HOME > Chowhound > Austin >


El Greco

Husband and I went to El Greco at 31st and Guadalupe last night craving Greek food. My personal favorite in Austin has always be Athenian Grill...he always liked it, but had misgivings about their pastichio (sp?). My first clue should have been that there was nothing spinning on the spit, but not cluing in, I ordered a chicken gyro (the only other option was pork. Pork?). It was fajita chicken, not shaved, and they had baby greens on the gyro, and thin slices of onion, once again, like fajita onions. Not what I wanted at all. We also ordered french fries, which I think were fried in olive oil, which doesn't take that kind of heat well.

I don't know about this place. The older Greek lady working there seemed really nice, but the whole experience made me miss the hell out of Athenian Grill. What's the word with them re-opening?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yeah... there are a lot of intangibles that just kind of turn me off about this place. The food is decent, but way overpriced. You order at the counter, but are waited on by "waiters" wearing chef smocks. The lighting is bright fluorescent. And like you mentioned... pork or chicken gyro options?

    When is Athenian Grill reopening???

    1. There is a long greek thread floating around - mentions athenian grill, greco, etc. Your comments pretty much sum up my experience with the place as well. I've been getting my gyro fix at Milto's Pizza Pub right down the street until Athenian opens back up. I think their gyro is $5.20 instead of the $9 or so El Greco charges.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LakeLBJ

        More agreement. Also, Milto's gyro isn't just a few ounces of pulled pork like the greco. 9 bucks is insulting for a doughy pork taco with lettuce onions and tomato.

      2. I went one time. $13 for a gyro, fries and a drink. That's a little too steep for lunch.

        1. My wife and I ate lunch here a couple of weeks ago and it was a huge disappointment. The young lady who took our order acted as if she were doing us a favor to even speak with us. The food itself was mediocre and overpriced. When I sought out the manager to voice my disappointment, all she did was make excuses -- her gyro was the real deal, not the compressed lamb muck used at most Greek restaurants, blah blah blah. If her food is the real deal, give me the compressed lamb muck any time. She also needs to work on her attitude, and that of the people she has working for her. For my money, the best gyro in town is at Arpeggio on Airport north of Highland Mall.

          But I'm not, you know, bitter or anything.

          8 Replies
          1. re: El Jefe54

            I've never tried Arpeggio. How does it compare to Milto's, which is my current favorite. Why? I love the fluffy/chewy pita (unlike the flat almost matza-ish feel of Phoenecia et. al) and the very flavorful sauce.

            1. re: amysuehere

              You have just described the pita at Arpeggio, which is also the way I like my pita. Also, the gyros are enormous -- much larger than Milto's. BTW, Milto's was my fave gyro connection until I discovered Arpeggio.

                1. re: amysuehere

                  I buy greek flat bread pita at HEB it is right in front of the deli at my HEB, so good.

                2. re: El Jefe54

                  Ended up without a car (Miatas and deer don't mix, btw...) so I didn't get there till today. Nice interior, pleasant staff. On your suggestion, I was in for a gyro. Gal at the counter said they were trying some new gyros and offered, "The regular, lamb&beef or chicken. Went for the lamb and beef (isn't that what a regular is? plead ignorance on that one). Anyway, got it within five minutes and must say it was quite tasty. Was it better than Milto's? No. Just different.

                  Like you said, the bread is very simular to Milto's, which is were everyone else I've tried falls flat for me. Theirs was a wheat version, very nice. Meat wasn't of the "sliced of the massive drum" variety (maybe the "regular" is), but very delicate, tender chunks of perfectly charred strips and cubes. Flavor was mild, but well rounded. Unbelievably, the tomatos had oodles of flavor, which really drove the dish home. My one complaint, which really isn't one, was I wasn't as thrilled with the tzatziki sauce as I am with Milto's. However, I didn't come away from it feeling like I have dragon-breath, which I do when I have a Milto's, so there's that.

                  All in all, Arpeggio makes a lighter, more healthy feeling gyro with a cleaner finish. Milto's is more of a flavor bomb.

