Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vlad's Souvlaki: Greek Fast Food in the Palouse

It makes sense that someone would start up a small fast food joint in downtown Moscow, Idaho. Vlad's, however, is a lot different than your typical fast food experience. This new business features Greek fast food on its menu, also known as souvlaki. I know little about Greek fast food other than I like it so when Vlad's opened up, I made a point to stop by to try it.

First, let me describe the place. Think food truck without the truck. Vlad's is a small permanent structure on the corner of highway 95 (the north/south highway through town) and E 6th Street (the east/west road through the University of Idaho campus). Yeah, sure, there are parking lots nearby, but there is no drive through. Their space reminds me of a BBQ shelter you might see at your local county park meets trendy outdoor Portland cafe complete with tables, art work, and a chalkboard menu.

I looked up at the chalkboard menu and ordered their special. The menu isn't extensive, but that is what adds to its charm. They have a specialty and it's good. Pick from your choice of grilled skewers and sides. The prices are very reasonable too. Two and half dollars per skewer (Pork, turkey, beef, or tofu) and a buck in a half for their sides (romaine or cabbage slaw and "garbs"). Perhaps you have to be a local to know what "garbs" are, but I caught on because "garbs" is short for garbanzo (aka chickpeas), a delicious legume grown here in the Palouse.

The "Kolatso" special is what I ordered. I got two pork skewers, cabbage slaw, garbs, tzatsiki sauce (a personal favorite), and two slices of Panhandle bread. Sounds good, doesn't it? Here's how it tasted. The pork skewers were delicious. They weren't as lean as I'd prefer, but they were grilled to perfection. They were sliced into small pieces and the outer edges were charred golden brown. An oil based marinade was added at the end full of savory herbs. The skewers were placed atop of a bed of cabbage slaw with a tangy lemon dressing. The side of garbs was slow cooked with a hint of rosemary and the tzatsiki sauce, do I really have to explain? It was too good for words. Tzatsiki is a thick Greek yogurt marinade or sauce with garlic, lemon, cucumbers, olive oil, pepper, and herbs. It goes with just about anything in my opinion. It was a great compliment to each of the menu items and it ended up paired with each side dish on my plate. Did I mention I like tzatsiki sauce? Souvlaki would be nothing without it.

I highly recommend stopping by Vlad's for some souvlaki. For $6 I ate a delicious and healthy fast food lunch. My only complaint was that I had to wait 15 minutes for my order to finish. Yes, I was also in the hot noon sun (which didn't help) and this Western Washington girl can only stand outside for so long. It was their first week, however, so they will get faster as they get more experienced.

P.S. I took a hiatus from blog writing, but I'm back and will be more consistent!

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