Souvlaki, kebab, gyros- whatever you call them are my go to hangover food, as well as a relatively cheap meal. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was little.
Thus I was really excited to move back to Clayton in June of this year, as it meant I was only 10 minutes away from Oakleigh which is pretty much the Meeca of Greek Food, especially souvlaki.
There are two stand out places to get Souvlaki in Oakleigh- the Orexi Souvlaki Bar which got voted the best Souvlaki in Melbourne by Matt Preston a couple of years ago, and the newly opened Kalimera Souvlaki Art.
I’m excluding Meat Me because I just don’t believe it is up to the same standard! So on one particularly hungover day I decided to test out both. I ate at Orexi for lunch and Kalimera for dinner so that I could best compare these two places (really I just wanted an excuse to feed my hungover tummy with lots of souvlaki goodness).
I’ve been going to Orexi for years. Mum and I stumbled along it probably about 5 or 6 years ago on a trip up from Melbourne and since then every time we were in Oakleigh it was our go to place for Souvlaki.
Sometimes we would even go out of our way to stop off here for lunch when we were visiting Melbourne. I even remember Dad calling me to tell me he was eating here in an attempt to make me extremely jealous (it definitely worked).
In comparison, Kalimera only recently landed on the Oakleigh strip. I ate there on a recommendation of a friend. These guys come straight from Greece and they do souvlakis the proper Greek way including popping chips in there.
They also only offer pork or chicken, as apparently lamb only appears in souvlaki here in Australia because when large numbers of Greeks originally immigrated to Australia lamb was the affordable meal. In Greece it’s all about the chicken and pork and thus these souvlaki are uber traditional.
Orexi is by far the more expensive of the two souvlaki. Depending on your choice of meat and fillings a souvlaki will set you back about $11-$13. In comparison when I order my usual at Kalimera- mixed souvlaki with extra sauce it comes in at a very affordable $8.40.
However the Orexi souvlaki is about twice the size of what you get at Kalimera- it’s so huge that even I struggle to finish it (and I have a huge appetite for souvlaki) and they jam pack it with loads of meat. So value wise Orexi probably comes slightly over Kalimera.
Orexi is very cafe like with small tables and small chairs. Kalimera, being a new building is absolutely stunning. The decor is really original with large round wooden tables. Their rustic theme is topped off with the fact that your souvlaki usually comes in what could only be described as a cake baking tin lined with baking paper.
It’s a pretty place to sit down and have a meal- if you can get a table as it’s always busy of a night time. Kalimera is also open for both lunch and dinner- every single day of the week. IN comparison Orexi only opens for lunch and not on Sunday. Kalimera definitely wins for setting and convenience.
When it comes to souvlaki who really cares about value, or ambience- hell if it’s tasty I’d be happy to get it takeaway and eat it in my car! This is a hard comparison- as I think it comes down to personal preference.
The Orexi meat is cooked more authentically- they actually cook it on a spit over actual burning coals. Kalimera uses the more traditional gas rotisseries. Thus in terms of flavour of the meat I think Orexi wins everytime.
But for me Orexi souvlakis have too much meat in them- no matter how much extra sauce I order I can’t help but feel like I’m just eating gyros straight- the meat drowns out the pita, the sauce and the salad. So if you are a huge meat lover you will probably prefer Orexi.
Whereas for me the balance of meat, salad, and that beautiful secret ‘Kalimera’ sauce they wrap into far superior pita brings Kalimera out on top. As a side note Kalimera also do amazing chips! They season them with salt and oregano and they are super yummy!
I think whether you eat at Orexi or Kalimera you are going to have a great Souvlaki experience.
Both places offer authentic and beautifully marinated meat (in comparison to the cheap processed doner kebab shit that I hate), homemade pita and homemade sauce (whether it be traditionally tzartzki or kalimera sauce), and fresh salad.
No matter where in Melbourne you live I think it’s definitely worth the hike out to Oakleigh to get a real taste of Greece.