I like a good gyro sandwich, it's like the Greek version of a burrito, a quick fast sandwich that in my cost conscious cheapskate state of mind shouldn't cost you more than $6 or $7. Like high end tacquerias, my eyes just kind of roll when an upscale-ish gyro sandwich opens up. This was the case when I saw news of a place opening in Hayes Valley called Souvla claiming to bring fast casual Greek food to the area, but at prices not all that casual. Of course it sort of helps them that Hayes and Kebab closed down to make way for another mixed use apartment complex in the area leaving them with a corner on the gyro market as it were. Like most food things in this town I still tried to keep an open mind and figured next time I was in the area I would at least walk by and see what it was all about. Well, that time came and I figured I was there so I may as well give it a shot.
It's a small neat clean space with walls of white, trim of blue and lines of wood, tile and copper, kind of like those pictures you see of houses on sunlit Greek islands.
It was a mid-afternoon on a weekday so as you can see I had most of the place to myself which suited me. I sometimes think, whether true or not, that when it's slow places tend to take a little more time and effort to make something right since they aren't rushed trying to get a lot of orders out. I humor myself, I know.
They have a limited menu where you choose your meat and then whether you want it as a salad or sandwich. Oddly the price for meats is different--$10 for pork, $11 for chicken or $12 for lamb. But it doesn't matter whether you get a sandwich or salad, seems to me you'd get more as a salad than sandwich which is why I opt for salad and since $12 seems a little steep I go for the pork. You know I do have fondness for it and am interested to see their Greek take on it.
American Homestead pulled pork shoulder served on a bed of kale with cherry tomatoes, pickled red onion, cucumber, feta cheese, micro greens, minted Greek yogurt and olive oil. Okay, my first thought upon seeing the bowl--it was a big ass salad. I'm glad I got this instead as I did see a sandwich go by and it won't this big. By far the better bargain seems to be the salad. It was piled high with the fixings including the pork--props for that. Everything tasted fresh and I liked the mix of pickled onion and feta, sort of a sweet and tang together. I liked the use of kale even though I know it's the trendy green of the year, I like that it has elevated itself from garnish to actual dish. In this instance it helped too because the salad was "overdressed" as they say on TV cooking shows. They sort of killed it with the olive oil. While it didn't affect the stuff on top so much, by the time you got to the bottom of the bowl it was a tad goopy. The pork was decent enough, not the best I've had but okay. It was close to more of a carnitas so it erred on the slightly dry side, though again the overuse of the olive oil alleviated some of that. And fortunately for me they didn't overwhelm the yogurt sauce with the mint, it was at just the right level to be a hint instead of an overwhelming flavor, something I personally prefer. Overall I give a mostly thumbs up to the salad and would get it again but I'd ask to have the dressing on the side so I could monitor it's use myself.
Of course, now that I was here I figured I would try a few other things off the menu to get the full experience, since who knows when I'd be back around.
And since they are a Greek place I tried the Greek beer Zeos Blue MAK lager and the Greek fries!! The beer was a light golden color with a mild malty, hoppy flavor--sort of a cross between a Bud and a Miller High Life to me. Decent enough, interesting blue bottle, though not sure I'd spring the $6 again to have it. The fries were served hot and crisp, tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and mizithra cheese--kind of a crumbly goat cheese like feta but not as tangy. They were okay and you do get a fair serving for $4 though I kept thinking they really could have used some kind of inventive dip to go with them that you didn't have to pay extra for. Yes I'm saying they should have just served them with their harissa spiked dressing instead of making you pay for a tiny pack of it. I'm calling them out on this--the prices are already up there it shouldn't be an extra. (Even Frjtz lets you pick one sauce!) Yeah it's a small silly thing, but whatever, it's my thing.
Yet I decided to continue to glutton on while here. During my noshing a number of folks had come in just to get some of their frozen Greek yogurt, and even though I'm not the biggest fan of these kind of ice cream type things I threw caution and calories to the wind and ordered one.
For $4 it's a decent sized cup full of frozen Greek yogurt that tastes exactly like what you'd think frozen Greek yogurt tastes like. It was like plain Greek yogurt--but frozen creamy. If you've had Greek yogurt you know what I'm talking about, if not, well, then have some. Otherwise I'm just going to keep saying Greek yogurt over and over till you scream. It had the tangy slightly sour taste of yogurt but really cold and creamy--get it? You have a choice of any one topping (without the up charge!) so I went with the sour cherry syrup. I'm a sucker for cherry and this was puckeringly good flavor wise like an old-school soda fountain cherry pop drink. If you need a cold treat this one serves to hit the spot as well as any ice cream. Me personally I'd still rather have a cakey thing for dessert but for folks into these kinds of things I'm sure it will hit the spot for you.
Final verdict--I liked the place, yes I'm still a little put off by the prices but the food is good and it does fill a niche in the Hayes Valley hood. Make a special trip just to go there, probably not. But if you are strolling through the area and need a shopping break you can definitely get a quick bite or just a cup of frozen yogurt to go and then sit in Patricia's Green for some people watching. For me I've eaten so much I really feel like crashing for a nap, but instead I'm going to be healthy and just walk back to SOMA, gotta burn these calories so I can be ready to try my next place, wherever it is.