Gyros 2 Go
16855 Redmond Way
Redmond WA 98052
No Jokes About Taking it To Go
By: Grant Y
Aptly named, Gyros 2 Go is the rebranded eatery of the previous gyro establishment at the same location. Tucked away into the corner of a strip mall in downtown Redmond, next to Peking Palace, Nasai Teriyaki and almost three other restaurants within 100 yards, it's obviously a battle for the local lunch traffic here.
We realized this none too soon upon our arrival at Gyros 2 Go on a pleasant Friday afternoon, as apparently the entire Microsoft Windows team decided to descend on the restaurant at the same time. Yes, all twelve of them. OK fine, so it might not have been all of the Microsoft team, but this small restaurant was packed out the door and it would explain a lot about Vista (oh yes, I did just go there).
Waiting in line to frantic-looking line cooks and the sound of sizzling meat, we had ample time to eye the interestingly colored marshmallow bag that served as decoration. Perhaps it might not have been decoration, but there was not much else to see other than the baby blue walls, some Persian draperies and two tables and bench seating against the wall. At the front of the restaurant were two glass deli counters, which contained various gyro ingredients, sauces, and baked goods such as baklava, and meat and vegetable sambousas.
Behind the counter hung a giant menu of all the items, which boiled down to various combinations of beef, lamb or chicken in the style of gyros, shish-kebabs, plates or salads. The gyros were all priced in the $6 range, plates around $10 and salads around $8. Another menu hanging by two large freezers listed the prices of various Halal meats such as chicken and goat.
Anticipating a long wait, I was rather surprised at the speed at which the line progressed. When we ordered, the cashier, who we assumed was the owner, was in lunch-rush mode and quickly asked us for our order. I asked for the lamb shish-kebab plate, but was hurriedly told it would be at least 15 minutes. Seeing the line already piling up behind us, I changed my order to a chicken shish-kebab and Steve and Bryan put in their orders to go. Immediately upon getting all our orders, our cashier repeated the tickets to his chefs, plus or minus 30 decibels louder. Unfortunately he yelled out a wrong order, which took two corrections to fix.
We only waited about 5 minutes to get our order, though an acquaintance who was tagging along got his beef and lamb gyro order immediately. Apparently it's a popular gyro that is anticipated for the rush.
The review for my chicken shish-kebab was not to be, as apparently I still got the wrong order and received a Chicken Gyro in our to-go bag. In any case the chicken gyro, being of the to-go quality, came out slathered and mashed in the tzatziki-like gyro sauce. The sauce tasted a bit flat however and didn't have much of the sour yogurt taste or dill flavoring that I think makes a good tzatziki sauce. The meat was cooked fairly well, with a bit of crisp to the edges, but was just a tad tough for gyro meat. The gyro also included onions and tomatoes, but were almost an aside given it was just stuffed full with the gyro meat. I think this makes Gyros 2 Go a good deal in terms of value, but I would easily take the extra 10 minutes to drive to Santorini or Cocorico in Kirkland instead.
I know what you're thinking. Those gyros do not look to appealing. But if you can get past the appearance of things, you'll be treated to a decent gyro. The Lamb and Beef Gyro is stuffed full of meat. On top of that, they put in a few slices of tomato and some onions, then drown it in a thick tzatziki sauce that was tangy and smooth; almost like a zesty, sour cream sauce. Lettuce is an afterthought here, as you have to request it in your Gyro as described in their to-go menu.
In all honesty, it was a pretty good gyro, albeit a little messy with all of the meat and tzatziki that pours out as soon as you start eating. I opted for a fork to make it more manageable and minimize food spilling all over my shirt. The service can be described as sheer madness as several workers seemed to aimlessly run around trying to figure out what to do. The only guy on top of his game was the cashier who dictated orders ala "The Soup Nazi" of Seinfeld fame, though his rage was directed more at the workers instead of the patrons.
If you're in a rush to grab a quick bite to eat around this area, Gyros 2 Go is a great option in terms of portions. Just be sure to double-check your order as it might get mixed up with other orders in the mad lunch rush.
Perhaps I strayed too far from the restaurant's namesake with my Falafel Sandwich. The gyros, stuffed with meat and drowning in sauce, looked like a potential winner. The falafel, on the other hand, fell a little short. The falafel nuggets stuffed inside the warm and doughy flat bread were decent, but a bit on the oily side and overcooked to the point of being crispy. And compared to the gyros, these sandwiches come with quite a bit more veggies including a generous heaping of heart of romaine lettuce. The main detractor from this Mediterranean ensemble was the sauce. Like Grant noted, the "tzatziki-like gyro sauce" was a little off. In the case of the falafel sandwich, the sauce had this somewhat industrial tinge that detracted from the overall taste. All in all, it was good for a quick bite and the price was great, but it doesn't beat the falafel at Mediterranean Mix (or even the price for that matter).
To round out the meal, I also ordered a tasty looking chicken sambousa. Judging from appearances, it had potential, but it wasn't fresh or even re-heated. The chicken was also conspicuously thin in quantity.