• Lendi's Gyros, 1008 N. Harrison St., Davenport. 563-345-4976, facebook.com/pages/category/Sandwich-Shop/Lendis-Gyros-455785388141233/
While "Gyros" is part of the name of this popular locally owned spot, located across the street from Central High School, Lendi's is so much more.
It serves some of the best fast food in town at reasonable prices. The burgers are hand-patted, and the key word is "fresh" — hard to find in chain-restaurant land.
Linda Goxhufi is the proud owner, cook, overseer and promoter of Lendi's, named after her youngest son. She immigrated to the United States from Albania in 2002 to join her parents and brothers in Wisconsin. Thirteen years ago, she married her husband and moved with him to the Quad-Cities to be near his family. She stayed home to raise her two young sons.
In Albania, Linda worked in a gyros restaurant before immigrating to America, and she has always had a knack for knowing the key ingredient for delicious food — love.
An old family friend approached the Goxhufis in 2017 about buying the established Jimmy's King Gyros. Deciding it was time for Linda to re-enter the workforce, they bought the restaurant and spent three months remodeling and updating it.
This place sparkles, and the stools at the ledges around the windows remind us of the kind of places we love to frequent when in Chicago.
The sandwich is king at Lendi's. As you enter, the first person to greet you is Jackie. Jackie has a heart of gold and a razor-sharp memory for all customers. She greets them by name, knows what they will order, and sometimes chimes out that a son must be home, since they ordered extra. If you are a stranger, you won't be for long. She will know why you came in, what part of town you live in, and what your favorites are by the time you leave. Part of the fun at this place is listening to her banter with the customers, and having her read off her recommendations and suggestions faster than most people can listen.
As anticipated, the No. 1 sandwich is the gyro. Linda thinly slices spiced, minced lamb loaf off of a spit and grills it to add additional crispiness. The lamb is piled high on a pita and topped with tomatoes, thinly sliced white onions and tzatziki sauce, which is made of strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley. While the toppings are optional, it is not a gyro in our book without them. Our generous and large gyro was only $6.25, and you can make any sandwich a combo for just $2 more.
No. 2 on Jackie's list is the Chicago favorite: Italian beef. You can have it with either hot or mild giardiniera, an Italian relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar and oil. Listen carefully as Jackie lists the ways you can have it dipped: light, medium, soaked or super soaked. It is served, of course, with the obligatory cup of au jus. It was hard to pass up, but we had our eye on No. 3.
No. 3 on this list is the Chicago dog. There are hot dogs, and then there are Chicago dogs. Do not confuse the two! A Chicago dog begins with an all-beef hot dog that is "dragged through the garden." It is topped with mustard (no ketchup!) chopped white onions, pickle relish, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, a pickle spear and dash of celery salt, and it's served on a poppy-seed bun. You can order it without the toppings or add your own, but if you do, it is not a true Chicago dog. What raised the bar on Linda's version was the toasted bun. It was the perfect texture to stand up to all of the condiments.
No. 4 on Jackie's list is the Polish sausage. The Polish has everything that the Chicago dog has, but grilled onions are substituted for the minced onions.
The dish that's not on her numbered list but is Jackie's personal favorite is the gryo cheesey fries with everything. When asked what you want on any of Lendi's menu items, it is best to reply "everything." They know what they are doing with their fresh toppings in this place!
The order of fries was large enough that it could have easily fed two as a meal for only $5.50. Crisp french fries are topped with cheese sauce, gyro meat, sliced onions, tomatoes and, of course, tzatziki sauce. Be sure to order them with a side of homemade mild sauce to go with the fries.
Perhaps, like us, you have not been indoctrinated into the nuances of mild sauce. According to Chicago Magazine, mild sauce is the "most overlooked condiment in the history of the galaxy." The basic ingredients are barbecue sauce, ketchup and hot sauce. This is not something you buy in a store; it is always poured out of a blank, nondescript bottle, and it leaves you wondering if you will ever use ketchup again.
After working our way through the numbers, we drooled over other parts of the menu. The 6-ounce hand-patted hamburgers that you can order with gyro meat sounded tempting, as did the tenderloin and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
Their Gym Shoe sandwich pays homage to Central High School across the street. Gyro meat, a corned beef patty, and Philly steak are piled high on a bun. Thinking we may have had enough gyro meat for one meal (if there is such a thing), we asked about the Reuben.
What makes Lendi's Reuben different than any other Reuben we have had is the corned beef brisket, which is ground, then formed into a patty. The result is a very tender meat, full of corned beef flavor, that imparts a meaty richness. It was a great way to enjoy a traditional Reuben.
Lendi's cares for its community. All Davenport Central students receive a 10 percent discount on their orders. If you park in a handicapped spot and have called in your order, Jackie will deliver it to your car door.
Be sure to call in your order if you need to speed up this already fast food. You can skip the line, pay for your meal, and take it to go. With only six stools lining the high counter around the window, most customers order their food to go. If you do, be sure to listen as Jackie tells you how to properly vent the bag so your fries do not get soggy.
Lendi's is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. This may be fast food, but take your time, and eat it sitting at a stool while you watch Linda preparing the food with love and Jackie taking pride in dispensing the best parts of the menu.
He said: I am definitely a hot dog fan. When I bite into a good Chicago dog, it immediately teleports me to the small eateries I love in the Windy City. I have never had a Reuben made with a corned beef patty — the tender, moist and meaty flavor of the patty was a winner in my book.
She said: French fries are my preferred bed for a good gyro. I really enjoyed the gyro cheesey fries with everything. The education into the tasty mild sauce makes me wondering if I have missed it on other menus, and will have me looking for it again.