Mad Greek International Cafe

Bristol | Johnson City | Knoxville

What is a Gyro?
The Definitive Mediterranean Food Guide


What is a Gyro?
The Definitive Mediterranean Food Guide

Everybody knows what’s on the menu at McDonald’s. Hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fish sandwiches, etc. It’s not a mystery.

But for those eating at Mad Greek International Café for the first time the menu has the potential to be a mystery. If you’re looking at the menu think “what is a gyro?” then you’re in the right place.

Reference this to understand the traditional Mediterranean food we have as you browse through the menu, and read through the whole thing after you go. We’re sure you’ll find something new to try.

Bifteki

Greek Bifteki is a real treat.

There’s two types of beef patties in the world:
  1. Paper thin fast food quality
  2. Dense, juicy and restaurant quality
With this traditional Greek dish we take the second kind of beef patty and stuff it with Feta cheese.

Take your fork and cut into it. There’s few things more satisfying than the sight of freshly melted Feta cheese will give you. One of those few things is how it’s going to taste.

This dish is recommended to anyone in the mood for a big meaty meal. It is going to be similar to eating a steak dinner, but keep in mind these are beef patties, so it’s not going to be a chewfest.

Similar things you’ve had before include meatloaf, Salisbury steak, and good ole’ restaurant quality hamburgers.

The main difference you’ll have to account for is that these are stuffed with Feta cheese, which for most is a huge plus.

Calamari

So… there’s really no other way of putting it. This is fried squid.

Hold up:

I know some of you are already starting to scroll away in a mad frenzy to get away from here, but this dish is really, really good.

Calamari is served as an appetizer before your meal, and with some scrumptious pepper and tomato siding this is a dish born to make onion rings jealous.

I can all but guarantee that this dish will have those tentatively trying the first one or two pieces popping it like its candy in no time.

Like all appetizers this dish is recommended to anyone who is hungry now, but isn’t trying to overwhelm their stomach before the entrees make their appearance. In spite of the gravity implied by the name Calamari truly is a fairly light dish that packs a ton of flavor.

Similar things you’ve had before include onion rings, or popcorn shrimp.

Dolmadakia

In many ways you could consider Dolmadakia the eggrolls of Mediterranean food. That being said these delicacies are intended to be more of a side item than a full blown meal.

Dolmadakia provide an excellent opportunity to try something new for those who prefer not to stray too far off the beaten path with their entrée.

The dish is prepared within the leaves off the grapevines in vineyards. The vine leaf is laid out flat on the preparation surface with the filling of rice and onions placed on top. You then roll it up into a neatly tucked roll which is ready to serve.

Don’t miss out on this simple treat!

Dolmadakia is recommended to anyone who needs a little something extra to pad out a smaller dish into a full blown meal.

Similar things you’ve had before include eggrolls or rice balls, with the onions packing in a ton of extra flavor.

Falafel

Crushed chick peas getting deep fried into a delicious crumble within a pita or golden brown balls of goodness.

Both versions of this dish of Egyptian origin are a delightful treat.

How it’s made:

The chick peas are prepared by soaking overnight, before being crushed together and then balled up by hand before being fried.

The resulting dish has been enjoyed since the time that pharaohs ruled over Egypt. With that much of a track record Falafel definitely deserves a taste.

Falafel is recommended as a delicious side or appetizer in its balled up form. Furthermore for those seeking a vegetarian entrée that will be incredibly filling, the crumble within a pita is an outstanding option.

Similar things you’ve had before are hush puppies, the balled up form is essentially a hush puppy that is made of chick peas rather than corn meal. The pita version is more along the lines of a crispier thanksgiving stuffing.

Feta

It doesn’t get much more Greek than this. To name your cheese Feta is actually protected by European Union law as a reserved right to sheep and goat farmers in Greece.

The cheese is made of primarily sheep’s milk, but can technically include up to 30% goat’s milk. Before reaching your plate it is salted, submerged in brine and aged for approximately two months in barrels.

Greek culture takes Feta seriously and there is a reason why. Its unique flavor helps emphasize the richness of Greek culture and the special role that Greece has in international culture.

Feta cheese is recommended to anyone who wants to truly get a taste of Greece. Many of the traditional dishes will have Feta cheese included, take note of the character that this staple of Greek culture adds to the dish.

Similar things you’ve had before include other types of cheese, but as a first time Feta taster prepare your taste buds for its outstandingly flavorful salty tang!

Gyro

The gyro is a relatively new dish of Greek origin, but despite its lack of historical depth has still managed to become an extremely popular staple of those seeking authentic Greek cuisine.

A gyro essentially consists of a meat placed within a pita bread which also contains other goodies such as Tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Popular meats to find in gyros include:
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Veal
  • Lamb
In many ways the popularity of the gyro owes itself to the rising popularity of street food over the last century.

