Vlad’s Souvlaki is a newly constructed, outdoor Greek restaurant in Moscow, humbly located next to a motel that has, quite frankly, seen better days. Across the street, as serendipity has it, you’ll find a bank, which is all too important because Vlad’s Souvlaki only takes cash. All of this is part of the restaurant’s charm: Patrons get to eat at a true hybrid of a low-cost food truck and a fine-dining establishment.
The food Vlad’s prepare is easy enough to carry and munch while standing, which is what you’ll be doing if you hit the place at peak hours. The restaurant has limited seating; but, for my money, there’s something charming about standing while eating al fresco. The entire time my guest and I waited and ate, the place was hopping, and rightfully so.
If you’re an omnivore, and as long as your faith allows it, please do go ahead and try the pork souvlaki. It’s seasoned with layers of flavor until it tastes like the best bacon imaginable, but without any chewy gristle. If you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, try the tofu stick. The staff cooks it to an ideal texture: the seasoned tofu is neither mealy nor tough, and the generous portion has a thin, crispy exterior.
Skewers (also available in chicken) can be purchased in three standard configurations: an “arsenal” is three sticks ($6.50); a “phalanx” consists of eight sticks ($12); and, if you’re storing up for winter, a “festivus” and its 12 sticks are for you ($22). The souvlakia are served with three pieces of crusty bread, a refreshing tzatziki sauce and a crunchy serving of coleslaw that is so good I could have made a meal of it. Combining the components into one bite is a kind of synergy on the palate. You can also order a pita version ($4): a stick’s worth of meat or tofu goes into a pita with tzatziki and ripe tomatoes.
The layers of flavor you’ll find in the food prepared here are rather remarkable. This restaurant sets the limbo stick a little lower for what diners should expect from outdoor cuisine. With Vlad’s Souvlaki, you get to eat what amounts to cheap, fine-dining food that gets served late into the night, and the relaxed atmosphere and friendly server, cook and cashier — they’re all the same in one — make this a true treat on a street corner in the not-so-average Palouse.
Vlad’s Souvlaki • 120 W 6th St., Moscow • Tue-Thu, 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat, 11 am-3 am • 208-596-8558