Food & Drink

The Best Gyros in Chicago

Published On 10/07/2015 Published On 10/07/2015
Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Meaty, garlicky, and the prelude to a long nap after, gyros weren’t invented in Chicago, but the industrially made gyro meat cone was, which makes it incredibly hard to choose between stands that use the same lamb- or beef-filled gyro loaf from Kronos, Devanco, or one of the other manufacturers. Instead, to assemble the pride of places on our top 10, we only taste-tested those making their own meat for the spit, like in the old country. (Oh and for the record, they aren't pronounced “Guy-rose” or “Jy-rose,” it’s “Year-rose,” as a sign in every good gyro place will tell you.)

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Zeus Gyros

Mr. Greek Gyros is the standout for the rowdy, sometimes racially heated late-night food scene in Greektown, but looked at soberly, this small stand next door is much better at the standard Kronos product. It uses a finely ground cone -- practically “gyro-logna” -- crisped up just right. 

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Dino’s Carry-Outs

This South Side spot isn’t much to look at, but it’s utterly reliable for the classics (it puts out a mean Italian beef as well), and lesser stands should study the perfect crisping on its gyro alone.

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Save Venue With No Dish

Venue Name

Central Gyros

Venue Node ID

3634953

Central Gyros

This friendly, '70s-old-school family restaurant is probably the best traditional Greek restaurant outside of Greektown in Chicago, and it serves an excellent plate of gyros with well-seasoned and crisped meat.

Taxim

A modern Greek restaurant in Wicker Park (though Taksim is actually in Istanbul... kind of the Wicker Park of Istanbul), Taxim does interesting takes on classics from that part of the world, like its unique duck gyro, wrapped in a giant wrap and drizzled with pomegranate syrup.

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Athenian Room

This Lincoln Park standby for roasted chicken and Greek fries soaking in lemony-chicken fatty oil also does a totally solid gyro. It may be a touch dry, as it’s crisped to almost leather, but it's quality meat all the same, plus you get those wonderful fries that taste like schmaltz even when there’s no chicken on the plate.

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Gyros on the Spit

A family that used to have a famous Wrigleyville gyro place in the '80s and '90s revived it in Lakeview a couple of years ago, and if anybody’s gyros could be said to be a thing of beauty, it’s this place’s. The house-made meat is crisp and flavorful, and it looks great next to the Greek fries with garlic and feta.

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Nick’s Drive-In

This is one of the only stands that makes its own meat cone. ”It’s a pain in the butt, I wish I could just buy it,” the owner said when I asked about it. Considering all the signs on the walls saying it’s homemade, he’s stuck. But, as far as I'm concerned it’s worth it -- the coarse, meatier meat tastes like real beef and lamb and fresh spices (including lots of garlic).

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Greek Islands

One of the busiest restaurants in the entire city, Greek Islands has so many specialties you could eat there for years without ever having the gyros. But they’re excellent, with a rich lamb flavor, crispy and juicy -- plus they come with the restaurant’s ultra-garlicky tzatziki, which will remind you of how good they were for days.

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

Gyro-Mena

A Boystown Greek/Middle Eastern stand (with lots of off-color humor on the walls), Gyro-Mena offers traditional, plus pork and chicken gyros/shawarma sandwiches, with a wide range of toppings -- this is the only place where there's a distinction between Greek tzatziki (more garlic) and Turkish (more mint). 

Mike Gebert/Thrillist

The Parthenon

Another of Greektown’s best-known restaurants (they claim flaming saganaki was invented here), The Parthenon lets you know you’re in a higher class of gyros from the moment your order arrives with each part individually plated. The meat tastes like good-quality roasted lamb, not processed food (though they insist it’s still a beef-lamb combo), and the tzatziki is garlicky and thick enough to stand up a fork in. The most natural-seeming gyros in town -- and for my money, the best.

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Mike Gebert is a James Beard Award-winning food video producer and writer, and founder of SkyFullofBacon.com. Follow him on Twitter: @skyfullofbacon.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Zeus Restaurant 806 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607

Named after the King of the Olympians, Zeus Restaurant is a relaxed, counter-serve joint that supplies divine Greek breakfast and lunch plates. The half-pound bifteki burger (on French bread and topped with onions, tomato, and feta) is worthy of the Sky God himself.

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2. Dino’s Carry-Outs 4135 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632

This no-frills fast-food place only sits about six people at most—but that doesn't stop Dino's from being consistently packed. Offering standard American/Chicago fare—hot dogs, chicken wings, Philly cheesesteaks, and burgers—alongside Greek and Italian eats (gyros, Italian sausage), this carry-out joint is perfect for lunch, dinner, or late-night sobering up.

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3. Central Gyros 3127 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60641

Central Gyros in Cragin is the spot to go for delicious gyros that are big on flavor without being TOO big on size. Whether you're getting a platter or a sandwich, Central Gyros won't disappoint.

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4. Taxim 1558 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Boasting Wicker Park's first rooftop patio ("To Hayati"), Taxim is a modern Greek restaurant serving upped Mediterranean cuisine, authentic small plates, and regional wines. Popular dishes include lamb gyros, wood-grilled octopus, and blood orange-braised pork stuffed cabbage.

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5. Athenian Room 807 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

This Lincoln Park mainstay has been turning out spiced, lemon juice-soaked fries and and tender Kalamata chicken since the 70s.

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6. Gyros on the Spit 2826 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

This easygoing, family-owned restaurant offers loaded gryos and house-made tzatziki alongside classic Greek creations like spinach pie and saganaki.

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7. Nick's Drive-In 7216 N Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60631

Nick's Drive-In is a family-owned and operated fast-food spot serving simple, yet memorable, American and Greek dishes. Walk up to the counter and order a gyro—you won't be disappointed.

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8. Greek Islands 200 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661 (West Loop)

This Greek (how could you tell??) hotspot is one for the books. Their flaming saganaki is a must-try, as are their many other mains.

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9. Gyro-Mena 905 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Literally translating to "my gyro", Mena'll adorn your Mediterranean sammie with the toppings of your choosing amidst amusing signage concerning Greek swear words and the Hellenic invention of sex, plus a video monitor carrying a steady stream of belly dancers, who will hopefully just shuffle around to "Feed the Tree".

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10. The Parthenon 314 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661 (West Loop)

If you couldn't already tell by the name, this place is Korean. WE KID, obviously, it's Greek, and it's doling out some impeccable Saganaki, flaming cheeses, and generously poured cocktails.

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