[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I have made my peace with mass-produced gyros, but that doesn't mean I completely understand them. Sure, what's not too love about those thin slices of crispy meat caramelized by the heat of an electric flame? It's just the rest of the equation that confuses me: raw onions, underripe tomato wedges, and, the worst offender, an overly thick white sauce. The goop may have been "inspired" on tzatziki, but it now has more in common with mayonnaise. When squirted on top, you then have salty meat, a creamy sauce, and nothing to cut through all of it.

Enter giardiniera. This glorious pickled concoction helps Italian beefs, so why couldn't it also bring some magic to a sandwich that genuinely needs some spice? (I should note that I actually got this idea from the Gym Shoe, which combines the powers of an Italian beef and gyros.) To test this theory I went to Niko's Gyros in Avondale, and got a side order of giardiniera with the gyros combo ($7.00, includes fries and drink). And wouldn't you know, the giardiniera did the trick, adding spice and acidity to the sandwich, without completely overwhelming the other flavors. As for the execution, I wish Niko's sliced the meat a little thinner, but the pieces were nicely caramelized.

Now that I know giardiniera works on gyros, I'm wondering if there is anything else I should try. Do you like to load up the sandwich with any other condiments?

Niko's Gyros‎

2775 North Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)


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