Kafta, Dolmathes, Spanakopita... These ancient culinary words are music to my ears. My wait for the opportunity to dine on Greek food in Renton is finally over.
Owner Moussa El Moussa (he blames the unoriginality of his name on the fact that he was one of many, many children) delighted customers for more than 11 years at his Federal Way location. replaced Daphne’s, a national Greek chain which faded in and out quickly in their location.
The El Moussa family recognized an opportunity, and the aroma of grilled souvlaki wafts out their door as well as Mediterranean melodies (sorry Yelpers, I love it). Gyros House seems to be thriving for good reason: location, price, fresh/fast options, and family pride.
The beauty of Greek food is in big flavors that are good for you. Full of legumes (beans), olive oil, garlic, and fresh ingredients, the Mediterranean Diet has long been touted as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.
Gyros House’s Lentil Soup is an all-season winner. The Cup ($2.50) looks like a Bowl ($3.75), and is pale blond, pureed and light, accented with ground spices (might I have detected sumac?) and accompanying pita chips, fried and dusted with herbs. Lemon juice perks up the flavors, making it wonderfully refreshing in any weather.
Rather than dunking my pita chips into my soup, I enjoyed these crisp squares as a vessel for scooping up the hummus that came with our Mixed Kabab Dinner. Since my fellow diner wasn’t familiar with hummus, I’ll define it for you — a creamy blend of pureed garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. And there’s nothing like a good Greek village salad in the summer. Plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, and chopped romaine dotted with sassy pepperoncini and kalamata olives. This felt freshly prepared, with just the right amount of oil and vinegar dressing.
The Mixed Kabab Dinner ($18.99) allows you to choose three skewers out of five choices, which is accompanied with rice, your choice of salad, hummus, and pita triangles. Rice comes pilaf-style, golden kernels threaded with slender vermicelli pasta, true to the family’s Lebanese roots. The clear winner for me was the Kafta Kabab, a skewer of ground beef with onions, garlic, parsley, and blended spices. Chicken and prawns were a bit on the dry side. But moments after being served, we were gifted with a small cup of accompanying garlic puree, or Toum, which the kitchen liaison recommended with our chicken skewer. This could make cardboard taste delicious.
I also ordered the #6 Combination Plate ($8.99), with Gyros, Spanakopita, & Dolmathes. Our server winked at us when bringing it out, “Let me know if you need some help eating all this!” The Gyros, as they should be, are a winner. You get your choice of beef or lamb, which is ground and seasoned with garlic powder and dried oregano, then sliced off a vertical roasting spit into a pita filled with fresh vegetables and dressed with tzatziki yogurt sauce. I’m told that Gyros House makes their own Spanakopita (savory spinach and feta layered in feathery phllo dough) and Dolmathes (finger-licking grape leaves bundled with seasoned rice and olive oil).
One curious factor is that you need to pay 69-cents to add feta to your dish, which seems penny-pinching. Everything else seems generous in spirit. Sandwiches are all $7.99, which includes fries or rice. Kids meals are $4.99, which makes this family friendly.
Sitting beneath red and white Kronos umbrellas, my fellow diner and I were entertained watching the line of sports fans old and young parade by for the , some grabbing a sandwich to go. We finished things off on a sweet note with Baklava ($2.29). Trays line the counter with an assortment of honey-sweetened phyllo dough treats, layered with chopped walnuts. I picked the chocolate-drizzled version — as is traditional, these bites are intensely sweet, so a little goes a long way.
815 North 10th Street
Renton, WA 98057
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