August 31, 2009

Eating Out: Gus's Gyros delivers; Cafe Celeste up and running

Say what you want about his development plans, Tom Tousis and his father, Gus, can run a restaurant. The Tousis family is well known in Racine for running a string of successful restaurants including Andrea's, Gibson's, Ritzy's and Athens Gyros.

You can add Gus's Gyros to the list. We wrote about the new restaurant, located on the north side at Douglas Ave. and Goold St. (next door to the Better Day BP), when it was opening earlier this summer. I finally got to go back for lunch and can vouch for their gyros and fries, which are both among the best in town. The basic gyro, called the "1978," is a bargain at $4.99. Half was enough for lunch with the rest to go. The meat was good (I rank it above the gyros at this year's Greek Fest) and was stuffed into the pita.

The fries are handcut onsite and deep fried with a little salt. They're the best straight-up fry I've had in Racine. A regular order goes for $1.59 and is enough for 2-3 people.

The rest of the menu includes a nice variety of basic sandwiches for all tastes. Grilled cheese, hot dogs and hamburgers are included, along with four types of gyros. (You can see the menu here.)

The restaurant itself is spotless and attractive with a throwback look with lots of chrome and shiny surfaces. It's worth checking out for lunch or dinner, or just a quick carryout. If you dine in, the restaurant includes a small bar and beer on tap. (Above-right: Saganaki burning on the stove. Tousis didn't include the fried cheese on the original menu, but is planning to add it because of customers' requests.)

Tousis opened Gus's in July. He's working on a second, larger restaurant in West Racine as part of a larger development that includes a grocery store and gas station. Tousis has collected signatures of support from the West Racine neighborhood and is now preparing to submit the plan to the city for approval.

The project could be controversial because the site, located at Washington Ave. an West Blvd. is prime real estate for the neighborhood, even though the lot has sat empty for several years.

The City Council rejected a 55-unit low-income housing proposal for the site last year.

New cafe

Cafe Celeste is the latest coffee shop to inhabit the uniquely shaped space at 619 Wisconsin Ave., located next door to Shillings. The beautifully decorated cafe had a soft opening two weeks ago and is now getting up and running. It features healthy and holistic foods (I had a great "macrobiotic" cookie the other day) along with Alterra coffee, a wide selection of teas and shots of wheatgrass.

The cafe is owned by Ben Lehner, Dan Lehner and Kathryn Bencriscutto, who designed the interior to give an early 1900s feel. The building itself was a former alleyway for horses and carriages before someone realized they could turn the space into a building.

We'll have more on Cafe Celeste (including photos) as they get rolling, and have high hopes that they'll stick around awhile and recapture the Courthouse crowd the old Daily Grind successfully courted in that location, as well as new customers looking for a unique menu and experience.

Odds & Ends

A few sentences on restaurants around town:
  • No word yet on the future of Blueberries, the liberally conscious eatery in the former Century Market building. The owners shutdown for the summer/road construction season with plans to open in a new building.
  • Speaking of the Century Market, there are some cool plans in the works for that building. More on that soon.
  • It was too bad to see Timothy York's Bistro shut down last week. Here's hoping another chef can move in and create a "Waves"-esque place in the handsome Sixth St. building.
  • Henry & Wanda's is advertising a new kitchen and menu on the front of their building. I'm looking forward to checking it out.
  • Same goes for Grumpy's Grub on Lathrop and John's Dock in the former Sandpiper's on Dodge St. along the river.
  • Gerald Bester's plans for the former bank on Washington Ave. keeps rolling along. He's hoping to open "Gerald's" in the spring.


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  4. The gyros are best I have had anywhere in Racine. Not to mention they are huge!

  5. Why remove the photo of an attractive woman just because some jerk is a pig?

  6. Dustin I have found one thing I agree with you. The gyro's are great.

  7. I have gyros and they are good, but their burgers and awesome too. They look like they are homemade.

  8. The gyros are excellent and the chicken strips are to die for. I cannot wait until the owner opens a restaurant in West Racine, with a grocery store. We desperately need both.

  9. I have heard that this place is good, my buddies at work eat there regulary. Is his grocery store & restaurant in West Racine ever going to get built? What is taking so long? I have been waiting for this thing to happen since January. Would you hurry up and get it done.

  10. I'm hungry and I missed lunch.

    Place sounds good - thanks for the report.

  11. Think not happening in West Racine.
    I know some want a housing project or a gas station on every open green space in the City most do not

  12. It is not green space, it is a gravel lot that is costing the taxpayers money. Every year it sits vacant it piles more and more of our tax money into the TIF.

  13. Anon 2:39 I can tell by the proper use of english in your post that you are highly educated, "NOT". I hope our Aldermen get this one right, after visiting the Gyro shop on Douglas and talking to the owners I can not wait for them to open down the street from me. You guys are great and have me and my wifes support 100%.

  14. The best gyros ever! A+

  15. The food is excellent. They should open up another one in Racine. This one was really crowded when I was there for lunch.

  16. Try the BFG sandwich next time you are there. It was so gigantic but so tasty that I couldn't stop eating more. The prices are super and the place is clean.

  17. Oh my, another Racine highly praised establishment that is only that way simply because they give you too much food to eat. Do you realize that the gyros there are simply bought on a cone and heated on a gyro spit. They don't make anything but the fries. Go to a place that actually makes something unique like the bombers at demarks, the subs at lees and sausage kitchen, n captains gAlley. The pizza at wells bros n pizza chef. The roast beef sand at Rodgers, and the beef bugogi at asiana. The post comments are the equivelent of bathroom graffitti. Your commenters have the culinary expertise of a two year old. next thing you know they will be telling us how great mcnuggets are. Seroiusly, great chicken strips? WTF! Go. to infos and get all the shitty red sauce you can eat for 4.99.b