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Some of the Best Shawarma, and in Memphis

- Hye Sung



Sometimes when I am really hungry I crave things that will fill me with meat and vegetables. Often times that leads me to the Whole Foods food bar or to Chipotle for a packed burrito. Every so often, though, I crave shawarma.

Now, if you don’t know what shawarma is, I first have to apologize. I am sorry you are missing out on such a glorious taste of heaven on Earth. That being said, shawarma is an Arabic sandwich. Shawarma deals a lot with how meat is prepared, mostly lamb, chicken, and beef, but sometimes even mixed meats. The shawarma meat may be grilled for as long as a day and then shaved off for serving. Shawarma is, especially in the American context, a sandwich with the shawarma meat served in pita bread. It is filled most often with chicken, pickles, and hummus, though the toppings very much vary from restaurant to restaurant and often times different options are presented.

The best shawarma I have ever had was in Dearborn, Michigan, right outside Detroit. This city has a population of 40,000 Arab-Americans, and the Arabic cuisine in the area is magnificent. My favorite restaurant in Dearborn would have to be Tuhamas, and they are rightly-known for their chicken’s tenderness and their amazing garlic sauce. A friend of mine in college used to drive 3 hours simply to retrieve some Dearborn shawarma from Tuhamas every so often. I still consider his craving-led trekking as noble and completely worth it.

Recently I have found out that here in Memphis, Tennessee, there is a place that serves chicken shawarma. ZamZamz Mediterranean Grill not only serves Shawarma, but gyros, kababs, falafel, etc.  You would not believe how excited I got when I stumbled upon this place. I was able to get a chicken shawarma combo meal with hummus and pita and a glass bottle of coke (they provide you with bottle openers), and it was extremely affordable. I got to see them shave the meat of the gorgeous roasting chicken and plop it into my pita, and they packed it well with veggies. All the sides, such as the tabbouleh, corn salad, baba ghanoush, hummus, and pita, were all fresh, too. It was an enjoyable experience, to say the least.

For those skeptical, especially those who know their shawarma, I will say it now: ZamZamz’s quality is one the same level as Tuhamas. Yep, Dearborn-quality here in Memphis. That’s saying something. So when in Memphis, make sure you find your way to ZamZamz.




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