The gyro, a Greek variation of a Turkish innovation, is one of the greatest meals known to man. Last week, I assembled a panel of “experts” (opinionated college students) to determine, once and for all, who makes the best gyro in Boise.
The judges were as follows: Matt Sewall, Tristan Pitt, Emily Volk, Matt Gerber, and yours truly.
We purchased the standard gyros from three restaurants: Meraki, Mazzah, and Gyro Shack.
And we’re off!
MERAKI (small $5.99 / regular $7.99)
Henry: The interior of this gyro is packed with pork—an unconventional meat choice that Meraki claims is more authentically Greek . The meat is shaved into small fragments, which creates underwhelming texture. Vegetables are minimal.
The sauce, once you get past the surprising punch of dill, is absolutely excellent. It’s evenly spread throughout the gyro, and that’s important to me.
Emily Volk: This sauce is a dill-breaker.
Tristan Pitt (days removed from wisdom tooth surgery): If we’re comparing these from a Lebanese perspective, then the more dill the better.
Matt Gerber: I really appreciated that they tried to add the french fries.
Matt Sewall: It was kind of like straight sauce, which I kind of like now that I think about it.
Henry: Almost every part of the Mazzah gyro is better. The meat, which is the traditional blend of beef and lamb, is the most tender and flavorful.
But the structure is disastrous. None of the ingredients are mixed together and the tzatziki is poorly distributed. The bottom is bone dry.
Matt Sewall: The meat is so much better. If they coated this in sauce, it would be head and heels above Meraki.
Matt Gerber: This is the best meat.
Emily Volk: This feels like an easy, standard gyro. No bells, no whistles, just Subway lettuce.
GYRO SHACK ($4.29)
Henry: Gyro Shack serves the simplest gyro. Meat, tzatziki, onion, tomato. The lamb-beef mixture here is a little chewier than Mazzah, but the flavor is almost as good.
The sauce is this gyro’s undoing. It reminds me of a dip I’d eat on Super Bowl Sunday.
Emily Volk: The sauce tastes like mayo.
Matt Gerber: I do not like the pita as much as the other two.
Matt Sewall: I think the meat and the pita are the same quality. It’s just the sauce. It’s literally just the sauce.
Tristan Pitt (days removed from wisdom tooth surgery): I can’t chew this.
So which is the best?
Henry Coffey: They’re all strikingly similar. Gyro Shack is clearly in third place, even though it’s $1.70 cheaper than everyone else. Meraki’s bright spots shine the brightest, but the overall experience at Mazzah makes it the best gyro.
Emily Volk: Mazzah. The pita has that fluffy cloud experience. Your teeth are like sink, swim, sink, swim.
Matt Sewall: Scaled for cost, the ranking goes Mazzah and then a tie between Meraki and Gyro Shack. But I’d probably go to Gyro Shack most often. I’d like to emphasize that these three places are better than anywhere that I’ve had in California. I think if they were in a different town, they’d be blowing every gyro place out of the water.
Matt Gerber: As someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with gyros, I definitely like Mazzah the best. Mazzah is the place I had my first gyro though, so I am biased.
Tristan Pitt (days removed from wisdom tooth surgery): I think I need to eat more liquid foods. ∎
Notes on methodology:
1. Rather than order the same type of meat at every restaurant, we elected to judge the restaurants on whatever gyro they put forth as their “flagship” model.
2. The gyros (which were cut into thirds) were eaten one after another with a small palate-cleansing sip of water in between.
3. This does not, obviously, account for every gyro spot in Boise (Sophia’s Greek Bistro and Bosnia Express are notable exclusions), but I would argue it offers a pretty complete picture of the fast-casual market.
4. Naomi Shapiro ordered a falafel and was thus banned from judging.