Shawarma King, Glasgow & Lazord, Howard Street, Glasgow

SUNDAY afternoon and I’m hanging around King Street, Glasgow, trying to calculate if the queue outside Shawarma King is ever going to reduce. Half an hour later I’ve answered that question and am in Lazord on Howard Street, breathing in the intoxicating aroma of spit-roasting chickens; shuffling up in a booth to let two randoms squeeze in beside me and picking up those delicate finger-sized, cross-sliced Arabic lamb shawarma.

The guys to my left – yes it’s a share-a-booth place – are plucking rotisserie blistered chicken joints from mounds of juicy mundee rice, while a platter of what will turn out to be mohammara is being passed over heads from behind the counter and then on to me to be moved along to my neighbours.

What is that, I ask, looking down at a heap of hot folded pancake shapes, rivulets of tahini sauce, blobs of garlic cream melting down it all. Resulting in two complete strangers piling some on my plate – despite my fake protestations – only for it then to be draped by me into this open mouth.

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When in Rome. Or when in Syria to be more accurate. Kids, mums, dads, prams, wide-boys, cool-dudes all jostling warmly and very politely in this tiny space which is, probably, my favourite kebab shop in all of kebaborama-central, aka Glasgow. But then there’s still that Shawarma King.

Say half a mile due east, as the crow flies. Just won another award too, and a proper one. It has a completely different clientele, being righteously established on the hipster trail for years now.

Tuesday night then. King Street again. Freezing this time, breath hanging in the air, my old mate Joe and I stamping feet, hands-in-pockets, peering towards the orange glow that surrounds the front door of this under-the-railway arches place. If anything the queue is even longer than Sunday’s.

I count 20 people ahead and there’s a 15-minute shuffle-shuffle, are-you-in-the-queue-or-have-you-already-ordered conga line just to place an order.

HeraldScotland: Shawarma KingShawarma King (Image: Colin Mearns)

Cars keep rolling up too, and people keep bouncing over. Joe is distinctly underwhelmed that I somehow forgot to mention that we’re eating al fresco ce soir, there being two plastic chairs outside. But they’re occupied even at 8pm.

Joojeh kebabs, Arabic kebabs, Turkish and Kurdish kebabs, even Jaojjh kebabs are apparently available. Where it was two maybe three guys working like express trains in Lazord the other day there are five behind the counter here, in a take-away in the middle of culinary nowhere.

One of them spell-bindingly rolling out pittas or naan from balls of dough, searing the discs and feeding them into the human production line around two rotating shawarma skewers, seared meats drip-dripping onto pans, a charcoal oven, chunks of chicken caramelising on skewers.

The queue parts – ooft, those people in front were just collecting food, now it’s me in the spotlight. I machine-gun panic-order: one large Kurdish (grilled minced lamb), one chicken, one mixed and a falafel wrap, and I’m back outside with the number 58 stamped on a ticket. They’re still on the early 40s.

Fast-forward 25 minutes and we’re in Joe’s car off King Street, tightly wrapped food in hand, talking about how he just spent a grand plus on an MOT from you-know-who and I’m pressing on him the number for Rafi, the world’s best mobile Polish mechanic .

All the time we’re biting off hunks, salads squishing, dressing and juices imploding, moments of crisp, moist, carnivore pleasure. What do you think, I say, as we unwrap round two. Fresh, meaty, savoury, occasional lemony, yoghurty sensations. But one thing stands out. Those super fresh pittas. Hard to detail exactly why; perhaps the occasional elasticky then deliciously doughy mouth action signalling that this is not the usual pitta from-a-plastic-bag affair. But there’s something too about the way the grill has added a delicious crunchy, salty sheen to the wrap. They win awards here.

For good reason. And yet … Not better than Lazord. Just different. Two fabulous street food places, then, in the midst of this city. How lucky are we?


Shawarma King

99-113 King Street


Tel; 0141 258 1870


33 Howard Street




Opening: Shawarma King seven days 11am - midnight: Lazord Seven Days 11am-9pm

Menu: They’re both the kings of kebabs but not as we normally know them; made with pride, delivered with style whether Syrian or Kurdish. 3/5

Service: They’ve been top of the heap for a while now and though the queues never seem to stop service is slick in Shawarma King; Lazord’s a bit more harem scarem, but pleasant guys. 4/5

Atmosphere: You’ll need to love a queue if you try Shawarma King, Lazord at least has seats but it’s no frills, fend for yourself. Both have the buzz. 5/5

Price: Shawarma King wraps run from £5 to £8, Lazord is priced pretty much the same. 4/5

Food: The Arabic kebab in Lazord is a delicate, tightly wrapped, finely sliced affair; the breads, naans, pittas, that wrap everything in Shawarma King are just made. Both are what street-food is really all about. 9/10

Total: 25/30