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Mar 12, 2009 07:44 PM

Petaluma: Real Doner (Gyro) is destination worthy ... amazing great

Thanks to this tip from audacious, I tried the real wonderful Real Doner today.

Audacious wrote in that link "food was absolutely DELICIOUS ... I had the chicken gyro wrap which was insanely good the rice was mouth-watering and the salad was zesty ... really i recommend it for sureee"

Oddly enough this week I did a doner kabob crawl. I half-jokingly think it was food fate. The first two I tried gave me a benchmark to measure a good doner kabob and recognize true greatness.

This was a huge wrap in a flatbread that was crispy a bit in spots from a brief grilling. It lovinging wrapped generous deeply beefy meat, pickled red cabbage, chopped tomatoes, a bit of chopped lettuce, a wonderful sauce. There were layers of flavor ... a little garlic here and there.

To make this even more amazing it came with pickled sides where as much thought went into the presentation as the taste ... thinly sliced marinated white onlions flecked with lovely green herbs, were next to the pickled red cabbage beautifully topped with white feta and completing the trio was a yellow pepperoni.

All this wonderfullness ... $5.50

I don't have a poker face. That usually works against me because people know instantly when I'm displeased. However, in restaurants it sometimes works for me when I know a look of bliss lights it up.

The chef knew I was really digging his food and sent me out a complimentary hummus ... something I would never order myself because at best I tolerate it and at worst I despise it.

This was a whole different category and came with the most wonderful, pillowy bread with white and black seeds on top. Another beautiful presentation with a delicious black olive in the center and red and green herbs and spices sprinkled on top with a touch of golden olive oil.

The Turkish coffee in a lovely china cup with red poppies on it was terrific. The lady at the counter asked how sweet I wanted it and read my mind about exactly what would be perfect for my taste. Just lovely.

I'll post the menu in the first reply. They have been open a week.

It is a deli set-up with a refrigerated case with salads that is topped with wonderful pastries. There is a cooler in back with bottled beverages. There are some counter seats, about 10 tables and a few outdoor tables.

Real Doner (Gyro
)307 F St, Petaluma, CA 94952

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  1. Menu ... from my notes some of which I can't read my own writing so forgive the spelling more than usual.

    Eggplant salad
    Baba Ganouj
    Hatay potato salad

    Ezu Gelin soup
    Greek salad

    Cigarette borek
    Spinach pie
    Feta pie

    Wraps and plates
    Lamb & beef gyro
    Chicken gyro
    Lamb Shiskabob
    Chicken shishkabob
    Adana kabob

    Plates only

    Grilled kofte kabobs
    Iskander kebob

    There were some combos of the above as well.

    Also the refrigerated case has some items not on the menu on the wall such as meatballs and chicken salad.

    Pistachio "fistkili" baklava
    Bulbol Yuvasi
    Sutlak (rice pudding)

    Those lamb shish kabobs were a thing of beauty. Prices are low ranging from about $5.50 to a high of $12.99 for a combo plate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      There's a recent glowing review on Yelp by someone who seems to be familiar with Turkish food.

    2. Ah, but the real question is whether this is related to the dear departed Real Gyro:

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        The answer is sort of in that thread. If I didn't misunderstand, it is the brother of Chef Vahit who is currently in Turkey ... again if I understood correctly. However, it is not the same owners from Real Gyro. At least that much I'm certain of.

      2. Wow...this place sounds like the real deal! It surprises me there aren't more European style doner places in the US.

        1. I went here today for lunch after reading this post. I think overall this is a pretty good restaurant. I went with the #15 (Beef and Lamb gyro wrap). The gyro meat definitely tastes more like beef than lamb. I thought the meat was well seasoned but a tad overdone for my tastes. I am used to gyro meat being a little more moist. The sauce they put in the gyro wrap is outstanding. I also though the piece of feta on the side was very good and adding a side of it in the wrap would take it to another level.

          The people working were extremely friendly and the price ($5.50) was nice on the wallet. I would like to come back and try the chicken.

          15 Replies
          1. re: pininex

            I seem to be on some sort of doner kebab journey this week. Who do you think does a better one in the Bay Area.

            1. re: rworange

              I would go with A La Turca on Geary in the City and Mediterranean Kebab in Burlingame.

              1. re: pininex

                I gave A La Turca a try

                I will say that the house-baked pide was the best I've had. It could be a timing thing too since I got there at opening and they were just pulling it out of the oven. I didn't care for the meat though. If you like that style of meat, you might give Turkish Kitchen in Berkeley a try. The lamb there is a whole lot more flavorful. The pita is good, but not as good as at A La Turka.

