I had just gone to Chicago Gyros in Clifton when the next day wine me, dine reviewed Areti's Gyros in OTR at Findlay Market. So, rather than put up a single review, why not introduce a new concept on the blog: Head to Head. A lot of what we all do as eater's is try to figure out who has the best of something, so when I think there's reason for a match-up, let's get ready to rumble!
yes, that's singular) place in town (see photo on the left). Areti's Gyros (AG) got a "freakin' great gyro" review from Julie at wine me, dine me (see photo below on left). Could we compare 10 more gyros? Sure. But, the heavyweight division needs a champ to wear the belt to start.
The Food: This is all about the gyros itself. Sure, both places offer other options, but more on that below. Chicago and Areti's both make a solid gyros, but in my opinion, Chicago Gyros takes the trophy hands down. And the defining characteristic that sets CG apart - a better tzatziki. At AG, the tzatziki consistency is a bit off, almost like mayonnaise. The tzatziki is so important in balancing the savoriness of the seasoned lamb, and CG's got the best balance. And on top of balance, CG's got a full-on taste explosion happening - great meat, the onion's acidity, and a cucumbery garlicly tzatiki that pulls it all together. AG's pita is a bit thinner than CG's - I prefer Chicago Gyros here as well. On both sandwiches I'd agree with wine me, dine me - leave off the tomatoes until they're in season, they're forgettable at best. The only "problem" at CG is not a problem at all - too much meat! Neither place skimps though. At Areti's, it wasn't that the gyros was bad, it was just pretty boring.
In other news, Chicago Gyros also has great fries - crispy on the outside, soft on the inside (unless you get them for take out, at which point they're all soft). They're using some sort of seasoning salt for added flavor, I think it's Lowry's. I've also been known to snag a baklava on the way out the door - honey goodness. Areti's looks to have plenty of other options too (see the slideshow below for more pics), but I can't speak to the quality.
The Setting, Story, and Service: I grew up on gyros. The place is closed now (and it was going downhill for many years), but when I was a baby my mom would stop there on the way from our place to Lake Michigan or the Lincoln Park Zoo. Then, when we'd do return visits, Sparta Gyros was always a big treat.
In terms of setting and service, Areti's has a leg up on Chicago Gyros. The woman behind the counter was very nice, and it was a quick stop. Findlay Market was surprisingly busy on a weekday at lunch, so the atmosphere was nice for a mid-day pick-me-up. At CG, service is brusque, they don't answer the phone around lunch for pickup orders, and parking can be a bit of a pain. But, they remodeled this past year, have a few TVs with ESPN/games playing, and once you're on McMillan you have plenty of options. They should rename it Sandwich Street now that they have Penn Station, Jersey Mikes, Quizno's, Chipotle, Jimmy John's and more within 1 block.
The Winner: Chicago Gyros - your new champion!
Chicago Gyros Slideshow
Areti's Gyros Slideshow