Mr. Gyro’s Greek Food & Pastry has been an Overland Park landmark for over 25 years at the corner of Metcalf Avenue and 83rd Street. Mr. Sushipoet and I ventured into the original unassuming little restaurant for the first time back in 1988 and have savored their delectable fare at least once a month since then. (That totals about 300 dining experiences, which is a low estimate given periods when every Friday evening found us there.)
Back in the 80s, Mr. Gyro’s was located across the street from its current location, in a repurposed fast-food spot. Soula and Ted Jovaras (the owners) were always there to take your order at the tiny counter. Tables were crowded together in a friendly and intimate arrangement (and often full on weekend evenings), and philodendron and other vines hung from humble pots in the copious windows.
A few years ago, Mr. Gyro’s moved across the street into a custom building with Greek architectural influences. I’m happy to see a family-owned restaurant succeeding so spectacularly in the shadow of chain restaurants, but I have to tell you I miss the original little box of a restaurant. Sure, it could be crowded, and you might have had to beat back an encroaching philodendron to get a table. The new spot is shiny and new, while the first location was modest and worn around the edges and lived-in. Maybe that’s why I prefer it; it was a bit like me.
But, regardless of the exterior trappings, Mr. Gyro’s fare has remained consistently delicious. There are so many tasty offerings that I’ve made the combination plate my habit, so that I can enjoy a bit of everything. The combination plate comprises horiatiki (Greek salad), gyro meat with pita and tzatziki sauce, pastichio, spanakopita and a dolma. It’s more than a single meal, and if you have some odd eating habits like I do, Greek leftovers make a great breakfast the next morning!
Everything on the combination plate satisfies some deep, primal craving for me. The flavors in the pastichio are cheerful, and the creamy topping is luscious. Spinach is one of my favorite leafy greens, and phyllo dough has an ethereal quality, so spanakopita approaches perfection in my food diary. A mini gyro with meat, pita and tzatziki is a combination of soft, warm bread, savory meat, and cool, creamy sauce–a gala of flavors and textures for your palate.
But, I have to say, when it comes to dolmas, Mr. Gyro’s is the only place to eat them in Kansas City. The filling is the perfect balance of meat, rice and savory herbs, all rolled into a firm little packet of deliciousness in a succulent grape leaf.
Mr. Gyro’s has opened a second location at 119th and Blackbob Road in Olathe. I admit I’ve never been to the new location, as the Overland Park spot is en route from work to home, making it one of our favorite carry-out places.
A discussion of Mr. Gyro’s wouldn’t be complete for me without mentioning my feline soul-mate, Shakti. (They say every feline-loving writer succumbs to writing about a cat sooner or later.) Shakti was a tame kitty when it came to eating–she was relatively satisfied with dry cat food and enjoyed an occasional tortilla chip for fun. But, that said, she was insane for Mr. Gyro’s Greek salad dressing. She rarely misbehaved by jumping onto kitchen counters or tables. The exception was when a Mr. Gyro’s carry-out box was to be found. She would bat at the top of the container until it popped open or even knock it to the floor. We would find her, eyes closed in foodie ecstasy, licking away at the salad dressing.
Over the 20+ years of Shakti’s life, I swear she could sniff out Mr. Gyro’s when we pulled into the garage with carry-out. As we stepped into the house, she would be darting about like an excited pooch (she was a little mixed up in the head that way). At least I can say my little feline soul mate had a discerning palate.
© Sherry Burns and sushipoet.wordpress.com, 2013.