I first encountered gyros about a decade ago at the Erie County Fair outside of Buffalo, NY. I was lucky enough to stumble across the one gyro stand out of four that was actually run by Mediterraneans. Apparently there's an eatery in Manhattan (that I cannot remember the name of, no matter how hard I try) that during the summer sends a few employees and some of their food on the fair circuit. This means that the first gyro I got was excellent, and the whole experience had that street food vibe I'm so fond of.
When the craving hits me now, I usually end up at one of the two Gyro Shack locations. They are related eateries with more or less identical menus but run by different families, which is why the website for the Overland Road location doesn't mention the Ustick branch. The one on Overland just east of Cole Road really is a shack, while the Ustick location is in a small but more permanent structure between Cole and Curtis Roads in Boise. Either will do a basic gyro for $2.99 and both have drive-through windows. I'm sure the $2.99 gyro sign draws a lot of people in, but I always cough up the extra dollar to add feta cheese. This time for another couple of bucks, I added a bag of chips and a drink, and just for the hell of it I decided to try their baklava as well.
|Deluxe Gyro combo meal with a piece of baklava for dessert|
I've never had a bad gyro from either location. The pita is always fresh and lightly chewy, offering the slightest of resistance but not so much that you have to exert yourself to tear into it. The tomato and onion are always fresh, the tzatziki sauce creamy but not so rich that it overwhelms the mild spiciness of the meat. The beef and lamb are always of the perfect texture, moist inside and a little crispy on the outside, and I love being able to see them shave it fresh off the spit for my sandwich. The salty tanginess of the feta just makes the whole all the more complex and satisfying.
The baklava, I have to admit, I wasn't as fond of. I'd only had it once before, back when Aladdin was still in business. As sweet as it was, the pastry maintained a lightness and crispiness that somehow kept you from realizing how overwhelmingly rich it was (and the Turkish coffee didn't hurt either). This was mostly just chewy, and somehow seemed to focus my attention on how much sugar I was ingesting. The flavor was good, but the texture would need a little work in order to keep my teeth from declaring a mutiny. Still, if you're running around town and need a baklava fix...
|A very blurry picture of baklava|
For those of you less bound to tradition, The Gyro Shack has taken great liberties to create many variations of the traditional sandwich. A look through their menu will turn up options containing hummus, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, chili paste, bacon, etc. There are even chicken gyros and veggie gyros for those of you who have issues with eating lamb. Next time you're wanting fast food, try The Gyro Shack, yet another example of how food can be interesting, fresh and flavorful and still be fast and relatively inexpensive too.
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