Uncle Nick’s and Poseidon Bakery Make 9th Ave the Ultimate Greek Lunch Spot
“Why don’t you write about the places on 9th Ave.!?!” is a question I get a lot. My reply is usually some form of “Well then I have to go to 2nd Ave., and 26th street, and 65th Street… and then it never ends.” Essentially, you have to have boundaries or else it’s complete chaos. And while there are people who work on the outskirts who will travel to 2nd Ave. or 9th Ave. for lunch, most Midtown Lunch’ers will not… unless there is something that is going to make everyone say “oh man… I need that now.” Like banh mi, or tacos, or thai food, or $1 fried chicken. Or gyros (and Greek pastries!)
The age old gyro question came up again last week, when Profiled Lunch’er Harry asked if there was a real Greek gyro to be had in Midtown. Street carts, chop their gyro up and fry it on the griddle, rather than allowing it to fully cook on the spit, Gyro II leaves a lot to be desired, and while Famous Chicken Place does a bang up job- we still don’t have a real deal Greek gyro in the ML boundaries. Unless you are willing to travel to 9th Avenue. Uncle Nick’s and Posiedon Bakery were (enthusiastically) recommended in the comments… and when commenters speak, I listen. And boy am I glad I did.
I live in Hell’s Kitchen, so I’ve been to Uncle Nick’s many times- and yet I’ve never had their lunchtime gyro sandwich. I’m guessing it is already a favorite of anyone who works in the area. Uncle Nick’s is a sit down restaurant, so technically it doesn’t fit into the traditional Midtown Lunch mold, but it’s an easy thing to forget when you discover that the gyro sandwich is only $4.95. (I honestly thought it was going to be at least $7.) I ordered it to go and took it over to the outdoor seating area behind Worldwide Plaza (on 50th btw. 8+9th.)
The gyro was as perfect as can be. The meat was dark and crispy on one side (from where they allowed it to cook for the proper amount of time) and light on the other side (from where they cut it off the spit.) Lettuce, tomato, onions, and a proper tasting tzatziki (yogurt) sauce topped the thing, which was held together by a nicely grilled piece of fluffy pita bread. I’ve never been to Greece for the real thing, but in the states Midtown this is about as good as a standard gyro gets. They also have a pork souvlaki sandwich (which I will definitely be trying on a return visit.) (Update: I just re-read this and maybe I was being a little over zealous. It’s not the greatest gyro you will ever eat in your life… but in gyro deprived Midtown, if you’re looking for a real greek Gyro, this is as good as it is going to get.)
It didn’t come with fries, so I got an order of fries ($4.50) which turned out to be fried sliced potatoes. They were just fine (lack of salt being the main issue), so I would save your five bucks and head down the street to the Poseidon Bakery (on 9th Ave. btw. 44+45th.)
To call this place “old school” would be an understatement. If you are a fan of phyllo dough, and honey, and nuts, than this… uh… old school (shit, there is just no other word to describe it) Greek bakery will be your heaven on earth.
They make pretty much every Greek pastry imaginable, plus a few savory pies (like spanikopita.)
You can go with the industry standard baklava (very excellent), but my favorites are their flogera (a custard filled pastry) and their kataifi (a rolled almond pastry thing that is covered in shredded phyllo dough reminiscent of shredded wheat.)
This trip I went with the kataifi for $3.00 (keeping your gyro+pastry lunch under the $10 limit.) Sweet, gooey, nut filled, soaked in syrup, shredded dough topped goodness.
I could spend hours in this shop, which has somehow defied the onslaught of 9th Ave. gentrification (they probably own the building.) Order anything you see… you won’t be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t. Well worth traveling the extra avenue out of bounds.
No +/- for this one… because I can’t think of any reason not to like these two places.
Uncle Nick’s, 747 Ninth Avenue (btw. 50+51st), 212-245-7992
Poseidon Greek Bakery, 629 9th Ave (btw. 44+45th), 212-757-6173