Adventures in Culture and Travel

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04 September, 2012

Pita Alley

Pita Alley Gyro?

It's called the Rue Des Pitas, or Pita Street in Brussels Belgium, and it's where you'll find some awesome Greek food, most importantly gryos and pitas. An entire street off the southwest corner of Grand Place is filled with nothing but Greek restaurants.

Which of course makes you wonder, how that happens. Because for the most part all of them sell the same stuff. While I'm certain each has their own flavor, and much like Butcher's Street the phenomenon of similar ethnic food vending isn't uncommon, but what makes one Greek person say to themselves: "Where should I put my pita shop? Oh yes, right next to the other pita shop in the alley." Is it some cover-up for illegal activities, or is there just that much demand for Greek food in Brussels, that the competition doesn't matter?

I went to find out.  One of the things I'm learning is that most restaurants will love to have you sit down and order 25 Euros worth of food and drink, or you can, if your a cheapskate like myself, go inside order a single gyro and pay 3.50 for the luxury, then walk around and eat it. Same food, but a-la-carte, and way better for the budget. I went to one of the restaurants in Pita Alley today for lunch. My French seemed useless as they kept talking in a language I did not comprehend. Perhaps it was French, but to me it might as well been Latin. However I did manage the word "gyro" which involved a facial expression of understanding from the vendor, and who quickly made me a fist size stuffed flat-bread gyro with Greek coleslaw (not exactly sure what it's called) and the meat from the whirl-o-veal on the counter. Another dwarf fork stuck in the top, I handed them a 5 Euro and got back some change. Perhaps it was lost in translation, but it was then I think I actually got a pita by mistake... oh well... Off I went forking at my gyro/pita, and it was out of this world. The meat fabulous, the slaw out of this world. In fact, it may have been the best thing I've ate since arriving in Brussels, it was that good.

Now I'm told, the thing to look for is a mitraillette gyro. A mitraillete is sub, typically with sausage or some goofy version of a hamburger on it, but the greek version uses the tangy gyro meat instead. I can only imagine it's out of this world. I'm told Plaka has them, but I'm looking for others. In fact I imaging there's lots of interesting sandwiches here in Brussels, I just have to find them.