Rare is the food that is served freshly shaved from a giant log… tree bark must be boiled before consumption, and dessert yule log cakes are, as I understand it, intended to be eaten in one whole go rather than served in slices or shavings. Alas, the gyro largely stands alone as a log-to-table meal. Yet, so revered for its slowly rotating glory, you will find it celebrated in celebrity fad diets and even band names. And it’s places like Athenian Gyros & Chicken that give us reason to celebrate the glorious trunk of meat that is gyros.
Athenian Gyros & Chicken, found in Pinellas Park, is a tiny, family-owned establishment serving up Mediterranean and Greek food with a wink and a smile. Athenian Gyros & Chicken has earned a dedicated following, no doubt partially thanks to its owner, who provides both friendly service and light-hearted conversation peppered with jokes. The guy clearly loves what he is doing, loves his customers, and, as made evident in every bite, loves his food.
My order on this particular visit included the Super Gyro (with the tomatoes, onions, and Grecian sauce all included on the regular gyro, plus lettuce, sliced black olives, and feta cheese) and an order of Spinach Pie (spanakopita) – enough food that the owner (incorrectly) guessed I would not be able to finish it all.
The gyro was incredible: tender, delicious, flavorful spiced meat, piled high on a pillowy pita. The lettuce, tomato, and onions were solid (though I could have probably used more of an onion presence), and the soft feta cheese propelled the gyro into a whole other stratum of bliss… I may never have a gyro without it again. Add to this a generous topping of cool Grecian sauce (tzatziki, and apparently the owner’s grandmother’s secret recipe), and you have yourself the best gyro in Tampa Bay.
The Spinach Pie was also good, with a flaky exterior and creamy interior (having more of an emphasis on the creaminess than a spinach flavor), but it couldn’t hold a candle to the gyro. Basically, once you have the gyros from Athenian Gyros & Chicken, you will never really want to waste your time with anything else.