The 411 on 616 Kabob

Creston’s newest eatery offers outstanding fast and affordable Mediterranean cuisine.
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Mashawi for one, which includes a kafta kabob, chicken shish tawouk and a shish kabob. This combo is served with hummus, soup (pictured here is lentil soup) and fattoush salad. Photo by Bryan Esler.

When Mr. Gyro on Alpine closed early last year in 2023, it left a hole in my heart. More than that, it left a gap in the marketplace. Where else could one get a gyro, and lightning fast like the longstanding Walker establishment offered? Enter “616 Kebab Stop Mediterranean Cuisine.” Phew. That’s quite a mouthful (much like the pleasantly large gyro it serves).

When this casual Mediterranean eatery (formerly relegated to one location: a strip mall in Allendale) opened up its second location at 2232 Plainfield Ave. NE, in the Creston business district, word spread like wildfire. As a huge fan of gyros and Mediterranean cuisine in general, I was in hot pursuit, and got there before the end of the first week of business back in October (2023).

There may have been a time in our city’s not-too-distant past that just being the new kid on the block and offering something other than typical American fare might have been enough to cause a post-opening boom. But as the diversity of the city has increased, so too have the number of ethnic restaurants– everything from Bosnian food to Pho and Korean BBQ can now be had within the confines of our mini-metropolis.

I stopped in late afternoon on a wet Tuesday and the place was hopping beyond what would normally be considered lunch hour or the dinnertime rush. Despite a longish line, the service was prompt…speedy, even.

Owner Thaer Al-Abboudi was manning the register and was over the moon with excitement. He said that he’d already been approached to “franchise” the restaurant (he’s not going to…yet) and that his success comes down to one thing: “We make everything in house,” he said, referring to the non-baked goods. Baklava and pita bread are sourced from authentic suppliers. “The meat, we season it, and we make our own Tzatziki.”

616 Kabob owner Thaer Al-Abboudi and child. Photo by Bryan Esler.

The gyro meat (made of lamb and beef) was cut into thick strips, making for an extra juicy wrap-style sandwich I could really sink my teeth into. It exceeded expectations in both the flavor and “generous proportions” departments. Another thing about the gyro that made it extra delicious was the pickled turnip that most local places seem to forego. I might have chosen it as an add-on. Looking at the menu online, the gyro doesn’t necessarily come with it, but after our brief conversation, Thaer knew I was looking for something authentic…the real McCoy:

“The gyro doesn’t come with feta,” he said.

I countered with: “Why would it?”

His face lit up. “Right?!?” Like a pot who has found its lid, we were instant friends.
Of course, there is feta on the menu and you can add anything to your gyro that you want. Heck, put some baba ghanoush on it if you want.

Other standouts on menu, which offers a variety of traditional Middle Eastern standards (plus newfangled favorites) includes kabobs, kafta, chicken shish tawouk, shish kabob, grilled veggies, hummus, soup, salads and– get this– shawarma fries: crunchy, golden and light fluffy fries topped with beef shawarma marinated in our special spices and herbs. Topped with tomato, turnips, parsley, Sumac red onions and cheddar cheese, drizzled with buttery red and white sauce. There’s too much goodness to name.

The restaurant offers counter service, with plenty of places to sit; a great place to grab a casual lunch or buy a wonderful takeout meal for the family. Another cool thing about “616 Kebab Stop Mediterranean Cuisine Express” is you get a discount if you pay cash.

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