King Gyro Finally Ascends His East Village Throne


Pennants flapping, and interior vomitously green, King Gyro is now open for business.

The bright green facade of King Gyro in the East Village taunted us for months, always seeming on the verge of opening, but never quite doing so. Well, the place finally debuted, and here’s a cursory look.

Maybe this is not the shade of green you’d pick for your falafel and curry restaurant.

The inside is that strange shade of green, too, running through several narrow rooms — hallways, really — to culminate in a steam table. Placards on the walls advertise the café’s multiple specialities — including some, like pizza, that are not yet available.

A gyro rotates in the depths of the kitchen, a couple of guys stand around behind the counter, desultorily stirring the curries, which make up a small proportion of the full menu. There are Middle Eastern specialties, too, and an array of kebabs, fish platters, bagels, breakfasts (including the weird-sounding beef cutlets with egg), pastries, samosas, meat patties, soups, lassis, Greek salads, and South Asian tandoori breads that get as arcane as gobi (cauliflower) paratha, plus fruit juices and smoothies. The king is spreading himself rather thin, don’t you think?

A friend and I tried a couple of things on a first visit. The gyro sandwich (chicken or lamb, $4.50) was everything it needed to be. The guy, at my direction, squirted on the yogurt sauce and harissa (hot, gritty red sauce). The meat was more plentiful than it might have been for the price, but not so delicious that you’d crave more.

Wrapped in a generous naan, the gyro sandwich was a good deal for the price.

The lamb curry left a pleasant burn in our throats.

The lamb curry, selected from a choice of six vegetarian and meat-bearing choices, was better than OK. I wish they’d offered plates for eating in, rather than carryout containers, because the abundant quantities of pilaf, salad, and roasted cauliflower offered with the entrée ended up as a vast undifferentiated mess in the aluminum carryout vessel.

The lamb curry burned as it went down my gullet, but with a burn that was different than either black pepper or red pepper. “What’s that burn caused by?” my companion enquired. After thinking a couple of minutes, I was able to reply, “OMG! It’s mustard oil.” So, if you like Bengali-style curries laced with mustard oil, King Gyro may be your place.

Really, having a small café that offers a combo of Middle Eastern and Pakistani fare is not such a bad idea after all. Note: This place seems to be a branch of a chain with two Flatbush locations.

King Gyro
57 First Avenue

Go while the awning is still bright and shiny, and not covered with pigeon crap.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2011

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