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Dec 1, 2009 10:22 AM

German-style Döner Kebab in Philly?

Around New Year's, I'll have a few days in Philly, and I am hoping that there might be somewhere there that makes Döner Kebabs in the way that Turks in Germany do. I live in the midwest, where these are unheard of. And really, I've never seen them in the USA.

To be clear: Döner Kebabs are sandwiches somewhat like the much more available Greek-style shawarmas or gyros. Lamb and beef are thinly sliced, layered onto a vertical rotisserie, and cooked from the side. Then seared meat is shaved off to order from the stack. In Berlin, where I liked them best in Germany, the meat was shoveled into a bread that was more bread-like than pita (fladenbrot), and it was garnished with lettuce, sliced cabbage, onions, cukes, and maybe tomato, and we would typically use a spicy red sauce (along with, or instead of the mild and white Greek-style tsatsiki sauce which we typically se in the USA). I attach a picture of the real German thing.


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  1. Doner is hard to come by and isn't street food here like it is Germany. The best I've had is at Divon Turkish Kitchen, which is a sit down restaurant. Their doner is good, but not as good as I had in Germany. The rest of their menu is better than the sandwiches. I'm not sure if Konak in Center City has a proper doner on their menu, but they have similar sandwiches that are good.

    Really, there are better foods to hunt down if you are in from out of town.


    9 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      I've been dying for a real Döner Kebab since I left Germany in 1995 after having spent 4 great years there courtesy of the US Army. I sadly have not found one yet, only very forgettable "gyros" with nasty mystery meat. :(

      1. re: barryg

        I understand, barryg, that Döner Kebab isn't a front-line Philly food. I plan on trying (my first) cheesesteak and some other things while I'm there, but I was also curious if Philly might have some ethnic enclave where these sandwiches are offered.

        1. re: phillyjazz

          I have a friend from Nova Scotia who said the are widley available in Halifax. I too lived in Germany for 3 years , and you can get them in almost any town. Strange how such a popular street for has never really take off around here. Guess it is hard to compete with our Cheese steak and Hoagies

        2. re: barryg

          I actually meant Argan, not Konak.

          1. re: barryg

            Here's a link to Divan. Ate there in the summer and had a good meal.


            Here is the link to Konak. Also had lunch there last summer, just before the menu changed. It was a disappointment at that time as many items listed on the web page were not on the menu. However, I expect to give it another try with this new menu.


            1. re: jerseybill52

              S&H Kebab House on Passyunk serves a Donar, (lamb).

              The one place that comes to mind that is closest to what you are looking for is Kabab Cafe in Wayne, PA. It is persian food, their Donar is beef, and they have the condiments you are familiar with.

              1. re: cwdonald

                I was at S&H Sat night and had the lamb donor. It was chunks of meat that had been marinated for 3 days. Good, but not the same thing as the OP described with layers of thinly sliced meat.

                1. re: saeyedoc

                  Thanks for the information, saeyedoc and everyone. It is starting to seem that this preparation has very little foothold in the USA. Odd, because it's one of the most popular western European street foods...

                2. re: cwdonald

                  I tried the Donor Kebab at S&H and it was so so. Interestingly, I just stopped at Lima's Pizza on Route 1 in Media to get a slice and they had Gyros on the menu (pronouned Yro). It was an excellent Gyro. Also, the Farmers Market in Boothwyn PA has a place called Grecian Delight which also makes very good Gyros. I agree with others though that the Donor Kebabs I had in Germany (Marburg in my case) were out of this world!

            2. I've been to Germany on 5 trips totaling over 13 weeks in the past 10 years. Döner IS the German Fastfood, - it's everywhere -but it does not have any real niche here in the USA. I remember a spot just down the street from my hotel on Koblenz that was yummy. And I did notice last summer in Dresden that there were no Döner kebabs in Altstadt that I could see. I think it is a more West German item due to the 1950's Guest worker program that brought in Turks to the West and so is not as much a part of the culinary culture of the old East.

              All that aside, it's a young mans food as it is packed full of meat, fat, dairy (yogurt) and a smidgen of vegie in lettuce, but tasty none-the-less. I recall a place on Leipzigstrasse in Berlin that looked realy good, but it was just 9:00 am and I was looking for a fruit market. Still, the Döner was on the grill - ready to go.

              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. There is a new Turkish place in Old City, 100 block of Chestnut, called Leyla. It is very casual and I think focused on takeout. They have doner on the menu but translate it as gyro so I am suspicious... would be a perfect location for late night doners though.

                  I guess the reason doner hasn't caught on is that gyros are already everywhere and although not the same, similar enough and more familiar to the population.