Spoiled by the best chicken souvlaki and tzatziki in Toronto, I made my own version as tacos with a quick tzatziki sauce recipe.
Back when I lived off The Danforth in Toronto, my favorite place to get take out from was Square Boy.
Square Boy, it turns out, is not just about the food (which is delicious) but about the experience. You wait in that line with other hungry Danforthers trying to decide what to order. There’s the menu above to look at, but also you watch as other people’s food gets popped up onto the counter and then is passed from grey-haired Greek man to grey-haired Greek man on the other side as your toppings are added (Subway-style), including their fabulous tzatziki sauce. Mmmmm. (See the people waiting in the restaurant and the grey-haired Greek men working at the counter, and get a great history of Square Boy and info about its food here).
Then they load up your food with any of the toppings you want (always ask for extra tzatziki!), wrap it in paper secured with a rubber band and off you go, with the best chicken souvlaki in all of Toronto, maybe even the world.
What is Souvlaki?
Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food with meat and sometimes veggies grilled on a skewer. In Greece, pork is the most popular choice, but other meats like beef, lamb, and chicken (like we’re using today) can also be found.
It’s often eaten while hot straight off the skewer and served with pita bread, fried potatoes, and various sauces. A Souvlaki pita takes that delicious grilled meat as well as onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce, and wraps it up in a lightly grilled pita.
Chicken Souvlaki Tacos
Nowadays, when I’m in the mood for those souvlaki flavors I serve the skewers of chicken with roasted veggies and rice or Greek-style potatoes. Or I put all those flavors into a quesadilla. Or, as I did this week, into browned corn tortillas as a variation on tacos. Smothered in my easy homemade Tzatziki sauce recipe, of course!
This is definitely not authentic souvlaki, as this quick and easy dinner uses leftover cooked chicken but you can grill up some just for this purpose using a marinade with lots of garlic, oregano, olive oil, and lemon juice. I also just don’t like the pita bread found at my stores as much as the ones found in Greek restaurants. Plus, I pretty much always have tortillas on hand because tacos are fun!
The Mexican shell works beautifully, I think, because Greek food and Mexican food have so much in common with the garlic, citrus, creamy sauce, cheese. and fresh bright herbs.
These Chicken Souvlaki Tacos would get teased to death at Square Boy (and they definitely would not be served there, mostly because their pitas are just too good to consider a substitute) but for an easy weeknight dinner that is inspired by chicken souvlaki, these Greek-style tacos are perfect!
Quick Tzatziki Sauce
In addition to not being able to find good pita bread in Florida, we also can’t find good store-bought tzatziki. The only one in our local grocery store has roasted red peppers in it and is the consistency of cold cream cheese, not the soft dollopable consistency of sour cream. I can’t be bothered to make a traditional tzatziki, which involves salting and draining cucumbers for ages.
So I made my own quick and easy tzatziki sauce recipe instead! If you have access to quality store-bought tzatziki, you of course can use that instead of making your own. Oh, and you can use the tzatziki sauce with more than just the souvlaki tacos. You can use it in my recipe for Greek Tabouli, too.
Enjoy these Chicken Souvlaki inspired tacos with my quick tzatziki sauce…
This quick and easy dinner uses leftover cooked chicken (or store-bought rotisserie chicken) but you can grill up some just for the purpose using a marinade with lots of garlic, oregano, olive oil, and lemon juice.
For the tzatziki sauce, you can absolutely use sour cream instead of Greek yogurt and green onions or minced white onion instead of the chives.
- 3 cups cubed cooked chicken meat
- 8 small soft corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup quick and easy tzatziki (recipe below)
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
For the Tzatziki Sauce
- 3 inches of cucumber, peeled and minced
- 1 clove of garlic (or 2 if you really like garlicky tzatziki. I use 2)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp.. chopped chives
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Heat up the chicken meat in the microwave or in the oven.
- Warm a large frying pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of all of the tortillas lightly with vegetable oil. Put as many as will fit in a single layer into the warmed frying pan. Cook just until the undersides have some brown spots (2-3 minutes) and then flip them over and cook for another minute, just until some brown spots appear. Transfer the cooked tortillas to dinner plates and start cooking another round.
- As successive rounds of tortillas are cooked, fill those that are ready. Start by smearing 1 tablespoon of tzatziki along the diameter of the tortilla (a line along the center of the circle). Top with 1/3 of a cup of the warm chicken meat. Add a pinch of oregano, about 2 tablespoons of diced tomato, 1 tablespoon of red onion, another tablespoon of tzatziki, 1 tablespoon of feta cheese, and a few leaves of parsley. Fold the taco shell in half over the filling and move onto the next warm tortilla.
For the Tzatziki Sauce
- Line a plate with several layers of paper towel. Put the minced cucumber on it and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss it around to mix it in.
- Wrap the towel around the cucumber and press down gently. Leave it there, wrapped the dampening towel until you’re ready for it.
- Onto a cutting board, mince the garlic. Add a good pinch of pinch of salt to the garlic and then use the side of your knife to mash the salt and garlic together. This extracts juices from the garlic and makes it easier for the flavors to spread around. Scrape the garlic into a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the yogurt, the slightly-dried cucumber, the chives, and the lemon juice. Stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if desired.
The tzatziki is fine made the day ahead. Just drain off any liquid that has accumulated on the top and give it a good stir before serving.