MasterChef's Matt Preston has declared Orexi Souvlaki Bar in Oakleigh 'among Melbourne's very best' and I think the crowd I joined queuing out the door on a sunny Saturday lunchtime would agree.
What most people are here for is of course Orexi's staple - the souvlaki, in either lamb or chicken cooked on the spit over charcoal. The meat is tender and expertly prepared and comes accompanied with fresh salad and tzatziki and wrapped in soft, warm pitta bread to make a satisfying meal for a reasonable $10.50.
However I think what makes this place shine is the range of alternatives offered. Even if you don't care for souvlaki you are sure to find something to enjoy, such as variations of chicken schnitzel, chicken parmagiana or Kransky sausage.
Non-meat eaters are catered for with the choice of two souvlakis. The standard Vegetarian – my personal favourite and a worthy opponent to a lamb souva – features char grilled zucchini, capsicum and eggplant served with your choice of dip, while the Falafel souvlaki with salad and hummus makes a most hearty eat.
Those on a gluten free diet can order an open souvlaki or a mezze platter featuring marinated octopus, dolmades, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives (although you will have to pass on the pita). Also gluten free are the delicious hot chips. Rough cut, these velvety steak fries are fluffy on the inside and a terrific accompaniment to any meal. The generous small serve ($4) is ample for two to share.
Orexi is also open for breakfast, serving a range of egg-based dishes (fried, scrambled or omelette) as well as raisin toast for those looking for a lighter option.
Busy Orexi is popular with locals but well worth a visit from those further afield searching for substantial but quick casual fare. There are limited indoor and outdoor (undercover) tables or you could take away and enjoy on a nearby bench on the Eaton Mall. My only complaint is with the opening hours – daytime only and closed on Sundays – so get in early.