If the smells of cumin and slow-roasting meat aren't enough of a tip-off, the three rotating spits in the corner of the store should do it.
Shawarma on the Go is a small Middle Eastern restaurant tucked inside the Jetgo gas station on Magazine Street. One could easily pass by without noticing the restaurant, but it's well worth a trip inside.
The restaurant's namesake, cones of roasting chicken and gyro meat, find their way into several dishes. The combo plate is a good way to sample both, and it is served with rice, hummus, pita bread and salad. Both the chicken and gyro were moist and flavorful, avoiding the pitfalls that sometimes accompany a method of cooking that can render meat dry or rubbery. Thick strips of gyro meat were tender and delicious, served with creamy tzatziki that added a punch of tangy flavor to the spit-cooked meat. The garlic "sauce" that tops the chicken, is more of a garlic mayonnaise, and on one visit it needed more garlic.
The kitchen uses a liberal hand with lemon in dishes including silky hummus, which arrives with pools of olive oil, and smoky tahini sauce served with falafel. The tahini also is a good addition to many of the sandwiches and wraps, some of which can dry out if not eaten right away. Flaky spanakopita is packed with spinach and salty feta and served with tzatziki and lemon slices.
Falafel was fried to the color of burned toffee on the outside but revealed bright green insides. The orbs were surprisingly moist but needed seasoning. An herb-flecked fattoush salad is an alternative to some of the heavier items, and it includes beefsteak tomatoes, cucumbers, diced green bell peppers and red onions.
Most of the menu stays within the confines of traditional Middle Eastern fare, but there are some creative and playful items. The Philly is packed with gyro meat instead of thin-sliced steak and is topped with a decadent mix of sauteed mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and melted provolone cheese.
A fried eggplant sandwich is loaded with garlic mayonnaise, tomatoes, feta cheese and melted mozzarella on French bread. It's a messy indulgence, and one that I imagine would be satisfying after a late night of drinking.
For dessert, Shawarma's baklava is a traditional take on the Middle Eastern confection, with layers of flaky phyllo dough soaked in honey.
Shawarma on the Go's approach might be simple and unassuming, but the straightforward formula here hits the spot.