                Don't get over to Burlingame much, but I'll put MediterraneanKebab on my to-try list when I'm in the area.

              2. re: rworange

                Do you know any places in SF proper that do doner kebop in the style you describe above (i.e., with the cabbage, sauce, pide, etc.)?

                1. re: a_and_w

                  Thanks to the tip from Real Doner and some sleuthing on the part of Melanie ... yes ... the brother, Chef Vahit Basir has a place a few doors up from Dottie's True Blue Cafe. The doner kebop is very similar, though not exactly the same. Here's the report

              3. re: pininex

                I went there today and also had the #15 (Beef and Lamb gyro wrap). The only thing on the side was one small pepper. The gyro/doner was really good, though.

                I'm also wondering what rworange ordered when she reported above that her $5.50 wrap came with "pickled sides where as much thought went into the presentation as the taste ... thinly sliced marinated white onlions flecked with lovely green herbs, were next to the pickled red cabbage beautifully topped with white feta and completing the trio was a yellow pepperoni". I had none of that except the yellow pepperoni.

                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                  At that point I was doing a comparison to the beef doner I had at Cyprus earlier in the week. So I just said 'beef doner wrap'. I have since given that up at other places going for the lamb/beef gyro. Maybe because I just had beef, they gave me a few extra sides?

                  You have to realize how clueless I am with Middle Eastern food. While the name of the restaurnt is Real Doner ... the menu lists everything as gyros ... so I wasn't sure if that was the same thing at that point and ordered the wrap exactly as it was listed at Cyprus in Berkeley.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Now I'm not clear if that "pickled sides ..." referred to Real Doner or Cyprus.

                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                      Sides were at Real Doner. Cyprus was a pretty straight-up gyro and nothing else.

                      1. re: rworange

                        >Sides were at Real Doner<

                        Did you have the #15 (Beef and Lamb gyro wrap)? i had that and got none of those sides except the yellow pepper. I'm just trying to determine if we ordered the same thing.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Could you explain how a doner could be made with just beef for you? There are only two cones, one is chicken and the other is beef and lamb. I didn't inspect it, but typically the beef and lamb slices would be interleaved on the stack. Then when the meat is cut along the vertical axis, both will be shaved off.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Don't know. I didn't look closely at the meat,but it didn't seem as packed down or evenly shaped like the cones. It was also a little thicker than on the cones.

                              So either
                              - they just selected the beef slices for me
                              - didn't understand and gave me both ... in which case the lamb didn't taste different than beef

                              At that point I was still clueless about this whole thing and trying to do a comparison to Cyprus which was only beef. In fact, Kronos sells beef-only versions

                              Given the similarity to Eden where the lamb/beef taste is distinctive, it could have been they did pick out just the beef for me. Turkish Kitchen also had distinctive beef/lamb flavors. I didn't ask there because I knew there was just the combo available.

                              1. re: rworange

                                I would hope that RD is not using Kronos munched up meat cones and is assembling them in-house! "pininex" described the döner as tasting more of beef than lamb, so it could be that the proportion of lamb is minimal and doesn't come through in the taste. If the slices are interleaved and not made of ground meat, it's near impossible to separate them.

                          2. re: Mick Ruthven

                            My #15 came with some pickled red cabbage, a piece of feta, and a pepperoncini on the side.

                2. Thanks for the review. I can fondly remember the Doners that my fiance and I had in Berlin 2 years ago at 9am, after having stayed up all night, partying first at the Staatsoper, and then at various clubs in Berlin until, again, 9am. There's really nothing better after a full day of drinking, is there?

                  Trouble is... how to get to the doner place without a DUI???

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: HHumbert

                    Ah ... if you live in SF, as I'm going to repeat, there's Eden's Restaurant. It is the brother of the owner of Real Doner. The style is very similar and they are open on Fri-Sat until 2 am. Located just off Union Square on Geary and Jones, they are open until 2am on Fri-Sat ... drink away and take that cab home. Here's the report again

                    1. re: HHumbert

                      I had an similar experience, but I was stumbling back to the hostel after a night of grooving to tunes and weissbier at Tacheles. I fell in love with döners then and there.

                      1. re: siddacious

                        For comparison purposes, here's a shot of the döner I had in Macon in the Burgundy region of France three years ago. The shop was called Ankara and is in the old section of town.