When my friend from Elementary + Jr. High + High school by way of Dusseldorf, showed up at my Athenian flat in a more than slightly inebriated state, I knew my chances of having a quiet evening discussing 7th grade woodshop and home ec mishaps while sipping on Greek red wine were shot. He came all the way from freezing and apparently dreary Germany and wanted to paint the town red, damnit. Gone were my hopes of wearing Aunt Mary's oversized (as in American XXL size) forest green cashmere turtleneck so I quickly changed into something black and somewhat snug fighting and off we went to hail a cab for downtown adventures. Upon arrival to Syntagma, after dodging an annoying looking club our cab driver recommended, I asked my friend if he was hungry.
Nope, but maybe after a few drinks.
A few drinks later, two to be exact. We set foot to find something to nibble on. I rolled the dice with a walk to Plaka - also known as Souvlaki Row (by me, at least), in hopes of finding something promising and super Greek. There was a light on at the corner and as we got closer shiny happy Greek waiter/host faces appeared. Not only that, but it was Bairaktaris, known around these parts for having the best souvlaki / gyros in town.
I made a quick negotiation with the waiter outside the establishment.
I wanted 2 gyros and he countered with 2 lamb kebabs. It was 4 in the morning, so that was reasonable.
I have been to Bairaktaris before; usually these tables are saturated with tourists and Greeks. Not at 4 in the morning in the middle of winter.
Bairaktaris is the poster child for Greek kitsch. Inside there are pictures of all the famous people who ate here, i.e, Socrates, Aristotle, Zeus, Jesus, Scary Clowns, jk.
It was really late and I was already feeling like Mr. Rogers about 4 hours ago. I dug deep into my food blogger battery and honed in on what was about to be laid out in front of us. Must....Blog.....Food.... I did a quick power wake up and rolled up my sleeves, ready to do some work! Our lamb kebab gyros came out quickly. The pita was dense, soft and lightly grilled, I suspect with a few lashings of olive oil. The kebabs were pure lamb goodness - a lovely earthy gamey sensation that contrasted perfectly with the tangy rich tzatziki and crunchy crispness of the fresh tomatoes and onions. I was really happy with everything until I commented to my friend about half way through that they put a lot onions in these.
"Oh really, I only have a few pieces in mine," he said devouring his last bite.
Oh well, I like onions anyway, especially red ones. Needless to say, the next morning (well that same morning) as I went to check in with Srg. Aunt Mary and before I even said anything she wafted me away saying:
"Wooooooh you smell like kremedia (onions)! Go rinse your mouth out!"
My dad washes his mouth out with cologne. He never actually wears it, just saves it for garlic and onion ODs. I prefer listerine, but didn't have any, so I just had to rough it along with everyone else around me.
Because everything is better in twos. And it's obvious which one I ate. 2 lamb kebab gyros and 2 waters for 5 Euros at 4 a.m. on a Saturday in Athens.