While the gyro is grounded in Greek culture it comes highly recommended to anyone who is certain of their love of good old American food. The combination of bread, meat and veggies will satisfy a familiar spot in the average American palate, while the Tzatziki will ensure that you are still trying something new.

Similar things you’re had before include wraps or burritos. Go into your first gyro expecting a truly appetizing and meaty meal.

Hummus

There is so much that can be done with hummus. The staple appetizer that is a good starting point for a hummus adventure is to get it with pita chips.

Hummus, like falafel, is based upon the core ingredient of chick peas which are mashed together into a smooth and creamy consistency that is absolutely perfect for your dipping pleasure.

Though originating in the Arabian region, it has regional significance as a dish throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

The reason is simple:

It goes well with just about anything. Don’t believe it? Give it a try.

Hummus is recommended to anyone seeking a flavorful appetizer or simply looking to add a unique flair to any entrée.

Similar things you’ve had before are items such as peanut butter, or really finely ground egg salad, although it truly does have a taste all of its own. A good place to start is a pita chips appetizer.

Moussaka

No, this is not the lion king, although for the more adventurous diner this traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish might be your crowning achievement.

A base of eggplant is layered with a rich topping of potatoes and ground beef, with a liberal amount of creamy béchamel sauce to top it off.

The result:

A Greek entrée that can make any American casserole turn pink in envy.

Moussaka is enjoyed widely throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It has regional variations, with the traditional Greek version being served warm out of the oven, after having a short wait to solidify as opposed to being eaten right away.

This dish is recommended to anyone looking to get an authentic Mediterranean experience out of an extremely filling meal.

Similar things you’ve had before would be any kind of potato or hamburger casserole, with the main distinction being the eggplant and the béchamel sauce.

Shrimp Santorini

Okay so shrimp isn’t really a dish that is more or less Greek than any other dish, but this particular way of preparing it deserves a spot on this list.

The concept is simple:

Take the delicious seafood we already know and love and smother it with a delicious tomato sauce, expand the flavors with wine and garlic. Then toss in some Feta cheese just to make sure the taste buds are 100% satisfied.

Sounds pretty good right?

This dish is going to be for seafood fanatics who are wanting to embrace the notion of Mediterranean dining without having to stray too far from the familiar. Ultimately Shrimp Santorini is just a Greek spin on the dish you know and love.

Most people have already tried shrimp once or twice, but just to clarify the dish is in many ways similar to shrimp covered in a deliciously cheesy pasta sauce.

Souvlaki

Remember what we said about it not getting much more Greek than Feta cheese?

Souvlaki is probably just about the only dish which comes close.

The Souvlaki Wikipedia article begins by displaying skewers that are date back to 1700 B.C., meaning one thing: Souvlaki is not a new concept.

In essence Souvlaki is just some good hardy meat on a stick wrapped up in a pita bread. It’s the Greek version of fast food with a 3700 year history, and as always there’s a reason why.

Souvlaki goes out highly recommended along the same lines as a gyro. It is a tasty meaty treat that is designed to fill you up by the time you are done eating it.

Similar things you have had before include any sort of chicken or beef sandwich. The main differences which make this meal Mediterranean are the pita wrap and the Tzatziki sauce that accompanies it.

Spanakopita

So here we have a traditional Greek dish that is a surprising vegetarian delight: spinach pie! Take a base of spinach, mix in some Feta cheese and then cover it with a flaky dough exterior.

Spanakopita is an excellent reminder that not every entrée has to reinvent the wheel to include four or five different components. Good food can still have simplicity at its core.

Here’s something cool:

The breaded exterior is actually a special Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan phyllo dough, which consists of thin layers of breading which chip apart at the press of the fork. With how thin the layers are the resulting bites will absolutely melt in your mouth.

Spanakopita is a dish custom made for someone desiring a more healthy vegetarian option who still is trying to get an authentic taste of Greek cuisine. The power of the Feta cheese in this recipe will blow your mind.

Similar things you’ve had before include Quiche or a spinach casserole.

Tzatziki

You’ve probably been seeing this one a lot throughout this guide.

Here’s why:

This homemade mixture of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and herbs is going to go well with every single meaty dish on this guide. It might sound like an adventurous combo, but it has a truly refreshing quality to it.

The meaty dishes tend to be hot and chunky out of the oven. The Tzatziki is there to complement this with a diversity of flavor while its cool temperature brings the temperature down to a more reasonable place for immediate enjoyment.

Tzatziki sauce is recommended as an appetizer if you’re trying to just get a feel for it, but for those who are already enjoying a meatier item on the menu don’t forget to take advantage of this delicious dip. It’s there for a reason!

Similar things you’ve had before include any sort of dip that you might utilize to spruce up a meal, with the most relevant comparison being ranch or sour cream.