Six of One - Welcome to Souvlakiland
Hackney's Souvlakiland, and five more restaurants to try in London this week
Good morning and welcome back to Vittles Restaurants!
A Vittles subscription costs £5/month or £45/year. If you’ve been enjoying the writing then please consider subscribing to keep it running — it will give you access to the whole Vittles back catalogue — including Normal Country, London restaurant guides and all new columns.
Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out a tip from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find the full Six of One back catalogue below:
Polentina and five other recommendations; Inihaw plus five; Kulcha Express plus five; Triple One Café plus five; Samak Seafood plus five; Lakehouse Hungarian; Restaurant plus five; Salteñas Martin plus five; Best Foods Supermarket plus five; Thenga Cafe plus five; Charcoal Champ plus five; Chai Kadai plus five, and Fine Cut Butchers and Steakhouse plus five.
Today’s recommendations are from Montague Ashley-Craig, Yanyu Sun, Shekha Vyas, Jonathan Nunn, Rohan Jones, and Brigitte Andersen.
As someone who lives and works within a five-minute walk of Broadway Market, I need to tell you an open secret about living in the London Borough of Hackney: despite all of its years as the global epicentre of small plates and natural wine, the satirical meme accounts documenting the micro-trends of its middle classes, the PR-hyped new openings and bakeries with queues that tourists read about in international glossy mags, a lot of the food here is quite ordinary and – dare I say it – a bit shit. Vogue might have voted it one of the top 15 coolest neighbourhoods in the world, but that was nine years ago, and Hackney now finds itself in a fugue state where it feels like every square inch of land has already been explored, documented online and developed, and therefore few truly good things fly under the radar.
In this way, Souvlakiland feels both strange and wonderful, an inconspicuous, family-run Greek takeaway on Homerton High Street which serves exceptionally good souvlaki and gyros plates alongside equally exceptional tzatziki and spicy feta dips for around £8 per head. All are prepared in-house with a great deal of care by a two-person team comprising an Albanian husband and a Greek wife.
My go-to is a gyros souvlaki (chicken, pork or chicken and pork mix) with a Greek salad on the side and a selection of dips. The deeply comforting dish arrives in a traditional manner with meat, salad, tzatziki and a handful of chips all wrapped in a grilled, fluffy pita that’s set off with a dusting of paprika and the salty char of the spit. On special occasions (Christmas, Orthodox Easter), Minas (the husband) operates a charcoal rotisserie on-site with whole chicken, lamb and kontosouvli (pork) on offer, where orders can be made in person a week or so in advance.
Souvlakiland sits at the unloved end-of-the-strip on Homerton High Street where traffic permanently queues up outside for the nearby A12 on-ramp, but it’s the food that’s transportive. If you manage to snag one of the three tables inside to eat, your food will arrive on an actual plate and you’ll see a constant flow of workies, boomers, young families, teenagers on clicking Lime bikes, twenty-somethings from the local pub, long-standing residents from the surrounding estates who Minas greets by name, food app delivery riders: a beautiful, utopian version of Hackney life where everyone is welcome and everything is delicious. Montague Ashley-Craig
199a Homerton High St, E9 6BB