From a distance, the Greek gyro looks like a doner kebab. But looks can be deceptive. There are some differences between a Greek gyro and a Turkish doner kebab.
For one thing, although the meat spinning on the rotisserie looks very similar to the meat sliced for a doner kebab or an Arabic shawarma, it’s not.
I’ve eaten doner kebabs and shawarmas in many different countries and the meat used in Greek gyros tastes different to me. I also found it had a different texture and seemed more “meaty”.
The other thing I noticed about Greek gyros is the bread is a lot softer and lighter than the pitta bread used for similar dishes prepared in other countries.
Traditional Greek gyros were made with lamb. These days the meat used is more likely to pork or chicken. In fact, the first time I ordered a gyro, pork and chicken were the only choices available. Lamb was not on the menu.
However, as with similar dishes, Greek gyros contain a little salad. Although salad is probably too grand a term. It’s actually just slices of red onion and tomato. The pitta may have some chips inside as well. This appears to be an option rather than a rule because the guy who sold me my first gyro asked me if I wanted the chips included or not.
If the idea of chips sounds a little too weird, you may be surprised to learn many European countries have similar dishes that have chips inside.
Unlike doner kebabs, Greek gyros are not served with garlic sauce. They include a small amount of tzatziki sauce instead.
Are Greek gyros better than doner kebabs? That’s going to boil down to a matter of personal taste. They’re both good in their own way. However, gyros are likely to be more difficult to find outside of their homeland. So, if you visit Greece, it makes sense to try one while you have the chance.
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