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Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna’s weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio

Part of our ongoing series spotlighting the city’s edible hidden gems

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Ryan Nangreaves
Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio

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The sort-of secret: Souvla, an alfresco Greek feast in Yorkville You may have heard of it if: You live close enough to smell the smoke But you probably haven’t tried it because: It’s only on weekends   After growing up in his family’s diners, Thanos Tripi, the son of Greek immigrants, dedicated himself to redefining Toronto’s sense of authentic Greek cuisine. Though he would never denigrate the beauty of a classic ’80s-style Greek salad, with its vinegary iceberg lettuce, briny feta and (almost always unripe) beefsteak tomatoes, the Toronto native knew it was time for a reinvention.

Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio
Thanos Tripi
souvla by mamakas

So Tripi built it, and they came. Over the past decade, he has succeeded in bringing authentic Greek dining to Toronto with Ossington’s Mamakas Taverna, an Aegean-inspired mezze bar; Bar Koukla (also on Ossington); and a grab-and-go Greek market with dips to die for at Agora on Queen West. With his latest venture, Souvla, a casual Greek-style barbecue and takeout joint tucked among the many hair salons of Yorkville’s Scollard Street, Tripi’s goal is to bring his patrons into the backyard he grew up in—one he remembers being full of family, friends, fire and food.

Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio
souvla by mamakas

Growing up as a first-generation Canadian, Tripi learned about the flavours and recipes of his family’s home country from sitting on kitchen countertops while his mom and grandma cooked, travelling to Greece every summer, and working in the dish pits and at the grills of his family’s restaurants. “My parents were trying to show me how bad things could get if I didn’t succeed in school,” he jokes.

Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio
souvla by mamakas
Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio

Souvla, which only opened last December, will be replaced by a more upscale Greek bistro this fall. “It will be something of an amalgam of Mamakas and Bar Koukla,” says Tripi. For the time being, he’s turned the space into a semi-permanent pop-up with a comfy picnic-table patio set-up out back. While chef Lucas Richarz’s menu (think grilled halloumi pitas, feta fries and horiatiki made with ripe tomatoes and imported feta) is available all week, weekends bring live-fire cookouts—and nothing stimulates the appetite like watching 12-hour-marinated pork roast on a spit over a bed of coal embers or the smell of lamb and beef kebabs and whole shrimp sizzling on a binchotan grill.

souvla by mamakas
Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio
souvla by mamakas

Tripi originally started the Souvla barbecue in the parking lot of Ossington’s House of Horvath as an alfresco dining experience during Covid. Since then, every choice he’s made—from the single-serve bottles of Thalia wine (made from the Greek ​​Agiorgitiko grape for the red and the Assyrtiko grape for the white) to the lager-style beer and the house-made soft serve topped with either sour cherry preserve or baklava crumble—screams cookout. Though it’s not quite a seat on yiayia’s kitchen countertop, Souvla is the next best thing. Just try not to break any plates.

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Souvla by Mamakas, 105 Scollard St., @souvlabymamakas

Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio
souvla by mamakas
Sort-of Secret: Souvla, Mamakas Taverna's weekends-only alfresco cookout on its Yorkville patio

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