For whatever reason, whether it’s small size, an out-of-the-way location, or just a lack of publicity, some restaurants tend to fall under the radar with a larger audience. Our new series takes a look at these Underrated Places. This week we look at Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria.
Where: Layla’s at 9501 Rodney Parham is the original location and the one that we visit most frequently. Other locations exist off of Highway 10 in Little Rock, and 2755 Dave Ward Drive in Conway.
The Restaurant: Layla’s is a Mediterranean restaurant that opened their original location on Rodney Parham in 2006.
The Atmosphere: The Rodney Parham location is no frills and probably not the place to take your claustrophobic friends. The location is a tiny spot at the end of a strip mall where they placed as many tables as possible with room to still walk. In the back is a small selection of Mediterranean dry goods and a cooler that has not worked in years filled with foreign sodas. (Seriously, do not pick up one of these sodas).
Despite this the dining room is always packed during lunch and you often need to circle the shopping center’s undersized parking lot several times to just find a location.
The Service: The staff is always friendly, but a bit quiet. Services is always prompt while at the same time matching their no-frills atmosphere.
The Food: You can go to Layla’s for years and never leave their traditional Greek menu (I did). Their gyro meat is the best in town. Always fresh with just the right amount of crisp and moisture. The gyro plate comes with one pita, a pile of gyro meat, salad, taziki sauce, and onions. It is easily enough gyro meat to make another meal or two. The chicken shawarma meat is also notable and perfectly seasoned. The yogurt plate with either the gyro meat or shawarma chicken is a great way to mix the original plates up.
The unexpected portion of the menu comes from the pizzeria section. The two main options are calzones and pizza. The gyro meat calzone takes the same meat served on the plate, but cut into thick cubes along with mozzarella cheese and stuffed inside the calzone. The result has become one of our favorite dishes at Layla’s. It is also hard to go wrong with the cheese pizza, which has the best flavor for a cheese pizza that we have tasted in the city.
The Verdict: The small and sparse location is what keeps this place under the radar. The food however is the best Mediterranean we have ate in the city with unexpected surprises coming on the pizzeria section. Dining in for the first time a visitor is often pleasantly surprised with the food quality coming from such an unassuming place. The menu items are very well priced, often being cheaper to go eat for two than eating alone at many other lunch spots. They do accept call in orders, and because of the fast service and high quality this is a place I pick up orders from 2-3 times a month.
The Info: Store Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11am to 9pm; Fri-Sat: 11am to 10pm; Sunday: 11am to 5pm (501-227-7272)