Olomega began serving these Salvadoran specialties. And they’re still doing it every April through October.

Pupusas, for the unfortunate uninitiated, are grilled corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and any number of meat or vegetables (including Time Out’s favorite, zucchini). The fillings are always fresh and flavorful here and they’re held up by a charred sweet corn patty and a trio of sides: tomato salsa, fried plantains, and a tangy mound of pickled cole slaw. I think it’s about time El Olomega got some Vendy love.

EL OLOMEGA
Red Hook Ball Fields
Clinton Street and Bay Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
elolomega.com

NUMBER 44: JERK CHICKEN at VERONICA’S KITCHEN

I’ve been on somewhat of a jerk chicken kick this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in the world of food carts (because of the Urban Oyster tours) and there are quite a few Caribbean vendors making their own versions. One of the best I’ve ever tasted is the one coming out of Trinidadian owned Veronica’s Kitchen.

Veronica Julien serves a wide range of Caribbean specialities, like roti and curry goat, but her chicken is phenomenal. Due to space restrictions on her cart, she roasts the chicken (as opposed to the usual grilling), but still gets a smoky dark char on the meat. Speckled with pepper flakes and cooled down with allspice and garlic, the fall-off-the-bone meat is full of flavored and feels as if it’s been lovingly cooked in someone’s home kitchen. It just so happens to be a kitchen on wheels. Price: $6/$8

VERONICA’S KITCHEN
Front Street (at Pine Street)
Financial District

NUMBER 43: CHICKEN SOUVAKI STICK at SOUVLAKI GR

It sure says something if I eat the same thing for lunch over and over again. I’m the kind of person who likes variety and mostly prefers to go to new restaurants rather than repeat places and if I do re-visit a restaurant, I will most definitely try something different (unless a dish made this list, of course).

Whenever I’m down in the Financial District (which is about twice a week), I make a stop at the Souvlaki GR truck to get a few of their chicken sticks (usually over a salad). This Greek food truck is just over a year old and already has two Vendy Awards, a brick and mortar restaurant, and a spot on my 100 Best list from last year for their Greek fries. The more authentic order would be pork (Time Out even included that on their current list), but I prefer the leaner and softer chicken. They shun the chicken breast and instead use marinated skewers of chicken thigh (the more flavorful cut) on the charcoal grill to give it a blackened, tender flavor that is tastier than any chicken should be. Included in an order is their unbelievably fluffy homemade pita bread and real Greek tzatziki sauce. Price: $1.75 per stick.

SOUVLAKI GR
Front Street and Old Slip,
Financial District
116 Stanton Street (between Ludlow and Essex Street)
Lower East Side
(212) 777-0116
souvlakigr.com

NUMBER 42: LAMB MARRAKECH at BISTRO TRUCK

There have been quite a few changes at Bistro Truck this past year. For starters, they decided to bring the love to other neighborhoods in New York (instead of parking every day in the Flatiron, like they did the previous year). They also re-vamped the menu, adding a delicious lamb burger and fish sandwich.

Their famous lamb marrakech also got some tweaks. Instead of using lamb meat, owner Yassir Raouli now uses a whole lamb shank. It’s served on the bone, which is beside the point since the tender braised meat falls right off it. It’s topped with some caramelized onions and almonds for texture, with a side of cous cous, salad, and spicy harissa sauce. This is the kind of gourmet food you expect at a restaurant, not a food truck. However my behavior of gnawing on the bone to savor every morsel of meat is probably best tolerated on the streets. Price: $10

BISTRO TRUCK
Locations Vary; Will Return in the Spring
Follow on Twitter: @bistrotruck
bistrotruck.com

NUMBER 41: CHICKEN BREAST KABOB at KWIK MEAL

I mentioned above that Souvlaki GR uses the thigh meat of the chicken because it has much more flavor than the easy to dry out breast meat. Well, Muhammed Rahman at Kwik Meal has been using the thigh meat for years in his chicken over rice. But this year, he began offering the white breast meat as a chicken kabob over rice. And he’s somehow figured out how to master this forbidden poultry cut.

The chicken is marinated with special spices including cumin and garlic and dotted with red chili flakes. The smoky meat is grilled perfectly maintaining a tender, juicy texture. A serving of the famous green chili sauce adds some tangy  heat while the yogurt sauce cools things down a bit. A definite notch up from most halal carts in the city.

KWIK MEAL
West 45th Street (at Sixth Avenue)
Midtown West
kwikmeal.net

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

65. THE COMPLETO at SAN ANTONIO BAKERY #2

A Chilean hot dog is not something you come across every day. Unless of course you live in Chile.

But here in New York, I believe there are only a handful of places that have a Completo on the menu (probably because there are only a handful of Chilean restaurants in the entire city).

I’m lucky enough to live close to a really good one: San Antonio Bakery #2 in Astoria is an unassuming little restaurant that serves great sandwiches, pastries, and Completos. And they don’t have a menu so you have to pretty much know what you want.

