Several of our readers suggested that we give Papa Gyro’s a try. It’s located in a strip mall off of University Drive in an old Blimpie’s location. When we first arrived, I have to admit that I felt like I was in the family’s house from My Big Fat Greek Wedding
. The decor included hanging clusters of plastic grapes worked through lattice with faux vines. Not to be topped were the colorful, yet cheesy, murals and mirror-lined walls. Although not my style, it was charming in its own way.
I ordered the hummus and a Mediterranean burger, while Shane ordered the classic gyro. The hummus was the best I’ve ever had, even among authentic Greek restaurants. It was smooth and had just the right amount of sesame and garlic to give it some pop. The pieces of flatbread on the side were light and were the perfect complement to the hummus. The burger, although tasty, was less impressive ( I know, I know….a burger at a Greek restaurant? Maybe it was a lame choice, but the moussaka and falafel were pricey!). I hoped for a burger with some feta or olive punch, but it was dressed with traditional American toppings and the patty was just okay. At under $5, the burger was definitely filling and worth the money.
The final item I tried was a piece of baklava. I love baklava and was so excited, but Papa Gyro’s baklava fell short. It lacked an appropriate amount of honey, leaving the layers of phyllo and nuts dry and beginning to separate. Marietta Diner
still wins for best baklava, hands down. All in all, I enjoyed the quirkiness of the place and will definitely be returning to Papa Gyro’s for my hummus fix.
Located in an an old Blimpie Sub Shop in a low-rent stripmall, Papa Gyro’s must be one of the tackier places I’ve eaten. The specials are handwritten, which is nice in some stores but removes confidence in others (like Papa’s). The plates and cups are generic styrofoam; no logoing is to be found anywhere. As a throwback to the Blimpie days, I suppose, they serve smoothies in a corner over which hangs a sign that says “Smoothie Land”; I remember that same sign saying “Smoothie Island” when the store was a Blimpie. As Melanie aluded to, the decor is Greek throw-up, with everything from the columns to the water fountain to the plastic grape vines trying to convince any diners that, yes, this is a Greek restaurant. How Christmas lights are Greek, though, is Greek to me. Despite the garish decor, Papa Gyro’s is redeemably charming, and I was mostly amused by the bizarre furnishings.
The amusing decor was well supported by the good food. Having never tried a gyro and seeing that I was in a gyro shop, I chose the “Classic Gyro” and enjoyed it. The meat, which was scraped off one of those weird vertically-mounted rotisseries, was tender and had a great flavor—a really great flavor. The tzatziki sauce tasted nice and refreshing and was not overwhelming (although I could imagine a restaurant easily using too much of this stuff), the garnish of vegetables was refreshing, and the pita was soft and flavorful. It was a nice and flavorful alternative to a burger or an enchilada.
Hoping to get the full Greek experience, I sampled Melanie’s hummus, which was the best I’ve had (although I’ve never had it fresh). I also tried the baklava, which tasted fine but was fresh two days before we arrived, and, like she said, there is no better baklava than Marietta Diner baklava.
Overall, I enjoyed Papa Gyro’s, and I recommend a visit. The prices are higher than I like and the decor just a little too crazy, so I don’t imagine us becoming regulars, but I could imagine us returning on a Saturday night when in the “slummin'” mood. I could also imagine an occasional lunchtime visit.
Some final notes:
- Papa Gyro’s is very much a Huntsville place: A couple Americans eating Greek food prepared by Mexicans in North Alabama is something to be appreciated and fortunately the sort of multicultural experience Huntsville often delivers.
- I must say it again: the beef tasted awesome.