Holding out for a Gyro

The gyro is like a tasting menu in every bite. You have creamy, cool and tangy tzatziki sauce, succulent and spicy lamb, crunchy onions that add a little heat, sweet-tart tomato chunks, and it all comes wrapped in a warm, chewy pita. If the chef throws on some feta to finish it with a sharp slap, then God has smiled on you.

Dennis: The gyro is not the perfect late-night food (that will always be the slinger, of course), but because of the to-go factor, it’s a close runner-up.

Emily: It’s pretty much perfect in my book. (No more slingers, please.) Though it was tragic that we never found an ideal after-hours locale. But as the saying goes, “All great achievements require time.” And we’ll keep looking as long as it takes.

Emily’s gyro profile: Give me some tang with that sauce.

Dennis’ gyro profile: It comes from a spindle of meat. I’ll take two.

Michael’s Bar & Grill
7101 Manchester Ave., Maplewood 314.644.2240
Mon. to Sat. – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (The kitchen may remain open later.)

D: The gyros at Michael’s are always dead solid; flavorful meat full of spices and slathered in tzatziki sauce, crunchy onions and juicy tomatoes.
E: The tzatziki was actually served on the side. So one may slather as one sees fit.
D: And slather one should. The sauce is what keeps me coming back. It’s appropriately viscous (meaning it stays where it’s put and doesn’t run everywhere), tangy without obscuring the cucumber and very creamy. I only hope one day to have the self-control not to order the pita bread and tzatziki appetizer just for the extra sauce.
E: Why don’t you just ask for extra tzatziki with your meal?
D: Because I want immediate gratification! Plus, if I just got a cup of tzatziki it would look weird when I started pouring it into my mouth.
E: Good point.
D: My only issue was the meat.
E: Really? It tasted fine on my sandwich.
D: It was noticeably overcooked on the gyro salad. But still, the vinaigrette, briny olives and sharp feta really played nicely with the tzatziki sauce. With a little better meat it would be a fine alternate to satisfy your gyro fix, especially on a warm night.
E: What will keep me coming back is the service. They actually seemed happy to see two small children in our party. And not only did they surprise our 3-year-old with crackers and a Tootsie Pop, our waitress included extra sauce for our son’s toasted ravioli in his doggie bag.

Majestic Restaurant
4900 Laclede Ave., St. Louis ∙ 314.361.2011
Daily – 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

D: Wow. I’ve driven by this literally hundreds of times and never thought to go in. I mean, it’s a diner. Like … a real diner … on Euclid, in the middle of prime CWE real estate. Fantastic.
E: It was comfy, that’s for sure, gazing out the window on a rainy night.
D: Sadly the gyros fell short. Ultimately the tzatziki was its undoing. Too much yogurt, not enough other flavors.
E: The sandwich was served open-faced, with meat on one side of a wonderfully crunchy pita and the onions and tomatoes on the other side. Unfortunately, I prefer mine wrapped in foil and ready to go. It’s just too difficult to eat like this.
D: No deconstructed gyros for me, either.
E: And the tomatoes were sliced, not diced, which makes it hard to get all the flavors in every bite.
D: They almost made up for it by throwing on a healthy bit of moist, sharp feta, but if either the sauce or the meat is lackluster, the gyro will never capture my heart.

Apollonia Restaurant
6836 Gravois Ave., St. Louis ∙ 314.353.1488
Mon. to Sat. – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun. –
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

E: I was immediately struck by the noontime atmosphere. Dim lighting. Hushed voices. A little Greek music. You could duck in here for some midday romance on the fly.
D: Who has time for romance when there’s royalty in the house? All hail the new gyro king. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “raucous” to describe a dish, but that is the word that hit me after my first bite at Apollonia. The meat was perfect, the tomatoes were super ripe and sweet, crunchy onions were applied at the perfect ratio …
E: I definitely appreciated that all of the crunch came from the onions, not the meat.
D: … and the sauce … OMG … the sauce, “vibrant” doesn’t get it done. If this gyro were a concert it would be the exact moment when the stage blows up, the band goes crazy, the crowd loses its inhibitions and the mosh pit overtakes the whole joint. You know, the best thing ever. I wish Apollonia was in my neighborhood; nay, I need it to be in my neighborhood. Emily, we might have to move, this place needs to be swing-by-able.
E: OMG is right.

Athena’s Restaurant
15662 Manchester Road, Ellisville ∙ 636.527.0771
Mon. to Thu. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

E: There is something charming about a former Krieger’s that’s now home to a wait staff with a tuxedo-like uniform.
D: If you’re cruisin’ the county, Athena’s is the place to grab respectable gyros without subjecting yourself to the atrocities of a food court.
E: They’re a smaller version of Apollonia’s. Less meat. Less toppings. Still quite good, but less.
D: If there were just a little more tang to the sauce, it would be more than enough for me. Plus, I totally dig that the outside is magnificently drab with little signage. I felt very James Bond entering the front door.