Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Pronounced Yeer-Oh: Hummingbird House Cafe and Surfin' Souvlaki


Everything Surfs in SoCal

So, here among the bounty that California provides I've been missing the foods of my frozen homeland to the East. Recently I got a Jewish deli fix that really hit the spot, and right before Doc Gus posted about the Philly gyro at Cleveland's Best Steak and Gyro I had finally put aside my snicker and tried out Surfin' Souvlaki's gyro. The foggy memories that the food at Surfin' Souvlaki had brought back drove me to finally try out the superior Hummingbird House Cafe.

I have loved the gyro since my days stomping around CLE, usually drunk, at Greek festivals, fairs,  and the once-annual River Fest by the Cuyahoga in the once-fun Flats. Like the Philly steak, the burrito, the New York slice, and the hot dog, the gyro is a mighty handful of portable drunk food. You might drip some onions slathered in tzatziki sauce onto your shoes as you staggered but ... hey, what are YOU looking at? Huh? Huh? Yeah, I thought so.

The first thing that I noticed upon entering the fast-food-y-type space full of muted flat screen televisions dubbed Surfin' Souvlaki was that they insisted on calling their gyros wraps and not sandwiches. It was obviously an attempt at easing Southern Californians into enjoying a food that might be alien to them, but comparing a gyro to some stupid honky burrito seemed to suck a little more dignity away from this once noble street food. The folks behind the counter were friendly and Greek. The gyro that they served me flashed me back to those wobbly nights by the river. It was a tasty handful of carny chow goodness. I was home, albeit more sober this time.

I'll grab a pic next time I'm by there. For now here's a screen capture.

If Surfin' Souvlaki's wrap crap takes the gyro down a notch, Hummingbird House Cafe raises it back up to an art. From the warm, pillowy pita to the sauce to the lettuce, tomato and onions, the entire sandwich tasted freshly made and was a wonder for my mouth. As I sat with my lovely wife on the patio I felt that I was tasting a gyro for the first time. This was not carny chow. The lettuce snapped. The sauce was bright. The meat was moist and flavorful unlike the spicy shoe leather of the standard American gyro. It was my misspent youth's favorite reborn. I followed it up with some of the best baklava I've tasted in some time. Thank you, Hummingbird House Cafe. Thank you. I can't wait to try the rest of your menu.


26711 Verdugo Street
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

28171 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692