Nov. 1, 2012

Build-your-own gyros: The Greek meat sleeve known as the gyro purportedly came to the United States via Chicago some 50 years ago. (Parkview Restaurant claims to be the first to introduce the dish stateside in 1965.) Lord knows it has rescued me from many 3 a.m. stumbles home, and I've accepted that having my breath reek like an onion patch is a just price for the gyros simple pleasure. But it got me thinking: Why has the gyro always been defined by a specific set of ingredients? Tick off the boxes: A lamb-beef hybrid carved from a vertical spit, a dollop of tzatziki, raw onions and tomatoes wrapped in a pita. In Lakeview, just east of the Belmont "L" stop, Gyro Mena's name should offer a clue - it translates from Greek to "My Gyro." Meaning, yes, a build-your-own gyro bar, with the classic lamb-beef gyro meat, pork, chicken or a vegetarian mix of hummus and falafel. (The pork I ordered was carved off the rotisserie, charred to a crust.) The sauces get creative, such as a Turkish-style mint tzatziki or a lemon-tarragon yogurt. Somehow, you can also ask for bacon on your gyro. I like my gyro the way it's served in a thousand other corner grills in town, but it's nice to have options.

May 23, 2012

Yelp Weekly Newsletter

Looking for Greek food outside of Greektown? We’ve got you covered. Gyro-Mena makes Susan F “as happy as a lamb, er, clam.” That’s understandable, what with “lamb, beef, chicken or pork salads that come dressed with blue cheese, feta, shredded cheddar, an assortment of vegetables, hot peppers, and a choice of over eight sauces.”

July 10, 2012

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. If you’re a carnivore, which I am proudly, you seek out meat that’s just recently parted ways with wild ames. There’s just something to be said for it. That’s why Burger King had a killer edge during their 90’s heyday—they we’re ame-broiling those Whoppers and fencing them for a buck a pop. What a time.

Point being, I stumbled upon Gyro Mena one night while meandering down Clark near the Belmont Red Line stop with a buddy. Now, I’m one Mediterranean dude so I wouldn’t generally trust what is branded, Chipotle-syle assembly line Greek food. Needless to say, this meal ended up being a game-changer.

But before we get into any of that vivid imagery, I have to compliment the proprietor for branding the restaurant in a wholly-lighthearted way. I’m a picky eater, but I’m doubly persnickety about ambience. While the seating is a bit limited, the signage up in the restaurant, placed by “Malaka Mike,” is goldarn hilarious. Authenticity points also go out for the at screen constantly streaming amateur belly dancing—shameless, really.

So, the turnover time on a fresh gyro is pretty quick. As far as meat options go, they have beef, lamb, pork, and chicken all roasting away. What I would say is a textbook order at a joint like Gyro Mena is as follows: the American Gyro, an order of Greek Fries, and a bottomless Coke Zero so you can spare some calories, right?

You build the gyro to spec, picking the sauces (tsatziki, hummus, Greek yogurt, etc), cheeses, veggies, and other extraneous add-ons. The pita ends up being about the size of a Chipotle burrito with substantially more meat. They do not screw around with the portions, especially when you consider what the pricing is like (roughly $6 for a pita). My custom gyro is made up of beef, lamb, tatsziki, mozzarella, feta, onions, tomatoes, olives, and a dab of hummus. This is the kind of decadence keeping small business alive.

The Greek fries, which deserve their own paragraph most assuredly, are slim-cut steak fries with feta and Greek dressing. Oh, man, they are addictive enough to warrant a Surgeon General’s warning. A small order is always more than enough.

Amongst other pretty solid items on the menu, the Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) is put together pretty well and the frappes are solid. They also make hearty dinner plates and salads if you’re looking to stay classy. But honestly, don’t beat around the bush– get the pita and factor in time for a Greek nap afterwards. You know, the kind of naps that plummet the value of the Euro.

Also, one last thing that’s important to note for all of you degenerate youngsters who might be reading—they’re open until the wee hours of the night and they do deliver pretty promptly (just something to keep in mind before, during, or after your rompings about town).