If you’re from the area, I bet you’ve driven past it. It’s on the Newark side of I-95, right where it meets DE-273. Truly a hole in the wall, they’ve been serving up the best gyros (pronounced yee-roh, because it’s a Greek word) in town as long as I can remember.
Now, before we get into it, those of you in Philly or Baltimore have no excuse to zone out. If you’ve ever driven from one to the other, you’ve been within a quarter mile of the place, and that distance is really just exit ramp. Exit 3 (for Newark and DE-273) Southbound (that’s coming from Philly) and 3B (for the same points of interest) for Northbound. Follow the signs for Newark: Westbound, but if you hit a second traffic light, you’ve gone too far. Just after the first light, regardless of which direction on 95 you were traveling, on the right is the place. The picture on the right was taken from the (tiny) parking lot looking toward the 95 on-ramps. While I’ve never had trouble parking there, it’s certainly not out of the question. If that happens, use the little cut through on the left hand side of the building and park on the neighborhood street behind the restaurant (I’m sure it’ll be fine).
Once you do find parking (again, I’ve never had an issue), get in there and take a look at the menu. It’s a fast-casual setup, with nothing between the door and the counter. The menu’s above you, and there’s some to the right as well. Numbered combos go up to about thirty, all different combinations of beef, lamb, or chicken prepared as tikka, kofta, or a gyro. There are some more… American friendly menu items: a burger, a lamb cheesesteak (which I’m very interested in trying—it’s new since I went away to college), and chicken wings, just to name a few. Tikka is a South Asian dish—the word itself means “cutlet,” and kofta is a relative of the meatball. Both are forms of kabab, and at The Gyro Kabob House, they are served on a stick over a bed of rice. Delicious, Middle Eastern spiced rice that I always eat a little more of than I probably should.
I always get the same thing: Lamb Gyro, no tomato (I forgot to say it this time), side of rice instead of fries. I really wish it were less good so that I’d feel okay trying some other menu items, but I can’t shake the feeling that a trip to the Kabob House would be wasted without that sandwich. Foolish, I know, but what can I do? Dishes with ground meats at their center have always been my favorites, and fresh rotisserie spiced lamb is absolutely irresistible. On top of that, I have a very real weakness for sauces, dips, and spreads. Tzatziki sauce, a cucumber yogurt sauce traditional for a gyro, is made in-house and kept in squeeze bottles in the drink cooler. I drown my rice in it, cover my gyro with it, and even still, it doesn’t eclipse the flavors they already have.
The best way to find a good restaurant in an unfamiliar city is to look for a place with lots of cars bearing that state’s license plate. Eat where the locals eat, and you’ll never go wrong. Similarly, to eat at a Middle Eastern restaurant where people who speak Middle Eastern languages on their cell phones while they wait for their food or women in Hijabs come with their husbands for lunch, you know the food is not only authentic, but good. Authentic on its own will make money from lifetime Americans, but those from the area are harder to impress. When you’re rubbing elbows with them, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special. The Gyro Kabob House is such a place just up the road.