Gyro and Souvlaki 101- Learn the Basics

by | Nov 1, 2016 | Food | 0 comments

pita gyro best in athens
Gyros are something that everyone HAS to try when visiting Greece.

We’re going to break it down for you so you know exactly what to order when you hit up the local gyro place.

The literal translation of gyro is ‘round’, so if you picture that large circular hunk of meat spinning around, it all makes sense, right?  

Most places will display their ‘gyro’ and entice people in with the smells of crispy meat cooking just for your own little handheld piece of yumminess.  

Wrap it in a Pita

Pita Gyro

Your choice of meat from the gyro wrapped up in a pita.  Pork and Chicken are the two most popular types, but some place have additional types.  


Pita Souvlaki

Little pieces of meat cooked on a skewer and then wrapped up in a pita.  Again, pork and chicken are king, but we are seeing more and more variety out there.

Pita Kebab

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This is where things get confusing.  Many European countries have ‘kebab shops’ which are selling gyro meat in wraps or sandwiches.  Greek kebabs are minced meat with seasonings grilled and served in a pita wrap, plain or as a main dish (merida).   

How to order it?

Everybody has their own style.  Ap’Ola means ‘with everything’ which usually includes, tomatoes, french fries, lettuce and onions (if you order pork!)  The sauce that comes on it will depend on the meat you order (tzatziki with pork, mayo/mustard with chicken).  You can order it however you wish, build your own!  

Eat it on a Stick

Souvlaki Kalamaki

If you just want the meat, you can order it singularly.  Order Souvlaki Kalamaki and you’ll get just the small pieces of meat on the stick.  Some places will serve it with bread or a piece of pita bread.   Always best with a squeeze of lemon!

Kebab Sketo

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If you order just a plain kebab, it won’t come on the stick, they kindly remove it for you.  Kebabs are not as convenient to eat on the go as the pita wraps or souvlaki kalamaki are, but are a sit-down meal time favorite, especially ordered in mass quantities for a group of friends.

Get it on a Plate

What is a Merida\Mερίδα?

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This is a portion or serving of meat with the according small bits on the side. In general, a Gyro Merida is a big plate with gyro meat, pita bread, tomatoes, onions, french fries and sauce.  Kebabs and Souvlaki also can be found in the ‘merida’ section of the menu. 

Tourist Tip

It’s a known ‘trick’ in tourist areas for servers to bring you a merida if you are not specific with your order and say something like ‘pork gyro’.  The ingredients are the same, but the portion and price are not!  A Pita Gyro costs around 2.50 euros and a Gyro Merida can be as much as 3 times that.     

Greek Vocabulary

Pork =χοιρινό | hirino

Chicken = κοτόπουλο | kotopoulo

Plain = σκέτο | sketo

Serving/Main Dish = μερίδα | merida

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Americana chica enjoying the sunshine on the Athens Coast.



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