Hometown Heroes – Gyros for Heroes with Mikonos Grill


Find out how you pronounce the word Gyros in the article

by Alexander Quebec

There’s a plot of land on Calaveras in Milpitas that has been quite a few restaurants in the last forty years. If you know what I’m talking about, it’s that building near a flood control channel that looks like it could double as a serial killer’s dumping ground.

At first, it was a dim sum restaurant in the 1980s, whose name is lost to memory (at least for me anyway). I remember going there for a few events with my family. They had those red tables with the lazy susan that spins so that you can pass things along. 80s kid me thought that was the thing, it was so fun to play around with that table. Since most of my memories of my youth are voluntarily suppressed, odds are I messed around with that spinner, leading to some awkward moments for my family (ie, stuff flying all over the place).

Spinny wheel thing with food on top and a child at the helm; what could possibly go wrong?

Then in the 90s, it was an Indian restaurant cleverly called Planet Bollywood, which seemed to be just a few steps shy of an IP infringement lawsuit. It was thematically similar to the then-popular Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, which in hindsight, was probably not a good idea to try to emulate, seeing as their meteoric rise and fall could very well be a case study in most business classes today. I see they’re doing well in Vegas now, however.

The old, single-story, white brutalist stucco building that housed both was torn down and made into some earth tone, stucco two-story structure that harkens to the popular commercial property aesthetic of the mid-2000s, which I call “Delusional Californian Mission Strip Mall Revival”. Housing several service businesses, a boba shop, and a froyo shop, our featured restaurant stands alone as the main eatery there: Mykonos Grill.

Opening around 2006ish, they were and still are, one of the most popular local dining destinations in Milpitas. Perhaps it’s their location, right on a major roadway; maybe it’s the 4-star average rating on Yelp, or maybe because… it’s the food?

Yup, it’s the food, at least in this writer’s opinion.

Greek food can either be an amalgamation of different Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines with one common denominator: all of them feature wheat, olive oil, and wine. Some of the things you will find are lamb, beef, chicken, and fish. There’s also a lot of chickpeas and hummus in the form of deep-fried balls called falafel (Lol, balls). On that note, there’s a great place for falafels in San Jose called Falafel Drive-In nearby Valley Fair Mall, but that’s for another article full of my usual nonsensical tangents and snarky musings on the local food scene here in the South Bay.

Out of all the items on the menu, it’s the gyros that keep me coming back (the moussaka was discontinued as a menu item, much to my disappointment). Gyros themselves are a pretty recent addition to Greek cuisine, keeping in mind that Greek history is roughly a few thousand years old. Back when the Ottomans were an empire and not just a piece of furniture, the idea of slicing off meat (usually beef or lamb since pork is a no-no for the Muslim majority country) from a vertically roasting piece of meat made its way over the Aegean and onto the shores of Greece. Later on, they started becoming a hot item in the cities of Chicago, New York City, and Athens, Greece. Today, they confuse and confound most American’s unfamiliar with their pronunciation, but for the record, it’s pronounced YEE-Roh (at least based on my readings).

To be honest, I’m not sure where on the scale this falls under authentic Greek food. Does that stop me? Not really. I’ve enjoyed many meals there and I even have a favorite spot to sit down at when I’m able to do so. I’ve been going here for years, enough for the team there to know what I’m about to order before I open my mouth. I’ve been a loyal customer for as long as they have been open. The owner and his team there are amazing, and the tip jar runneth over with bills, an unusual sight in most eateries these days.

Gyros Platter – This is a go-to for me when carbs aren’t an issue and I am hungry as hell. I order mine with either a side of salad or Avgolemono soup, which is a creamy, tangy soup consisting of chicken, rice, and lemon juice, or I go all out and get a side of french fries.

Veggie Platter – When I’m feeling the need for something lighter, I get the veggie platter, which is surprisingly substantial for most people. Dolmas, pita bread, hummus, baba ganoush, and salad. The dolmas are the best part for me: grape leaves that have been soaked and blanched in a brine solution that is then stuffed with rice and other spices.

Spanakopita – My love of pastries continues here, and I love a good savory one. Spanakopitas are simply feta and spinach wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Getting one warm from the oven is the best part, especially when the cheese is still soft and creamy.

As far as food places go, this place occupies a special place in my life. This is the kind of place everyone dreams of: a place that feels like a home away from home, where the food is not only good, but well done,  and the vibe is just amazing.

Wanna check them out? Check them out in the map below and pay them a visit.

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