There are plenty of great places around San Diego to find sandwiches. Whether you’re in the mood for a build-your-own hoagie or sub sandwich or perhaps a Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich, you’ll find it at one of the many delis, cafes and sandwich shops around town.
One particular sandwich that you won’t find at the average deli, however, is also one of the most popular. The gyro, after all, requires some specialty equipment if a restaurant wants to serve it fresh and authentically. Thankfully, there are plenty of places around San Diego that offer these hand-held dream sandwiches.
Instead of standard sliced bread or a roll, the gyro is served on a pita. These flatbreads offer more strength than bread for holding in the mound of toppings. The meat for gyros gets cooked in a vertical rotisserie and shaved off with a large knife. Many times, the gyro meat is a blend of lamb and beef, but there are also versions made with pork or chicken. From there, the protein is topped with onion and tomato, as well as cucumber yogurt sauce called tzatziki.
Some eateries will add other vegetables, from soaked chickpeas and pickled turnips to jalepenos. Some places will add hummus or feta cheese to gyros. There are vegetarian versions available, and many other dishes commonly served at Greek or Mediterranean restaurants are also vegetarian or even vegan-friendly. One thing’s certain: If you eat at any of these gyro places, you’ll probably end up going back for more.
Big Bang Sandwiches at Gyros Galore at Vanoos Grillete
Location: 4614 Mission Blvd.
Hours: Seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you find yourself craving a pita while near Pacific Beach, you’re in luck! Vanoos Grillete offers a host of incredible gyros. In fact, they serve up all kinds of sandwiches and a variety of Greek dishes.
You can enjoy a Greek or chicken gyro, served with lettuce, tomato, onions and tzatziki sauce, or a pita stuffed with beef, chicken or lamb shawarma. There’s even a falafel sandwich for your vegetarian friends. If you aren’t familiar with falafel, it’s a spiced, fried grain patty. It doesn’t sound incredible, but there’s an amazing flavor and texture unique to this dish that many adore.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider the big bang sandwiches, made with BBQ grilled chicken, bacon, melted mozzarella and grilled onion. If you’d prefer a more traditional sandwich, you can enjoy a cheesesteak, a chicken or meatball parmigiana, or even pastrami Reuben with cole slaw. There’s a specialty sandwich on the menu here, called the Stoner’s Delight, which features grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, hot sauce and ranch dressing.
Other options on their menu include salads, kids’ meals like a cheeseburger, chicken tenders or a pizza made on a pita. There really is something for everyone here.
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Drinks and Greek Eats From Dino
Dino’s Gyros Greek Cafe and Taverna
Location: 4705-D Clairemont Dr.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
One of the biggest drawbacks to many casual Greek restaurants is the lack of a bar or alcoholic beverages. Thankfully, Dino’s Gyros Greek Care and Tavern has corrected that situation by adding the taverna to their business.
Situated in the food court of the Reading Cinemas Theaters, which are located in Clairemont Town Square, Dino’s Gyros Cafe & Taverna serves authentic Greek and Mediterranean dishes and has a beer and wine bar. This space is perfect for a quick drink and dinner before or after a movie. It’s also a worthwhile destination on its own, with truly impressive and flavorful food.
If you stop in early enough, you can enjoy breakfast at Dino’s, which includes dishes like the Sparta Wrap, which is filled with feta cheese, rice pilaf and eggs, as well as a steak and egg wrap, and even Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts.
If you stop in for dinner or lunch, you’ll find a full menu, including spanakopita, which is a blend of spinach and Greek cheese baked inside of flaky phyllo dough. There’s also stuffed grape leaves (dolmas), fried dishes like calamari or zucchini and freshly made soups. Of course, you’d be missing out if you don’t try one of their gyros, which are fresh and filling.
Gyro Fit for the Gods at Olympic Cafe
Location: 2310 University Avenue
Hours: Seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Located in restaurant-saturated North Park, Olympic Cafe manages to stand out from the crowd. In fact, it’s been voted as San Diego’s best Greek cuisine by Uptown News three times since 2013. This restaurant prides itself on offering a combination of American and Greek dishes, all made from scratch with fresh ingredients and from old family recipes.
For more than 30 years, Olympic Cafe has been serving up family-made meals based on traditional Greek flavors. While they originally only served lunch and dinner, they have expanded to include breakfast, starting at 7 in the morning. They cook up two egg breakfasts, served with proteins like ham, bacon, sausage, beef patties, gyro meat or even a beef or chicken kabob. You can also order an omelet, a scramble, waffles, pancakes and French toast. There’s even a vegetarian breakfast pita.
Their daytime menu includes all of the staples, such as hummus, Avgolemono soup, lentil soup, gyros, lamb shank, moussaka, and a spankopita platter, featuring spinach and cheese pie. As for gyros, you can order them on their own or in a combination with other dishes. Some of the combination options includes spanakopita, a quarter of a chicken, or a beef or chicken kabob.
Arslan, Artist of Gyros
Location: 3861 Mission Blvd.
Hours: Seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Arslan’s Gyros is a family-friendly eatery that has both a storefront location and a presence at several local farmer’s markets. Currently, they visit Oceanside’s market on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Temecula Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the Hillcrest market on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 2 in the afternoon.
The standard gyro at Arslans Gyros has a lamb and beef mix, inside a warm pita and topped with tzatziki, onion and tomato. You can also enjoy a chicken gyro, or for those with less of an appetite, half a gyro. Of course, gyros aren’t the only thing on the menu.
They also serve fresh bowls, which include chicken or lamb and beef over rice, fries or salad. If you want an appetizer, they have plenty of options, including hummus, falafel, dolmas, salad, rice and, of course, French fried potatoes. For those with a bigger appetite or a sense of adventure, consider the Arslan’s World Surprise Plate, which features a range of their different dishes for you to sample. Don’t worry if you’re coming with a bigger group or your family. They’ve also got vegetarian options, as well as a kids’ menu.