If you're hankering for a little Greek food in the near future, then the quintessential meal on the go is the gyro, what some call the original wrap. The ingredients are deceptively simple, like good tacos al carbon, but Mediterranean style. It's composed of roasted meat, usually spit-roast lamb; maybe onion, tomato and lettuce; and tzadziki, a cucumber, yogurt and dill sauce, all stuffed into pita bread. The origins of this Greek-American dish are sketchy, but it's been satisfying hungry eaters since around the second half of the 20th century. Here's our top 10 places around the city for you to grab your gyro (that's "year-oh") and go.
Knight Restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside, but step in off the street and you'll be greeted like a regular. If you are on the go you can get this gyro put together for you, but if you decide to stay awhile, it comes deconstructed, more of a DIY affair. The meat is thinly sliced and each piece had a thick, crispy exterior. It's different, in a good way. Different also is their tzadziki, which is thick with chunky bits of cucumbers and tons of dill.
138 North San Fernando Boulevard Burbank, 91502 (818) 845-4516
This small deli and market churns out great cold sandwiches and wraps and you can pick up some of your favorite Middle Eastern goodies in their small grocery section as well. One of their most undiscovered menu items are the Gyro Wrap and their Chicken Tzadziki Wrap. While they may not be your traditional old school gyro, they're warm, tasty and totally satisfying.
18598 Ventura Blvd Tarzana, 91356 (818) 881-6278
This place has been a Valley institution since the '80s, serving up consistently good Greek food. They are mainly a special occasion dinner place, but if you're in the area around lunchtime, they also produce a good gyro. At a little over 10 bucks it's a bit expensive for a sandwich, but the good news is it's served on lightly grilled pita and adorned with tomato, red onion and bell peppers. You won't walk away hungry.
13362 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, 91423 (818) 905-5250
7. Panos Char Broiler
This is a serious hole in the wall that also serves a wide variety of non Middle Eastern offerings. For about $6 you'll walk away with a gyro with meat that is highly seasoned and set off by fresh diced tomatoes and tons of red onions. A smooth garlic-laden cucumber dressing tops it all off. Definitely not to be eaten on date night.
16045 Victory Blvd. Van Nuys, 91406
This is another pricey gyro, at around $13.00. But if it's any consolation, it comes with a Greek salad and a nice portion of really tasty roasted potatoes. They gyro itself is also big and packed with fresh, sliced not diced, tomatoes. Another nice touch is enjoying your gyro out on the sidewalk patio, Larchmont style.
127 N Larchmont Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 464-5160
There is more than one George's location but all have the same fast food vibe and kitschy décor. The gyro meat--your standard lamb/beef mixture--is seriously flavorful. They top their gyro with tzadziki along with fresh diced cucumbers, red onion, red bell peppers nice touch. Thick chewy pita holds all the juicy goodness together just fine.
735 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, 90017 (213) 624-6542
Ulysses offers several different meat choices for their gyro and while the lamb is delicious the chicken is outstanding. It was well-seasoned, tender and adorned with a light hand of a smooth tzadziki and a smattering onions. The garlic fries on the side were a sinfully good addition.
6333 W. Third Street Farmers Market Stall 750 Los Angeles, 90036 (323) 939-9728
Elena's calls itself a Greek and Armenian restaurant and the best thing about this joint (beside the home cooked food) is the friendly service. The waitresses, who welcome customers like family, are often seen sitting around enjoying the food and the company, yet service is still quick and attentive. Here too you can get your gyro to go or as a dinner. The gyro plate comes with the standard fixin's as well as a perfectly roasted tomato and pepper, which give the gyro a rich flavor.
1000 S. Glendale Blvd. Glendale, 91205 (818) 241-5730
2. Firehouse Restaurant
Don't be fooled by the odd location--on a rather nondescript corner the heart of the Valley--or by the decidedly cheesy décor. This place puts out a serious gyro. There's a choice of lamb, beef or chicken, all jammed into a tender pita and topped with lots of red onions, tomatoes and a very smooth, very garlicky tzadziki. Definitely a 2-3 napkin affair.
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18450 Victory Blvd. Reseda, 91335 (818) 881-3118
1. Papa Cristos
It's hard to talk about Greek food in Los Angeles and not talk about Papa Cristos. This place has been an institution for close to 60 years. Their gyro is straightforward and delicious. Stand in line to place your order, take a number and sit down. The pita bread is a meal in itself. It's thick, fluffy, and flavorful, with the perfect bit of crust on the outside. The meat is tender, with just the right amount of char to it. They serve the tzadziki on the side, but this version needs no other accompaniments: the meat and pita speak for itself.
2771 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, 90006 (323) 737-3571