Everyone loves gyros, but they are so time-consuming to make! Preparing the meat is a long and complicated process, and there’s no way I have time to roast lamb on a spit for a weeknight meal. My family was out enjoying gyros at a local restaurant when someone remarked that gyros are kind of like Greek tacos. Meat, vegetables, sauce served in a folded piece of bread. The observation gave my mom a brilliant idea- instead of trying to make gyros, why not make Greek tacos instead?
The results were delicious. Instead of trying to imitate the slow roasted meat traditionally served on gyros, my mom prepared ground beef with gyro-appropriate spices. The meat looks like something you’d find in a taco, but tastes like gyros! It’s a very simple trick, but very effective. You could also use ground lamb for an even more authentic flavor. The other components are simple to prepare. Mom’s tzatziki sauce is delicious and oh-so-easy to prepare. Pick up your favorite pita bread from the grocery store and slice tomato, onion and cucumber for toppings and you’re done!
This recipe feeds eight, but can easily be doubled (or tripled!) to feed a crowd. Mom makes these tacos whenever family is in town and they are always a huge hit. Perfect for a backyard party with friends or a simple, quiet dinner at home. Who knew gyros could be so easy?
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef (or, use lamb if you can get it)
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat greek yogurt)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped*
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Brown ground beef with all other ingredients in a skillet; drain well.
- Place yogurt in a mesh strainer, suspend over a bowl and allow to drain for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Discard excess liquid.
- In a mixing bowl, mix yogurt and all other ingredients until well combined.
- Leftover sauce can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Layer meat, tomato, cucumber, onion and tzatziki sauce on each pita.
- Carefully fold pita in half and dip in more tzatziki sauce if desired.
*After lots of experimenting, my mom decided peeling, seeding and chopping a cucumber for the tzatziki sauce was entirely too much work and left it out of the sauce. Instead, she prefers to pile extra cucumbers on her tacos. Personally, I like the texture the cucumber adds, so I keep it in. The sauce is great either way (but more authentic with the cucumber).
Look at all that tzatziki sauce! It’s so good, we use it as a dip for pita chips. And meat- you can tell my husband assembled this Greek taco! You may have noticed that some of the photos don’t have any onions. My husband doesn’t like raw onions, and he was my food artist for the day and built the gyros the way he likes them- no onion! Personally, I love raw onion, and always pile my gyro high with veggies- onions included.