After our walk around Milwaukee and our bratwurst adventures at the Milwaukee Brat House and Craftsman Table and Tap, Nancy and I drove into Madison for the first of five state capital Volksmarches of this trip. Madison occupies a narrow strip of land between two lakes. There are lots of great views, particularly from the roof of the convention center. It’s just a few blocks from the handsome and now peaceful Capitol building,
which is oriented to the street as an X. And we saw lots of interesting things along the way.
We walked through beautiful areas along both lakes and through less attractive areas of the University of Wisconsin. (I checked online and there are attractive areas.)
Nancy and I broke our walk before the last leg for lunch. We did some internet research and, as seems to be our habit, found a Greek restaurant, Parthenon Gyros, just around the corner. Parthenon Gyros has been around forever, or at least for three generations, which is forever in the restaurant business. They boast that Parthenon Gyros is one of the few — maybe the only! — Greek restaurant in the country that still makes their own gyros and yogurt on site. Oh, and they pronounce it “yee-rose,” just as did the folks at the Adelphia. In DC they’re “Jy-rows.” We’re such rubes. The first time I ordered a Yee-roe in Washington the guy sneered and wondered if I just came in on a truckload of turnips.
Parthenon Gyros is a busy place, with people waiting to order dine-in or take-back-to-the-office or out-to-the-park. It’s not a long wait, however. I was in purist mode, so I ordered the Regular Gyro, and Spotted Cow (a beer) by New Glarus, which proudly announces that the workers there own the means of production. Here’s my gyro.
I neglected to photograph an order of tzatziki and pita — I love tzatziki, but all tzatziki looks pretty much the same.
Nancy ordered the spicy vegetarian gyro, a combination of hummus, tzatziki, pita, onions, and lettuce and tomato, and giardinieri. They looked a lot like jalapeños.
It was a gorgeous day, so Nancy and I adjourned to the rooftop deck with our food.
From there we had a view of the street and the people dining streetside.
The gyro meat is indeed very good. Actually “outstanding” is a better word. Hats off to Parthenon Gyros. And the pita was excellent, the onions were good, the tomatoes were … there, and the tzatziki had a very good flavor. I thought it was very light on cucumber, but I like a whole lot of cucumber in tzatziki. Overall, it was a very good gyro.
Looking at Nancy’s, however, I felt a tad jealous. Hers looked very good. The hummus had a slightly rough texture — I like texture in foods — and those jalapeños were calling my name so sweetly I almost asked Nancy to tie me to the mast. Nancy allowed that the hummus was good, “It’s better than supermarket. but not as good as yours.” She explained that she has a three tiered rating system for hummus: supermarket (i.e., Whole Foods), better than Supermarket, and Mine (recipe here). Still, she wouldn’t share any.
It was a fine meal in a fine setting. I have a soft spot for locally owned places that have been around for a while, places that, like Parthenon Gyros, offer you not just a meal but a sense of place, of the local people. All the better when the meal is very good, indeed, as good as the setting. Busy as the staff are, they are relaxed and always amiable, so much so that it probably makes some visitors from the dour East uncomfortable. Owners Dimitri and Erin wish all of their customers, Σας ευχαριστούμε, με αγάπη. Right back at them. If you go to Madison, stop by there for an all-around lovely experience.
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4 thoughts on “Parthenon Gyro, Madison, Wisconsin”
Madison was also part of the 2020 trip we had scheduled before Covid hit. Hope to get there at some point. I want to try a couple Wisconsin supper clubs if it happens.
I thought about the supper clubs but I think they’d have involved more of a detour than our schedule permitted. Stay tuned for MN, ND, SD, and IA
The first time I ordered a “jee-roe” in DC was back in 1979, when I first moved to town. The lady’s immediate response was, “Oh, you must be from Chicago” — which was in fact where I had just left.
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