Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
May 1, 2008 05:42 AM

Shawarma vs. Gyros

I'm talking beef shawarma, not chicken. I ask this because I had my 1st Shawarma sandwich yesterday and it really did remind me of a gyro in terms of how it's sliced of the cone-shaped spit. Like a gyro, it was served on pita, but without the onions, and I thought the meat was a tad milder than a gyro...also accompanied with a yogurt sauce ( but not a tzsisiki-no cucumbers!) , and lettuce and tomato.

I must surmise that it didn't have the lingering after-effects ( cramping, onion breath, guilt, sudden weight gain, shame) that I have often experienced after consuming a gyro...however I'm certain it still packed the same caloric punch as a gyro..

which do you prefer/

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not sure how authentic it is, but the best shawarma I've ever had was in Amsterdam. It was a beef/lamb mix and the store had a variety of sauces. I opted for a slightly spicy garlic paste and loved the combination of the heat, garlic, hot juicy meat and cold veggies. Throw in some fantastic frites and it was quite a meal.

    I've never been a big fan of gyros, mainly because I'm not a huge fan of lamb on its own. The meat just overpowers me in a typical gyro.

    1. Shawarma by a mile. Gyros is generally just too salty for me. Predominant flavors are simply salt and garlic. Very monotonous.

      1. I like both, but I eat Gyros more often(about once a week), because of the lack of availability of great Shawarma where I live, and in the suburbs.

        1. The Shwarma vs Gyro divide is basically Middle East vs Greece. Personally, I prefer Shwarma because of the possible toppings and spicy sauce that they serve with it in Israel. I also am a firm believer in Shwarma being lamb based, though these days it's a bit of a generic meat mix.

          1. I know gyros can be made differently but I live very close to a small town that has been dominated by Greeks that came over to work the sponge trade and their growing community. Gyros here are a seasoned lamb forcemeat that is shaped into the cone and cooked on the vertical open spit grill. My experience with shawarma is that is has been a mixture of solid meats that are pressed into the cone shape and cooked the same way as the gyro. When you view slices of shawarma there are layers of individual meats as opposed to the forcemeat nature of the gyro. Like I said gyros may be made exactly as a lamb shawarma in other parts of the world.

            4 Replies
            1. re: scubadoo97

              that is my experience, too, about forcemeat vs. slices. and i like the gyro flavoring. sometimes shwarma seems too bland for me.

              1. re: alkapal

                When I first encountered gyros, back in the dark ages, I seem to recall the big cone was actually slices of real lamb piled together on the spit, and the ground mystery meat came later when the things got popular and were dumbed down. Am I right or is this a false memory? If I'm right, then "authentic" gyro is perhaps more like the above descriptions of shawarma.

                1. re: johnb

                  maybe you are right, johnb. the slices melded together on the cone, so that when a section was shaved/sliced off to serve, it seemed like it was a coherent whole, didn't it?

                2. re: alkapal

                  I'm with you, alkapal. Much prefer spicy gyros, especially lamb gyros, over shawarma.

                  Kind of a side issue, but there's pita, and there's pita. I HATE dry pita. There's no better way to ruin either gyros or shawarma than by serving them with one of those thin little mass-produced dry pita pockets. Gyros should be wet and messy.