People sitting outside eating. Gyros stall in the background with people lining up to order food.
Customers outside wait in line to get some Gyros. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

“Today, we’re all Greek,” said Nardin Sarkis, a SoMa resident who came up to the Mission with his partner for the annual Greek Food Festival. Dolmades, spanakopita, gyros — Sardis was excited to try some favorite dishes and relive the flavors of his recent holiday in Greece. “And we took moussaka to go,” he added. 

This year’s festival is the 72nd edition, and is held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 245 Valencia St., near 14th Street. With Greek food, dance and music, the event gathers many from the Mission and beyond. 

A picture of a table with a striped blue and white tablecloth, a plate with a gyros sandwich and another with a gyros spread.
Gyros: on a plate and in a sandwich, served straight from the grill. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

“We have three generations working,” said Chris Kyriacou, the parish president. Community members young and old have pitched in, adding up to around 250 volunteers.

Kyriacou has been coming to the cathedral since he was a child; his father used to be the parish priest. The parish counts around 350 families in the community, and about half are very involved in attending church and helping out with events, he said. 

Volunteers started preparing pastries for the event over a month ago. Yesterday, the kitchen was still packed with a dozen people at their designated stations: Maria on pastry filling, Jack on cooking green beans and Jim on deep frying loukoumades. Pulling off a menu of some 40 items is no small feat. 

Volunteers prepare food in the kitchen. All of the dishes served at the festival are made on site. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

Maria Ramos, a longtime parish member, learned how to make tiropita — triangle-shaped pastries filled with a blend of cheeses — from her grandmother. Today she was busy rolling up the phyllo dough and making a new last-minute batch of the cheese filling. “Even as a kid, I volunteered at the festival,” she said. 

Maria Ramos, preparing Tiropoita. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

Outside in the main venue, long lines formed at every food stall. “The food is excellent,” said Kira, another customer attending the festival for the first time. “You can taste that it’s homemade.”

Kyriacou estimated that around 7,000 people will visit the festival over the weekend. It’s the largest fundraiser of the year for the parish. The money will go to various projects in the community, including the construction of a new cathedral building. 

A steady crowd at the festival on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

The food festival continues for the last day today Sept. 17, from noon to 8 p.m. 

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Kelly is Irish and French and grew up in Dublin and Luxembourg. She studied Geography at McGill University and worked at a remote sensing company in Montreal, making maps and analyzing methane data, before turning to journalism. She recently graduated from the Data Journalism program at Columbia Journalism School.

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1 Comment

  1. Opa!

    Oh, MAN! I used to stuff myself silly at this gig. Always found eats and sights that brought back memories of trips to Greece, and folks behind the counters and stands were friendly and kind. If you can take your time and pace yourself, you can take in a lot of the variety of culinary offerings as well as the music and dancing.

    Yassou! 🙂

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