Shawarmageddon: Meals and metal

“Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I want to try it.”  — Iron Man/Tony Stark

shawarma avengers

I admit, the only thing I knew about shawarma is that it was mentioned in Marvel’s The Avengers and a quick gag shown at the end of that movie’s credits.

Now, after visiting Shawarmageddon in Reno, Nevada, I find myself asking where have you been all my life?

Shawarma is not so much a type of food as a type of preparation. I spoke to one of the preparers at Shawarmageddon, and he explained that it is the roasting method, usually on a vertical spit, that makes it shawarma. However, based on my experience, and research, shawarma usually refers to this meat as it is used in a wrap, with spices and vegetables.

shawarmageddon door and window

Shawarmageddon is located at 501 W 1st St, with its entrance on Ralston.

Shawarmageddon is literally a hole-in-the-wall operation. Located downstairs of the now-closed Pneumatic Diner, it has a small seating area. There is a small window for ordering and paying for food.

The menu is small, with choices of lamb, chicken or vegetarian shawarma, served as a wrap or as a platter.  It also has spiced chick peas as an appetizer, and a variety of tea, soda, and craft beers. The menu is limited, and I think that’s a good thing.

The atmosphere is heavy metal. “Eat and destroy,” a play on the title of Metallica’s classic “Search and Destroy,” is the restaurant’s slogan. Its specials reflect the metal there. For example, it had a special, lamb and other toppings on french fries called “Fries of the Ancient Mariner,” a pun on “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Iron Maiden.

Did I mention Iron Maiden is my favorite heavy metal band ever? So Shawarmageddon gets a few brownie points for that one.

I have gone to Shwarmageddon twice. Both times I had the lamb shawarma ($8). The wrap includes the restaurant’s home-made flat bread, romaine, tomatoes, onions, mint, cucumber, french fried potatoes, ras al hanout vinegrettte, seasoned labneh, and chili oil.

lamb shawarma

One bite and I was sold! The flavor is a mix of sweet, sour and savory. The lamb was tasty, although a bit dry. The spices are clearly Mediterranean, with a finish that reminded me of cinnamon. Overall, however, the taste was very good, something I’d buy regularly and enjoy.

I’m not sure if the metal theme is something that will appeal to the masses. Honestly, Shawarmageddon’s first goal should be to make money (by selling us an excellent product). While I am perfectly happy ordering my food to the sound of Mastodon, not everyone finds metal appealing.

As a restaurant, its location is a bit of a problem. It is easy to get to, especially for visitors near the western end of downtown Reno. However, there is no signage to catch the attention of people passing the restaurant. I highly recommend some signage for the place.

Shawarmageddon also updated its menu in mid-November, raising prices and changing the make-up of its wraps. Now turkey is offered. I walked into the restaurant (I live in the apartment complex it’s attached to) the other day, and the lamb was $10. Economically, it was just a little too much for me.

The menu changes have also upset customers. Recently on Facebook, customers have complained about the updated menu with comments like:

I hate the new menu. The old one was crazy good. I was eating it like twice a week with my brother John Taglieber. I attempted the new turkey one today and didn’t even finish it. My little shawarma loving heart is broken. — Jessica Levity Daylover
I also am really disappointed with the new menu. The slaw is bland and bitter. The sauces are bland. I miss the yogurt and the tomatoes and the onion and the flavor! I miss the fries inside the wrap! I miss the spicy chick peas! — Brock Young

These are just the opinions of two customers, but it sounds like a bad move to me. However, I have not tried the updated menu. Based on what I had, Shawarmageddon has served one of the best items I have ever eaten. The staff was friendly, helpful and informative.

Reno continues to grow as a foodie town, and Shawarmageddon is a fine example of that spirit.

©  Paul George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wood hands at the Lear

Lear theater Reno wooden hands

The Lear Theater is about a block away from my apartment on 1st Street and Ralston in Reno, Nevada. After years of inactivity, I’m glad to see it finally being used.