                  Arpeggio's is way closer to work, so I'll be making it more of a regular spot. Next the wings.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    Hmm, Thats weird. I had a gyro there the other day, and it came off of the Meat Drum and had the thick chewy pita bread. Still alright, but I preferred Milto's better. I also got a side of Baba Ganouj and that came with the thin wheat pita bread from Phonicia

                    We're talking about Arpeggio right?

                    1. re: Homero

                      Place on Airport east of Lamar in a little strip center. Had an interesting mural (what the heck is up with the wing-back chair in the middle of a field?). She did say it was a special they were trying today...

                      Milto's is still my favorite tasting one all around.

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        Yeah. That's Arpeggio. Weird. I'll have to try their special gyro sometime.

            2. In my experience, the servers at El Greco have always been extremely helpful and polite, despite occasional glitches (quickly rectified). I do think the food, although above average, is overpriced for what it is, and the breakfast/lunch menu is priced rather like the dinner menu in a hotel dining room ($8 for two eggs, toast, a slice of feta and some Greek salad? $6 to $7 for 8 ounces of dip with pita bread? $13 for moussaka? $16 for four lamb shanks? (Not to mention that if you'd like rice pilaf or fries on the side, it's $3 extra.) Even the desserts are expensive ($4 for a small piece of baklava is excessive, even if it's grandma's recipe).

              I'm well aware that it's very costly to run a restaurant, and I might find these prices acceptable were the ambiance a bit more refined, but El Greco is basically located in a large, charm-free diner. It might be fun going out after work here with a bunch of people, but I don't see how the owner can justify these prices.

              1 Reply
              1. re: luggage512

                From what I understand, part of the reason for the higher prices is that a lot of the food they serve is local. I have nothing to back that up. This is just what I have heard. If this is true, and they are getting their pork and chicken and lamb from local farms, I applaud them. However, the price would be easier to swallow (pun intended) if their food was as good as Niko Niko's in Houston, which is slightly cheaper but so much tastier IMHO.

              2. I have not been there, but i just had the pleasure of eating some of the good. My boss just showed up with a few boxes. Potatoes, lamb chops and some green beans. The lamb chops with the yogurt dip was fantastic, very high quality well spiced. the potatoes are very tasty but somewhat soggy, however i have found that to be typical of greek potatoes. The green's were way overcooked but still had a nice taste.

                It's a shame to hear they are so expensive, still i hope to go there for dinner with my wife, she has been craving some pastichio and i hear theirs is quite good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jonclegg

                  Too pricey - don't bother.

                  INSTEAD GO TO THE ATHENIAN GRILL, WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO OPEN THIS MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't forget they are now located right across from Ruth's Chris on 6th Street.

                2. I've eaten here twice now in the last month, and I must say, this food is damn good. Maybe they've fixed some of their problems? I didn't notice much wrong with the place, and they were doing a good business.

                  Last night a friend and I headed over (she hadn't been, and I had only gotten take-out) and split the following:

                  Grilled Baby Octopus: That's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. They tasted kind of like smoked oysters, but saltier, very much like a "seawater" flavor. I could only eat a few, but that has to do with the strength of the flavor. I like them and they were obviously prepared well (extremely tender). I suggest splitting this with a few people because 1 or 2 will do you right.

                  Pork Gyro: El Greco is not shy about pointing out that they make their own gyro meat. And they have every right to be proud, that pork is tender and flavorful. Some of the slightly charred bits around the edges just taste even better. This is not the "gyro meat roll" that most places offer, but roasted pork with gyro spices. Good tzaziki, not overpowering, and some of the lightest, freshest pita I have ever had.

                  Moussaka: Wow, I usually find moussaka drenched in tomato sauce, but not this time. The menu describes it as "two layers of eggplant, sliced potato, ground beef and tomato sauce, topped with a layer of bechamel, baked till golden brown." And that is true. What it fails to mention is how fluffy and light that bechamel is, or how this is the ultimate comfort food. I don't know what else to say about the moussaka except that it was really REALLY good.

                  Galaktoboureko (Greek baked custard): This was SO good. Dense semolina custard baked inside phyllo dough and drizzled with honey. Served cold. Two bites will send you into a diabetic coma, but what a great way to go. The custard, which is just barely sweet, is a nice foil to the sweet honey on top, and the texture is perfect.

                  I will definitely be going back. I kind of want to try everything else they have.