Every Friday through the end of 2018, the Rant will feature a dish that stands out among Lee County’s restaurant scene. We’ll usually focus on lunch, but there aren’t any rules – we just want to let you know (if you don’t already) about the many dining options we have that are owned and operated by people right here in Lee County. Today it’s a gyro from Hawkins Grill & Pizzeria.
The Hawkins Avenue Grill is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” places that doesn’t look like much from the outside. But it’s as solid a lunch spot as they come, with a rather lengthy menu featuring Italian and American standards such as burgers, hot dogs, wings, a soup of the day, a full list of pasta dishes and subs, and of course, a pretty dang good pizza. The gyro – not Italian or American – is the star today, though.
THE DISH: A gyro (and first things first, it’s properly pronounced year-oh, although nobody’s gonna correct you for saying jy-row) is a Greek-origin pita sandwich. For $5.95, you get an over-sized, taco shaped beast of a meal full of what we assume is a sliced lamb and beef mixture (the menu just says “meat,” but don’t be scared – it’s got beef’s fatty profile with just a little bit of the other-ness that comes from lamb) as well as lettuce, tomatoes, and that creamy tzatziki sauce that ties it all together. Add fries for $1.75 – the fries here may be the best in town, so it’s completely worth it. If you’re in a big city somewhere or over in Greece maybe, you’re probably more likely to see them slice the strips of beef and lamb mixture straight off of what TV’s Ron Swanson called “a spinning cone of meat” before putting them on the sandwich. Not the case at Hawkins Grill, but it’s still delicious. We should note that there’s a chicken gyro available for the same price, and while it does its job just fine, it’s not the same. You’re gonna want to go for the meat.
WHAT ELSE TO TRY: Pizza (anywhere from $6.50 to upwards of $20, depending on size and toppings) is in the place’s name, so you probably don’t want to miss that. In fact, one of Hawkins Grill’s calling cards is their gigantic 28-inch “Party Pizza” ($24.95 and up), which you have to call for in advance. They also do a pretty good hot dog ($1.45) and an absolutely killer grilled chicken sub ($5.95). We’re not much for dessert with lunch, but their New York Cheesecake ($2.95, add strawberries for 50 cents) is hard to pass up, especially at that price.
Hawkins Grill and Pizzeria is located at 809 Hawkins Avenue and can be reached at (919) 776-7373. They’re open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit their Facebook page here.