Papa Cristo’s Has the Greatest Add On of All Time

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What is there to really say about Papa Cristo’s that hasn’t already been said?  Situated across from St. Sophia’s (home of the gigantic annual L.A. Greek Fest), it’s pretty much the consensus best Greek lunch in L.A. Squid Ink called it the best gyro in town,  Jonathan Gold (aka The Guru) has mentioned their roast chicken a number of times over the years, and Los Angeles Magazine called their lamb sandwich one of the best in the city.  Hell, even the Food Network’s Meat & Potatoes has been there!  (But mostly those other three things.)   With everything I had heard, expectations were pretty high, and yet none of that prepared me for the excitement I felt when I saw this…

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Wait.  So let me get this straight… I order my lunch.  Pay you $3.25 more than the price is listed on the menu, and you’ll toss a lamb chop in with the grub.  YES! THAT… IS… AWESOME.  I don’t know why I thought that was so awesome, but possibly because the power of suggestion is so strong.  Sure, most restaurants might have a list of apps or add ons.  And maybe even a single lamb chop might make that list.  But Papa Cristo’s takes it that one beautiful step forward.  A sign like this doesn’t wait for you to choose the extra chop, it’s telling you that whatever it is you’re ordering is not enough.  You NEED that extra lamb chop.  You’re a WUSS if you don’t order that extra lamb chop.

So, the extra lamb chop was a given.  But what to order as my meal? All the platters were well over $10, and I wasn’t going to order a salad… so… that left me looking at the sandwiches.

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Back to the basics is what I say.  Their gyro is $6.99 and is practically perfect.  A huge mound of crispy, freshly cut strips of gyro from the spit, stuffed into a beautiful, fluffy piece of pita bread that clearly needs the paper it’s wrapped in to keep from busting.  Topped with bright red slices of tomato and romaine (nice!) instead of iceberg.  The only flaw is that they put the tzatziki on the side!  (What is that, an L.A. thing?)  So you either have to sauce each bite individually, or unwrap the thing and apply manually… a tactic I would not recommend.  Next time I might see if they’ll add the tzatziki behind the counter.  Side note:  when you check in to Papa Cristo’s for the first time on Four Square or Facebook their gyro is just $5.  (See, social media is good for something!)

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It was always going to be hard for the add-on lamb chop to live up to the excitement I felt when reading the sign, plus it is only $3.25.  All in all it was nice and flavorful, but really chewy- leaving the plastic knife completely useless.  After awhile I just picked it up with my hands and started knawing (much to the delight of the girl I was eating with, I’m sure.)  In other words, this ain’t food you want to be eating in front of other people.  Another side note:  it’s amazing that something The Guru wrote over 10 years ago is still completely true.  The guy is amazing (and this place clearly hasn’t changed!)

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If you’re into lamb, the roasted lamb and feta sandwich in french bread (as recommended by L.A. Mag) is the much better choice, as lunch of course.  Not as an add-on.  (Although if you did order it as an add on you’d be my new hero!)    Simple, tasty, perfect.  And if the whole thing is too simple for you, they include a side of peppers and olives.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without at least trying one of their “Greek Pizzas”.  Spanikopitza seemed like the obvious choice, and it didn’t disappoint.  Imagine the delicious spinach and feta stuffing that goes into spinach pie, but on a pizza.  It’s a no-brainer! And even though the description says it’s pita, the dough gets nice and crispy on the outside so you still feel like you’re eating a pizza.  If you love spanikopita, but don’t think it constitutes a meal, this will be your new favorite lunch.

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Last month Papa Cristo’s announced that they were embarking on a project to remodel the restaurant’s facade and update the dining room. I guess that’s ok, as long as the place keeps its old world charm.  And the great food.  And the pork chop add on.

THE +

  • Finally, a real gyro!  None of this pre-packaged meat strips crap you get at other places
  • They give you a ton of meat in the sandwich
  • Damn that lamb sandwich is good.
  • The place has been there forever and you can tell. So awesome.
  • I love the idea of a spinach pie in pizza form
  • All the bread is great (pita, french bread, etc.)

THE -

  • The lamb chop was a little tough.  You could barely cut it.
  • I don’t like dill, and the tzatziki has a ton of dill
  • Put the sauce in the sandwich!  I tried unwrapping mine and it all fell apart.
  • Platters are a bit too expensive for us

Papa Cristo’s, 2771 Pico Blvd (on Normandie), 323-737-2970

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2 Comments

  • Looks like another winner, and perfect charm for a Midtown Lunch.

  • That sign is a step away from saying “Lamb Chop: You’ve Earned It, Baby.” Which will likely be my epitaph.

    Anyway, I can just barely make out the top of Papa’s head. They have a fun belly dancing night here were Papa works the room (he’s not the belly dancer though, sadly). The food is just okay, but it’s a really fun/awkward experience.

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