Monument Square will always hold a special place in my heart because, for my first six or so years working at the Press Herald, the newsroom was on the fifth floor of One City Center and my desk overlooked the hustle and bustle of the square. From the farmers market to the buskers to the annual arrival of the holiday tree, Monument Square is a cornerstone of the city, and I miss witnessing the activity there on a daily basis.

So when I learned that a cafe had opened there since our office moved to South Portland, I jumped at the chance to try it out. A few weeks ago, I dashed over Casco Bay Bridge, found a miracle parking spot, and made my way into my beloved square for my first, but certainly not last, visit to Burke’s Perks to place a take-out order.

The first thing I noticed was the breakfast menu, and I can’t wait to pop back over for a breakfast burrito ($7.50) or a breakfast sandwich with avocado ($4.50). However, this was a lunchtime visit, so I perused the list of wraps, gyros, sandwiches and salads.

I landed on a large Greek salad with chicken. It was $11 and only cost an extra $2 for chicken. Several spots I’ve been to charge $5 or more to add protein, and Burke’s Perks serves pretty much the same amount as other spots, around three to four ounces. The salad was plenty big, and I was especially impressed with the generous amount of feta. I had forgotten that dolmas were an ingredient, and when I discovered two of them in the folds of the lettuce, it was a delicious surprise.

Falafel gyro from Burke’s Perks.

For my spouse, Tracy (whose last name happens to be Burke, no relation), I ordered the falafel gyro, which she said was a good size and not, to use her word, “wimpy.” She raved about the pita bread and said the falafel patties were a bit more minty than she’s used to, but delicious nonetheless. However, she noted that the patties would have fit better in the pita if they had been cut in half. Tracy also enjoyed the latte I brought home for her and was grateful that they could make it with oat milk.

Burke’s Perks has been there for more than three years, but I’ve been out of the loop. Now that I know it’s there, though, I have an excuse to visit my old stomping grounds.

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