Chicago Fun With a Greek Touch
Over the last few decades, Gyros has certainly gained a reputation as one of the more popular Greek food items on menus across Chicagoland.
Gyros are essentially sandwiches made with thinly-sliced beef, lamb or chicken which is then placed in a pita or flatbread. Most gyros are topped with onions and tomatoes and enjoyed with Tzatziki sauce, a white creamy topping made from strained yogurt, cucumbers, salt, pepper, garlic and dill.
With this flavorful mixture served relatively cheap, it’s no wonder that Gyros has been a popular choice for hungry Chicagoans for over 50 years.
As the meaty dish is thought to have originated in Greece, the very first Gyros in America was actually served in the Chicagoland area. According to Elk Grove Village based Devanco Foods, the first gyros was reportedly served in 1965 at The Parkview Restaurant in Chicago by owner George Apostolou, also known as “Papa George,” the father of today’s gyros.
Also prominent in the early days of gyros was Chris Tomaras who opened Kronos Gyros in 1975 and is responsible for developing and marketing “Gyrokones,” large uncooked masses of gyro meat. Tomaras also invented the Kronomatic vertical meat broiler which helped standardize mass gyro production thus allowing gyros to spread to restaurants across the country.
Today Kronos is the world’s largest manufacturer of Gyros providing enough of the savory meat for 600,000 sandwiches per day.
The secret behind Kronos success? Tomaras told reporters in 2009 that it’s all in the ingredients...”we use the best beef and lamb and then run the meat through a four-ton grinder where bread crumbs, oregano and special seasonings are added.”
Incidentally, Gyros comes from the Greek word “Geero” which means “turn.” And nothing seems to be turning consumer’s heads - and taste buds - like those wonderful cones of
meat spinning every day in restaurants across America.
We now turn your attention to our favorite gyros spots across Chicagoland.
Craving Gyros (Lake Zurich)
This cozy little spot in downtown Lake Zurich will surprise you with their famous gyros, vienna hot dogs, italian beef, charcoal broiled angus burgers and more. Very friendly staff is known for their personalized service. Gyros is fresh and hot served with homemade tzatziki sauce! Dining area is clean and comfortable which also includes outdoor patio.
2 E. Main Street, Lake Zurich IL 60047 • (224) 677-5115
Squabs Gyros (Melrose Park)
Bustling restaurant popular for its fresh homestyle cooking and generous portions. Grecian specialties include kabobs, Athenian style chicken, souvlaki, Greek salad and Squab's famous gyros. Other signature items include barbecued ribs, italian beef, broasted chicken, char-broiled burgers and more, including homemade soup prepared every day. Catering also available for your upcoming special event.
2348 Mannheim Road • Melrose Park IL 60164 • (847) 455-5205
Visit the Squabs Gyros website...
Brandy's Gyros (Chicago - Des Plaines - Hanover Park)
Known for their famous gyros, bbq ribs and Athenian chicken, Brandy's uses only fresh ingredients to bring you a wide array of delicious Greek specialties and American favorites. Char-broiled burgers, chicken sandwiches, vienna beef hot dogs, italian beef and tasty mexican choices are just part of an extensive menu that has something for everybody. Four convenient locations to serve you.
6262 N. Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60631 • (773) 763-5862
Visit the Brandy's Gyros website...
Friendly and spacious eatery serving up their signature Gyros plus BBQ Ribs, Greek Chicken, Skirt Steak, Salads, Burgers and more. Staff is friendly and attentive while portions are very generous.
3301 Main St, Skokie, IL 60076 • (847) 677-7911 (Two locations including Skokie and Buffalo Grove).
Visit Dengeos website...
Johnny's Beef & Gyros (Chicago)
Serving the Lincoln Park area since 2005, Johnny's serves world class Chicago street food including their popular gyros, black angus chuck burgers, Italian beef, specialty salads and more. Other popular items include charbroiled chicken sandwiches, Maxwell street polish, homemade tzatziki spread and other Greek specialties. Two locations to serve you (Chicago and Joliet)
2300 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 • (773) 697-8885
Visit the Johnny's Beef & Gyros website...
Paps Ultimate Bar & Grill (Mount Prospect)
This friendly bar and grill has been serving the Mount Prospect area for over 21 years with their famous gyros, pizza, black angus burgers, wings and other favorites. Great drink specials, plenty of tv screens for sports fans and fun activities in the spacious bar area.
