Is Gyro II The Best Gyro Midtown Has to Offer?

Since I started this site, I’ve been on a quest to find a *real* gyro sandwich in Midtown. And when I say ji-roh or yee-roh or however the hell you want to pronounce it, I mean the Greek inspired sandwich, featuring slices taken from those giant hunks of rotating meat you see on every street meat cart in Midtown, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce (the white yogurt sauce with shredded or sliced cucumbers). Not shawarma (which has a distinctly Middle Eastern flavor), not the pre-made gyro ovals they serve at diners, and not that chopped up stuff you see served off of every street meat cart in Midtown. I want a real Greek style gyro. (I say Greek style because I don’t actually know what an authentic gyro sandwich in Greece is all about… I just know what I ate at Greek festivals growing up as a kid, and I love it.)

I understand the economics of the situation. While most street meat carts have the generic lamb slab used by most Greek restaurants that serve gyro sandwiches, they don’t have the time to allow it to fully cook up on the spit. So what do they do? They cut it off before it has a chance to brown, chop it up into pieces, mix it with onions, peppers, and whatever else, and cook it on the flat top. Tasty… but not a gyro. I just want a simple sandwich, with gyro meat that has been given the chance to get crispy on the spit, sliced and put directly into a piece of soft pita, topped with onion, lettuce, tomato and Greek yogurt (not the street meat “white sauce”).

Last time I mentioned this on the site, the only in bounds recommendation I got was for Gyro II on 7th Ave. btw. 33+34th. I checked it out last week…

Gyro II is typical of most “Greek” take out in Manhattan, in that it also serves pizza. The gyro spit was probably the biggest I’ve ever seen, which was both exciting and scary all rolled into one. It also had this reddish tint, which I was not too excited about. They get busy during lunch, just like the carts, so they make your sandwich from meat that has already been sliced, and then stored below the oven, but that’s ok, because at least they allow it to fully cook on the spit before slicing. This sign was also slightly reassuring:

I should have been skeptical though because the gyro I’m looking for shouldn’t have a special “white sauce” worth mentioning, it should just have plain tzatziki, a simple yogurt sauce that matches perfectly with the gyro meat. Cool, and creamy it’s the perfect topping for a Greek style gyro. What you get at Gyro II is nothing like that. Incredibly watery, it had a overly sweet flavor that was more like cole slaw than tzatziki- and to make things worse, they cover the whole sandwich in it, rendering it the biggest mess of all time.

If the gyro meat had been standard, it may have cut the sweetness of the “special sauce”, but it wasn’t. It also was more sweet than salty, making the whole sandwich a sickly sweet mess of dashed hopes and dreams. I’m not saying it’s a terrible sandwich, and I know a lot of people are big fans, it’s just not the type of gyro I’m looking for. Growing up in Miami, if I could get a decent gyro at Miami Subs (back in the day, before they became an all out chain with the bologna of gyro meat,) then how hard can this really be?!?!

I’m guessing you could go to a cart, and ask them to make you a gyro the way you want it, but I’m thinking it still won’t be right, because it’s not what they do. Has anybody had the sandwich I’m describing? Cart or walk in… doesn’t matter to me. Got the perfect rec? Put it in the comments below…

Gyro II, 427 7th Ave (btw. 33+34th), 212-239-0646


  • I’ve gotta go with the gyro at the Famous Chicken Place. Despite the fact that the price went up and I can no longer plunk down a fiver and cover it, it never lets me down. They heat up the pita and the meat on the grill, though the meat is definitely cooked on the spit, and the sauce is wonderfully yogurty without overpowering the meat.

  • The perfect rec would have to be “DON’T GO TO A GYRO PLACE ON 34TH & 7TH THAT ALSO SERVES PIZZA AND EXPECT *ANYTHING* GOOD TO HAPPEN!” Zach, why didn’t your Midtown Lunch spidey sense go off like a 100-decibel alarm at this joint? If shavings off a prefab meat cone is your desire, you’d be better off at Sahara Grill on 40th & 7th. Maybe not still exactly what you are looking for, but they do specialize in these things and at least they don’t serve crappy pizza.

  • I too have never found a decent gyro, or chicken kabon/soulvlaki greek style spot here in Midtown. Growing up in Astoria, and living in Bayside there are some great Gyro places always nearby when home… work? not so much.

    What I wouldn’t give for some killer lemon potato’s and a kick ass chicken donner sandwich. yum.

