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Dec 17, 2010 04:15 PM


On a friend's recommendation, I had my first-ever gyro the other day at Olympic Gyro in the Reading Terminal Market. It may just be my heritage, but I would opt for pastrami on rye at Hershel's over that ANY DAY!

Olympic Gyro's pita and tzatziki sauce were delicious, but the meat reminded me of the mystery meat served in the college cafeteria. If this is a bad example of a gyro, where can I get a good one? It's hard to beat Hershel's but this wasn't even close!

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  1. I suspect everyone has their own conception of what makes a "good" Gyro. As far as I can tell, a gyro is BY DEFINITION "mystery meat." I guess it is usually a combination of pork/and/or beef and /or lamb.

    I know you can buy boxes of "gyro meat" at the Restaurant Depot, and that is probably what you will get in a diner that does not have the horizontal grill in plain sight.

    I liked Olympic, mostly for the warm steamy pita, and never gave much though to the meat, which bathed in garlicky tzatziki and smothered in onions was more a texture than anything else.

    I'd like to hear some recommendations as well. Gyro, Schwarma or Doner ..

    4 Replies
    1. re: phillyjazz

      I was going to bring up doner, which is similar to gyro but with better meat IMO. S&H Kabob on Passyunk just below South St has awesome doner meat. I haven't had the sandwich, but I've gotten the meat on their mixed kabob platter and it's tender, flavorful and delicious, with a real roasted meat texture, not like rubbery gyro meat at all.

      S&H is actually a nice, affordable BYOB overall; their dip platter is great as well. I've had a couple good meals just sharing the mixed dip and mixed kabob platter. It can feed three easily, with another app or soup, four. Might be time to get back there...

      I've had the doner sandwich at Divan, it was ok but not like the great doner fast food you can get in Germany or other places in the Europe--or East Village NYC for that matter. The platters at Divan are much better. I don't recall being wowed by the meat like I was at S&H.

      Mama's Vegetarian used to have a meat outpost on South St that had great shwarma, but it changed ownership and I'm not sure if it's still good (doubt it) or even open anymore. You can get schwarma at Glatt Delight (neƩ Maccabeam) on 12th St, which should be good as it's staffed by Palestinians but is just kind of meh. My Israeli friend said he hasn't found any better in Philly though.

      1. re: phillyjazz

        Also there was a somewhat interesting Chow article about Gyro meat, apparently the majority of it, including what is roasted on the spits, comes frozen from a plant in Chicago. It would interesting to know if Olympic makes their own meat or not.

        1. re: barryg

          I believe these are the main suppliers of Gyro meat. in the U.S.

        2. re: phillyjazz

          And for my third post in 5 minutes, there is an annual festival during Memorial Day weekend at the Greek Orthodox church on 611 in Elkins Park. I haven't been there in years, but they used to have great gyros and other Greek food. The Greek church off Washington Square has an annual festival in the summer, too, and might be worth a shot.

        3. Have you ever seen how the gyro meat, usually lamb, is prepared for the making of a gyro. I saw it on TV several years ago. The meat is not as bad as one would think. Hot dogs (non-Kosher, of course) are much worse than the gyro meat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChiliDude

            I think the gyros at Olympic are some of the best I have eaten but they may not be your thing. If you like the pita and sauce you may want to try the lamb soulvaki at Olympic. It's small chunks of juicy lamb and not that amalgamated stuff they serve in gyros.

          2. Over the summer the Brauhaus Schmitz on South St had a really good doner kebab on the lunch menu. I don't see it on their lunch menu on their website so I'm not sure if they still have it as an occasional special, but it was really good, plus it came with fries with a really tasty curry ketchup which I believe was made in-house.