Checking Out Vertskebap, the Austin Doner Chain Bringing Kebap to the Dallas Masses
This is what a beef and lamb kebap looks like as it's shuttled toward your face.
A few years back, I set out in search of a great gyro for all to enjoy. It didn't go well. My partner-in-tzatziki almost died, and neither of us was able to work the rest of the afternoon. We ate pounds and pounds of gyros, and when we finished we resolved that most of them were pretty terrible.
My gripe was that every gyro we encountered was made from a frozen meatsicle processed at a plant in the suburbs of Chicago. The substandard meat isn't just a Dallas phenomenon; most of the gyros served in the States make use of the gyro-pop. But every now and then (like that time I was in Chicago) I run into gyros that are stacked by hand with huge slabs of marinated meat. They're delicious.
Skin on, skinny cut, crunchy french fries.
Two weeks ago, though, Dallas got its very own hand-stacked, doner kebap restaurant in Addison. Doner isn't really a gyro: It comes from Germany, and gyros are the product of Greek immigration and American food ingenuity. But they're pretty close. Both make use of beef and lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Both will make your knees get weak when they're done really well.
The restaurant, Vertskebap, is a small but quickly growing chain out of Austin. The restaurants take the basic workings of a doner kebap (often served from a simple street cart) and, with a series of timers, measured scoops and training procedures, they turn out sandwiches on the quick for those who want a speedy lunch.
I stopped in a few days ago, just a little after noon, and the place had a handful of customers inside, either munching over tables or standing in line. That line was slow going, but I think it was because there was some more of that training going on. And it didn't matter because you could watch the hand-stacked meatcones twirl and spit flaming grease while you waited.
After walking down the line and orchestrating the construction of my own kebap -- (lamb and beef with lettuce, tomato, red onion and yogurt sauce -- I grabbed a table and tore in. The verdict? Pretty good. The meat was a little lifeless, maybe because it was under-seasoned, or maybe because they shaved a bunch of the meat from the cones at one time and then stored it in steam pans. But it was better than the processed meat cone of typical Greek restaurants. The bread was fine, if a little stale. They also offered fries, falafel and plenty of beverages including Lakewood Brewing and Peticolas beer.
If you're excited but don't feel like driving to Addison you should note that there is more Verskebap in the works. There's already another location open in Lewisville, and third should open on the Central Expressway and Walnut Lane in the coming weeks. That's a lot of kebap in a town that was previously virtually kebap-less. Let this be the turning point for hand-stacked meat cones all over Dallas and beyond.
Vertskebap, 5100 Belt Line Road, vertskebap.com
In the next five years, all of your meals will be assembled like car parts.
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