Years ago, I briefly worked for a guy who delivered free weekly newspapers and magazines to Milwaukee businesses. You know, the stuff you’d find scattered on the floor next to racks of The Onion and Shepherd Express. (R.I.P. Vital Source.) One day, I asked my boss if he had a favorite non-fast-food place to get lunch while he was out on a run. He smiled. “I’ll take you to the best place in town,” he said. “But first let’s get some gas.”

We pulled into that big Mobil station between 1st and 2nd Streets. (You know, the one near my favorite McDonald’s.) We gassed up the van. “Okay,” my boss said. “Let’s eat.” But instead of getting back in the van, he walked across the parking lot. He walked into Gyro Palace.

Yep, Gyro Palace (602 S. 2nd St.; 414-298-9622), that little gyro joint on the west end of the so-called Walker’s Point Plaza. As of this writing, other plaza tenants include Café India, Chubby’s Cheesesteaks, a wine and liquor store, a convenience store, and a Mobil Lube Express. To paraphrase an old Fleet Farm truism, if Walker’s Point Plaza don’t got it, you don’t need it.

My boss was having a little fun with me that day, but his love for Gyro Palace was genuine. “The usual! For me AND my friend!” he bellowed as we walked through the door. The employees responded in kind, treating my boss like a king returning from an epic quest of vanquishing evildoers and/or dropping off flyers for The Rave.

The “usual” turned out to be nothing more than a standard gyro plate. Go figure! However, all these years later, that gyro plate has a permanent residence in my brain. It lives, as they say, rent-free, forever covered in onions and tzatziki sauce. Wolfing one down with my boss two decades ago is a random Milwaukee memory I’ll never forget.

But here’s the thing: until recently, I had never returned to Gyro Palace. Weird! I had passed it approximately 8,000 times in the ensuing years, but I had never actually gone inside. Hell, I had never even used the drive-thru. (Did I mention it has a drive-thru? It has a drive-thru! MarJon Beauchamp loves it!) So, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, while on a run to gas up my 2002 Chevy Tracker and pick up some ice, I decided to right this longstanding wrong. I decided to walk across the parking lot. I decided to return to Gyro Palace.

“The usual!” I imagined myself bellowing as I walked through door. I didn’t actually do that, of course, but I did imagine it.

Gyro Palace has been around since 1997. Walking into the Walker’s Point location today (there’s another location in Glendale) you’ll find a cozy space decked out in faux Greek columns and a handful of gambling machines. The generous menu is exactly what you’d expect: gyros and kabobs, cheeseburgers and wraps, Greek fries and Greek salads. Prices are what you’d expect, too, in line with everything else these days.

How’s the food, you ask? Well, not to sound like a broken record, but exactly what you’d expect. Which is to say GOOD. I kept things simple and historically accurate on my return visit and ordered a gyro, fries, and soda. No muss, no fuss. The gyro and fries came individually wrapped in a paper bag. I took a seat near the back of the room, unwrapped my food, and tucked in. Once again, I wolfed it down.

Was it the best gyro I’d ever had, worthy of its rent-free existence in my brain? Maybe! I’m still a staunch believer and frequent customer of Oakland Gyros, but my Gyro Palace gyro was no slouch. It was good! I’d recommend getting one even if you’re not getting your oil changed or your car washed next door. And don’t forget about that drive-thru!

Which brings me to the thing I love most about Gyro Palace: the fact that it is located in a busy gas station plaza. Check out this view:

Nothing says “this is a great lunchtime spot” more than digging into a gyro while gazing out a window and contemplating the price of gas. Sitting alongside city workers and construction crews on their lunch breaks, as well as grizzled regulars who have been posted up since 10 a.m. (“The usual!”) it’s hard not to feel that you’re part of a living, breathing city. I felt it way back when my boss took me to Gyro Palace, and I felt it again when I returned.

Long live Gyro Palace and long live places like it. Come for the food. Stay for everything else.

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About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.