The Completo (which translates to “complete”) is a grilled hot dog topped with the Chilean works: fresh tomatoes, onions, guacamole, and mayonnaise. It’s all balanced on top of a fresh toasted bun. The rich creamy textures play really well off the smoky snap of the wiener.

It’s a hot dog like you’ve never had and one you won’t taste too often in this country. Unless, like me, you know where to find them. Price: $2.50

SAN ANTONIO BAKERY #2
3620 Astoria Boulevard (between 37th and 36th Street)
Astoria, Queens
(718) 777-8733
panaderiachilena.com

64. GREEK FRIES at SOUVLAKI GR

I don’t think I have to convince anybody about the joys of french fries. Even vegetarians are on board.

But besides some fancy sauces or frying the things in duck fat (I just lost the vegetarians, I know), I didn’t think there was a whole lot of room for improvement. That was until I tasted the Greek Fries from the Vendy Award winning (for Rookie of the Year) Souvlaki GR Truck.

They’re usually parked in the Chelsea area and besides really succulent and tender pork and chicken pitas, they make these unbelievable and surprising french fries. The fries are warm and crispy and then loaded with oregano, salt, pepper, and crumbled feta cheese. I’ve seen Belgian frites, British chips, and of course, the French Fries we’ve made our own. But this new Greek version is a welcome addition to the fried potato world. Price: $4.

SOUVLAKI GR
In the Vicinity of: 21st Street and 6th Avenue
Chelsea
Follow on twitter: @souvlakitruck
souvlakigr.com

63. BACON DOUGHNUTS at TRAIF

Free food is hard to resist for me. But the one thing I will consistently turn down are doughnuts. I’ve been (heart)burned one too many times with the fried fritters. So I avoid them unless they’re made fresh on a farm or featured prominently on a fancy restaurant’s dessert menu. Or if they have some unusual flavor.

And that’s why I just had to try the Bacon Doughnuts at Traif, the proudly non-kosher gastropub in Williamsburg. Lots of people are still squeamish over the idea of bacon in dessert. In my mind, it works the same way as it does at breakfast. Bacon, pancakes, maple syrup, whipped cream. These are perfect flavor combinations.

Traif takes it one flavor further by topping it with coffee ice cream. The doughnuts are light and fluffy, dusted with fresh bacon bits, and drizzled with ducle de leche. The sweet, salty, and greasy flavors are so perfect, I’d be happy having them at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

And so they make my Top 100 for not only being seriously delicious, but also because they were so fresh and light that I felt no pain while digesting them. Why are these never the free doughnuts on offer at morning meetings? Price: $6

TRAIF
229 South 4th Street (between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 844-9578
traifny.com

62. TARTE FLAMBEE at AUGUST

Having worked at The Modern for many years, I feel like I’ve had the ultimate tarte flambee. Chef Gabriel Kreuther is from Alsace (where the pizza-like dish originated) and it’s so light, crispy, and full of deep comforting flavors.

I’ve had a few others and none come close to what I consider to be the ultimate version. So I was hesitant when I saw one on the menu at likable neighborhood spot August. How could it possibly compete with the one that’s near and dear to my heart?

Immediately I felt it was too thick with big chunks of bacon (as opposed to the thin smoked slices) and globs of onions. This was all wrong!

But as I took a few bites, I discovered it was totally different than The Modern’s and in its own way, just as successful.

The crust was actually quite light and crispy with a strong smoky flavor coming from the bacon, a bit of sweetness from the caramelized onions, and a nice bite from the creme fraiche. It’s exactly how I’d describe the one at The Modern (although I’d say that one is more refined) without being the exact same dish. It’s an example of how different chefs can interpret one dish and they end up completely different yet both turn out right. Price: $14

AUGUST
359 Bleecker Street (between 10th Street and Charles Street)
West Village
(212) 929-8727
augustny.com

61. LAMB BURGER at THE BRESLIN

The search for the best burger in New York will happen for me one of these days. This is a city that takes its burgers very seriously. But truth be told, I’m sort of tired of the same old beef burger. Sure, you can put interesting toppings on it and use different cuts of meat. And that’s all well and good, but I’m always searching for surprising flavors and for the most part, a burger’s a burger.

Then I tasted the lamb burger at The Breslin, inside the Ace Hotel. It exploded with flavor. April Bloomfield (of The Spotted Pig fame – which also has a killer burger) uses lamb meat, which is not the newest of flavors for me. But I’ve never had a lamb burger that has retained that salty, gamey flavor while bursting with the meat juices accustomed to a juicy beef burger. This was a revelation.

It was served on a firm, yet soft bun, cooked to a perfect medium rare with a nice smoky char on the outside. Even though the price tag is more than I like to spend on a burger ($17) at a bar (even a glorified bar like this one), it was well worth it. Price: $17

THE BRESLIN
20 West 29th Street (between 5th Avenue and Broadway)
inside the Ace Hotel
Flatiron District
(212) 679-1939
thebreslin.com

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