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Editor’s note: In the latest installment of our ongoing series First Stop, we asked Stavriani Zervakakou, chef of the restaurant Karaköy Gümrük in Istanbul, where she stops first for food when she returns to Athens. 

Athens rarely lets me down when it comes to food. And although I am a seafood person, the first thing my soul craves after a long stay in Istanbul are grilled juicy pork skewers calmly hugged by the crispy arms of a well-baked pita bread.

Elliniko, photo by Anastasia SiomouMy culinary desire as soon as I land in Athens is certain and almost violent: I want to eat pork souvlaki with tzatziki, a touch of tomato, a few parsley leaves, powerful onion and French fries! And all this in one crispy-juicy-fresh-cool and dirty bite. So, the first stop would be Elliniko, a small family-run souvlaki place with just two tables, located on a corner in the nondescript neighborhood of the same name.

Even if Elliniko is crowded – sometimes the wait here can be half an hour – the memory of the souvlaki’s satisfying flavor can grant me tons of patience as I wait for my turn to feel its warmness inside my palm and experience the first bite once again.

Stavriani Zervakakou, photo by Erbil BaltaWhat about the times that I fly late at night and Elliniko is closed? There’s a plan B: Mum’s sensational spaghetti with slow-cooked minced pork and on the top my very favorite kefalograviera cheese from Crete, half melted and unforgettably combined with madly aromatic Corfu sheep butter. Ohhh! WHAT FLAVOR!

 

(photos of Elliniko by Anastasia Siomou, photo of Stavriani Zervakakou by Erbil Balta)

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