In a sprawling shopping plaza that looks like a holdover from at least the 1980s, there's a new fast food find in town.
Set in among the dance studio, laundromat, auto care and drug store, Souvlaki Fast looks like one more standard storefront, until you go inside and find out that the brick, wood, warm colors and scenic art aren't exactly what you'd expect in a strip center joint.
With its high-backed booths and steel-tubing tables and chairs, this looks like finer dining. And the menu adds to that ambiance. It's not an extensive, all-things-to-all-people listing. The restaurant concentrates on a decent, but not overwhelming number of mostly Greek dishes, with some American entrees and Mediterranean desserts offered as well.
Ordering is done at the main counter, and choices include pitas, souvlaki, Greek salads, moussaka, pastitsio, lamb chops and lemon roasted chicken. There are some additional soups and sides (the lemon-and-egg avgolemono soup, spinach pie, dolmades, hummus and tzatziki), but basically, that's the Greek menu, aside from desserts and coffee drinks. American fare includes burgers, cheesesteaks and grilled chicken.
You can get a burger in lots of other places. Come here for what the sign on the window advertises as "the best gyro I ever ate." Those words are not ascribed to anyone in particular, but no matter. It will likely be the best one you ever ate. Pita filled with thinly sliced beef, lamb, chicken, or even shrimp, ribeye, salmon, pork or just veggies. Then stuffed with Greek salad and a very light dose of sauce. Not the thick, white, cucumber-garlic-dill concoction you know. Think much lighter and less salty. And instead of the very good fries, get more of that Greek salad on the side. This combination of mixed greens, red onion, feta cheese, black olives and perfect tomatoes does not need the dressing that comes with it. Leave it in its little container, and enjoy this as it was intended. And keep the blue plastic serving tray under your plate. There is so much food here, you'll need the tray to catch the overflow.
You may still have room for the Greek sweets, which are made in house. Try the cheesecake baklava (perfect filling plus sublime container equals inability to stop eating this), Greek yogurt, ekmek (shredded wheat topped with custard, whipped cream and walnuts) and some non-Greek favorites (trés leches and cannoli) with a variety of coffees and teas.
Service was fast and friendly, and although this would be considered a self-service establishment (order at the counter, fill your own drinks), the staff stops by to see if you need anything.
Prices are not really in the fast food range, simply because fresh ingredients and good preparation mean greater expense. But one lunch big enough for two can be had for $10. Pitas are $7-$9, souvlaki $10-$12, soups and salads $4-$8, side dishes $2-$5, platters (Greek and American) $5-$12 and desserts and coffees/teas $3 to $5.
Souvlaki Fast set out to be a quick stop for good Greek fare, but its good looks and level of quality make it more fine dining than fast food.
Souvlaki Fast, 8910 North Military Trail, (Gardens Park Plaza at Northlake Boulevard), Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Take out, delivery and outdoor seating available. Phone (561) 855-4732. Second location: 625 NE Spanish River Boulevard, Boca Raton, FL. Phone (561) 338-8855.