The Soul Food of Cincy

No matter how you pronounce it, "gyros" are delicious. Take it from the author who has a long history with with the Greek specialty.

The best soul food is Cincy. Chicago Gyros and Sebastian's Gyros

Looking for a great meal isn’t hard to do when you live in the city of Cincinnati. We have renowned restaurants scattered throughout our city, and some of the best exotic food eateries around. What I’ve learned over the years as a lover of food, is that sometimes the flashiest places don’t serve the flashiest food. My dad has always told me that sometimes the best food doesn’t have to be found in the nicest places. Sometimes the best food is found in place you would never think to look.

I’ve always been a fan of exotic food, especially the gyro. For those of you who don’t know, a gyro is almost like an open faced sandwich. It has sliced lamb meat, onion, tomatoes and a special Greek sauce called tzatziki sauce. After all of those delicious ingredients are properly prepared, they’re tightly wrapped in Pita bread. Some people also have a hard time pronouncing the word gyro. I’ve heard so many different variations of the word it’s driving me crazy. I’ve heard people say it with a hard “G”, others that pronounce it like “Hero”. If you want to know the correct way to say it, just start by saying “year-oh”. Trust me you can impress any girl if you know how to pronounce gyro correctly.

For those of you students who have never tried a gyro, go and get one NOW. Eating a gyro can take place during any time of the day. They are always so delicious. Although there are some people who don’t like gyros (which I have no idea why) I have never met a person who hasn’t liked it the first time they tried it.

There are many different places to get a gyro in Cincinnati; however, there are only two that I think are the best. The ever famous Sebastian’s Gyros on Glenway and the newest contender, Chicago Gyros.

Chicago Gyros has been around for the past 15 years. First starting out in 1998 on the corner of West McMillan and Clifton Avenue, it was a popular place for the students attending UC. Although under poor management, the business closed down in 2005 and then re-opened in 2006 to a new building right across the street.

Now under new management, the new and improved Chicago Gyros has been thriving ever since their re-opening. I went and visited Chicago Gyros with my dad and talked to the main manager there. Chris the main manager came and sat down with us during his break.

What has changed since you guys moved across the street?

“We’re selling better, more fresh food, and our place looks better all around. The interior design was actually designed by a UC student from the DAAP program. It helps us attract a younger more “hip” crowd; it helps create more of a college atmosphere.”

“I always remember every single regular that comes in, we mostly have the firefighters, businessmen and some police officers come and eat during the afternoon.”

“When the firefighters come, they bring the whole crew, normally around 2:00 pm this entire restaurant is completely packed with people getting takeout or waiting to sit.”

What type of crowd do you attract later on in the night?

“After the kids from UC get out, they all come and get take out or sit down and watch the game.”

“Some of my friends will come in and stay until we close, sometimes they even help us clean!”

Do you serve anything else besides gyros?

“Yes, we sell burgers that are homemade, never frozen and we also have Greek Hotdogs and Greek salads.”

Although Chicago Gyros has a modern, college feel to it, they lack authenticity.

If you’re looking for a more authentic place to get a gyro, Sebastian’s Gyros is the place to go. On the corner of Glenway and Sidney, Sebastian’s Gyros has been around longer than most of us have been alive. Alex, the founder and current owner of this establishment first opened in 1973. Alex is from Greece and all of his ingredients are authentic Greek ingredients. He actually makes his own tzatziki sauce from scratch. It’s easily the best in Cincinnati. Alex also themes his restaurant to match Greece; he said it helps him remember the good times he had in Greece when he was a kid.

If you’ve ever been in Sebastian’s, Alex has the walls of his restaurant covered in pictures from his hometown in Greece. He also has the old school soda machines if you want a bottle of pop or authentic homemade Greek desserts made by his younger sister, Elena. My family has been going to Sebastian’s ever since it’s opening. My father and mother went there every Friday after school and Alex still remembers them to this day. One day after school I met my dad at Sebastian’s and asked Alex if he could answer a few questions.

How long have you been in business?

“Well ever since I was 32 I have been serving gyros to students just like you.”

“I love having Elder boys come in and buy gyros, I know it is hard work but I love seeing everyone enjoy their food.”

What type of crowd to you normally attract?

“Well, I used to attract kids like you when I first opened up, but now I have my regular old people and sometimes the occasion businessman that comes in.”

Although both establishments sell the best gyros in Cincinnati I can’t pick the best one. I like them both the same and I think that they’re equally as delicious. Hopefully after reading this article you’ll want a gyro immediately. I encourage everyone reading this to go and give your business to these fine establishments.