Enjoying the drunk-food goodness—and Arrested Development ambiance—of Greek Village Gyros
Milwaukee’s bustling East Side has long been a treasure trove for gyros and other Mediterranean delicacies—or things easily demolished when you’re too drunk to drive to Taco Bell. Local leader in lamb Oakland Gyros has stood prominently on the corner of Locust Street and, fittingly, Oakland Avenue since 1985. Nearby, Apollo Café has a stronghold on Brady Street’s Greek cuisine market. Yet last fall, a lower East Side eatery brazenly tried to get a piece of the lucrative spinach pie held by two veteran gyro-slingers. The A.V. Club sheepishly passed OG’s and Apollo to instead give Greek Village Gyros a chance.
The space: Maybe the return of Arrested Development is a little too fresh in our minds, but the restaurant’s interior delivers imagery of a Bluth model home unit. As a low-level occupant of the Kane Place Lofts, that makes sense. Instead of a Cornballer, we found a fountain soda machine. A silverware and condiment station was where the constantly breaking mini bar would sit. Buster’s prosthetic hook is replaced with a spit impaling a hunk of lamb in the abbreviated kitchen at the back of the restaurant. Beyond a row of small tables, fake plants, and wooden banisters, there’s also a staircase leading to a quaint upper level. (If there was a Mrs. Featherbottom umbrella jump from there during our visit, we missed it.) Besides some stock photos of Greece, framed articles, and a pair of “for entertainment only” gambling machines, the site is almost identical to how former tenant Meglio Pizzeria left it.
The service: Arriving during the lull between the post-dinner hour rush and pre-bar time busy spell, we walked in to see an employee—whom we took to be the proprietor, based on his photo in the articles on the wall—playing the aforementioned video poker machines. Acknowledging us, he quickly abandoned his hand, welcomed us, and walked behind the register to take our order. Later, a woman working in the back took the time to hand deliver our items and the man who took our order stopped by our table to ask how our food was—both unnecessary but welcomed touches for the short-order restaurant.
The A.V. Club’s food: In addition to two glaring spelling errors—unless “Rggplant” and “Mlller Lite” are things—the Greek Village menu is actually pretty vast and varied, especially for a place its size. There are hot dogs, chicken fish sandwiches, fish and shrimp, shish-kabobs, spinach pie, saganaki (a flaming cheese appetizer), soups, salads, roast beef sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, hummus with pita, desserts, beer, and a heft of burgers available.
While many of those proved tempting, we’d be remiss in not trying a gyro. More accurately, we indulged in the Gyros Supreme ($6.59), which was a pita circle buried beneath a stack of seasoned lamb, tomatoes, raw onion and cucumbers, pepperoncini, and feta crumbles. It was as good as it was messy, which is to say very. However, the meat lost a few points for being lukewarm and a tad dry. We chased the gyro will something called Greek Fries ($2.79), which were seasoned French fries smattered in feta crumbles and a hint of lime juice. They were an interesting and tasty take on an American standard, but required a fork—and later, a spoon—to finish on account of the cheese’s texture. Days later, we’re still kicking ourselves for not finishing up with an incredible-sounding baklava sundae ($2.99).
The verdict: Greek Village Gyros may not have the reputation, cache, or quite the deliciousness of its neighborhood competitors, but with good food and a versatile menu, it’s still a great drunk-food delivery option to tend to late-night cravings.