I don't do fast food -- unless, it's Greek. Replace the words Big Boy with gyro and tartar sauce with tzatziki, and I'm willing to stand in line. Which is a good thing, because at MYTHOS (Aronoff Center, Seventh St. between Walnut and Main, Downtown, 513-621-9222) the line snakes the length of the small eatery long before the noon rush hits. Waiting to place your order, you hear murmurs of "I'm hungry" escape the lips of those around you as they inhale the tantalizing aroma of spices.
The menu at Mythos is simple, focused on six types of gyros. The traditional sandwich is made with a blend of lamb and beef grilled on a vertical spit, sliced thin and served on warm pita bread with onions, tomato and tzatziki sauce (a yogurt-based sauce with garlic and herbs).
Variations include the Mega Gyro (an "Olympic size" version), a Chicken Gyro, the Philly Gyro (with sautéed onions, green peppers and provolone) and a low-carb Gyro plate. Sandwiches can be ordered alone or as a platter with rice pilaf, a tossed salad or soup. Other menu options include salads, pita sandwiches and sides such as hummus and grape leaves.
We started with hummus ($2.25), which came with slices of pita, cucumbers and tomatoes. Recipes for hummus can vary as much as the Middle Eastern countries of its origin, but generally it's served as a creamy dip with the prominent tastes of tahini and olive oil or a thicker paste with strong spice accents, like the cumin-laced hummus at Mythos.
The regular Gyro ($3.95) has a pungent cinnamon flavor, which, according to the restaurant's owner, Linda Hountakis, comes from the spice they add to the onions for the sandwich. We preferred the subtler flavor of the meat on my cohort's Gyro Salad ($6.75), which came with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, feta and kalamata olives, but the gyro's tzatziki sauce took the edge off the sandwich's sharp spice.
The large chunks of meat in my Chicken Gyro ($3.99) were flavorful and moist, but I would have been just as happy if they had served me stale Wonder Bread -- as long as it was covered in the habit-forming tzatziki.
I had to go off the sauce cold turkey to help finish a piece of baklava ($1.35). The sticky layers of honey, butter and walnuts ensured an afternoon desk nap, which would surely feature tubs of tzatziki.