While College Park isn’t necessarily known for its glamorous dining scene, there’s one restaurant that has not only stood the test of time, but also delivers some of the best gyros in the Washington metropolitan area. Of course, I’m talking about Marathon Deli.
Situated in a strip mall along Route 1 and literally just steps away from the University of Maryland campus, Marathon Deli is as quintessential to College Park as The White Spot is to Charlottesville. Owned and operated by the same Greek family for over 25 years, a visit here is absolutely mandatory if you are in the area.
In fact, it’s somewhat surprising we haven’t covered Marathon in the past considering that last Friday’s visit was the umpteenth time we’ve been there. We stopped by for dinner last weekend before heading over to the Comcast Center for Maryland’s first basketball game of the season.
Stepping inside, it’s pretty easy to imagine the interior looking the same as it did back when the place opened up in 1972. The kitchen is immediately on your right with a small dining area towards the back. The first thing that grabs your eye, however, is the spit near the front window, slowly rotating the gyro meat.
Marathon Deli has a rather extensive menu offering a variety of Greek fare, from spanakopita to souvlaki to loukaniko, but if this is your first visit, you’re here for one thing and one thing only: the gyros.
What’s even more enticing is that they offer a combo meal that includes a gyro, fries, and a fountain soda, all for $7.99. It’s what I order each and every time. Oh, and for those that like birch beer, you’ll be delighted to know that they have that on tap too.
Anyway, the gyro… it’s simply amazing. In fact, I love it so much that while we were in Greece for our honeymoon, I was comparing each gyro we came across to the ones found at Marathon Deli. I’m dead serious.
Their gyro features a lean blend of lamb and beef, and is then topped with feta, tomatoes, onions, and homemade tzatziki, all wrapped in warm, fresh pita. The end result is one fantastic gyro. The meat is wonderfully seasoned while the tzatziki is great if not overflowing.
Oh, and then there’s the fries. They are perhaps some of the most addictive in the DMV, mainly because of the excellent seasoning. Any time you need your soda refilled, just go up to the counter and ask. It’s an old-school establishment that truly cares about its customers and wants to make sure everyone leaves happy. I know that we did.