Gyros in the South End
Not sure how many will find this helpful but I recently have been craving gyros on a daily basis and have tried a few of the gyros in the South End. Here are my thoughts.
Giorgiana's: Right across from the BCAE on Tremont. Great pita, super hot, sliced lamb meat (not the processed stuff), but very greasy, and only comes with onions and tzatziki unless you ask for the other stuff (I like it with lettuce and tomato, too). Overall impression is that is has the gamiest lamb flavor of all, but is a major gut bomb, and very, very greasy.
Rome Pizza: This place is up on the north side of Tremont. More of a pita wrap than a gyro, but very clean and easy to eat, with a compact, simple flavor. Meat was the pre-processed stuff but sliced thick, and there was the right amount of tzatziki. Biggest downside was the thin, cold pita bread. I'm sure they'd put it on the griddle for a minute if you asked them to. That might help it puff up nicely. Overall, could be better, especially with hot bread. They are small enough that if you're hungry you could eat to.
Billy's Sub Shop: Up on Berkeley St. on the way to the Back Bay. Nice greasy spoon that closes at 4 PM on weekdays. Very hot, fluffy, yeasty pita, pre-processed gyro meat but thick-cut, well-charred and tasty, with fresh veggies. Holds well together, but the main problem was there was just too much tzatziki, and it was really thick and tangy. Felt more like it was covered a goat cheese spread than a yogurt sauce. I'd still get it again. Their burger, unfortunately, tastes like a highschool or hospital cafeteria...
Harry O's: This is the little pizza slice joint next to Morse Fish on Washington St. where all the kids from the highschool across the street hang out after school. The bread here is OK. Meat is OK, somehow not salty enough. Sauce is OK. Overall, it's OK. Main gripe was the onions were cut too thick and had too much of a sharp onion flavor on account of it. Sounds super picky but what can I say, it kinda ruined it. I'll eat it when I'm super hungry for gyros and it's the closest one to walk to in bad weather.
Overall, if Rome Pizza put more meat and had a better pita, I think I'd like that one the best so far, followed by Billy's if they went easy on the sauce.
Some that I haven't tried:
1. South End Pita
2. South End Pizza and Grill (do they even have gyros?)
3. New York Pizzeria (same question)
Anyone who knows about these other ones for comparison's sake, please chime in. I'll eventually hit the rest and post about those as well. FYI I'm not looking for the holy grail of gyros and I don't care if they're not super "authentic." I love even bad gyros. I loved them since elementary school when they came out on a foil tray. I just love them, love them, love them. And, I am feeling lazy so I do not want to leave the South End. I know about Zo's and that crazy delicious lamb thing that StriperGuy posted about a week ago, and also the places in the suburbs.
Marching right along...
Last night I tried the gyro at Alex Pizza on Washington St. right across from the dog park. It was deserted near 9 PM but they made a decent gyro. It was a standard South End gyro. Nothing weird or fantastic about it, just solid. Same four pieces of pre-processed stuff, commercial pita made hot on the griddle, LTO with a nice medium consistency sauce. Little to no cucumber flavor but I liked it.
I am beginning to realize that all these gyros are about the same. No one gyro really stands out here in the South End other than Rome Pizza for its thin pita and wrap-like architecture, Billy's for it's super thick yogurt sauce, and Giorgiana's for it's unprocessed lamb. Everywhere else serves basically the same exact gyro. They're always $6.25 or $6.75. They always take exactly 4 minutes and 35 seconds to make. They always have exactly four pieces of the pre-processed gyro meat. They are always offered as a "gyro dinner" which comes with a salad and rice or fries for $8.50. I guess my point is that there is a lot less overall variability in gyros at most of these places than there is in burgers, for example. Also, all six places I have been to all operate within a four block radius in the north part of the South End. Just a few weeks ago I sat here scratching my head wondering if there were ANY gyros close by, and lo and behold, this place is littered with 'em. Is there another part of Boston with a higher concentration of places offering gyros?
I am tentatively but officially naming the 3 block radius around Coppa in the South End the Gyro District.
Thanks for doing this. Love gyros and anything related, and love searching the traditional sub hops for something tasty or interesting (eg. the fish sub). Adding to the to-try list: Emilios and Corner Cafe
Just tried Emilio's today. It was not bad, not great, but still a gyro so it was good.
It had four slices of pre-processed meat from the griddle, same as everywhere else, nice and hot, piled on top of a mix of sub-centimeter pieces of chopped onion, kinda mealy tomato, cucumber, and lettuce drizzled with a thin yogurt sauce. The pita bread was medium thickness and not that hot (but not cold either). Could be improved with hotter bread and a more flavorful sauce. The construction was decent. Overall still satisfying. I'd put it on par with Harry O's. I wanted the sauce to be thicker this time.
I'm a longtime fan of Billy's, have never dared hazard a gyros at Rome, Harry-O's, Alex, or any other South End pizza / sub shop kind of place. Georgiana's is a bit different in my book, more traditional but all premade Greek food, and in any event, it doesn't serve gyros.
Billy's buys that pre-made minced lamb/beef gyros product, but it's not terrible, and actually pretty tasty in pita -- maybe you could order the tzatziki on the side -- plus they'll serve a few slices of it with your breakfast eggs instead of bacon or sausage if you ask. Nice people, and lots of BPD customers, two good reasons to patronize a budget-priced place, in my book.
Awesome list! I too love gyros and shawarma and wish the South End had a better selection. I had the South End Pita a couple of times and it has been inconsistent. Once the meat was really cold (wasn't cut from a large spit of meat should have been a sign to me) the other time the meat was cut in front of me but I only got a couple of thin slices.
In my opinion the best gyros in the South End are when the Greek church on Union Park does it's Greek Festival.
As a side note, Rome Pizza has become our go to for pizza delivery. Wife usually gets a calzone, I'll get a small pizza and the Italian Salad. Never had a bad experience, even their wings are good.
I personally think Billy's is the best. I have also tried South end Pita and they have shwarma. too lemony for me, but I remember it was only 5 bucks. I like the Greek kind better with tzaziki.
Also tried NY Pizza, typical prefrozen loaf. I wish there was place like Zo's near South End or Theater District
Tried Emilio's IIRC as well, but it wasn't as good (less tasty).
I actually like the extra tzaziki....sometimes I wish they'd put more on...that and the tasty pre-made stuff is why I like it :-)
I didn't know Giorgiana's had it made from sliced lamb...I can imagine how greasy it must be. Anyone know which is the closest it's supposed to be to authentic greek gyros?
I'll take the South End Pita Schwarma sandwich over a South End-area Gyro any day as I'm not a fan of the processed Gyro meat. I agree though, there is an inconsistancy with South End Pita based on whether you're getting meat carved directly from the rotisserie or meat that has been pre-carved and sitting around.