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MSP Best Gyros?

I just had some excellent Gyros. They were from Mediterranean Market on Cedar. It's just north of I-94, across the street from River Square West and Palmer's Bar.

They were carry-out, brought to the office by one of my colleagues. What made them stand apart from the crowd of mediocre Gyros in MSP?

1. The meat had actual, flavorful fresh herbs embedded in the "lamb."
2. It was tender and had crispy crusty bits without being dried out.
3. The pita was tender and fresh.
4. The vegetables were crisp.
5. There was a nice change-of-pace spicy sauce.

I've had Gyros at Holy Land (get the Chicken), Dino's, Gardens of Salonika and Crescent Moon and they were decent, but none were close to Mediterranean Market's Gyros.

Where have you had good Gyros in MSP?

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  1. I love the Gyros at Gardens a great deal as I like to put the spreads on with eat bite. However the meat has been dried out on occasion.

    But the best in our neighborhood are from Holyland. The pita is always hot and fresh and the yogurt a little tangier than most places. Not had them at Med Market yet though.

    1. Holy Land is my favorite. I also like Falafel King in Bloomington (8405 Lyndale Ave S). The ambience is also a lot better than the one in Uptown.

      1. how about black sea on snelling in st paul? i haven't been yet, but their menu looks fabulous!

        1. you know the holy land gyros are not a stand-out imo-- not as good as their other offerings. i think they advertise these as the biggest gyros in town--and they are so HUGE that the flavor is not good sometimes. i love the gyros at shish in st paul. they have a few twists on the gyro formula that make them special. the chicken gyros are generally great there too.

          i believe that the mediterranean deli Jim refers to has changed hands a couple of times in the past 5 years or so. they had really good gyros in the past, then they weren't so good for a while, the place changed hands again. . . so it's good to hear that the gyros are currently tasty!

          1. Being from St.Paul, I'm a big fan of Dinos on Snelling by the fair grounds, now also in
            Woodbury and West St.Paul.
            Not too far from the West St. Paul Dino's is Ali Babbas King of Gyros, they use pocket
            bread instead of pita.
            Also another good place is Pappy's on White bear and Maryland.
            You can also find them at most Best Steak Houses, but quality not as good as
            the other places and a little pricey.

            5 Replies
            1. re: mikemcg62

              My criteria for good gyros are similar to the OP's 1-5 (with less emphasis on the vegetables).

              I don't mean to insult your opinions mikemc, but using those criteria, Dino's (Snelling location and Lakeville) and Ali Baba's are among my least favorite in MSP. That said, I have only been to Ali Baba's twice because the gyros didn't do anything for me. If you are in the neighborhood of Ali Baba's, go across the street and try Beirut for their schwarma (gyros). <---that is how they are listed on the menu. www.beirutrestaurantanddeli.com Beirut is also excellent beyond gyros.

              My go-to gyro joint is still the Franklin Halal Market on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis. Bonus for their proximity to Franklin Street Bakery for dessert. Over the last 2-3 years, I've never been disappointed although their fries (the frozen steak fries variety) can be a bit mealy if they pull them out of the fryer too soon. I like frozen steak fries more well-done.

              1. re: MSPD

                I'll have to give Beirut a try, the menu looks great! Passed it many times when I lived in the area and never gave it a second thought.

                1. re: mikemcg62

                  i also like beirut very much & second the rec!

              2. re: mikemcg62

                Still fond of my original Gyros experience some 30 years ago!
                Although they have gone fast food the last couple years, I still get
                a good Gyros every time I go! I'm so glad they opened a store near
                where I work in Woodbury!
                A original Dino's Gyros with heavy onions is a good way to end every day!
                Even saw the Old man there this summer!

                1. I don't know that I've ever had gyros from Med.Market, but I have had the falafel sandwiches there, which are terrific. They put on the spicy sauce - whatever that stuff is - that the falafel are crispy on the outside (they are fried to order) and soft and flavorful on the inside. Again, crisp veggies. Highly recommended. I am never in that area for long, so I had completely forgotten about that place. It's a hole in the wall - seating for 2 people, I think - so take out is really the only option. I'll have to get over for a gyros soon.

