Within the first few hours I spent in Athens, I got some chicken souvlaki from a fast-food stand—was it called Pita Pan?—for a few dollars, and, maybe it was the jet lag or the excitement, but that pita was the best thing I’d eaten in a long while, char-grilled marinated meat on soft pita, with garlic and olive oil all over. Since then, I’ve been getting souvlaki at every Greek place I go to.
Essentially, souvlaki is shish-ka-bobs, grilled on skewers and often eaten with pitas. Personally, I like them best with tzatziki sauce, which is made of yogurt with cucumbers and garlic, along with sometimes olive oil, lemon and dill (I’ve got to start making my own; if you have a good recipe, please share).
One great place for souvlaki in Chicagoland is Greek Islands, an establishment that’s been called the Nation’s Most Popular Greek Restaurant and that has two locations, one in Greektown and one in Lombard. When I picked up takeout there a few weeks ago, on a Monday night, the place was packed, which obviously is a good sign. And I’ll throw my hat in with the list of fans: I’ve dined in maybe four or five times, and the food has been consistently exceptional. I highly recommend the skordalia as an appetizer, the dolmades were quite good, and the fresh sesame bread! delicious! Obviously, though, what I really like is the chicken, and, if you go at lunch, you won’t regret trying the chicken shish-ka-bobs.
Now, if you’re like me, you find it hard to work in frequent dinners out. So can we talk about takeout for a minute? Carryout is the kind of thing it’s not hard to do badly, you’ve probably noticed. Between keeping the food warm and packaging it well, a lot of restaurants drop the ball. Not Greek Islands. The food was just as good as ever, and we didn’t have to wait long. For two people, we ordered two “chicken on the spit” entrees and tzatziki sauce with pitas. Because it was dinnertime, this cost around $30, but you could easily cut the price by doing a takeout lunch.
Take the food home, plop in front of a good movie and remember all the best things about takeout: enjoying delicious food you didn’t have to cook, not having to wait in line for a table or to be served, being completely comfortable at home.
The Greek Islands
200 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Open Sunday thru Thursday: 11 am to Midnight
Open Friday and Saturday : 11 am to 1 am
300 E 22nd St
Lombard, IL 60148
Open Sunday thru Thursday: 11 am to 11 pm
Open Friday and Saturday : 11 am to Midnight