Being a resident of Las Vegas for most of my life, my first introduction to anything that resembled Middle Eastern Food was those early Vegas commercials in the late 70′s advertising pita sandwiches from a place called “Gyro Time”, as in gyroscope. They even had a little jingle in the commercial something like “What time is it? Gyro Time!” again with the poor pronunciation right in the ad. Gryo Time still exists on Charleston and the food still is not very good. I have tried most gyros (pronounced “Yee-roh”) joints in town. I have been to both Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe on Maryland Parkway, and Sahara. Tried them at, Yassou Greek Grill Cafe, Market Grill Cafe, and a place that use to be next to UNLV called Daily Chicken. There was even was a chain Greek place in the Meadows and Fashion Show Malls years ago called, Renzio’s Greek Food. All serving their variation of a pita wrapped meat sandwich called a gyro.
Now, basically all of them served their gyros with a similar type of meat. The kind that looks like a large piece of wood being loaded a vertical wood lathe. This big-o-cylinder of meat is broiled and sliced off and served. The meat spool is usually a mix of beef, lamb and spices or most commonly, beef. It seems to me that they all go and shop at the same store for this mega roll of meat to cook. The meat usually has the same texture and similar taste wherever I go. I do have to mention that some places serve gyros a lot better than others.
Being as I work in the downtown area of Las Vegas, I am always on the hunt for a new place to eat for lunch. I found this hole-in-the wall on East Fremont Street nestled between a tattoo parlor and a small pizza joint, called Kabob Korner about 3 years ago. Located at 507 East Fremont Street, it’s not really on the corner, but its better than calling it “Kabob in the middle of the block where it is jammed between tats-r-us and the pizza place”. The front of this place is nothing to look at. It has some outdated posters of food and a woman with big hair and the word GYRO on it. Most people would just walk by without notice. Once inside the narrow (15 feet wide) shop, with its middle eastern decor, there are 6 tables, not a lot of room so be prepared to share your table with a stranger. Go ahead, go in, it’s ok. The place is small, but it seems to be frequent by a lot of downtown workers types, you got: cops, courthouse workers, law people, county and city workers and not a lot of tourists. Throw a few in a few street people every once in a while and you get the picture. Kabob Korner is the only Halal restaurant in Las Vegas. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines.
Now for the food part. My favorite thing on the menu is the Super Gyro ($5.99) not to be confused their standard gyro. The super gyro is made from all lamb (yes, as in Mary), the standard gyro is a mixture of beef and lamb. Now, I never had lamb before as a stand alone dish, but the super gyro is delicious and juicy, it is very flavorful and melts in you mouth and it is quite big. The super gyro combo with fries and drink, this is my standard order here. The man sized, gyro comes with onions, tomatoes and their tzatziki sauce, topped with large helping of feta, served on a fluffy sweet pita bread, along with a generous portion of thick seasoned fries. I am sure this is not the most healthy thing to eat, but it is nice to give yourself a treat from time to time. I have tried the chicken dishes which are really good and the rice and pita bread is very tasty too. My only complaint is the drink situation. They only serve drinks in cans or bottles. This is clearly not enough liquid to go with your super gyro scarf-down. I asked the owner about the drinks and he told me that if there was a soda fountain in there, the street people would be coming in and trying to get refills. Well, maybe with the new changes going on in this part of East Fremont Street, they will upgrade (please!)
The only tricky part of downtown eating is parking, for lunch at the Kabob Korner you can usually get a metered parking spot on the southern side of Fremont on 6th Street, an hour will cost about a dollar, bring coins. The store is open Monday-Saturday 10am-11pm and closed on Sunday. Kabob Korner serves up some yummy middle eastern eats in their 15 foot wide kabob shop in downtown. So when you your really hungry swing by and check out Kabob Korner (which is not on the corner).
photo by: lasvegas360.com