Gyros are a Grecian street food staple. Over the years, these delicious wraps have made their way around the world and can now be found in cities all over the globe, from New York City to Sydney and beyond. 

Even if you’re a big fan of eating gyros, though, there’s a good chance you don’t know the fascinating history behind this popular Greek food. Here, we dive into some of the most intriguing facts about gyros – you’re sure to be able to impress your friends (and the wait staff!) next time you visit your local Greco restaurant.

What Exactly is a Gyro?

A Greek gyro – pronounced “GHEE-ro” is a stacked pile of thinly sliced meat (traditionally lamb, pork, or beef) that is roasted while it is turned on a small spit, similar to a rotisserie chicken. Once the meat has fully cooked, it is placed in a pita wrap with various toppings, which conventionally include tomatoes, lettuce, onions, parsley, and Greek yogurt or tzatziki as the sauce. 

Where Does the Term “Gyro” Come From?

“Gyro” is derived from the Greek word “gheereezo”, which means “to turn”. This name, of course, was given to the wrap sandwich because of how its main ingredient – the meat – is cooked. 

When Were Gyros Invented?

According to some historical accounts, gyros were initially part of traditional Greek skewered meat feasts, which seemingly took place when soldiers returned from battle victorious. Some reports note that this tradition was started by the Hellenic icon, Alexander the Great, and his returning armies. Seemingly Alexander’s soldiers would skewer and roast various cuts of meat on sword-like blades over an open fire, turning the long knives similarly to how gyros are still made today. 

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, though, gyros, as we know them today, were first made around 1922, with the hundreds of thousands of Greek and Armenian refugees from Turkey. Most were natives of Constantinople – now known as Istanbul – and Smyrna – now known as Ismir. As the lore goes, Armenians made the best gyros. 

Following World War II, Allied soldiers returned home with a fondness for gyros, which led to many immigrant-owned gyro restaurants and stands throughout the United States, Eastern Europe, and Australia – some of which still exist today!

Ordering Gyros in the Pandemic Era.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how people live, work, and even eat, it is worth noting that most Greek restaurants offer take-home service or curbside delivery for patrons nowadays. Furthermore, check Uber Eats or another food delivery app to see if any of your local Greco will bring a gyro straight to your front door!

Visit Greco Boston Today

Next time you’re craving a gyro, look no further! We serve some of the most authentic and delicious Greek food in the city, and we can’t wait to serve you soon. If you have questions about feeding a crowd, contact us to learn more about our catering options for large parties. Visit one of our four Greco locations in Boston! Give us a call at (617) 572-3300.

Back to Top