Carts for Carnivores
Fresh meat on Church Street
Nothing says "street food" like meat on a stick, and there are now two varieties on Church Street. Amir Jusufagic's Amir's Kebabs cart hangs out in front of Burlington City Hall. Sotos Papaseraphim mans Niko's Souvlaki- named for his son and business partner Nick - near Stephen & Burns. Despite the proximity, Jusufagic and Papaseraphim stress they're not in competition. Their respective fare is quite different, and they're generally not out selling simultaneously.
Papaseraphim brings extensive restaurant experience to his biz. He first sold food from a cart at the Champlain Valley Fair in 1976, and later owned Nick and Nana's restaurant in Milton and Ponchos on Church Street. Greek specialties at Niko's include homemade spanakopita and baklava, lemon-y pork or chicken souvlaki, and the same marinated meats in a pita with fresh veggies and tzatziki sauce. He's planning to add vegetarian falafel.
Jusufagic, who came to the U.S. from Bosnia in 2000, delivers pizza for Domino's when he isn't working on Church Street. He wanted to start a cart for a long time, but until recently, couldn't find bread that met his standards. When his friend Dalibor Vujanovic, who owns A Taste of Europe in Winooski, began baking bread for his own business, Jusufagic decided it was time. With assistance from CEDO, which "helped in every possible way," he was up and running at the end of June. Once he's made his name selling kebabs, he hopes to start his own café, with more traditional Bosnian fare and lots of seafood.
For now, Jusufagic sells just the kebab, which is a "sandwich" made from a blend of shaved beef and lamb, wrapped in soft, puffy flatbread, and topped with veggies and yogurt dressing. Like Papaseraphim, he'll be adding a vegetarian entrée next summer - a kebab made from deep-fried eggplant with feta and other veggies.
The cart business is weather-dependent, but on sunny fall days, look for Niko's between noon and 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and Amir on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.