Where to Saloniki, the Fenway’s new Greek sandwich shop from chef Jody Adams and partners Jonathan Mendez and Eric Papachristos. Its name is the nickname for the Greek city Thessaloniki, where Papachristos grew up.
What for The flavors of Greece have been sweeping Boston’s fine-dining scene. Here they go casual. Saloniki is where to come when you want a fast, flavorful meal near Fenway Park.
The scene You can walk in the door, but you won’t get far. There’s a long line to join, leading up to a counter where orders are placed and assembled. Pita puffs on the griddle, and light streams in through big windows. The space is L-shaped, with Aegean blue accents and long, communal wood tables toward the back. Acid jazz and deep house play. ESPN is on the TV; pictures of Greek cafe life and food grilling hang on the walls. A guy in pegged sweatpants and a girl with a topknot and elfin features share a gyro off a little metal tray. At the communal table, a woman looks up from her drink and her magazine. “Excuse my slurping,” she says to the adjacent fellow, who has a name tag clipped to his Members Only jacket. Adams sits at the counter, working on her laptop.
What you’re eating There are a few diversions — a village salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and more; soup; Greek yogurt with lemon curd, honey, or fig jam. But mostly you’re here for the gyros. They come on wonderful fresh, chewy pita, in several varieties: the Herc (honey-braised pork shoulder), the Niko (lemon-oregano chicken), the Despena (zucchini-feta fritters), and the George (spicy lamb meatballs). All come with various accouterments, from tzatziki to spicy whipped feta to herb salad to Greek fries. You can also create your own combinations, on a pita, a salad, or a plate with brown rice.
Care for a drink? Beer and wine are available, but in the middle of the day, one needs a Greek-style caffeine fix: the popular frappé (”the national beverage of Greece,” says the menu), shaken into a frothy fettle.
Overheard Work talk, travel talk, and complications at the counter. “Oh, I’m gluten and dairy free. I’m allergic to both,” says a man to the staffer about to assemble his salad. “What do you recommend with eggplant?” someone inquires. “Good question. I don’t eat it. I’m allergic.” The lunch rush has decimated supplies. “We’re out of fritters,” someone is told apologetically. “86 meatballs,” yells an employee, and the woman who got the last order mouths a silent “yes!” In the front dining area, people are all business: “I’ll be working on the international level.” “It’s a charter school.” “I need full time. I’m behind on my bills.” But it’s a party in the back. “You thinly slice Parmesan cheese and put just olive oil, and it’s so good,” crows a man crunching baklava crisps. “The Wahlburgers crowd and the Saloniki crowd are, like, totally different species,” a woman says, comparing current digs with the neighboring establishment. Her friend pushes away her metal tray, now empty. “I housed that,” she says with satisfaction. “I feel like I ate a whole head of raw garlic.”
4 Kilmarnock St., the Fenway, Boston, 617-266-0001, www.saloniki