Had a chance to stop by El Greko (629 West Fayette) to chat with my friend Demetrios Tsimis and enjoy an incredibly good, downright gourmet gyro. Tsimis is the visionary behind the tiny, authentic Greek to-go spot (essentially a large grill and a tent) that you may have noticed last year when it was operating out of The Redhouse’s small parking lot. Well now he’s struck out on his own–grabbing up a prime location on West Fayette Street. At the moment it may be a simple street food operation, but with El Greko Tsimis has a unique vision that will change the Syracuse food scene forever (extended article coming soon). For now, it’s constant wood chopping to feed the open-flame grill that puts him closer to his goal–one hand-crafted gyro at a time.
The concept is simple. You start with a beef, chicken or portobello gyro for $7.00. It comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and Tsimis own traditional recipe tzatziki sauce. You then add feta ($0.50), bacon ($0.75) or both. Anyone who has had a gyro (I’m assuming almost everyone) knows what to expect–we’ve had plenty of them at the International Food Building at the Fair–but one bite reveals that Tsimis’ version is a game-changer. You won’t find a better gyro ANYWHERE in Syracuse, Guru Guaranteed. The El Greko difference is the care that goes into each order and the ingredients, many of which are imported from Greece. The mountain oregano for example packs a punch unlike its domestic cousin, with a depth of flavor that is unrivaled. Even the sea salt which is sprinkled over the beef or chicken is directly from Greece. The veggies are fresh and vibrant as well, but the portobello mushrooms are stunning. All these top notch ingredients come together to make something that you’ll crave (I’m already hooked). I’m also addicted to the smell of Greek marinated chicken and beef on the wood-burning grill and watched it attract several people.
Syracuse isn’t seen as a street food city besides a few hot dog stands but El Greko is the jumping off point for the trend. When you pull over on a side street and order food from a small vendor in Syracuse, you may not be expecting (or even seeking) a gourmet experience but this is exactly what you get at Tsimis’ humble establishment. It’s not fancy by any means, but the food and sense of community is astounding. And that’s something Tsimis is very much about–bringing people together through his love of Greek food done the right way. My day with the El Greko crew revealed why ‘Cuse needs its own unique street food culture. Beyond just a new way to enjoy great food, it represents a community-enriching moment in which people from differing backgrounds can come together. That’s what I saw today and that’s what your supporting by spending your lunch dollars at El Greko. On your lunch break, head over to 629 West Fayette Street and try El Greko. I guarantee you’ll be satisfied and maybe even inspired by the welcoming energy and passion you’ll encounter. This is something new–and with any luck–the next wave of Syracuse food culture.
El Greko Traditional Gyros To Go
629 West Fayette Street
Wednesday through Friday
10:30 a.m. – 2:30 (times tend to fluctuate)
Must-order: “The Hera” – a chicken or beef gyro with portobello. El Greko’s portobellos are amazing.
Look for: breakfast gyros.
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