Nestled on the corner of College Avenue, Blacksburg is a little Greek eatery and sub shop that boasts major flavor – Souvlaki.
From traditional Mediterranean delicacies like gyros and baklava to more of your typical sub shop favorites like Philly cheese steaks and house made fries (TRY THEM ASAP ROCKY, THEY ARE AH-MAZING), Souvlaki has something for everyone. Plus, the prices are great for all of us foodies out here ballin’ on a budget.
Souvlaki was founded in 1982 by Virginia Tech alum Chris Kappas. At the time, the eatery was located where Rivermill Bar and Grill is now, just around the corner. The original restaurant was small and only offered counter seating.
Current owner and also a Virginia Tech alum, Mike Buchanan, notes that the restaurant moved to the current establishment in 1987. If you have ever been to Souvlaki, you may be familiar with its large variety of beer – nine on tap and plenty more in the fridge.
Fun fact: back in the day at the old location they only served Budweiser via a keg that was kept in a refrigerator with a tap handle located on the outside of the refrigerator. Buchanan, who worked in the old establishment while in college, called it “something you might see at a fraternity house.”
Buchanan says he loves having the business in a college town like Blacksburg because “you get fresh faces every new school year and it’s neat to see alumni come back.” He also says that Tech football season makes for big business during the fall.
As Buchanan describes it, the Ohio State game during 2015 season was one of the busiest times for Souvlaki ever, recalling it as four to five days of “pure craziness.” Reminiscing on one of his favorite moments he says:
“Probably one of the craziest times was during the LSU football game. We played LSU on a Sunday afternoon and the night before was a big gathering of people – LSU fans and Tech fans – and the Hokie Bird showed up downtown in the back of a Jeep. It was just chaos. I was here until about three in the morning. People just kept coming in. It was pretty cool.”
When asked about suggestions for Souvlaki newbies Buchanan says, “the thing we recommend most is the gyro, especially for newcomers. Basically, it’s beef and lamb, with lettuce, tomato, onions and sauce. It’s a pita wrap.” He added that if you are a little wary about the gyro, they offer samples.
If you are feeling really adventurous or just terribly hungry, Souvlaki has a unique menu item just for you: the gyro sub. It is a fusion of a gyro and a sub: all the contents of a gyro (just more meat) put on a sub bun.
My absolute favorite thing on the menu is the souvlaki wrap. It is marinated pork, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumber sauce, rolled into a warm pita. By the way, the word “Souvlaki” means “meat on a stick” in Greek.
Buchanan says that when the eatery was founded the only meat on a stick that they did was pork, now they offer chicken too. If you look closely Souvlaki’s logo, you see a skewer running through the letters like a kabob.
If you have never made a visit to Souvlaki, please change that soon. It is located in so close to campus, has outdoor seating for the coming warm weather, wonderful prices, and something to suit everyone’s taste buds.
“Once I get people to try the food, it sells itself to a great degree,” Buchanan says of his business.
So, Hokies and Blacksburg natives alike, next time you and friends are in downtown Blacksburg drop by Souvlaki for some delicious eats. If you are ever at Radford, Souvlaki has a new location downtown too, make sure tell your Raddy friends to give them a try.
Spoons, get social with Souvlaki:
Tweet ’em: @eatsouvlaki
Hit ’em with a follow on the Insta: @eatsouvlaki
Like ’em on Facebook: Souvlaki
Visit their website to see the menu, history, and Souvlaki swag: eatsouvlaki.com