                  1. I thought the version I had at Ray's on W 7th St in St. Paul was good. It had grilled or sauteed onions and peppers on it, which made it quite tasty.

                    Ray's Mediterranean Restaurant
                    1199 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                    1. Has anyone here tried the gyros, (or, for that matter, anything else...), at Spiro’s Mediterranean Market on University Ave.?? I drive by sometimes, but have never stopped in.......

                      Uncle Ira

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Uncle Ira

                        We are fans of Abu Nader's schwarma.

                        1. re: Uncle Ira

                          Only went in Spiro's once. Very uninspired. Gyros meat was precut, dried out.

                          1. re: Uncle Ira

                            Spiro's is primarily a grocery store, not a lunch spot. When I tried their gyros, it was the formed-and-presliced version, not the real thing. Instead, go for a nice selection of olives and cheese. And Greek canned goods (fava beans!).


                            1. re: Uncle Ira

                              I've never had a gyro from Spiro's, but their Italian Beef may be the best in the city. It was in my regular lunch rotation when I worked in that area.

                              1. re: Uncle Ira

                                The gyros at Spiro's, as well as the other prepared food, aren't particularly good. But it is definitely worth stopping in for imported greek feta cheese. I used to run across town for the imported stuff. They have interesting and cheap grocery items (I once found a large canister of walnut oil for less than $5). One thing about Spiro's - they close early during the week and are only open until 2 or 3 pm on the weekend.

                              2. Christo's is primarily eat-in, but I think their gyros meat is terrific. Also, North Sea (Snelling near Hamline University) is a not to be missed experience in general.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Haricotsv2

                                  I think you mean Black Sea (not, North Sea) http://www.blacksearestaurant.com/ and, I'm going to have to say that in spite of the many recommendations it receives on this board, I cannot personally recommend it. While it may be a great, cheap stop for Hamline students, I'd hate for anyone to think this is what good Turkish food is. It can be so much better.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    You're right, I did mean Black Sea. I love that this tiny place is owned and run by a couple who do everything themselves and serve good food for hardly any money with such welcoming cheer. I have never had a bad time eating there.

                                    1. re: Haricotsv2

                                      Yes, I absolutely agree with you that the couple who runs it is lovely and friendly and as sweet as can be. In fact, their hospitality is pretty typically Turkish--it's the real deal. And, It's a cute little space--very homey. But, that doesn't in my opinion compensate for the dreadful chow. If you're looking for cheap and friendly--it's a great stop. If you're looking for good chow, it's not worth even the cheap price, I'm afraid. I hate to be a crab, but I've just been so disappointed by their food.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Sorry to hear this DQ, Since this is not far from where I grew up, and
                                        where my Mother still lives!
                                        I was waiting for the day, where I had the time to make it over there!
                                        Their website pictures are very yummy...LOL
                                        Can you give us a alternative that says this is what good Turkish food is like?

                                        1. re: mikemcg62

                                          There's a place in Eden Prairie I've been meaning to try, but I can't think of the name just now. I can, however, give an emphatic thumbs down for Istanbul Cafe in Wayzata (nice people, food's way too salty).

                                          1. re: Enso

                                            I haven't tried the gyros at the Istanbul Bistro, but I really like their lentil soup. When I was there (three times over the last year or so) our food wasn't particularily salty - just standard restaurant saltiness. Perhaps it varies by dish. Was it the gyros that was too salty, or something else?


                                            1. re: Enso

                                              It's Kabobi; went there and none of the diners were impressed enough to want to go back.

                                            2. re: mikemcg62

                                              Alas, I cannot give you a personal recommendation for a Turkish restaurant that would be on topic for the Midwest board. Of the Turkish restaurants in the Twin Cities, I've only been to Black Sea. I've always been meaning to get to Istanbul Bistro, but just haven't made it. (Isn't Istanbul Cafe Enso mentions below the same as Istanbul Bistro that Anne mentions below?)


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Yup, it's the same place - that Turkish place in Wayzata is the Istanbul Bistro (not Cafe). I'd include a link to their web site, but it's broken.

