I first discovered Shish Mediterranean Grill & Cafe while grabbing lunch at the neighboring Italian Pie Shoppe on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. It was spanking new back then, and I have to admit that I was intrigued from the moment I laid eyes on the place. I've enjoyed a few meals there since, but none as much as my most recent trip.
Shish offers a nice variety of traditional starters including hummus, bobogonoush, dolmas, kibbeh and falafel. They also feature a number of sandwiches, burgers, and a surprising amount of entrees in their small but efficient kitchen. I'd had a good burger and an outstanding shawarma (think curry-spiced chicken sandwich) before, so I decided to shift gears and try a gyro flatbread wrap (they have a smaller version of a gyro served in a pita as well). I figured it would be a good gauge for how they can handle a classic.
The sandwich was simply enormous, and could have easily intimidated even the proudest Chipotle burrito. The thin flatbread was fortuitous enough to manage the multitude of contents and prevent any filling fall-out--no small accomplishment when you're talking gyros. The first thing you taste when you sink your teeth into this monster is the bite of the raw onions followed by the neutralizing cool of cucumber sauce. The wrap was packed full of tender gyros meat still shimmering with its spicy cooking juices. The tomatoes and lettuce provided a nice textural contrast, and the refreshing parsley paired well with the spiciness of the meat. My only criticisms are that despite the wrap's ability to keep the sandwich organized, it lacked any real flavor. The sandwich was also a bit over-sauced in my opinion, but it didn't hinder my attempt to slowly take down this ridiculously huge Mediterranean favorite.
Sandwich Rating: Killer. This gyro was easily the best I've ever had in the Twin Cities (MSP is arguably not a bastion for great gyros, though). The portion was far beyond generous and they pack it full of flavorful and high quality ingredients. I'll be back many times in the future, but may downsize to the traditional pita version of the gyro so as to avoid the inevitable food coma.
Epic Sandwich copyright 2009 by Teddy Hobbins