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On the hunt for Doner Kebab (turkish/ spanish style)!

In 2008, I lived in Spain for a summer. Surprisingly one of my favorite past times over there was not for the TAPAS (although fantastic). In Spain, Doner Kebab is almost as common as McDonalds and Starbucks everywhere you look there is a street cart or small shop of the beaten path that serves fresh succulent lamb and beef roasted slowly next to an open flame. Over there its called a chawarma, warm freshly sliced meat is stuffed into a warm soft pita topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and the most delicious blend of sauces your can imagine. First the yogurt sauce is not completely like a tzatziki but just as good; then they add the red sauce, a tomato base (I assume) with a little bit of sweetness and spice, nothing too overpowering or subtle but spot on. When all the flavors of the sauce, meat, and veggies combine it's like an explosion in your mouth. You want to keep eating more and more but eventually your brain and stomach have had enough. It was my comfort food so far from home. Its the cure to any hangover, whether you were out all night from 10pm to 6am dancing or our all night at the hookah lounge with friends and classmates, its the best cure for anything from hunger to the walk of shame. I'm determined to find this in the DC metro area. I'm going to visit as many turkish, german (doner kebab), or greek gyro place to find it. So far, I've been unsuccessful but keep your fingers crossed and I will achieve the goal. If you have any lead on spanish style doner kebab anywhere on the east coast, please leave a comment so I can check it out and update to let everyone know. I will try anything once! (were her famous last words).

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  1. It's barely in the DC metro area, but Döner Bistro in Leesburg might fit the bill. Their yogurt sauce is very garlic-heavy, and they include a sweet and sour slaw that is probably more common in Germany than Spain, but it definitely reminds me of the döner stands in Germany. The owners are from Hamburg and in addition to the döner, they make great pommes (fries) that you can add curry ketchup to, and if you like German beers, their selection is pretty good!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Futterhund

      Thanks for the info. I will definitely check this out. It's not too far away from me anyways.

    2. There's a good one in Baltimore at Cazbar.

      1. Cafe Divan in Georgetown might be just what you are looking for. I love this little place and they do a great version that meets your description to a T. No hookah but great cocktails might make up in part for that, right??

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        Cafe Divan
        1834 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pemmican

          I love Cafe Divan too! Good food, reasonable prices, charming atmosphere.

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          Cafe Divan
          1834 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

        2. Try Urfa Tomato Kabob in Chinatown.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hamster

            Please don't. You'll be utterly disappointed.

            1. re: mdpilam

              Agreed. Urfa will do in a pinch, but there are no really great doner kebabs downtown. Cafe 8 on Barracks Row does doners and iskenders much better than Urfa, but the service is notoriously spotty.

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              Cafe 8
              424 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                I may give this place a shot but I'm not sure that it is the right type that I had. It was super unique, thus the difficulty in finding the same thing.

          2. The best doner/iskender kebabs in the area are at Balkan Grill in Alexandria, across the street from Huntington Metro. Both are served with a yogurt sauce and a roasted spicy red pepper sauce. Generous portions and very reasonably priced. The cevapcici and pides are also excellent. They mostly do carryout but there are a few seats inside. Can't recommend this place too highly.

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            Balkan Grill
            5902 N Kings Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22303

            6 Replies
            1. re: monkeyrotica

              Sadly, I have to disagree. I really liked the people who work at /own Balkan Grill, and some of their dishes, like their burger and mucver, are pretty good. But I thought the doner/iskender there was rather dry and flavorless. I prefer the doner and iskender at Atillas in Arlington, though I think they might only have it on weekends. But it's still not going to be anywhere as good as the doner in Turkey (salivating just thinking about it) or even in NYC

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              Atilla's
              2705 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

              Balkan Grill
              5902 N Kings Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22303

              1. re: ViolentScarlet

                At Balkan Grill, go for the cevapcici.

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                Balkan Grill
                5902 N Kings Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22303

                1. re: ViolentScarlet

                  I've been to Atilla's twice and both times they were either out of doner or weren't serving it.

                  And is anything ever as good as in NYC?

                2. re: monkeyrotica

                  Just looked at the Balkan Menu and they don't have the sandwich that I'm looking for. The Doner kabob that I had was similar to a gyros but instead of wrapping everything in a pita they cut it open and stuffed it inside and the added two sauces. A white- similar to tzatziki sauce and a red sauce that was sweet tomato based with a little spice.

                  1. re: spencer.ashley.j

                    I'm sure they would stuff everything IN the pita instead of wrapping it AROUND the pita if you asked.

                    1. re: spencer.ashley.j

                      The bread they use in Spain is that squarish sesame Turkish bread which is cut open and does not have a pocket like pita bread, and that is what they used to use at Urfa. They also had the slightly spicey red sauce spot-on the first time I went when they opened, but the following visits were disappointing.