King Gyros – Whitehall, OH

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One of the best things about my new job is that I now get to travel around Columbus on a daily basis. This means, more exposure to the neighborhoods that I don’t usually get to frequent, and new discoveries of some of the best eateries around the city. Case in point: King Gyros. My friend and ride-along partner, Easy, took me there for lunch recently, after telling me about how amazing their food is. The previous day, we had stopped at a little gyro shack on the West side that served some decent, but pretty flavorless Greek basics, and Easy promised that this would be quite a different level of Greek cuisine altogether.

Owner Yianni Chalkias has been bringing his passion and traditions to his business, which includes using many of his family recipes, since opening in 1991. I got a chance to talk with Yianni for a few minutes about his menu, about the history of the restaurant, and about his passion for cooking and for his business. He was extremely friendly and welcoming.

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The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was the bright, vibrant colors and décor, as is the case in many Greek restaurants. When you enter the building, you first step into an area designated for placing your order, and is situated with several refrigerated cases full of homemade desserts and a large variety of imported beer. The walk-up counter has several posted daily special signs and there is a large menu board overhead. This used to be the main dining area as well, before an extensive remodeling several years ago. The young lady at the counter was very friendly and took the time to talk to me about several items on the menu.

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The menu is fairly large, and I was quite impressed with the variety of authentic dishes they offered. There’s the usual falafel, mousaka and gyros that you’d expect to find in any fast-casual Greek establishment, but King Gyros also cranks out specialties like Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Fried Smelt, and Papa’s braised, bone-in Lamb Shanks, which are prepared using Yianni’s family recipe. They also serve specialty dips, salads, platters, burgers and subs.

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The dining room is the newest addition to the building. It’s a long and well-lit space with an amazing, hand-painted mural that spans all four walls. Whoever painted it has some incredible talent. We sat, looked and commented on it the whole time we were eating. Although slender, the high ceilings and bright colors make the area feel open and roomy.

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My friend, Easy, ordered the Supreme Gyro & Feta Bowl ($8.49). It was a very generous portion of thinly sliced gyro meat piled on top of Greek country rice, and topped with King’s famous gyro sauce, feta cheese, diced tomatoes, banana peppers and shredded lettuce. Easy said he’s ordered this meal several times and loved the flavor of the meat, rice and sauce. It was so large he couldn’t even finish it.

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We also ordered the Greek Fire Feta Dip ($5.75) to share between the two of us. The dish consisted of Greek feta cheese mixed with herbs and spices, was topped with cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes and banana peppers, and served with three pitas. Again, an enormous plate of food which was full of amazing flavors. The feta was incredible – oily, creamy, salty, and the spice mixture gave it a touch of heat. The pitas were warm and soft and cut into bite-sized portions. Great dish.

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I ordered the Steak & Cheese Super Sub ($7.75) on the recommendation of my dining companion. I’ve got to say first of all, that this was one of the best steak sandwiches/subs I have ever eaten in my entire life…and I lived in Philly for 6 years!! It was a 9-inch symphony on a toasted sesame bun. The steak wasn’t your average thin, flavorless steak meat…King Gyros makes their steak sub with filet mignon tips! It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, was seasoned very well (Yianni later told me that he lets the beef marinate for 48 hours before cooking), and the thin edges even had a nice char, which added an awesome flavor and texture.

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The steak was topped with feta, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, olives, mayo and Greek dressing. I live in Galloway, and I would drive across town again just for one of these subs, it really was that good.

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King Gyros also offers a large selection of domestic and import beers. One that I noticed while browsing was the “Lobster Lover’s Ale”. I’d be interested to try that sometime, I think.

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They have over a dozen different varieties of baklava, along with several cheesecakes, turnovers, and other delicacies for dessert…all made in house.

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This is the Greek Custard Pastry that we selected. The pastry was buttery and flaky. The custard was smooth, eggy, and not too sweet. The dessert was about the size of a medium burrito, and can easily be shared between two people.

I am extremely thankful that my friend took me to King Gyros. Yianni obviously takes great pride in his restaurant, and his food, and because if that, customers have been coming back again and again for over 20 years. His business sense is solid. He told me that instead of owning multiple locations across the city that all offer sub-standard food and service, his desire is to own one location that serves incredible food and has an excellent staff, and to continue to grow his business from there. It sounds like a win/win plan to me. And I’ll definitely be back again to support it, too.

King Gyros is located at 400 S. Hamilton Rd., Whitehall, OH 43213 (Map). They are open Monday – Thursday, 10:30 am – 10:00 pm, Friday, 10:30 am – 11:00 pm, Saturday, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and closed Sunday. If you’d like more info, visit their website and on Facebook.

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