1904 S. Elmhurst Road • Mt. Prospect, IL 60056 • (847) 806-7733
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Zeus Restaurant (Chicago)
Unassuming and casual hangout known for their huge portions and clean environment. Enjoy their famous Gyros Sandwich/Plate, Gyros Cheeseburger, Italian Beef, Kabobs. Greek Chicken and more.
806 Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607 • (312) 258-8789
Visit Zeus Gyros website...
Charcoal Delights (Chicago)
This bright and welcoming eatery uses an old-fashioned cooking process, "charcoal barbecued broiled," to serve delicious burgers, Vienna hot dogs, country broasted chicken, beef sandwiches, bbq ribs and their famous gyros. Friendly staff with top notch service.
3139 W. Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 • (773) 583-0056
Visit Charcoal Delights website...
Nick's Drive In (Chicago)
It's all about the homemade gyros at this casual old-fashioned diner celebrating 50 years on the northwest side. Also known for their burgers, hot dogs, Greek chicken, Italian Beef and more. Check the daily specials board and try their famous rice pudding!
7216 Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60631 • (773) 631-5045
Mr. Greek Gyros (Chicago)
Long time Chicago favorite serving their famous Gyros Pita, Gyros Dinner Plate, Gyros Philly plus homemade beef, burgers, kabobs, hot dogs and more. Open 'til 4am for your late night cravings. You'll love their thick-cut fries.
234 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60607 • (312) 906-8731
Visit Mr. Greek Gyros website...
Greek Islands (Chicago)
A classic restaurant destination for 48 years, they serve homemade gyros and traditional Greek specialties. Known for their quality and consistency, the popular restaurant serves Pastichio, Dolmades, Roasted Lamb, Moussaka, desserts and more.
200 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661 • (312) 782-9855
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Athenian Room (Chicago)
Charming and cozy neighborhood restaurant serving delicious gyros, Greek feta burger, chicken kalamata, kabobs, spinach pie and more. The dining room is reminiscent of a small taverna in Greece.
807 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 • (773) 348-5155
Twins Gyros (Harwood Heights)
Known for their famous gyros and juicy chicken, this family owned restaurant makes their own tzatziki sauce and serves a very extensive menu. Popular items include their homemade soups, Italian beef, hot dogs, burgers and wings. The Greek fries are highly recommended!
4870 N Harlem Ave, Harwood Heights, IL 60656 • (708) 867-1313
Visit Twins Gyros website...
Billy Boy's (Chicago Ridge)
Popular eatery on the south side known for flavorful gyros, outstanding bbq ribs, burgers, Greek Chicken, hot dogs and unique sandwiches. Hard working crew keeps this place clean and running smooth.
6400 95th St, Chicago Ridge, IL 60415 • (708) 599-8406
Visit Billy Boy's website...
The health benefits of yogurt have always been touted by health-conscious Americans. But these days, even those who once resisted yogurt are now embracing the Greek way. Few foods today pack as healthy a punch in such small serving sizes as Greek yogurt. The nutrients of Greek yogurt can help keep you fortified while also helping you lose weight. The richer texture of greek yogurt is also a big sell for lovers of the grecian brand.
Greek yogurt is made by separating out the liquid whey, explains Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “This results in a thicker texture with fewer carbohydrates and sugar, and more protein than regular yogurt,” she says.
The Power of Protein
Protein is essential for good health. It is vital to cell growth, building muscle, and repairing tissue. As you age, you need more protein to keep your skin healthy and to fight off illness. Greek yogurt is a great way to boost your protein levels while avoiding heavy foods like meats. “Have it for breakfast and add in a handful of walnuts and blueberries,” Rumsey says. “Use it as a substitute for sour cream on top of chili or baked potatoes.”
Probiotics Help with Digestion
Greek yogurt is packed with probiotics. These are microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast. These normally live in your intestines, and having good microorganisms in your intestines helps keep you healthy, says Shane Griffin, a certified nutritional practitioner and founder of Whole Life Balance. “Without a healthy balance of good bacteria from probiotics, too much bad bacteria can build up and cause damage to our immune systems,” Griffin says.
Probiotics are great for the digestive system, and especially helpful to people who suffer from conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, he adds.
Good source for workout recovery
Greek yogurt can be a healthy and satisfying treat after a tough workout. Not only will it tide you over until your next meal, but it actually contains protein that can repair damage done by exercise.
