By Clare Myers
Upon returning from a semester in Rome, I realized that there are many aspects of life in Europe that Americans should really consider adopting. A midday riposo, or siesta, and a three-hour dinner immediately come to mind. It is not surprising that Americans have not taken up these particular customs; they simply do not fit well into the fast-paced lives most of us lead. But there is one part of study abroad life that seems to me would be immensely popular back home: the doner kebab. If you went to Rome, you will remember the ubiquitous kebab stands all across Europe, massive hunks of meat roasting on their vertical rotisseries just waiting to be shaved off into a warm, fresh pita along with tomatoes, onions and a generous smear of yogurt-based sauce. In some countries, it was a “Turkish kebab,” in others, a “durum.” In Greece, we feasted on gyros, a close relative of the kebab, relishing the tzatziki sauce and the ingenious addition of fries inside the wrap. No matter what the name was, where we were, or what time it was, we knew we could always count on the humble kebab for a tasty, filling and cheap eat.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why some enterprising person has not opened a chain of kebab stands on college campuses nationwide. After lamenting this recently, I started searching for something similar in Irving. What I found was a glorious little shop adjacent to a gas station, appropriately named Kebabs To Go! And yes, the exclamation point is part of the restaurant’s name.
As any kebab devotee will tell you, one does not buy kebabs from a sit-down restaurant. To get the true experience, one must walk up to the counter and order takeout, even if that means scarfing the entire thing down in minutes while standing just outside the door. So it was with a feeling of relief rather than misgiving that a friend and I walked into the tiny store and realized that with only a few tables crammed into the place, we would be ordering to go. A quick glance at the menu told me we were in the right place. It was fairly simple: Customers can choose from a selection of kebabs — chicken, lamb, salmon and a vegetarian option, to name a few — cooked on skewers or the vertical spit. They can be served either as a wrap ($5.49-7.99) or on a plate with the choice of two sides ($6.99-9.49). At $2.99 apiece, the sides are simple, from veggies such as spinach or chickpeas to carbs like potatoes and rice.
My friend and I knew instantly what we wanted: the gyro ($5.89 each for the wraps). We had to wait about ten minutes for the meat to cook, but that gave us a chance to chat with the man behind the counter. Upon learning that it was our first visit to Kebabs To Go!, he took a few pieces of meat off one of the skewers on the grill, slathered them in tzatziki and put them in a small dish for us to try while we waited. One bite told me all I needed to know.
Simply put, my gyro was delicious. With tomatoes, onions and an ample amount of creamy tzatziki, it had all the components of an excellent kebab, although sadly, its lack of fries prevented it from being a true Greek gyro. My friend added feta cheese to hers and pronounced the wrap “perfect.” The real star of the show, though, was the gyro meat. Warm, crispy and just the right amount of spicy, it was clearly expertly cooked; there was no trace of gristle to be found.
I despise restaurant reviews that indiscriminately praise food, but I have to say I struggled to find any fault in Kebabs To Go! It has no pretensions other than to be a superb little kebab shop, and that it accomplishes very well.
Nearest DART station: North Lake College Station
Distance from UD: 8.2 miles
How to get there from UD: Take the Orange Line towards DFW Airport station for three stops (North Lake College Station). Get on bus 401 towards Valley Ranch. Ride for 28 stops (24 minutes), get off at Valley Ranch @ MacArthur, and walk about 0.1 mi on MacArthur Boulevard.