This week I reached out for a Traditional Greek Gyro, new and here for good, at America's roast beef beacon, Arby's, with 3,300 restaurants across the land.
The Traditional Greek may be new, but Arby's has been fritzing out its cash registers for several years with Americanized gyros made with Arby's signature roast beef and turkey. The Traditional Greek is more faithful to the gyros you'll find, maybe not back in Greece, but in family-run sandwich shops in Chicago, where gyros first hit it big in this country.
Here's Arby's Traditional Greek Gyro breakdown: flame-seared, knife-carved gyro meat, Greek spices, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions, covered with creamy tzatziki sauce — all stuffed in warm, pillowy pita bread.
Total calories: 710. Fat grams: 44. Sodium: 1,360 mg. Carbs: 55 g. Dietary fiber: 4 g. Protein: 23 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $4.29, but look for a coupon for cheaper.
Gyro is from the Greek, meaning "circle" or "turn" — from the way the meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
Now let's get the pronunciation right: it's "year-oh."Not "ji-roh" or "gear-oh" or "yanny" or "laurel."
While Arby's roast beef and turkey takes on gyros have been big boomers since 2015, the Traditional Greek Gyro delivers a more authentic flavor, starting with its combination lamb and roast beef slices. The distinctive taste of lamb comes through clearly, which will please long-time gyro fans. The familiar gyro toppings, lettuce, tomato, and onions (LTO), are cool and crisp, lending crunch and texture.
Arby's version of tzatziki sauce, typically a cucumber and yogurt mix, is untypically mild. The sauce won't startle you like it might over in Greece. But it's smooth and gets the job done, taking the edge off the lamb and beef strips.
After boom sales the past few years, and with Traditional Greek joining the lineup, gyros are forever on Arby's menu board. Gyro's are the perfect "other vote" at Arby's, for those in the car whining, "Burgers again?"
OK, so we'll hit the Arby's drive-thru, but you have to promise to eat these gyros carefully. Because gyros are open-faced sandwiches curled up, and there's a lot of loose ingredients like lettuce and sauce, this could be a backseat nightmare. Weeks later, you'll wonder, "what is that smell?" It could be the tzatziki talking.
Good point: Arby's isn't holding back with these gyros. They're piled high and there's some real heft. Gyros are filling. Don't go ordering two until you're positive you can finish one with room to spare.
(Joey Chestnut has room to spare. Back in 2016, it was my honor to be Joey Jaws' personal counting judge when he scarfed 30 half-pound gyros to set a world's record at Greek Fest in Houston. By the end of the contest, I was covered with tzatziki shrapnel. The champ is a sloppy competitive eater.)
You don’t need to be Greek to enjoy Arby’s Greek gyro. You just need to like flame-seared, knife carved gyro meat, with crispy vegetables, creamy tzatziki sauce, and warm pita bread. You also need to be able to get to Arby’s. Apparently you can order a cab on your smartphone now, so that’s a solid option.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast-food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know in the comments or on Twitter.