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Looking for a good Donair place in Vancouver

  • m

Does anyone know of a good place for Donair in the Vancouver/Richmond area? I used to live in Edmonton and was addicted to this place called the Queen's donairs. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in Vancouver that could nearly match the ones I've had back home.

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  1. Man do I ever understand.

    As a former Edmontonian, I love Queen's Donair (especially after a few pints) but haven't been able to find a shop here that measures up. I think it is something to do with the sweet Halifax style sauce that Queen Donair used. Shops here in Vancouver seem to stick to the classic tzatziki sauce.... There was one place in Kits called Beaver's that advertised the sweet sauce but I believe it has closed down.

    Anyone have any idea?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Super Kev

      Just wanted to extend my sympathies - I lived in Halifax for a while and got to know the "real donair". Anyone I've spoken to also from the east coast also misses donairs and spends a lifetime searching for something close to the Halifax style.

      Good luck! please post up if you find anything...

      1. re: Super Kev

        I know what your saying bud im out here to and simon kings donair on the south side I thought was the best, I miss them

        1. re: Super Kev

          there are donair shops out west now? wow man , i was thinking it was still an east coast thing , i'm from sydney nova scotia , in cape breton , and i'll tell ya , the best , BEST donair is island greek donair on charlotte st. in sydney . i've lived in haliax and had donairs from umpteen places , including the lesser known "cubby hole leb shops" and none of them compete with island greek . CONGRATS tho to the western half of the country on recieving our regions best junk-food , i hope you can all truely appreciate it for what it is , junk-food-perfection!

          1. re: Dewbie Wan

            There are too many donair places to count in Calgary. Edmonton too, I hear.

            Vancouver is hell for donair- but just to say you've had the WORST, I recommend anybody to go to the place on the street that is directly west of the law courts- the absolute most disgusting excuse for a donair I have ever tasted: Pre-packaged, like luncheon meat, "donair" meat that the owner heated in a microwave- and he placed TWO SLICES of this cat food garbage on a STALE whole-wheat pita with lettuce (ICK) and tomatoes and "sauce" that was a sort of thousand island dressing- wrapped the COLD piece of crap up in waxed paper and handed it to me. It was unreal, just epic bad, really a great story. I should have taken pictures.

            I dropped it in the garbage after a cursory bite to see how bad "bad" is and then headed to Gyoza King for one of the best meals of my life.

          2. re: Super Kev

            After year's of listening to my husband's complaints about superiority of the Halifax donair, I had the opportunity to try one of the "masterpieces" in Halifax. I was surprised at the benchmark sweet sauce. The sweet sauce was a mixture of condensed milk, vinegar, garlic salt and dried herbs. The sweet flavours of his youth would have my Middle Eastern ancestors turning in their graves. I am guessing that the sauce was an attempt to imitate the yogurt of the tzatziki sauce at a time when yogurt was not a common ingredient in Canadian grocery stores and the tradition continued even though the ingredients are now available. My personal favourites in Vancouver are Mac Falafal near UBC and Nuba which has a few locations downtown. Their sauces are not similr to the Halifax style sauce. "Real" unfortunately is relative.

            1. re: lunchslut

              Sugar seems to be a common theme when certain foods become Westernized (as in Canadianized or Americanized)....look at all the sweet sauces in American/Canadian Chinese cuisine.

              I guess the Halifax donair is like BC's Whitespot Triple-O....I wont get it unless I grew up with it. (I feel the same way about poutine....)

            2. re: Super Kev

              I believe Donair Dude on Davie at Jervis advertises Halifax style sauce. I've been a few times and have found their offerings ok, but I have never tried the Halifax style as I generally am not one for sweet sauces with meat.

            3. Try Poppa's Pizza in Parksville. Like the back home donair with sweet sauce. Also have tzi.
              Website www.poppaspizza.com

              1. I like the donair place at granville and 70th next to the 7-11. They have a really yummy sweet sauce but I have no clue whether or not it is authentic?

                1. Again, not the sweet sauce, but the Falafully Good on the corner of Oak & 16th is pretty good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: islandgirl

                    I concur.