                                                The Istanbul Bistro and the Black Sea are the only choices (that I know of) for Turkish food in the Twin Cities. If there are any other Turkish restaurants - especially a place that has real doner (which is different from gyros and shawirma), please please please let me know. As it is, I have to get my doner fix when I travel.


                                              2. re: mikemcg62

                                                I don't know whether to reply to Anne or MikeMCG, but, to Anne, thank you for confirming that Istanbul Bistro is the place in Wayzata.

                                                To MikeMCG, by all means, especially if you're in the neighborhood, check out Black Sea. There are plenty of people on (and off) this board who enjoy the chow there and maybe you will, too. I'm just one person with one opinion. I do think you get a "real" Turkish experience there in terms of the hospitality and some of the decor, etc. And I can't help but be completely charmed by their sign "First Turkish Restaurant in Minnesota". (Plus, I keep thinking I need to stop by there and buy some evil eyes to update my collection) and maybe there will be a menu item that will tickle your fancy. The price is right. You never know.

                                                It's a reasonable introduction to Turkish cuisine if you realize they've made some adjustments for convenience or to keep the prices low for the kids or to appeal to a broader range of tastes. (It's just not the "best" of anything--it's solidly average. I now regret calling the food dreadful, although, I will say that the first thing I tried there was, among other things, inedibly salty--funnily enough since that's what Enso said about Istanbul Bistro--and, instead of offending the owners, I asked for a to go box and threw it out when I got home and made myself a grilled cheese sandwich instead.)

                                                I almost never saw any "meat" in Turkey aside from lamb, so I guess that would be my first piece of advice, whatever dish you order, choose lamb as your choice of meat. Second, everything, it seems, in Turkey comes drizzled with or a side of, yogurt or a yogurt sauce. Turkish bread is fantastic--I wish the "pitas" at Black Sea were better. The closest I've found along those lines (although, I haven't exactly done an exhaustive search) is at Shish (which is not specifically Turkish just generally Mediterranean/Middle Eastern) on Grand Avenue in St. Paul or Crystal Bistro (which is Afghan, not Turkish.)

                                                In fact, I do want to get back there this summer and try Black Sea's Cacik-cucumber & yogurt soup.


                                      2. I like gyros (believe it or not I got a really good gyros sandwich at an oasis on the Northwest Tollway on the way to Chicago a couple of weeks ago), but am really looking for a good, reasonably priced Greek restaurant in the Twin Cities that also serves souvlaki, Greek salad, chicken, avgolemono soup, and so forth.

                                        And then there's Italian Beef sandwiches, but that's another topic.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: paoconnell

                                          Christos-St. Paul or Mpls locations

                                          1. re: paoconnell

                                            It's Greek To Me has never let me down.

                                            It's Greek To Me
                                            626 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                            1. re: pgokey

                                              Thanks for the suggestions. If "It's Greek to Me" is the Greek restaurant at Lake and Lyndale, then it's apparently under heavy remodeling as of about 2 weeks ago. Hope it doesn't get turned into some other kind of restaurant afterwards.

                                              I'll look for more info on Christos.

                                            2. re: paoconnell

                                              I grew up in MN and never heard of a gyro until I moved to a suburb of Chicago about 30 yrs ago. Hot dog stands with gyros (and those tasty Vienna Beef hot dogs!) were everywhere, so to me thats what gyros should taste like. There is a Chris and Robs in Fridley and Minneapolis that have the same great tasting gyro's and hot dogs that I remember from Chicago.

                                            3. I've not been there in quite a while, but there used to be a little grocery store at 24th Street and DuPont Ave South in the Wedge neighborhood possibly called Stop and Buy that had awesome Gyros. Honestly I haven't been there since about 2002, so my information might well be dated.

                                              1. I am a huge fan of Emily's Lebanese Delicatessen in NE. It's homey and fast - with fantastic baba ganoush. And the kafta burger - divine!

