The döner kebab, a marriage between Germany and Turkish cuisine, started as one of Turkey's national dishes. It was introduced to Berlin in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants, one of the city’s largest minority groups, and was put in Turkish flatbread (fladenbrot) for a fast and easy meal. Döner is the undisputed favorite fast food in Germany today.
You’ll find döner kebab in every German town (and beyond), but the döner capital is still in the Haupstadt of Berlin. The city is home to more than 1,300 döner stands - even more than Istanbul! Everyone has their favorite, often based on convenience, but there are some döner restaurants that offer a kabob that is clearly better than your average drunk food.
What is Döner Kebab?
Traditional döner consists of lamb, but chicken or veal or a mix of veal and lamb is also common and which is best is hotly disputed. The meat is loaded on a huge rotating spit, thinly sliced off as it vertically grills, then packed in fladenbrot and topped with salad/cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and a sauce of your choice (yogurt/yoghurt, spicy/scharf, or garlic/knoblauch).
Legend has it that the döner was born at this restaurant in Kreuzberg. In 1971, Mehmet Aygün put the döner meat and salad, which were served on a plate until then, in a baked flat bread and offered it as a snack to go.
Today, Hasir is a popular sit-down restaurant in the bustling heart of Kreuzberg. Besides Döner Kebab, the menu offers traditional Turkish fare such as grilled lamb, stuffed wine leaves and hummus.
Address: Adalbertstr.10, 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
My favorite döner stand checks all the boxes of convenience with multiple locations, authentic extras like free Turkish tea, and superior meat. Just don't count on great service. Like I said, all the things a great döner stand should be.
What really sets Imren apart is that they prepare their own skewers, which is a bit of a dying art. Lovingly, they place layer after layer of beef marinated in milk for 24 hours before grilling so it is super tender.
If you want something else to go with your döner (don't even dream of ordering something else) their delicious linsensuppe (lentil soup) sells out every day and they serve a variety of tellers (plated dishes) if you want to sit and eat.
- Boppstraße 10, 10967 Berlin, Germany (Kreuzberg)
- Wiener Straße 11, 10999 (Kreuzberg)
- Karl-Marx-Straße 75, 12043 (Neukoelln)
- Hauptstraße 156, 10827 (Schöneberg)
- Badstrasse 1, 13357 Berlin (Wedding)
- Müllerstraße 134, 13349 (Wedding)
Located at bustling Kottbuser Tor in Kreuzberg, this no-frills restaurant serves a perfect veal döner. Crisp flatbread, thin and flavorful meat, topped with fresh salad.
The döner is a meal in itself, but you should try their famed lahmacuns, or “Turkish pizza". Though it looks much smaller than the döner all rolled up, it too can be packed with meat, salad, and sauce.
Address: Adalbertstraße 98, 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Like so many Turkish favorites, this proper Turkish restaurant is walking distance from Kottbusser Tor and doesn't look like much when you first see it. What they excel in is endless lines of grilled meat skewers.
While the finest gets served up on a plate, the thinly grilled bits that make it into fladenbrot are equally as tasty. Topped with rotkohl (red cabbage), this restaurant has recently extended to accommodate its booming business. Doyum is another great place to fill your ever-expanding belly with lahmacun.
Address: Admiralsstrasse 36-37, 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
It wouldn't be Berlin without a vegetarian option. Vöner is the first vegan döner in Germany and caters to the non-meat-lovers out there with special seitan kebabs packed with roasted onions, carrots, celery, and the ever present German potato. All items can be made vegan friendly with plenty of vegetable-based soups, burgers, and sweets round out the menu.
Address: Boxhagener Str. 56, 10245 (Friedrichshain)
Mustafas Gemüse Kebab is most famous today for having a line. Listed in every guidebook, it does indeed serve a unique vegetable kabob as well as a chicken döner.
If you ever walk by busy Mehringdamm and there is miraculously no line, stop for a bite.
Address: Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin (Kruezberg)