                    I live awfully close to Falafully Good ;-)

                  2. Its in a strip mall at the corner of 108 Avenue and 148 Street in Surrey. Superb. I became a donair fan immediately. Now I am looking for one closer to home in Vancouver proper

                    Angelo's Pizza & Donairs
                    , Sechelt, BC V0N, CA

                    1. What about the Atlantic Trap & Gill? They advertise an "authentic Halifax Donair" on their menus. Has anybody been brave enough to try it?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Florentine

                        Great place to hang - But not a Halifax Donair in sight. Small portion, packaged meat, open-face... It couldn't be more wrong.

                        Anyone know what happened to Beaver on Cornwall after the fire a while ago? That was a REAL donair.

                      2. Abdul's BBQ in Crystal Mall (storefront faces Kingsway) is pretty good for shawarma and falafels. But the ventilation (or lack of it) is a minus for me:


                        Ah but if you are looking for *pure* donair a la Halifax ....... well that's a whole different story altogether (r..e..s..i..s..t getting into old debate of shawarma vs. donair vs. gyro). Canteen Mitra on (3034) Main St just south of 14th Ave has good donairs. Actually I like their falafel better than most places ...... light, fluffy, not greasy nor too salty.

                        Also a chain called Donair Town throughout Vancouver and suburbs is supposedly good, according to a friend of ours who works at Vera's Burgers at UBC Village Mall, where that particular Donair Town is quite well liked.

                        1. Just came back from edmonton and just want to know if there is a donair place in vancouver that has the sweet sauce???

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sylvesterhan

                            See above for references to Halifax style donairs - that should be with sweet sauce.

                            I think Donair Dude on Davie & Bute will have them.

                          2. i've always been fascinated by Donair - but being a westerner, i don't know the Halifax version - i would have thought yogurt taste is the "right" taste --- in any event - what is the big lump of "meat" that circles around for hours (days?) --- is it like a bologna / wiener product (ie pressed together something) or is there actual meat in the "real" donair.

                            i look fwd to reading more about where to get a "real" one (with yogurt, please) - somewhere downtown or north shore

                            4 Replies
                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                on the topic of middle eastern wraps - Though not a donair perse, I really like the wrap at Daddy's Pizza in Richmond. It's located on 5 and Cambie..

                                The wrap reminds me of the one at Anatolia's Gate but much better (I'm not a fan of Anatolia).
                                The wrap is a Persian ground beef kebab wrapped in a fresh made flat bread. You can also get the chicken ("jujeh" - saffron lemon) which is just as delicious.

                              2. re: Georgia Strait

                                My two favourite places for donair are Canteen Mitra and Babylon (Babylon now opening their 5th location somewhere downtown). I quite like the donair plate at Babylon with the "brown" rice as they mix some spices and beans into the rice for this one.

                                I also go to Abdul BBQ quite often. He has a very salty/spicy sauce that he adds - a little too spice filled for me (don't get me wrong. I'm middle eastern and I love spices and spicy food but this one is just overkill). I always get the mild version which I like quite a bit.

                                I also like Donair spot though their chicken is not flavourful (less spices) as the other three mentioned.

                                The only place with sweet sauce that I have encountered is Donair Dude. I want to like them but their meat and sandwich overall taste very mediocre. It's not bad tasting but there is no real "middle eastern" flavour to it.

                                1. re: quddous

                                  Clue me in to the names please.
                                  If the meat is ground, what is it called?
                                  If the meat is individual slices stacked on the spit, what is that called?

                              3. Okay so, I had a craving for a real Donair. A real Halifax Donair. The Donair, or the Donner as the Lebanese call them, was introduced to Canada in 1971 by a restaurant in Bedford Nova Scotia. The owner then came up with the “sweet sauce” to differentiate it from the Shwarma and the Gyro. It quickly became a hit and then King of Donair in Halifax bought the rights to it and the Halifax Donair was born. Later it has been moving across the country but seems to have stalled in Alberta since so many Maritimers stayed there and couldn’t figure out how to scale mountains.

                                So… I research where I can get a Halifax Donair. This place comes up on 12th Street in New West called Donair Star. They advertise a Halifax Donair.