                                                Emily's Lebanese Delicatessen
                                                641 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

                                                1. Kabobi, that's the place I was thinking of. Anyone tried it? Self-described as Persian. www.kabobi.com

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Enso

                                                    I have not tried the gyros there. But I have had the persian kebobs which are well worth tasting. Seasoned ground meats or hunks of meat roasted on skewers and served in wraps. Recommended.

                                                    1. re: Enso

                                                      meat was dry, I was disappointed. If I lived closes, I would give it another try.

                                                    2. Christos is the best. Their meat is outstanding. I just ate at Gardens of Salonica yesterday. Normally one of my favorite Gyro spots. It was the worst one I have ever had. The meat was cut thick in big chunks. Not great.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Latinpig

                                                        Sounds like The Gardens... are still in a slump of quite a few months. Too bad, they used to be excellent.

                                                      2. Deli Supreme, located in the Cloverleaf Center (35W and 98th St., Bloomington) makes a great Gyro. My favorite variation is the Spicy Gyro with Feta. The "spicy" is nothing more than a generous helping of Frank's Red Hot Sauce, but it works SO well. Also in Bloomington is Gyropolis (Penn and ???, next to a Burger King). I think the same family who owns Deli Supreme owns Gyropolis. Gyropolis gives you a lot of unique options for dressing your gyro. I may recommend "The Athenian", which comes with mustard (what?) and fries IN the gyro. Yum.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: keeter2121

                                                          Never been to Gyropolis, but I see they have a mighty tasty looking


                                                          1. re: mikemcg62

                                                            I have been to Gyropolis in Bloomington, and their Gyro's are also very good but I would put Ray's at #1. Both are excellent establishments.

                                                        2. I like Christo's at the Union Depo in Downtown St. Paul. I always order an extra pita due to the overwhelming amount of Lamb.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: showercapcrazy

                                                            Christo's now has a happy hour from 3-6 mon-fri with phenomenal specials on gyro's. I also recommend the Lucanaco sausage.

                                                          2. Jim, I am in total agreement with you. The Gyro's are indeed the very best in the Twin Cities. The seafood soup is also out of this world. I will be back for more very soon!

                                                            1. Kafe 421 in Dinky Down has excellent gyros and many great Greek offerings. If you haven't been i recomend checking it out. http://www.kafe421.com/

                                                              I stumbled upon this board b/c my favorite quick "hole in the wall" gyro place close (Rotiseria in Uptown) and I'm searching for a new one. Maybe I'll try Downtown Diner in Minneapolis since their pizza is so good, maybe the gryos will be too.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: s2kracka

                                                                Thanks for the great tip. I would love to hear about more of your "hole in the wall" favorites, as those are my favorite kinds of places, too. Please do come back and tell us more!


                                                                1. re: s2kracka

                                                                  Rotisseria is still open, just a bit further east.

                                                                  1532 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN

                                                                  1. re: s2kracka

                                                                    I think someone mentioned somewhere that the Rotiseria has relocated to a spot near Lake and Bloomington. I think their chickens are out of this world.

                                                                    Whoops. I see someone beat me to it. That's where I read it, I guess. Only a while back.

                                                                    1. re: shoo bee doo

                                                                      All right first off, I was dying when we went to Rotiseria and they were gone, I love the chicken, yucca, and Plantains, now I know they still exist, we're going tonight!!!

                                                                      As far as gyros go, I won't go to Rays, anymore, in fact even mentioning the place gets my blood boiling a bit. I tried going there about a dozen times in the first 3-4 months they were open, finally I gave up on poor slow service, I have timelines, I can't wait 15 minutes for a dang sandwich that any other place in the world can do in 5 minutes if they are taking their time. I think their "New york" attitude needs to be checked too, they whole place just turns me off, and I really like gyros.... Top that all off with a Gyros that wasn't anything special, I swore it off, just like Dannyboy's chesseburger (now belly up mind you...) they had the same problem in much larger proportions, called ahead and they could get me a dang cheeseburger in 45 minutes, again several times. Not to mention the Shamrock's is a 1000X's better.

                                                                      I'll spend my money where hard working people like to take it, I work hard for it they should too.

