Never wake up with sub-par tzatziki on your arm/pillow again. We polled the city's cabbies and drinking enthusiasts and went road-test wild on Melbourne's souvlaki and kebab huts. These are the best
The venue: Servicing the most souva-loving strip in Melbourne (oh, Chapel Street), Souvlaki Express gets punters back in an upright position with Mexican cola, fresh baklava and souvas packed with a sucker punch of fresh chilli.
What it has over its competitors: Lamb on Chapel has them for speed fo service, but here, the lamb is marinated with oregano and lemon and slowly turned over a wood-fuelled fire, giving the meat a little extra smoke and char.
What to order: The Vatos Locos souvlaki. All the usual players: lamb, lettuce, tomato, onions with chilli and garlic sauces get an extra layer of fresh chillies, jalapeños and chilli flakes to shock you upright. Their flaky cheese and spinach spanikopita is worth a nudge too.
Drip factor: 5/5. Stock up on napkins and don’t expect to keep your dignity as you chow down on this delicious mess. The garlic sauce on your pants is the Chapel Street badge of honour.
Would you eat it sober: Maybe. The venue itself is definitely a little less terrifying before 9pm when it becomes filled with sequins, fake tan and popped collars.
The venue: Want a good late-night eat? Follow a cabbie: guardians of the night. You'll find this food truck on the corner of Bell Street and St Georges Road in Preston, ringed with golden taxis and pushing cheap, arm-sized kebabs to weary partygoers.
What it has over its competitors: Price. It’s the only late night kebab spot in the area, but they haven’t taken advantage so you can get yourself a tasty garlic-smothered kebab for $8 a pop.
What to order: Stick to the traditional lamb kebab here as they do a good meat-to-salad ratio with a strong garlic sauce that stays with you after the last bite.
Drip factor: 2/5. Haci’s have got you covered by wrapping your little kebab neatly in foil to keep it warm and then enclosed in a bag so all the sauce will stay in the wrapping, not on you.
Would you eat it sober: Probably not. Open 6pm-4am, Haci’s is here for you after a few bevs but wouldn’t be your first choice when looking for dinner options.
The venue: Smack bang in the middle of the city, this Greek restaurant moonlights as a takeaway haven when the sun goes down. Open 24 hours as a traditional Greek restaurant, you can also grab takeaways.
What it has over its competitors: Plates, non-fluorescent lights . Stalactites takes the guilt away from buying a souva at 4am as it’s not a dirty takeaway joint but a proper restaurant.
What to order: Who can choose between chicken and lamb at 3am? Go the mixed souvlaki. They combine big hunks of chewy spit roasted lamb with the chicken, browned on the hotplate, in a tidy pita with plenty of salad and tzatziki. You can also get chips topped with hummus and garlic sauce.
Drip factor: 1/5. This one’s neat and clean – a refined take on the classic souvlaki mess.
Would you eat it sober: You could, but the spackled roof just doesn't have quite the same charm in the broad light of day.
The venue: Competition is tough on Brunswick Street – home of Melbourne’s most enthusiastic drinkers. For us, Souvlaki King, with its posters of Buddy Franklin’s great hair, the sporting memorabilia and the mirror outside bidding you “take a good look at yourself” that takes the cake.
What it has over its competitors: Real Greek next door has pictures of the Colosseum, availability of ouzo shots and the ‘Steve’ souvlaki with feta and chips, but these guys are the ultimate drunk people whisperers. Also, they serve bacon.
What to order: Their felafel may come from a packet, but the ‘hangover’ souvlaki features proper charcoal spit-roasted lamb or chicken, sliced and grilled for extra crunch and stuffed in a fluffy wrap with bacon, egg, cheddar, garlic and sauce and salad. Ask nicely, and they’ll throw some chips in the mix too.
Drip factor: 3/5. It’s not a Napisan job unless you’ve enjoyed the delights of some bourbon shots at Kodiak Club first.
Would you eat it sober: You could, but George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grants is your neighbourhood stop for sophisticated souvlakia.
The venue: A clean and friendly family-run Turkish restaurant that delivers mammoth kebabs. Turkish pictures adorn the walls, black and white titles give a sleek appearance and the fresh aroma of the meat sucks you inside.
What it has over its competitors: Size. The kebabs are not in your typical pita wraps but rather two big slices of fresh Turkish bread that manage to be crunchy and spongy at the same time. Props to the folks able to finish one.
What to order: Chicken Kebab. They make the bread themselves at the shop and chuck in some tender and soft chicken slices that are neither oily nor greasy.
Drip factor: 3/5. It’s not the sauciness but the sandwich-style assembly that can and will splatter-dash your shirt.
Would you eat it sober: Sure thing. The fresh ingredients and lack of greasiness makes these kebabs you could comfortably eat with your self-judging faculties in full effect.