St. Augustine’s New Recession-Friendly ($10 and under!) and First Rate Greek Restaurant “Gyro House” (St. M. 778)
Unless you are an aficionado of “hole in the wall” restaurants, don’t let this unassuming-looking little storefront style restaurant fool you. Gyro House of St. Augustine offers truly fine and truly home-made authentic Greek and Middle Eastern food — with a touch of Sicilian thrown in.
It’s hard not to make a fuss over the reasonable prices, but please trust us on this — this is great food at any price. This is artisanal real food made by someone who knows food and cares about feeding you well.
Gyro House’s short yet varied menu offers the best gyro (bearing no resemblance to the ubiquitous salty mystery meat that goes by the same name) we have ever tasted. Actually, everything we tried was the best version we’d ever tasted.
Almost everything is house-made and the short yet varied menu of this little restaurant reveals the owner’s and his wife’s combined ethnic heritages — Greek, Middle Eastern and Sicilian. Adam, the half-Greek and half-Jordanian owner, says the Gyro is the crown jewel of his sandwiches. He chops, spices and compresses the gyro meat on premises before cooking it on the rotisserie. Grape leaves are also house-made using Jasmine rice from Egypt — I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a fresher or more tender stuffed grape leaf, ever.
The falafel — this ranks right up there with the falafel on the Rue des Rosiers in Paris. That’s not some kind of inside joke, until this week, that was our favorite falafel on the planet. Fresh, full of cumin (I love that spice!), not over-cooked, perfect balance of crunchy outside and tender inside. Kibbee — pine nuts and I frankly don’t remember what else, but again, best version I’ve ever had. The tortellini feature a Sicilian pesto; the pita mini-pizzas feature a Genovese pesto. The other sandwich offerings include Chicken Shawarma, Chicken Caesar and Mediterranean Veggie.
Sandwiches are $6.99 and for $9.99 you can upgrade to a platter with a choice of two sides including tortellini, jasmine rice, kibbee, falafel, olives from Jerusalem, spanakopita, house-marinated artichokes. There are also salads, including Greek Salad, Tomato Salad with mozzarella pearls and basil, Caesar Salad and Tortellini Salad at $4.99 for a small and $6.99 for large. If the salad that was tucked in our gyros is any indication — fresh, crisp romaine, shaved onion and fresh chopped parsley — then the salads will be excellent, too.
We were too full for dessert but reports are that the home-made baklava is, yes, you guessed it, the best ever. Based on the other offerings, I’m willing to bet it’s true.
If you’re lucky, you will happen upon Gyro House just when you’re running out of olive oil on board. Organic olive oil from Genoa is for sale by the liter for $20.
Gyro House is a moderate-to-short walk from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, located at 210 St. George Street; that’s on the left side of the central park (facing in-land). Hours are 11 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week, except major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
S/V Lady Jane