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I'll pass on the gyro, where is the best shawerma in NYC?

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I just moved here from San Francisco Bay Area and I am surprised by the lack of good shawerma places, in fact I haven't found one yet. What they call shawerma here is actually gyro. I can't understand why gyro is much popular here, is it cheaper and faster to make and more convenient to eat? I don't understand the appeal of it, gyro has some mystery meatloaf-like meat, topped with of all things green and red cabbage and even spinach, sometimes containing a mayo or watery yogurt sauce, and enclosed in a small pitiful pita. I would like to find real shawerma like the ones I would find in Arab-owned restaurants in the Bay Area. Meat whether chicken or lamb is usually marinated in Middle Eastern spices and herbs, lemon juice and olive oil, grilled on the spit, then topped with tomatoes, parsley, onions, picked turnips and cucumbers, slathered in a spicy tasty tahini sauce, wrapped in lavash (maybe not authentic but still much better) and grilled, and then served with a garlicky yogurt sauce and red chili pepper sauce. The portions are huge! The only thing that came close to this is shawerma from Karam restaurant in Bay ridge, but it was lacking flavor and the sauce had an overwhelming old garlic taste, it is like they use the jarred minced garlic. Know of any places that serve Arab style shawerma in Nyc?

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  1. not too sure if halal would count as shawarma, but on 53rd and 6th after 7pm the guys on the corner across from the hilton make the best plates of halal ever.

    also for legit shawarma in queens- astoria, on the corner of 30th and broadway. Ive only ever eaten at this one twice and i live minutes from it, but both times the food was amazing. huge portions and they always added more items just so i could try them and never ever over charge.
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/king-of-falaf...

    2 Replies
    1. re: gagajm

      The 53/6 stuff is the gyro meat that the OP is trying to avoid.

      I'm from the bay area and I haven't encountered shawarma like I've had back there. Some variants you might try though are Bereket's doner kebab and Mamoun's shawarma.

      1. re: Humbucker

        Thanks guys but I'll pass. Lamb and rice served from halal carts doesn't seem to have much of on effect me as it does on New Yorkers maybe because I usually eat it at home. And after the last three experiences that I had eating Turkish "shawarma" I don't want to go near another Turkish restaurant again. I might give Mamoun a try though it is doesn't look like the shawarma wrap that I am looking for.

    2. Olympic Pita, an Israeli schwarma place on 38th (?) between 5th and 6th, has what you're looking for. The laffa bread is made on the spot, too, nice and fresh with a bit of char.

      I like Grill Point in Flushing the best (love their salad bar), they usually have both the lamb and baby chicken, but that would depend on your mobilty.

      There are surely plenty more places that would probably be to your liking- you should post this query on the Manhattan board to get more suggestions.

      1. Mamoun's Falafel in greenwich village
        This isn't a sit in restaurant but their shawarma is delish.

        1. Try Memo on Kings Highway and 19th Street in Brooklyn.

          1. I must disagree on the mammoun suggestion - their shawarma is a salty, horrible mess. I spent time in London and imagine that the shawarma in the bay area are similar - fresh, not overly salty, lemony, with proper use of spice and good yogurt sauce. The Lebanese do this best. I've come to the sad conclusion that new york has no idea what a good shawarma is. It's a real shame.

            1. The Gyro here in New York is due to the influence of it's Greek population. It's true that most Gyros in NY and I think in the country in general have been using poor quality meat from Kronos distributors. You'd have to hit places where there are still Greeks to get a better quality Gyro, if that's what you want at a Greek restaurant. There are still some good Gyros in Astoria, but many Greek families have moved out of the city, except Bayside or Whitestone Queens.
              Anyway, the largest and fastest growing Middle Eastern communities are in Bay Ridge and Astoria. Most of the Shwarmas that I've had in those two areas are very good, just like Karam's. You must have been in Karam's on a bad day; however, if you are back in the area again, take a walk down 5th avenue in the low 70s. There are a lot of places that have shwarmas. All of them are certainly Arab owned.