Greek street food is the latest craze to hit the fast-casual segment. Tapping into the Mediterranean cuisine’s popularity—as well as customers' growing desire for portable options—these operations are promoting healthful, customizable menu items that guests can easily take to go. Here are eight Greek fast casuals on our radar.
1. 2941 Street Food
Aiming to offer “honest, wholesome chow,” Michigan-based 2941 Street Food serves up a dedicated “street snacks” menu including harissa wings, tomato-kalamata pie and lamb sausage, in addition to broader offerings such as samoon sandwiches and build-your-own bowls. Guests can top off menu items with the olive oil of their choice at the concept’s olive oil bar, and beverages at the three-unit brand include craft soda, beer and wine.
2. Cava Grill
Although Cava opened its first unit 10 years ago, the fast casual is experiencing substantial growth of late, expanding to 28 locations and raising more than $60 million in venture funding. In the past, Cava has made headlines for the decision to raise its minimum wage to $13 per hour and offer paid sick and parental leave to many hourly employees.
Cava’s menu sticks to customizable Mediterranean pitas, salads and bowls with a wide range of ingredients. The chain also offers housemade juices and teas, and wine and beer are available at select locations.
3. Covo Greek Street Food
After closing its Chicago location after just one year, Covo has set up shop in the city’s suburbs—this time with a slight name change that emphasizes the on-the-go nature of its fare. Otherwise, not much has changed from its earlier iteration. Customers choose a pita, bowl, salad or plate, and move down the line to select a protein, toppings, sauces and more. The fast casual also offers loukoumades, a type of Greek donut that can be fried and served in around one minute.
4. Yalla Mediterranean
As part of a rebranding initiative, Yalla’s parent company last year began to convert many of its Daphne’s California Greek locations into Yalla Mediterranean units. Unlike Daphne’s, Yalla offers a broader swath of Mediterranean cuisine, featuring items such as “shalafel” (a combo of shawarma and falafel), meat skewers and several salads.
5. Estia Greek Street Food
Originally only in Troy, Mich., Estia Greek Street Food opened a second location in Detroit Medical Center's $8.2 million complex last spring. Serving up Greek staples such as gyro wraps and bowls, Estia’s menu uses bold colors to clearly mark vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items, allowing on-the-go diners with dietary restrictions to easily navigate its offerings.
6. DOX Quality Greek
From the team behind Chicago chain GRK Fresh Greek comes DOX Quality Greek, a soon-to-open concept featuring shareable appetizers, salads, sandwiches, skewers and Greek desserts, as well as a type of pita created exclusively for the concept. Using only organic and grass-fed ingredients, the fast casual’s prices will lean toward the higher end of its segment, with an average check of $12 to $15 without drinks. It will also cater to midnight noshers with late-night hours.
7. Avli Rotisserie
Building on the success of his full-service Greek restaurant Avli Estiatorio, owner Louie Alexakis opened fast casual Avli Rotisserie as a separate operation right next door. The Winnetka, Ill., offshoot offers spit rotisserie lamb as well as chicken, gyros and salads. Sides include homemade mac and cheese and rotisserie potatoes.
8. Saloniki Greek
Preparing to open its second unit in November, Boston concept Saloniki Greek features a menu centered around customizable gyros made with farm-to-table ingredients, along with a wide range of sides including Greek fries, pita chips and barrel-aged feta.