Turkish Food Focus: Falling In Love With The Döner Kebab – Again & Again…

We know there’s so much more to Turkish cuisine than the döner kebab (there’s more than enough evidence of that throughout this blog). And we know there are lots of different street foods available throughout the country to tantalise our taste buds. Tantuni kebab springs to mind, nohutlu pilav, ıslak hamburger, we could go on…

And once you’ve had a döner kebab in Turkey, that’s it, right? A döner kebab’s a döner kebab isn’t it? Noooo, that is not the case.

You can get some mediocre, disappointing versions where the ‘meat’ isn’t meat, or the bread’s not quite right, or it’s too greasy, not quite warm enough, not enough filling, limp salad…

Döner Kebab, Izmir

Döner kebab variations at this joint

These are all the little complaints that pop into the mind of the person who lives in Turkey and becomes a connoisseur of Turkey’s most famous street food. Because we’ve never had a bad one, to be truthful. But, when you get a good one…when you get a good one, you know why the döner kebab is so treasured.

Is This The Best Döner Kebab We’ve Eaten In Turkey?

The photo above is of Hisar Büfe kebab stand on Fevzi Paşa Bulvarı in Izmir. If you remember from our post about how to get to Kızlarağası Hanı, we said you pass a fantastic kebab place. Well, this is it. Small, unassuming, chairs right next to the main road. There are a few stands along this stretch, so why did Hisar Büfe catch our eye?

Mexican Gimmick

Well, we fell for a little gimmick. Hisar Büfe has döner kebabs served with Mexican sauce, Italian sauce and you can choose between bazlama or pita bread. Most importantly, the chicken and the lamb looked to be good quality, so we allowed ourselves to be intrigued by these sauce additions.

Karışık Döner Kebab

We always order a karışık döner kebab

We took our seats, ordered an ayran and two karışık döner kebabs (a mixture of both lamb and chicken), one with Italian sauce and one with Mexican sauce. The intention was to cut them in half and swap then we could try a bit of each.

Now at this point, let’s lose the gimmick. The kebabs arrived and we had a bite of each. Both had liberal sprinklings of chilli flakes – just to our liking – so our döner kebabs didn’t taste much different to each other.

But that’s no bad thing! Outside of Istanbul, our favourite karışık döner kebab is created by the wonderful Yengen in Fethiye. These guys genuinely deserve the title Usta (master) but they never use it. They’ve got nothing to prove.

They’ve just been quietly going about their business for years and never fail to disappoint their loyal customers. And then we bit into these döner kebabs, hailing from Izmir.

Döner Kebab With Sauce

Mexican sauce coated the meat on our döner kebab

Generously filled with, not slithers, but thin slices of lamb and chicken. Lamb and chicken that was charred on the outside yet juicy and succulent in the middle and coated in the spicy sauce. Mexican or Italian, who cares?

Fresh, crunchy salad – not too much, just enough – and a slice of tomato (one slice of huge Turkish tomato is enough) complemented the meaty filling perfectly.

All About The Bread

But then there’s the döner kebab’s important outer casing – the bread! We opted for the ‘pita’ – an airy bread that was lightly toasted on both sides before the filling was added. Warm, and crispy but soft in the middle. And then those all important words escaped my lips. “This is better than the Yengen döner kebab.”

Did I really mean that or were we just caught up in the moment? We went to Yengen a couple of weeks back and ordered a karışık döner kebab. I bit into it and those all important words escaped my lips. “I take it back. This is the best döner kebab.”

Who knows which is the best döner kebab?

What it all boils down to is that, when you sink your teeth into a quality one, you float into street food bliss and fall in love all over again with the Turkish favourite, döner kebab

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  1. Antonetta Coban says

    Loved to read it: mouthwatering….A pity nearest döner is 15 km away…

  2. This döner does look to die for, I must admit! I have never had a mixed one ie with chicken – never really noticed that it was an option, I guess. The pita makes it look even more mouthwatering ..!!!

  3. could you please sen me about 100 of those for lunch today?

  4. Again, you made my mouth water and my hands start doing a search for the quickest flight to sorry Izmir but Istanbul! Love doner and this one looks amazing. The bread looks good enough to eat without the fillings!

  5. This looks pretty delicious! It would be great to try one of these whilst doing a jigsaw!!

  6. @ Antonetta Coban: Aww, sorry you have to go so far for döner meat. That’s why we try not to take the döner kebab for granted – despite being surrounded by them here in Fethiye.

    @ Claudia: We’ve always gone for a mixed döner kebab. Not sure why it started, to be honest, but we can’t remember having it any other way. 🙂

  7. @ Jaz: You’re the second person to ask that. Wish we could send everyone who wants döner kebab a selection. 🙂

    @ April: The bread really did help and we don’t blame you for looking at Istanbul. We miss it, too. 🙂

  8. @ Jenny: It most certainly was delicious. Glad we’ve got you addicted to our jigsaws, too. 😉

  9. I was going to say that this picture of doner made me hungry, but when I read the whole post, your descriptions made me even more hungry! Just an addition: In some doner cafes here they put pickles into it, which is a great match. I must say that doner kebab is much better than hamburgers here!

  10. @ Zerrin: Well we love a döner kebab when it’s made right so I love to write about it. 🙂 Yengen kebab in Fethiye put turşu into their döner but this place in Izmir had them in bowl on the table. I’m AMAZED I forgot to mention them, actually! Thanks. 🙂

  11. Graham Willows says

    Kebab lovers , including me , the very best are a little corner shop close to the waterfront in Koyegicz . Did you know that they were first invented by a guy , I think Turkish , in Germany just after the turn of the 20th century ?

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