Munch goes to My Big Fat Greek Gyro

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The Greeks have given us many things: the Olympics, the Pythagorean theorem, several great thinkers, the European debt crisis and, who could forget, Arianna Huffington, whose venerable news website delivers us headlines like "Cat with THREE HEADS."

But for Munch, their greatest contribution from their region of the world will always be their food: hummus, spinach pies, gyro and the like. Gyro spots in this city are ubiquitous, almost as common as pizza purveyors and often times curiously housed under the same roof.

So it was no big surprise when My Big Fat Greek Gyro opened on Market Square, Downtown, replacing the salad/sandwich spot MixStirs. The food and smells of roasting meat wafting (although they compete with other, less pleasant ones) across the square would certainly be welcome.

On its website, the restaurant bills itself as "fast casual," and while Munch usually isn't eager to get back to work, Munch definitely appreciates laid-back lunch joints. What you'll get in Market Square is a large mostly clean dining room with rolls of paper towels on the tables. Munch has never been one for cloth napkins, anyhow.

Ordering at the counter, Munch got the gargantuan gyro platter ($10.50), which came with gyro meat, small pita triangles, shredded lettuce and tzatziki (a tart yogurt sauce) in addition to a side salad and fries.

Reliable Dining Friend of Munch got the gyro ($7), and California Friend of Munch, whose real hankering was for tacos, the crispy chicken gyro ($7). To split, we got an order of cheddar balls ($3.50), spinach pie ($3.25) and grape leaves ($2.75).

We had scarcely settled in at our tables when the food arrived on plastic foam plates or simply wrapped in foil. Munch hungrily dug in, wrapping the gyro meat in the pita. The meat, while well-seasoned, was oddly dry and ranging in temperature from lukewarm to outright cold. The tzatziki, though, was a nice accompaniment, tart and spiked with herbs. RDFOM also declared his gyro "decent" but not great. But he did appreciate the massive portions.

CFOM declared her crispy chicken sandwich -- arranged on a flat pita bread much like a gyro -- to be "OK" but said it was reminiscent of the chicken strips she gets frozen. The cheddar balls, though, were a triumph, she said. Soft bits of cheddar were surrounded by a crunchy breading.

The spinach pie, too, was fairly good, with spinach sandwiched between greasy layers of phyllo dough. Warm grape leaves were a pleasant relief from the unseasonably cold fall day.

Still -- while the service was fast, the dining room clean and the paper towel napkins plentiful -- Big Fat Greek Gyro's signature item could use a bit of work. On the plus side, the food did not come with a correspondingly Big Fat check, just a little more than $40 for a hefty lunch for three.

My Big Fat Greek Gyro is at 431 Market St., Downtown; 412-261-4976.

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Munch: munch@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @PGMunch. Become a Facebook Friend of Munch at www.facebook.com/munchPG.


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