Gyros Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gryos Mediterraneon just off the UNM campus is a popular dining destination.
Gryos Mediterranean on Cornell.

It’s not easy being a gastronome about town when you make less than a thousand dollars a month and have a car payment, rent and a social life. Stationed at Kirtland in the early 1980s, my Air Force salary pretty much dictated that most of my meals were at the base’s chow hall (which thankfully was legions better than mystery meat meals at the Peñasco High School cafeteria). The little that was left of my meager monthly take-home pay meant social outings were pretty much of the cheap eats variety.

The epicenter for many of my off-site meals seemed to be Cornell Drive where it was possible to find restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal–restaurants which nurtured a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world. Within easy walking distance of one another on Cornell, you could find battleship sized slices of pizza at Nunzio‘s, the very best lamb burger and green chile stew in the world at the long defunct Sheepherder’s Cafe, half a city block of full-contact eating at the Frontier Restaurant and a gourmand’s paradise of Greek food at Gyros Mediterranean.

Gryos Mediterranean dining room.
A Rare Sight: Gryos Mediterranean Not Packed.

Though my first two years in the Air Force (happily served in the Boston area) introduced me to Asian cuisine of every type, I was virginal when it came to Greek food until discovering Gyro’s Mediterranean on Cornell. Back then, this was the place to go for the eponymous gyros, a popular Greek sandwich. Gyros, a blend of lamb, beef and aromatic herbs and spices is grilled slowly on a vertical spit then sliced thinly into a pita which is topped with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki, a savory yogurt sauce loaded with garlic and cucumbers.

5 December 2015: Both Gyros, the restaurant, and I have grown up and out since then. While Gyro’s gyros are still among the best in town, the restaurant itself has added an extensive menu of Greek classics. Your best bet remains the gyros combination platter which includes a Greek salad and patates. Order it with double meat and you might have some left over to take home. By far, the very most popular side dish or appetizer at Gyros are the patates, thinly sliced homemade potato chips served warm. They’re not quite as thin as conventional potato chips, but they’re much better tasting even if a bit salty. Don’t dare desecrate these chips with ketchup.

Gyros Combination Plate (Double Meat Gyros, Patates, Greek Salad)

Appetizers (mezedakia) play an important role in the Greek table. Most Greek appetizers are salty, piquant (or both) and accompanied by ouzo (a clear anise-flavored liqueur). By tradition, appetizers are meant to be eaten slowly and while they are quite delicious, their traditional purpose remains to make drinking ouzo easier. Although Gyros Mediterranean doesn’t serve ouzo, appetizers themselves are cause for celebration.

One of the most popular is the aptly named mezedakia (small plates of tasty morsels or appetizers). At Gyros, the featured tasty morsels are dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with aromatic rice), feta cheese, Kalamata olives and pita bread (all pictured below). The dolmades, although fresh and well seasoned, have a “canned” taste (very few restaurants make their own any more). The feta is of the wonderful breath-wrecking variety, definitely not recommended for a hot date. The Kalamata olives are mouth-watering with a briny flavor and meaty texture. The pita is unfailingly warm.


5 December 2015: The saganaki, a slab of bubbly Green Kasseri cheese served with pita is far superior to the de rigueur cheesy fried mozzarella offered at chain restaurants. Crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the outside, it is expertly pan-fried at your table then extinguished with a squeeze or two of lemon. As with other Greek appetizers, saganaki is designed to be consumed in small amounts, as part of a large spread of small dishes. The saganaki by itself won’t fill you up, but it will leave you sated.

Another intensely flavored appetizer is tarama, a carp roe spread. I’ve heard tarama referred to as a “poor man’s caviar” and while I wouldn’t go that far myself, tarama is one of the most delicious things you can spread onto a piece of warm pita bread. The name for this dish is derived from the Turkish taramas, which means “preserved roe,” and salata, Italian for “salad.” The dish is made by blending the roe with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice to create a smooth, creamy paste, then adding body to the paste with mashed potatoes or moistened breadcrumbs.

Saganaki set afire at our table

Some entrees include sides of Pepperonici and Kalamata olives, both of which are delicious. The Greek salad includes huge chunks of feta cheese, a sharp, fetid fromage. It also features red, ripe tomatoes, lettuce and a tangy Greek dressing that will awaken your taste buds. As with the gyros, the onions used on the salad are white onions which are much more flavorful than the seemingly more popular red onions.

Something else you can spread onto pita bread is potatoes. While that may sound somewhat unconventional, Greeks have long used potatoes as a vehicle for complementary ingredients. In Skorthalia, an appetizer at Gyros Mediterranean, potatoes served cold and the consistency of mashed potatoes are blended with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and white wine. The potatoes spread easily onto the pita bread and make for an interesting starter.

My Friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver Enjoys a Spicy Chicken Sandwich

3 December 2019:  What does it say about American pop culture that 2019 has been seen by culinary cognoscenti as “the year of the chicken sandwich?”   That designation, of course, is based almost entirely on the popularity of  fried chicken sandwiches at Popeye’s and Chick-Fil-A.  Not one to follow pop culture trends–especially as they relate to frequenting popular chain restaurants–my friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver decided during his inaugural visit to Gyros Mediterranean to have a spicy chicken sandwich.  This sandwich is wholly unlike the heavily breaded chicken sandwiches at the aforementioned chains.  Instead of a single slab of poultry, Gyros’ spicy chicken sandwich is served shawarma style, a marinated chicken breast cubed, grilled with a spicy marinade and served on pita with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce.  It’s not the most spicy chicken sandwich you’ll ever have, but it’ll titillate your taste buds and sate your appetite well.

Dessert options include a bevy of baklava or baklava-like sweet treats, most resplendent in a honey sheen. A nice alternative is the tongue-twisting Galaktoboureko, an inspired custard pie sandwiched between flaky phyllo dough baked until golden then drenched with a citrus-infused syrup. Don’t buy the Homeric myth that the Trojan War started over Helen of Troy, the face that supposedly launched a thousand ships. the Trojan War started over Galaktoboureko, an epic dessert!

Galaktoboureko, a tongue-twister name for a terrific dessert

Though this gastronome about town can now afford more than the cheap eats of my youth, I still return often to Cornell where some of the deliciously diverse diners that sated me in my poverty are still appeasing patrons of every wallet size.

Gyros Mediterranean
106 Cornell, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexican
(505) 255-4401
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 3 December 2019
COST: $$
BEST BET: Gyros, Patates, Tarama, Galaktoboureko, Spanakipita, Saganaki, Spicy Chicken Sandwich

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, more than 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,200 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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3 Comments on “Gyros Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. Excellent Gyros I must say! When you ask for double meat, I seemed like triple the amount. The chicken was nice and spicy, not so bad for an ex-Californian to eat. In my trying to be good, instead of the hone-made potato chips, I had there asparagus which was real good ( but not enough Spears for Sr Plata). A nice spot if you are by UNM and need to eat healthy but be fulfilled.

  2. Had this for lunch yesterdays with a friend. I got the gyro platter (not double meat, though) and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The gyro was not the best I’ve ever had, but it was more than delicious. The same goes for the Greek salad. My biggest surprise (and only because I failed to read your review before going), was the patates. I ABSOLUTELY enjoyed them. Mine were not quite as well done as the ones in your photo, but that is exactly the way I like them. I’m pretty sure I will be back and get a large patates!

  3. Jane loves this place.

    My favorite Galaktoboureko in this city is at Mykonos. Unusual shape and texture, both of which make for a really fantastic version. As good as, or better than, any version I have had in any of the three Greek Towns in Chicago.

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