                                                                      The best gyro I've had was a little deli called Santanna's (near restaurant Alma IIRC) they just make a wickedly good gyro, been a couple years since I've had one, but even my Dad agreed with I got him one. Most of the time I settle for Dino's They haven't wow'ed me, but they have never dissapointed me either.

                                                                      1. re: mnxd9

                                                                        I agree... Dino's is good, not great, but never bad.

                                                                        Santana's used to be great, but is a huge disappointment since my college days back in the early 1990's.

                                                                        I live in Sioux Falls now, and Nick's Gyros is definitely a good eat!

                                                                  2. There was an absolutely AMAZING place that sold chicken gyros on central ave. It was across the street from Holy Land. Unfortunately, they went out of business. This chicken gyro was not like all the others---just marinated chicken breast. This was chicken layered on a spit like a gyro. I wish this place would reopen. They also had the best curry garlic sauce also.

                                                                    But santana's deli on university is really good. the place is really expensive though. Holy land's is alright--but nothing great.

                                                                    Yafa grill on central ave in columbia heights really good also.

                                                                    But the absolute best, right now, would have to be the shawarma at jerusalem cafe on 49th and central ave in columbia heights. That place has great food.

                                                                    I guess if you want good shawarma, go to central ave.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: alpa chino

                                                                      We very much like Abu Nader on Como in St. Paul. I'm not sure how they get their meat but I do know they make absolutely everything else -- the pita made there fresh every day, the cucumber sauce, the baklava and other pastries. Everything. Very good.

                                                                      They are large. I get an extra pita and the two of us make a meal of one sandwich for dinner.

                                                                      We will also try out some of the other places mentioned. Sounds like a trip to central ave. is in order.

                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                        And the feta and hot pepper pies! Must get back there soon (they microwave them if you order them in, so its best to pick some up to take home and heat up properly in an oven - they also sell them frozen in big bags).

                                                                      2. re: alpa chino

                                                                        Let me correct some of the things I've written above. The place on central that I thought went out of business, is still there and in business. It is located on 26th and central ave. I was there this weekend and I took a menu, where the name of the restaurant is now called Babylon restaurant. They are open everyday except mondays. The menu has changed slightly, but they still have the same amazing chicken schawarmas from before. I had a plate this weekend with rice, and it was still great.

                                                                        And the second place up the road is not called jerusalem cafe, it is called Pyramids cafe on 49th and central. They have great gyros and other things.

                                                                        1. re: alpa chino

                                                                          Back in the early 1990's, as a college student, Santana's WAS the absolute best! I would walk to 6th and University, in the dead of winter for a Gyros.

                                                                          In the past several months, I have been back in Minneapolis a couple of times, and my image of Santanas was BLOWN to pieces... The meat was cold and slimy, the veggies were disgusting.

                                                                          Knowing how good it used to be, I gave them TWO MORE attempts. Morbid disappointment every time! The other two, were not as bad as first, but I won't go out of my way to eat there again!

                                                                          Had one at Opa's in the MOA, and that was much better! So sorry that Santanas dropped off SO much since my college days!

                                                                          Santana Foods
                                                                          601 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                        2. OMG! as they say..We ate at Mediterranean Deli (above) last wednesday and I agree. I have to say that Gyros is one of my favorite things to eat in the world..but it has to be a good one. Nothing more heartbreaking than craving a gyros sandwich and getting that soggy listless meat and sour cream mess a la Dino's (sorry to the person who likes it..) I've had Gyros everywhere possible in MSP and as JimG says above nothing comes close. We had a Gyros Sand and a Falafel Sand (the Falafel was among the best I've had too..my husband doesn't even like Falfel and he was going crazy over it) We just kept looking at each other going "this is so good..this is amazing" etc..I liked it for all the reasons Jim G. did but I would probably put that sauce higher on the list. Spicy and flavorful and fresh. They were really friendly and sweet too. So, don't be put off by the somewhat dingy exterior. That night it was being run by a woman and her son and daughters. Not sure if she's the owner.. I can't wait to go back and try some of the other stuff on the menu. You gotta go..

