Sandwich Spotting Los Angeles ~ The Gyro @ Papa Cristo’s

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So LA ain’t a Greek town. We know this. We don’t have a concentration of Greek eateries that make you break out your Yelp app just to make sure you are getting the very best moussaka, like you might be inclined to do in Chicago’s Greektown or in Astoria, Queens. We accept this.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t scratch the gyro itch and Papa Cristo’s sits comfortably among the City of Angels top tier Greek restaurants. And it is also wonderfully casual. In fact, I would say if I lived in a town that had to be deprived of a certain cuisine, I would want a quality representation of said cuisine to be a market/deli restaurant as opposed to some haute/high end rendition. At Papa’s you can get your Greek sweet on, order a whole lamb for your next toga party and load up on a bountiful selection of olives, oils, breads and dips. And the best part about doing a little Greek grocery shopping is getting lunch to boot.
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Decisions await when you enter this taverna. When it comes to sandwich spotting, you can and should rack your brain on whether to get the gyro or the lamb and feta sandwich. The latter is a fine cutlery optional meal; baby sheep on baguette does not happen in LA as often as it should, and as the feta melts over the warm roasted lamb, your sandwich gets the added bonus of a tart white sauce that cuts perfectly through the gamey protein. But my mind was made up that day; I had to get a gyro, so I settled for this:

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Only at Papa Cristo’s can you get a lamb chop on the side for $4. Enjoy yourself? Truer words have never been printed from a Kinko’s. Although when you consider the fact that the gyro at Papa Cristo’s is gargantuan, making a side of anything wholly unnecessary; getting a shoulder chop of perfectly chargrilled lamb for $4 should never be passed up. The side of tzatziki went almost untouched. A splash of lemon is all that is needed and you my friend are in lamb heaven. Leave it to a quality Greek joint to serve up both the high end and low end of lamb cuts, whether you are dining in with Jay Z over a Frenched rack of loin or taking shoulder chops to go for a meal on wheels with Macklemore, there is a little lamb for everyone at Papa Cristo’s.

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Let’s get to the point here: this gyro is a monster. A smart man would never unshackle this beast from its wrapper but for the perfect pic, the artist will suffer. It is a good thing the pita used at Papa Cristo’s is thick, big and buttery because they put a small buffet’s worth of shaved gyro meat in this sandwich. The lettuce and tomato make for a strong supporting cast; much like a visit to a Brazilian steakhouse, a heavy dosage of roughage is a necessary course. Beyond simply being plentiful, the gyro meat has the perfect blend of lamb to beef, well spiced and the tzatziki is studded with just enough fresh herb. One area where the gyro falls short is that often they griddle the slices on a flat top vs having it crisp up to a rich mahogany on a vertical spit. A minor flaw that is more than made up for with what is likely to be the best damn pita bread in town.
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Sandwich Spotting is all about full bellies bragging about carb wrapped lunches that put Sunday Suppers to shame. That is Papa Cristo’s to a “T”. They not only scratch the gyro itch, they cover your monthly quota of ground lamb for about $8. While Sandwich Spotting often finds sammies that kill it for around a five spot, I can think of only one other gyro in this town that can induce a catatonic state that could make a South Philly Cheesesteak stand jealous.  And they are the only Greek joint in town that has a club card. Four more punches and I have a free gyro waiting in the wings. So get down to Normandie and Pico and see what an LA Greek deli with six decades of gyro slinging can do for your next Sandwich Spotting.

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Papa Cristo’s
2771 W. Pico Blvd
LA CA 90006

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