Restaurants Bars
Entertainment Restaurants Bars

Cheap date: Covo Gyro Market

2 for $25: Covo Gyro Market
1482 N. Milwaukee Ave. 312-626-2660

On an early date, you may not yet know whether your paramour is a picky eater. Should you take him to an ethnic restaurant, there's a chance he'll spend more time fussing with the food than locking eyes with you. In Wicker Park, it's Covo to the rescue. The new counter-service Greek restaurant from the owners of nearby Division Street eatery Prasino is nearly identical in set-up to a Chipotle, meaning the entire menu is customizable. But Covo has a totally different cuisine and a polished enough interior to make it appropriate for a casual date. Mix and match the signature gyros, salads, sauces, sides and even beer and wine for an accessible, affordable lunch or dinner. While it's not quite on par with local Mediterranean institutions such as Greek Islands or Athenian Room, Covo does boast its own pita recipe and spit-roasts its meat right there in the restaurant.

Main attraction: The build-your-own-meal approach. At the counter, choose the type of dish you'd like (gyro, mini pitas or salad) then choose your meat (lamb and beef, chicken or pork), sauce, toppings and sides. Don't like cucumbers? Leave 'em off. Want extra tzatziki and olives? Pile 'em on. I would gladly spend the extra $1.50 for the beef and lamb mix, which was much more flavorful than the tender but under-seasoned chicken. The pitas taste fresh and soft and benefit from a quick warm-up on the grill before they're piled with toppings. When it comes to sauces, the kicked-up Covo signature with roasted garlic and hot peppers and beats out the blah tzatziki. After my gyro was assembled (though not wrapped; Covo serves its gyros open-faced, leaving me to roll it up at my table), I chose sides of spicy feta dip ($3) and a tangy tabbouleh salad ($3). While none of the spices blew me away, the quality and juiciness of the meat was commendable.

Best value: If you're looking to squeeze the most out of your dollars, stick with the chicken or pork gyro ($7) to avoid the surcharge for lamb and beef, and skip the side salads and dips, which, at $3 for a serving the size of an ice cream scoop, are no bargain. The Greek-style fries ($4), topped with feta, lemon and spices would be a more substantial choice. Sweet tooth? Finish the meal with Greek yogurt with honey drizzle ($3.50).

Sample order: Beef and lamb gyro + chicken gyro + spicy feta dip and pita chips + tabbouleh salad = $23.60 with tax

Staffers visit restaurant anonymously and meals are paid for by RedEye. | @kbernot

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Chicago burger reviews

    Chicago burger reviews

    RedEye's burger reviews are written by The Great Burgerelli. Learn more about him and his noble quest to find the best burger in Chicago.

  • Chicago pizza reviews

    Chicago pizza reviews

    RedEye reviews Chicago's newest pizzerias, slice by slice.

  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...