Gyros or gyro (pronounced /ˈdʒɪəroʊ/ or /ˈdʒaɪroʊ/, from Greek: γύρος [ˈʝiros] ‘turn’) is a Greek dish, consisting of meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce, and is served with pita bread. Gyros may also refer to the sandwich, which consists of the same ingredients.
To make gyros, pieces of meat are placed on a tall vertical spit, which turns in front of a source of heat, usually an electric broiler. If the meat is not fatty enough, strips of fat are added so that the roasting meat remains always moist and crispy at the same time. The rate of roasting can be adjusted by varying the strength of the heat and the distance between the heat and the meat, allowing the cook to adjust to varying rates of consumption. The outside of the meat is sliced vertically in thin, crispy shavings when done. It is generally served in an oiled, lightly grilled piece of pita, rolled up with various salads and sauces. The pita and gyro themselves are the only obligate ingredients; the remaining condiments to be added always being at the discretion of the customer, even down to the amount of salt and pepper used. An order of “ap’ óla“, “with everything”, means that every available add-on is to be included, including generous peppering with red paprika.
The name comes from Greek γύρος (“turn”), a calque of the Turkish name döner kebab (“turning roast”); the dish was formerly called ντονέρ [doˈner] in Greece as well.
The Greek pronunciation is [ˈʝiros], but in English, the pronunciation is often /ˈdʒaɪroʊ(s)/ or occasionally /ˈɡɪəroʊ(s)/. Sometimes the spellings “yeeros”, “yiros”, or “year-o” are used to approximate the Greek pronunciation, giving /ˈjɪəroʊ(s)/ in English and leading further to the totally Americanized word “heros” for sandwiches made on a long piece of bread that are vaguely reminiscent of a rolled gyro. The omission of the “s” at the end of gyros is a common form of hypercorrection in the English language, as seen with the word biceps(s) muscle.
Along with the similar Middle Eastern shawarma and Mexican tacos al pastor, gyros is derived from the Turkish döner kebab, which was invented in Bursa in the 19th century. Gyros was originally introduced to Greece from Thessaloniki, and specifically from the district of Toumba. There are several stories regarding Gyros’s origin: One says that the first “gyrádiko” was “Giorgos” who brought gyros to Thessaloniki in 1970; another story says that döner was first introduced in the 1950s in Piraeus by a cook from Constantinople.