Anatoli Souvlaki is located in the heart of Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Thomas and Helen Makris opened the restaurant almost thirty years ago back in 1984, and as it stands, their two sons Alexi and Iani have taken over the reigns to this longstanding North Shore establishment to bring on the best in Greek food to Metro Vancouver.
Alexi contacted Eating in Vancouver and graciously asked to host us to come in and try out their menu, a blend of the most authentic and tantalizing flavours straight from Greece. He made the bold claim they had the ‘best Greek food in Vancouver’–how could we not put this to the test?
So last weekend Taya and I set out from Kitsilano and made the short hop and skip over to Lonsdale Quay. The restaurant is located on Lonsdale perpendicular to the water, next to Burgoo.
Upon entering from the back of the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by an enthusiastic and friendly Alexi. He was happy to see us and seated us near in the main area of the restaurant. We put the menu into Alexi and Iani’s hands for the evening and let them serve Anatoli Souvlaki specialties. With a glass of Greek white wine in hand, we set off to see just how good their Greek really was.
First, a small order of calamari with tzatziki. In my books, calamari at any Greek restaurant is one of the benchmark dishes that can either make or break your evening. Anatoli’s calamari was a massive hit here–probably the best calamari I’ve had in a while. The fried coating on the squid was light, well seasoned, and crispy, with the squid itself being super soft and not ridiculously chewy like you would find at some other restaurants.
Is it possible to have squid melt in your mouth? Because that’s what this calamari tasted like. After splashing on some fresh zing from the lemon wedge, it brought the accompanied tzatziki to another level. Their tzatziki was made in house with real Greek yogurt, with no fillers such as sour cream or mayo you might find at other places. The garlicky pop was simmered down by the fresh cucumber in the sauce, and it definitely made this dish.
Next, we tried their garithes, prawns and vegetables baked in an ouzo, feta and tomato sauce, served with a couple pitas on the side. The prawns were cooked perfectly with the right amount of ‘crunch’ and the sauce was creamy from the feta, but also tangy thanks to the tomatoes, with a slight finish thanks to the ouzo. The pita was grilled and buttered–pretty standard and was more dense than other pitas I’ve tried. Still, the flavours were there and it was the perfect companion to soak up the sauce.
Following the garithes was a small platter of spanakopita, potatoes, and a couple flamed grilled lamb chops. The spanakopita was a home run–I seldom order this because I never find it to be tantalizing enough–but the freshly baked spinach pie here was the bomb. The filo pastry was baked perfectly and the combination of spinach mixed in with herbs and feta in the centre made for one damn good pie. Flaky, yet not soggy at all.
The potatoes were baked throughout, with a nice crispy, golden brown exterior and were very tasty. As for the lamb chops, these little devils were perfectly flame grilled to a medium rare. The seasoning on these racks were perfect and the lamb was tender and soft, the way it should be.
Next (yes, there was more), we also were served a couple keftedes, or traditional Greek meatballs. These are another staple at Greek restaurants and can be a hit or miss. Anatoli’s meatballs were seared to a golden brown on the exterior, yet juicy and flavourful, with the fresh mint really standing out.
So, by now we were getting stuffed and were obligated to try dessert. Alexi presented us with ekmek. This custard dessert had a hint of vanilla and was topped with fresh whipped cream, walnuts, a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, and drizzled with honey. The base of ekmek is kadaifi, finely shredded filo pasty. Served chilled, this fairly light and soothing dessert really hit the spot to a fantastic evening.
There are numerous Greek restaurants throughout Vancouver–how does Anatoli Souvlaki fare? As for the best in the city, that’s a bold claim but after tasting the fresh, delicious, and meticulously prepared fare, I would say Anatoli is my favourite so far. The complex flavours, quality ingredients, and overall taste of food has ensured we will be visiting Anatoli again fairly soon. Don’t take my word for it, give them a visit and let me know what you think.