Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Layla's Gyros and Pizzeria - A Review

Last Saturday, Tom and I did some running around. First thing in the morning we made a trip to Sam's Club in Little Rock for bulk items, then to the grocery store for general shopping.

After unloading all the groceries and before we headed out to Conway Commons, we decided to go to lunch. But when we arrived at our destination to partake in the gyro I was craving, the parking lot was empty, the lights were off and the doors were locked tight. What? Memorial Day weekend? Arrgghh!

You're probably not as self-centered as I am, so when you encounter a disappointment such as this, you just move on, pick another restaurant and enjoy your lunch. Not me.

You know, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, we don't go out to eat very often. I don't like fast food. I stay away from chain restaurants. Buffets, in my admittedly very narrow view, are just fast food in bulk.

When we go out to eat, we're (I'm) insufferably picky. Mike's Place. Fuji. Sometimes Michaelangelo's. And our go-to gyro place, which will remain nameless.

So what did I do when I discovered our go-to gyro place was closed? I did what I usually do....I used profanity, then pouted. "Let's just skip lunch and get our shopping out of the way," I said. {More pouting.}

However, as we drove toward Conway Commons, Tom noticed Layla's Gyros and Pizzeria.

"I don't want pizza," I said, still pouting

"It says 'Layla's Gyros'," Tom impatiently emphasized.

"Okay," and I turned down the next street and doubled back to Layla's parking lot, knowing I was going to be excruciatingly disappointed.

Layla's chef/owner, Mahmoud Jlilati, owns three locations: two in Little Rock and one in Conway. I wouldn't really call that your typical chain, but maybe I'm merely trying to justify really liking it.

Instead of a gyro, I ordered the Falafel Platter, which was four nice sized, traditionally shaped chick-pea croquettes, a generous serving of hummus, cool tzatziki sauce and pieces of warm pita bread.


Please forgive the photo. I took it with my phone. It does not do the food justice.

The falafels were amazing; crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and sprinkled with an earthy ground spice I later learned was samak (another spelling for sumac). The chick-peas were flavorful, but Mediterranean spices present in each bite without over-powering. I topped a triangle of warm pita bread with a nice piece of falafel and dipped it into the tzatziki sauce. I'm hungry all over again.

The hummus was the creamiest, most flavorful I've ever tasted. This hummus was not from a plastic tub. I could taste everything in each bite; fresh made chick-peas (not canned) mixed with sesame tahini, lemon, olive oil and garlic; then drizzled with the slightly spicy reddish colored olive oil. Oh my. I thought the chef had sprinkled the hummus with hot paprika, but later learned he uses just a smidge of cayenne pepper to add a little heat to the olive oil.

The tzatziki sauce was just as good. It was smooth, not chunky like some I've tasted (like mine, for instance), but the flavor of the cucumber very prevalent and cooling.

Tom ordered the Greek Pizza and chose gyro as the meat topping.


The chef spreads pita or naan-type bread with a generous amount of mozzarella and feta cheeses, adds samak marinated onions and gyro meat and when the hot pizza comes out of the oven, he sprinkles it with fresh chopped tomatoes. Tom loved it and particularly liked the contrast of the hot pizza with the cool fresh tomatoes.

We both could only eat about half of what we ordered, so we boxed up the rest for dinner that evening, plus we ordered an extra serving of that delectable hummus.

Needless to say, we were overjoyed with our unexpected food find and we'll be heading back soon. I'll definitely try a Gyro and some Baba Ghannouj (baked eggplant puree with sesame tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil). But what really intrigues me is the Goat Plate.

Layla's is now open 7 days: Monday through Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am to 10pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. You can review their menu at


Anonymous said...

Layla's is some of the best food around! The gyros calzone and yogurt plate are my favorites - oh, and the kibbeh...and the falafel...and everything else (haha!)

gina said...

I just found them online {right before the GreekFest} when I was C.R.A.V.I.N.G. falafels. Haven't had a chance to try them thanks for the review! It had mixed reviews online so I was unsure about wasting my time. I will be visiting during my lunch hour :)

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