    Also just to kinda clarify the difference between authentic Greek gryo and what isn’t… depending on who you ask and where they are from, “Authentic” Greek gyro is sometimes refered to as being Donner, which is usually Pork and/or Lamb that has been pounded out thin, and marinated and then put layered onto a vertical spit and then roasted on the gryo cookers we love to drool over.

    That from what’s been told to me before is what Authentic Greek gyro is that you’d get in Greece, not the grinded down goodness that was supposidly created here in NY, supposidly at a Greek street fair in Astoria many years ago.

    I know.. I know it’s who you ask, and that’s the story I’ve grew up around for the most part.

  • Oh boy. Back in high school, I went to Greece and I think on every street corner in Athens there was an amazing hole-in-the-wall gyro restaurant. Plonk down a couple Euros for a sandwich from heaven. Oh well, that was back when $1 got you 1.20 Euros, not .60.

  • Talk about unidentified animal matter!

    I’ll bet my entire Sandra Lee figurine collection that at least some of that gyro “meat” came from a commercial kennel. By the way, my wife once ran one.

  • Miami Subs, there was one in Dallas if my memory serves me right. I loved their gyros. I was sad that it ended up being a tex-mex place. I love tex-mex, but I missed Miami Subs. =(

  • Zach – Uncle Nicks on 8th Ave and 50th is worth any minor trek. They have amazing souvlaki and gyro sandwiches (AMAZING!) made from good quality meat for *only* $4.95! It’s a sit-down restaurant with a carry-away ordering station at the front. Like nothing else in Midtown. Please try it – I think you will enjoy.

  • @ pianos… Uncle Nick’s is on 9th Ave. – but it is good. I was just hoping to get something in bounds. There must be a cart somewhere that does a regular gyro!

    @ Mala… i will for sure have to check out the Famous Chicken Place’s gyro. I do like their chicken…

  • Ask I said many months ago, im a KEBAB expert(my late teens and early twenties we’re powered by this food of the gods.)
    I own a villa in Paphos,Cyprus, and i ive said before the IIjos/Gyro/Doner: who invented it i mean, rages on with the local Greek/Turkish locals(sometimes violently).

    My only tip is Never get the “white sauce”…just go for the lemon juice and loads of salad.Also Kebab/Doner meat should be made from Minced Lamb only…but in the US it tends to have beef in it too…….not a bad thing per se…. just well..if ya gonna do it….?.It also benefits massively from forgoing the Pita….and if you can find an indo/greeco place……using a fresh Naan to wrap it all in.

    Im bloody hungry now.

  • Probably they were trying to replicate the Olga’s Kitchen experience.

  • Pianos-that’s for the Uncle Nicks tip. That’s a nice gyro.

  • I meant-thanks

  • Dyno – I know this is not the forum, but where in Astoria can you get a good (cheap) meal…? I live in Asstoria now & have never had a good Greek meal.

  • Marina – Opa! In Astoria under the El on 30th ave has one of the best (if not the best) Gyros in the neighborhood. Definitely stop by there if you want Gyro.. if you want a great traditional Greek meal stop by Agnanti (19th & Ditmars) near the park… or Philoxenia (34th Ave & 32nd st).. both amazing!

  • You’re absolutely right- Gyro II has a sickeningly sweet tsatzkiki. Outside of that I thought it was good, but the sauce almost ruined the the thing.

    You can get some pretty good gyros at a few of the diners in the area like Red Flame, but otherwise I stick with the street meet guys

  • Marina, good and cheap Greek don’t go hand in hand per say in Astoria. I mean you have the famous Souvlaki cart on the corner nears St. Dimitrios’ Greek Ortho Church.

    Off the top of my head there’s a Seafood place called Stamatis on Broadway which is pretty good and a place called Taverna Kycladis or something along those lines which is in LIC, but right next door to Astoria.

    If you’re looking to go outside of Astoria, go to Bayside which is ofcourse the other Greek civilization outside of Astoria in Queens, there is a place called Avli which has without adoubt the best Greek food myself or my fav has ever had at a gyro-esq sandwich shop. Then we also have Gyro Corner, which is well known and ofcourse Fontana’s on the corner of Northern and Francis Lewis Blvd. All good choices, but Avli has become our fav in my home and they’ve only been open a year.

  • Gene’s diner on 60th and Madison has great great souvlaki and perfect tzatziki. I’ve never had the gyro here though.

  • I will for sure check out Avli………..thanks for taking the time to answer!

  • Rudi – when you mentioned that you owned a villa on Cyprus, you failed to add the clause “if that sort of thing excites you”

  • The present Mrs McBagel does not own a hair removal franchis(z)e, so i thought it would not be needed.

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