Gyros: The History Behind the Famous Greek Delicacy



Gyros is served wrapped in pitta bread with fries, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki

Gyros; one word, an endless variety of taste.

Greece’s most popular fast food delicacy, gyros (with the correct pronunciation being ”yee-ros”) are something that you cannot easily forget after a visit to Greece.

The name literally means ”round” or “loop” and many theories exist about the origin of gyros. Is it just a Greek variation of the globally known Turkish kebab? Or could it date back to ancient times, when the army of Alexander the Great was known to skewer and roast various cuts of meat on long swords over an open fire?

Vintage add of a local gyros shop somewhere in the United States.

In truth, there is no way to verify any of the theories. Gyros, as we know them today, became a famous dish following the arrival of Greek immigrants from Asia Minor in the 1920s. Throughout the 20th century, local fast-food shops grew in popularity, not only in Athens but all over Greece and beyond its shores.

Inspired by the Turkish kebab, the Greeks who came from Anatolia created a more Greek-looking variation of it by using Greek meat and local ingredients.

The spicy taste of the slow-cooked meat, combined with fresh tomatoes, onions and Greek yogurt, made this wrapped delicacy popular from the very first moment of its inception.

Mainly made with pork or beef, new variations have emerged with chicken, fish, seafood or even vegan alternatives for those who don’t eat meat.

Gyros fast-food shops can be found everywhere in Greece

Whatever the meat you choose, gyros are served wrapped in soft pita bread. They are usually stuffed with onions, fresh tomatoes, Greek fried potatoes, and tzatziki sauce, the famous condiment made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers and garlic.

Local variations of gyros are countless throughout Greece, with every region claiming the authentic taste of gyros.

Whatever the version of them that you like, one thing is for sure: Gyros are a must-eat dish for anyone visiting Greece!