Tucked back a half block off Delmar in the middle of the University City Loop sits Gyros House. "House" is a misnomer. Not quite small enough to be a cubbyhole, we'd probably go for calling it a nook. Or perhaps a cranny. A sigle chair on the sidewalk hints at warm-weather outdoor seating, expanding the possibilities, but not by very much.
Nook or no, there's plenty of traffic from locals and students, eating in or carrying out from the counter where orders are placed. This makes things even more snug, and even if it weren't for the small step at the threshold, things are way to narrow for even a small wheelchair to navigate.
The menu is shorter than a standard Greek restaurant since this is, in essence, a sandwich place. Nevertheless, plenty of essentials are available for the Grecophile; a lunch visit provided some enjoyable bites.
The small Greek salad is generously sized and vigorously fresh, the usual feta, cucumbers, red onions, black olives (Kalamatas, not those tasteless California versions), tomato and green pepper atop crisp iceberg, and a very proper oil and vinegar without a trace of sugar. Wedges of warm pita come alongside.
Don't expect the sandwiches to to arrive rolled up in their promised pita, resembling a fat burrito. These are knife-and-fork sandwiches. Our gyro began with pita, of course, piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion, plenty of gyro meat, and topped with creamy tzatziki, which is spelled tzanziki at Gyro House. And creamy it is, made with sour cream rather than yogurt, good enough to eat with a spoon.
We're suckers for falafel, the chickpea patties, and they, too arrived atop a pile of the same pita-based salad ingredients, but this time the tzatziki was replaced by a generous serving of hummus. The hummus was excellent, lemony and full-flavored. But it was the falafel that thrilled. Too often, it's stodgy, greasy and leaden. Nope. Fluffy inside, crunchy outside, the cumin-laced vegetarian treat was far above average. Besides these basics, Gyro House also offers kebabs, and appetizers like spanokapita (spinach pie) and saganaki (flaming cheese).
Worth a visit. Maybe not for an elegant date, but right for a casual and relatively quick meal.
571 Melville Ave., University City
Lunch & Dinner daily
Credit cards: No
Wheelchair Access: No
Sandwiches and Entrees: $5-$11