When they put up these giant wooden hands, however, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. It looks like they are about ready to grope a giant set of wooden breasts.

Strange things amuse me. I’m a very, very lonely man.

The Road Back to Reno

baruka theatre reno nevada

The Baruka Theatre, Reno, Nevada

Nearly one year ago, I announced that I was moving to Massachusetts, seeking work. After a year of minimum-wage jobs, thousands of résumés, and only one serious job interview, I have decided it is time to look at going back to Reno.

I will be returning to Reno on April 1, and that’s no April Fool’s joke — unless it’s on me and I am unaware of it.

The Reno Signal has remained on pause over the last year. I’ve made a few posts, but nothing substantial. I plan to change that when I return. In Massachusetts, I’ve lost my way as a writer. There’s no one and nothing that I can emotionally connect with here.


I’ve been writing, slowly, some short fiction. I am thinking of posting these stories on its own blog.

 

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wild West Shootout 2014

IMG_20141210_0001The Wild West Shootout was held the first week of December in Reno, Nevada. The competition is held to raise funds and support for the Sierra Kids Foundation, which raises funds to help low-income families dealing with the challenges of having an young autistic child.

The 2014 Shootout made nearly $14,000 for this cause. High School teams from Nevada, Arizona, and California came to participate in the event.

For the third year in a row, Jax Marketing’s Jackie Shelton asked me to write an article for the event’s program. I happily accepted the assignment, which was a challenge because I now live in Massachusetts.

But also because, just as I started the assignment, I received news that my grandson Darius, 2, had just been diagnosed with autism. While this did not affect my article, it did make me stop and think a little more about the SKF and what it does.

“The Road to Reno” is a two-page article about the schools that came to Reno from other cities. I also wrote a second piece “Wild West Shootout Facts,” which collects interesting facts about the schools involved.

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Reno Signal Goes East

As a teenager, basketball star Kevin Johnson went to the gym every evening to practice. One evening the janitor said to him, “Kevin, it’s Saturday night. Why aren’t you out at parties, like everybody else?”

“Parties,” Johnson replied, “won’t take me where I want to go.”

(Mack and Casstevens 2001)

This is a good representation of what I look like when I'm writing. (Image courtesy of Nickelodeon)

This is a good representation of what I look like when I’m writing. (Image courtesy of Nickelodeon)

In 2009, I enrolled in college, looking for an opportunity to escape my dead-end career in bookkeeping and start a new career as a writer.

I graduated May 2014 with the hope of getting work as a journalist, copy writer, or social media writer. After one year, more than a thousand résumés, and four job interviews, I have come to the realization that Reno will not “take me where I want to go.”

In Reno, my degree makes me worth less than when I had no degree. It seems spending four years in college and getting outstanding grades means minimum wage in this town. And it isn’t because of a change in careers – starting at the bottom again.  The best job I’ve been able to get is a part-time job as a mail clerk.

And I’m sick of living on beans and rice.

So, where to go?

brockton boxersI am moving to Brockton, Massachusetts, a city about twenty miles south of Boston. Not only do I have family there, but the opportunities for someone with my skills are much better in Boston.

 

img003I spent a chunk of my teen years in Massachusetts, attending Brockton High School and, later, Taunton High School. However, aside from a few short visits, I have not been in New England since 1990. So this move is a bit of an adventure.

 

What does this mean for The Reno Signal? I’m not sure. I have another month in Reno, so expect a few more posts before I leave. I plan to continue blogging, but will have to decide whether or not to keep this URL.

 

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Thanks to everyone that has checked out my blog. I’ve tried to make something useful.

Peace!

Tony George

 

Boston's public transit includes a train system that runs throughout the eastern part of the state.  I'm intimidated already!

Boston’s public transit includes a train system that runs throughout the eastern part of the state. I’m intimidated already!

Bibliography

Mack, Gary, and David Casstevens. Mind Gym. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.