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cherrylime

                                                                            Please clarify the address of the Mediterranean Deli of which you speak :)

                                                                            1. re: MayrMN

                                                                              Mediterranean Deli
                                                                              523 Cedar Ave S
                                                                              Minneapolis MN 55455

                                                                              This is in the Cedar/Riverside area, on the same block as the Nomad World Pub, right in front of Freewheel Cycle Coop. There is limited parking for customers behind the building.

                                                                              I had a gyro there recently -- as good as advertised.

                                                                          2. Another vote for Gyroplis at 90th & Penn. They do it right. Try the Athenian with the spicy sauce!

                                                                            1. Gyropolis

                                                                              Green Pepper Gyro on wheat, half feta, half provolone

                                                                              So good

                                                                              1. I'll vote for Gyropolis, too - good variety - like the spicy sauce and feta - and close to work.

                                                                                For a good, and huge, classic gyro, with some of the better tsaziki sauce I've had in the area (similar to that I've had in Chicago), try Farmington Steakhouse. Also good for huge portions of fresh-cut fries.

                                                                                1. Metro Mag recently did a 'Best of' edition and said Marina Deli on University and Lowry makes the best gyros.


                                                                                  Anyone been to Marina?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: BigE

                                                                                    I went last week and although they were large the didn't have much flavor. Their buffet looked good but I have not tried that

                                                                                    Marina Grill & Deli
                                                                                    2424 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

                                                                                    1. re: BigE

                                                                                      I have been to Marina, as it's pretty close to where I live. I remember the Gyros being in a thin but huge pita thing and so full of meat and stuff it was basically impossible to eat. Flavor was so so. Being able to eat Gyros is very important to me. Taste of each ingredient in every bite, please.

                                                                                    2. Zakia Deli has the best gyros. It's in Northeast off Stinson and Kennedy. It's a family owned deli, there's room to sit and it's very clean and inviting. Their other food is fantastic as well!

                                                                                      Zakia Deli
                                                                                      2412 Kennedy St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

                                                                                      1. I have not had a bad gyro from Gyroplis at 90th & Penn, in Bloomington- always good, always fresh.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: cuococattivo

                                                                                          I agree about Marina. Good but not great. I've heard people rave about it too but I think that's mostly based on their specials and lunch buffet prices rather than taste. It's ok of you're in the neighborhood but not worth a special trip if you ask me..

                                                                                          1. re: cherrylime

                                                                                            When I went to Big Marina (Columbia Heights sister of Marina), they had Gyro at the buffet. I thought it was par for the course. That said, there are some nice items at the buffet.

                                                                                        2. Gyros Grill
                                                                                          1710 East Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington, MN 55425-2445
                                                                                          (952) 888-2121‎
                                                                                          great gryos, love the sauce and the owner is great..

                                                                                          1. I can't believe that amongst all the reviews here on Gyro's a Diamon in the Rough has been missed. The Acropol Inn on Grand in St. Paul. Their Gyro was absolutely amazing a little pricey but fabulous. All the right components from Fresh Tomato, Red Onion down to their Exquisite TzaTziki sauce. Give it a try at the Upcoming Grand Ole Days you won't be disappointed.... oh and the Pastichio is Phenomonal.

                                                                                            1. You missed Rotisseria at Calhoun Square. People raved about the chicken there but meh, that was merely ok. Also, the other delicious one was at a town festival in Hopkins. For existing locations, the one at Soho in Uptown is a very good option. The buffalo wings are also very good here. Why is Dino's even on this thread? It is NOT good!

                                                                                              Have a great day, k?

                                                                                              1. I just tried out an awesome place on 4301 Central Ave. It's called FilFila Market and they have a small middle eastern grocery section as well as a restaurant side. The gyro spit was authentic shwarma--not the processed gyro meat. The Lamb/beef and the chicken were real slices of marinated meat, revolving on a spit. It was absolutely delicious. The red lentil soup was outstanding too. Check it out at columbia heights.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: alpa chino

                                                                                                  That's a great find....thanks for the heads up!

                                                                                                  1. re: alpa chino

                                                                                                    Glad to see it's open now. They put a lot of time into prepping that space. Excited to try.