Recently, Berlin’s very first kebab fest—otherwise known as Kebabistan—took place on Moritzplatz, celebrating the very best of the city’s kebab culture.
Berlin: the birthplace of kebab?
Any visitor to Germany, especially the capital city of Berlin, will become instantly aware of the popularity of kebab. In fact, there are more than 1,000 kebab places in Berlin, and on average there are 60 tonnes of döner meat eaten each day!
The city was also known as the birthplace of the modern day döner kebab, first made by Turkish immigrant Kadir Nurman in the 1970s. As the story goes, Nurman was the first to stuff the roasted meat and salad into a pita as a quick meal for busy Berliners on the go. There are, however, many disputes to this claim. Many say that the sandwich has been eaten in the Middle East for hundreds of years.
It’s a love/hate relationship
No matter was the real story is, there is no question of how much Berliners love these meaty sandwiches. And, while, they kind hate them too. Many places do pride themselves on serving only high quality meat. There is certainty, however, also a fair share of below par kebab outlets, skating by on a mishmash of animal parts because, well, most of their patrons have had a few too many pilsners.
The draw? It’s quick, cheap and filling. You can easily find a döner place on most street corners throughout the city and they stay open far past the time most restaurants have closed their doors for the evening. And sometimes, the kebab is incredibly delicious—the perfect amount of savory, meaty goodness.
The drawback? The kebab is unfortunately also considered a really low quality meal, on par with some of the other fast food establishments that promise us a few minutes of pleasure for a few hours of bellyaches. It also hasn’t quite caught up to the big trends—i.e. gourmet burgers, third wave coffee, natural wine, definitey not vegan or vegetarian, etc. etc.
So what makes a good döner kebab?
The star of the show will always be the meat. Without high quality meat, consider all of your döner dreams smashed. The first indication is to check out the rotating meat stick itself. Does it have big pieces of meat, layered on top of each other? It’s probably pretty good. Is it a pressed, mass of solid meat? You should probably run!
Check out this meat from Imren, known for their super delicious meat!
As well, Berlin’s especially famous for its delicious toothsome bread. It’s the perfect balance of soft and crunchy. It’s durable enough to keep all that greasy meat together, but still provides a light pocket to serve as the perfect vehicle.
And while there are endless lists of the “best kebab in Berlin” there seems to be a general consensus that a few keep popping up on all the lists: