Downtown Reno’s Shawarmageddon brings the metal, the spit, and the flavor. The restaurant offers eastern Mediterranean food and an aesthetic metal-heads will especially appreciate.
Shawarma refers to meat that is placed on a rotating spit. The practice is Levantine in origin. Cooks shave off strips of the meat and place it inside bread wraps or serve it in a salad. The remaining meat on the spit continues to rotate and receive fresh charring. If meat is not for you, falafel (spiced and fried ground chickpea balls) is a great choice for your wrap or salad.
Harry Potter is not the only chosen one to live under some stairs. In the Truckee River Terrace building at the northeast corner of First and Ralston streets, the Shawarmageddon kitchen and ordering counter live beneath the stairs of the former Pneumatic Diner.
The limited menu has been honed to include only the very best dishes and ingredients.
Each of the two entrées include killer flavors and perfectly chosen produce. Your choices are wraps or tabbouleh, a bulgur wheat salad. Both come with options of lamb ($11), chicken ($10) or falafel ($9). The wraps themselves are made of ashtanur bread (think tortilla meets pita). The sauces offered are toum, zhug, harissa, charif, labneh and habañero. Their sauce menu delivers everything you’d want to know about the delicious choices.
The produce in each entrée includes cabbage and carrot slaw, pea shoots, house-pickled cucumbers and red onion, roasted red peppers, fresh mint, hummus (wrap only) and house-made lemon vinaigrette.
Side dishes include spiced chickpeas, za’atar popcorn (earthy, herbaceous, and citric), side tabbouleh, side falafel, a pickled vegetable platter with bread, Arabic doughnuts, and Ballhalla (mashed sweet potatoes and scallions battered and fried into croquettes).
Specialty teas, tall can beers, Mexican Coke, and bottled water are available to wet your beak.
I spoke with Jay, a Shawarmageddon employee, to find out more about the décor. He explained that everything was carefully chosen. The restaurant’s motto, Eat and Destroy, is an allusion to Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”. The font on the menu and at the order counter is from the DOOM videogame. Their merch pays homage to the Norwegian punk outfit Turbonegro. The restaurant’s logo depicts a goat inside an upside-down pentagram.
The rock n’ roll imagery depicted around the restaurant hit me right in the sweet spot. I personally enjoy restaurants that lean into the character that makes them distinct. Jay assured me, though, that patrons of all musical and lifestyle proclivities are welcome and sure to enjoy the food.
I chose the shawarma wrap with lamb, toum, zhug, and harissa for my entrée. The lamb is marinated in-house and then placed on the spit to deepen in flavor and develop a bit of char. The wrap’s ashtanur bread is lightly toasted enriching its flavor. The pickled produce in the wrap was exceptional. The fresh mint alongside the tangy produce and charred meat was brilliant. The sauces added flavors of garlic, cilantro, and creamy heat.
I supplemented the wrap with the spiced chickpeas and Ballhalla. The chickpeas were salty and crunchy. The croquettes had a nice crunch on the outside, and were creamy on the inside. The croquettes were served with a satisfying sweet mint dip.
Transfix your eyes, ears, and mouth seven days a week 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and later on Friday and Saturday, until midnight. Shawarmageddon is located at 501 W. First Street and can be found online at http://www.shawarmageddon.com/.
Kyle Young is a local freelance writer. He offers content writing, blog posts, copywriting, and editing services. His current writing foci are food, cooking, and the oddities native to Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. He gained some food chops while working as a dishwasher, line-cook, and food-truck operator. He learned quality control, imports/exports, and logistics at a local spice and seasoning manufacturer. When not hustling as a writer, he plays Scrabble, cooks, wrangles three pups, and attends live music/comedy with his wife.