When I think of Mediterranean food I don’t think chain store. I think of a mom and pop operation where they serve up food just like their grandma used to make. Even the upscale Mediterranean places seem to be family owned and operated, and they don’t usually last.
My first taste of Pita Republic’s food was at the Brandon location. Having had some absolutely horrific gyros at some downtown Tampa restaurants, I had low expectations but walked away full and happy. My only complaint was that this place, just all of the other places I had tried sliced the meat so thin. It’s was like eating gyros flavored bacon slices, but if the tzatziki sauce was good, I figured this was as good as it gets in Tampa.
One day when I was having a severe craving for a gyros, I spotted this place on Hillsborough Ave and decided to give it a try. I knew this was different from the Brandon one as soon as I stepped through the door. There on a vertical spit was a perfectly shaped mountain of ground lamb and turning slowly. The owner/manager Robbie sliced nice thick slices onto a pita, topped it with veggies and white tzatzik sauce and sent me straight to gyros heaven. If you’re a feta fan, for .50 you can get more feta than Publix will sell you for $3.00. The meat was tender,spicy and juicy, unlike those sliced up gyros. I was a very happy foodie.
I asked Robbie how come all the other Republics didn’t cook their meat like he did. He explained that some food law made it illegal for new restaurants to have that type of rotisserie but his shop was older and was grandfathered in to keep it. Yay! Since then I stop by a few times a month. The Avocado -n- Chicken is also a great choice and although I am not a vegetarian and do not understand anyone who is one, the hummus and falafel are winners too. So I said hello Town and Country and good-bye Brandon.
So, next time you have a gyro attack or want something that’s tasty and healthy, yes it does exist, give the Pita Republic on Hillsborough a try. Now if I could find a place that uses pita pocket bread instead of the flat ones I’d be ecstatic. If anyone knows of such a place in Tampa, let me know and I’ll check it out. Until then, happy eating.
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