Tiki's on Broadway and the $5 Gyro Experience

Tiki's on Broadway is a pinhole in the wall of Baltimore, a small take-out place that looks the way you would expect it to, only smaller. The Formica counter in the front seats five and provides you with a full-on view of the cigarette rack that carries two brands - Mavericks and Newports. The menu is posted above this in a series of typed pages tacked to the wall. Further in are a couple of rows of small, well-worn booths and a couple of wall-mounted screens showing a horserace video and Keno. You can buy tickets at the front, along with every lottery known to the Baltimore area.

And this is how Tiki's has been for my entire 20 or so years in Baltimore. This is where I had my first cheese steak back in 1996 (although it was called something else back then and had different owners). It's where I was introduced to hots and half & half (sweet tea and lemonade for the uninitiated). Now it is run by a husband and wife team, the former a dead ringer for John Turturro - including the ambiguously ethnic look and equally ambiguous accent - and the latter a small, no-nonsense woman minding the grill.

So, while ambling through Fells Point during Friday's lunch hour, when I saw this tiny place still doing business, I figured this was a good place to get a gyro. And, on a sign taped to the front door, I was the gyro combo for $5.

The service was quick and efficient. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. And here's what I got., carefully wrapped in foil and a paper bag - for my $5.

  • An appropriate amount of fries. This is a plus for me as I usually ditch 75% of the fries that come with any sandwich order because it is just too much, And for $5, I wasn't expecting a super size. This was a good portion of tender, freshly fried potatoes that did not have the tell-tale crumble of fries that have a touch of freezer burn. This was a good solid showing on their part.
  • A very small gyro with very little filling. Now some of you might think that I should have expected as much (or as little) for the $5 price tag. Alas, I was hoping that Tiki's was offering the lunch deal of the decade and would be giving me a nice, meaty, tzaziki-laden mess of a gyro at a bargain basement price. While it was tasty with a nice tomato, a little salt and pepper, and lettuce that was still crisp, it was also lacking in meat. What meat there was tasted spot on. This was a good gyro - it just needed more of itself to make a complete sandwich.

Tiki's is located in Fells Point at Broadway and Fleet kitty corner to the Broadway Market and across the street from Bank of America. They are a cash-only joint.