King Souvlaki Astoria: This Food Truck is Royalty

In the heart of Astoria, a massive foot food truck sits at the corner of 31st Ave. and 31st St. Every day, a line quickly forms there around lunchtime. It’s been a rainy spring, and on this particular day, it’s drizzled on and off. Despite this, a loyal contingent of customers is content to wait in the rain for what might be the biggest bang for your dollar in all of Astoria. King Souvlaki serves up exceptional food and represents a shared dream that spans generations.

Part-owner Lampros Tsampas watches from a small table nearby, and he’s pleased but not surprised at the size of the crowd. Over the last few years, Tsampas and his family have expanded what started as a single hot dog cart into a fleet of vehicles and a restaurant. “It’s a family business started by my great-uncle. He had a cart here since 1979. That’s how long it’s been here,” Tsampas reflects. “Just a pushcart selling souvlaki, just sticks. My father and uncle got into it in the ‘80s. And when they immigrated here, they got involved when my great-uncle retired.”

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Owners Lampros Tsampas, Angelo Tsampas Image via @jamesdelgenio

Eventually the spectacular and affordable souvlaki sticks caught on, and the business been growing ever since. “Up until 2012, my uncle had a pushcart. That’s when me and my cousins got involved full-time. We pushed to open a truck. In 2013, we got our first truck. Now we have 6 trucks and a restaurant.”

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Gyro @king-souvlaki—Astoria Image Credit via Instagram

For more than four decades, King Souvlaki has been feeding customers. The truck has sat right at that corner from the beginning, and it’s easily accessible from the Broadway or 30th Avenue subway stop, depending on what direction you’re coming from. “This is the original location from my great-uncle,” Tsampas points out. “The area was undeveloped. People would come here just for him. Back then, there were no stores around here, just a deli.”

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Chicken hero sandwich @king-souvlaki—Astoria via Instagram

King Souvlaki has become a mobile food empire built on gyros, pita, and hero bread. “Our most popular is the chicken gyro and the lamb gyro,” Tsampas says. It’s more traditional Greek street food.” In addition to traditional tzatziki, King Sauce is also available, which Tsampas encourages customers to try out, “King Sauce is a mayonnaise base sauce, usually with chicken. But I put it on everything.”

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Image Credit @king-souvlaki—Astoria via Instagram

At the end of the day, however, Tsampas keeps sight of what’s important. “Family, that’s it. Staying connected. Working together. You’ll fight with your family and stress out. But you work it out. You’re stronger together. Obviously, good quality, good service. But that’s the most important thing, having that bond.”

31st St.  and 31st Ave. / Phone: 917.416.1189 / / Yelp 4.1