                                This is what happened:
                                -I order.
                                -He gets out a full dry pita and opens it up to make a pouch. WRONG
                                -He puts in large wedges of tomatoes. WRONG
                                -He puts in diced onions. RIGHT
                                -He then turns around and shovels out of a hot bowl the sliced anemic beef and stuffs it into the pocket of the pita. WRONG
                                -Pulls out a white squeeze bottle and squeezed something into the pocket. WRONG
                                -Then he folds it all up into a tightly packed ball and hands it to me. WRONG
                                -All of this took about 25 seconds.

                                I left cringing.

                                This is how you make a real Halifax Donair:

                                -Slice the properly flavourful and spiced pressed beef from the spit.
                                -Place the pile of sliced meat on the hot flat oven plate.
                                -Spray the meat with water and or oil.
                                -Mix the meat. This will cook the meat further and provide the golden brown colour of the meat and seal in the flavours.
                                -Place a pita that is sized to the order (small, medium, large), whole, on top of the meat on the grill.
                                -Spray the pita and meat again with water/oil. Not too much.
                                -Place a flat tray or pan over the meat and the pita to trap the juices and flavour.
                                -Remove the pita and mix up the meat. The pita should be warm and slightly moist.
                                -Move to another station and lay the pita down and place the meat on it then layer the diced onions and diced tomatoes on it.
                                -Ask the client how much sauce they want.
                                -Ladle the appropriate amount of the signature Halifax Donair sauce over the meat and vegetables.
                                -Wrap up the pita with a fold at the bottom and then in a round so that the top is open.
                                -Wrap the whole thing tightly in tinfoil.
                                -Give to customer
                                It should take about three or four minutes.

                                If you don’t do these steps above. Don’t ever call it a Halifax Donair.

                                What Donair Star created was a bland and flavourless ball of grey meat, dry pita and chunky tomato.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: rbillard

                                  I feel your pain.
                                  Keep looking and reporting please.
                                  Never had the Halifax version.
                                  What do you think of Abdul's?

                                  1. re: rbillard

                                    To JayDK, I have not attempted Abdul's as I am scared now. I make my own Donair meat now and prepare it properly and have fellow Nova Scotian's over to my house celebrate the tradition. They are all very pleased. It really is not hard. This is why I am so flabbergasted at the times when a place advertises authentic Halifax donairs and then gets it so completely wrong.

                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                        +1 for the Fridaylunch review.

                                        When a Syrian warns you about the heat, heed the warning as this guy found out.

                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                          Thanks LotusRapper, but there is nothing on there that resembles a Halifax Donair. There are a great deal of donair shops and shwarma and gyro shops that are good, if you want that. But there are, so far, no true Halifax Donair shops. Even though they advertise them. They "may" have the sauce almost right but they do not know how to make them. And the meat is wrongly spiced and cooked. Abdul's looks good and seems to have good reviews, but even just from looking at the photos, thee is nothing remotely similar to a Halifax "True" donair there.

                                          1. re: rbillard

                                            Abdul's makes a great Syrian-style shawarma, but yes, nothing even remotely resembling a proper Halifax donair.

                                      2. re: rbillard

                                        The problem is that it takes a day to make the meat and let it rest. So there is no impulse eating of a donair... which is kind of the point... In Halifax, the Donair is King. It is the staple of the drunken hordes late at night when the bars close. It is the residue of a great night. It is symbolic of having had a great time. Now I have to plan it, spend hours making the meat and the sauce and then slave over the range making these delicious meals for the people I love. Instead of walking down the street to buy one... Why is this so hard for BC to get?

                                        1. re: rbillard

                                          I think your answer is in the question. Vancouver is not, as far as I can tell, a "Drunken hordes late at night" kind of place and lacks infrastructure to both create and serve the 2am post bar crowd. Vancouver wants you to get your beauty sleep and get up early for that hike! At the risk of going slightly off topic (on this almost prehistoric thread), is there *any* kind of awesome post-bar quick caloric hit food here?

                                          I was recently in PDX and the late night food cart scene downtown brought tears to my eyes.