Flatiron Lunch: Shawarma Grill Takes Street Meat Off the Street

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

Back in February, I wrote about Gyro King which promptly closed and was replaced by Fava Grill (I have to keep telling myself that it wasn’t my fault). While I haven’t been back to try Fava Grill, several Flatiron Lunch’ers mentioned that Shawarama Grill was the best in the area. So here we are.

Previously, I didn’t take this place seriously because of the glowing “smoothie” sign out front. I mean, who would expect good shawarma from a place that is almost half devoted to fruit? But don’t be distracted or deceived by the juice/smoothie counter at the front of the restaurant, keep walking to the back.

The signage out-front advertising lunch specials was encouraging.

A few reviews I read online recommended the chicken shawarma over the beef/lamb, so I ordered it as a lunch platter ($7.95). I opted for salad and rice and passed on the fries. Someone’s order came out with fries after I ordered, and they looked really good – double fried and crispy.

After carving the shawarma, the super, super nice guy working threw the meat on the flat-top for an additional char.

The meat could have been trimmed a little better. The extra fat, can make it more flavorful, but the other inedible parts of the meat meant I had a bad bite or two. And it made for less enjoyable leftovers the next day, which is fine, you just have to finish it!

As eating my meal, I realized the small condiment containers weren’t sufficient, especially for those of us accustomed to street meat vendors pouring it on. In the future, I plan to ask for white sauce and hot sauce directly on my platter.

When my friend ordered the chicken kufta sandwich ($5.95), the meat was brought out from the kitchen on skewers to the grill. Of course, it took longer to prepare. Overall, the meat had great spices and flavor. The topping on the sandwich I was most excited about was the pickled peppers. I wish more places used this type of vinegary and spicy addition.

Just for fun, we decided to order a side of 3 falafel (at $.75 each). The falafel were great, with lots of seeds and herbs, and I appreciated that they put a little presentation into the dish.

Surprisingly, I thought the kufta meat was better than the chicken shawarma, despite the reviews I read suggesting the chicken. For next time, I think I would have to give the lamb shawarma a try. Especially since it is actually marinated ground lamb and beef.

THE + (What people who like this place will say)

  • With all the fruit in the restaurant, I can trick myself into thinking my meal is healthy.
  • Those fries!! I want them.
  • I don’t think I have tried the best Shawarma Grill has to offer, so I am looking forward to a return trip.

THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)

  • I wish the chicken shawarma was a little better trimmed and the fat a little more melted.
  • No way these tiny containers of sauce will be enough.
  • Smoothie with lunch…no thank you.
  • The prices are a bit more than other gyro, street meat, shawarma type spots.

Shawarma Grill, 368 3rd Avenue (between 26th and 27th Street), (212) 683-1705

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