“Greek yogurt is rich in the amino acids which make up proteins, and proteins are the building blocks for regenerating muscle tissue and repairing fiber damage,” explains Griffin. Add a banana or some berries for a nutrition-packed post workout snack.
Find Homemade Greek Yogurt In Chicago
Find homemade and other brands of quality Greek yogurt at these fine establishments throughout Chicagoland. Our favorite grocers offer homemade "Ya-Ourti" at Columbus Food Market in Des Plaines and Spartan Brothers (Touhy & Harlem) in Chicago. Other recommended sources include 95th Produce Market (Hickory Hills), Nature's Best (Westmont), Fiesta Market (Mount Prospect) and Village Market Place (Skokie).
You can also enjoy homemade Greek yogurt at some of our favorite restaurants including Plateia Mediterranean Kitchen (Des Plaines), Kefi Greek Cuisine (Palos Heights), Billy's Pancake House (Palatine), Mykonos Greek Restaurant (Niles) and Briki Cafe (Addison).
Read more about Greek yogurt:
Chicago’s northwest suburbs experienced huge population growth in the decade of the 90’s. In particular, the town of Crystal Lake in McHenry County saw its population increase by 50% from 24,000 people in 1990 to over 38,000 by the year 2000.
Home sales were soaring as Crystal Lake became a desirable community for families and businesses alike. Grocery stores, retail shops, gas stations and restaurants were all meeting the increasing
demands of the growing village that local officials would declare “a good place to live.” But despite the robust expansion and growth, banquet halls were few and far between.
In the 1980’s, the Hob Nob in Crystal Lake was a top rated restaurant and bar that served lunch and dinner seven days a week. Their lounge area hosted dancing and other fun activities weekly while the Champagne Brunch was a popular feature every Sunday. The Hob Nob could also accommodate private parties for up to 150 people. Eventually, as Crystal Lake would come of age in the 90’s, the opportunity presented itself for Hob Nob to expand its banquet reach.
The restaurant would be completely renovated in the summer of 2002 becoming D’Andrea Banquets and Conference Center. The updated facility was actually the product of a vision birthed many years earlier in the minds of Hob Nob’s owners. Manager Peter Spentzos says, I’ve been a resident of Crystal Lake since the 70’s and have witnessed firsthand the growth of this wonderful town. I’ve had the privilege of serving so many guests over the years whose kids are now grown and celebrating momentous events of their own. The idea of devoting all of our focus on banquets was only natural.”
Now celebrating 16 years, D’Andrea has hosted countless special events including grand weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, christenings and a wide array of corporate functions. The friendly and experienced staff, which has been with D’Andrea since 2002, continue to provide personalized service to every customer no matter the event.
The years have brought many familiar faces to D’Andrea including Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz who attended a friend’s wedding in 2010. Other prominent guests include area politicians, clergy and various government officials. D’Andrea is also pleased to host Pioneer Center’s Annual Book Review Show which has become one of McHenry County’s favorite events during the holidays. It is also D’Andrea’s most attended event of the year.
And when it comes to weddings, D’Andrea truly shines with exceptional amenities designed to please the heart of every bride. With a variety of menu options, romantic ceremony rooms and a spacious ballroom accommodating up to 600 people, D’Andrea is the perfect venue for beautifully memorable wedding receptions.
One of the more interesting receptions was a Disney theme wedding party complete with fun and glitzy Disney-style accessories. Other weddings over the years have featured a myriad of unique and interesting concepts designed for creative minded newlyweds.
Over the years, guests have especially come to appreciate the affordability of wedding packages that feature D’Andrea’s award winning cuisine. D’Andrea’s chefs have over 25 years of culinary experience and have been recognized numerous times by The Northwest Herald, Chicago Bride Magazine and Food Industry News.
Today, D’Andrea continues to provide the same first-rate banquet experience the community has learned to expect since 2002. And the town of Crystal Lake endures as a much sought after village in which to raise a family. The website WalletHub has even ranked Crystal Lake in the top 10 of best small cities in America to live and ranked it very high for quality of schools, access to health care, economic strength and recreational options.
D’Andrea also hosts their annual Bridal Show every January offering prospective brides invaluable information as they plan their special day. The show features bridal vendors offering samples of hors d’oeuvres, wedding cakes, pastries and confections. Participants of the bridal show also learn about area photographers, DJ’s, florists, bridal gown sources, limo companies and luxurious honeymoon ideas provided by travel agents.