Humble doner kebab a perfect street food for COVID-19 era hunger
If you’re tired of burger joints, currywurst and German sausages but still want something quick, my recommendation would be to pop by a doner place.
Doner kebabs are everywhere in Kaiserslautern, as in seemingly every other town in Germany.
In contrast to the high-end Turkish cuisine served in restaurants, doner is a filling fast food that you can pick up on the go. That makes it a perfect street food at a time when all sit-down establishments are closed due to government corona restrictions.
The popular “turning roast” sandwich made from meat from a vertical spit was introduced to Europe by Turkish workers in the 1970s, and the reason for its popularity isn’t hard to see.
Reasonably priced, the doner is a complete meal, containing carbohydrates from the pita bread, protein from the tasty meats and vitamins from the salads — usually consisting of tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage and onions. For those who don’t want meat, there are a variety of salads available, along with fries and traditional Middle Eastern pickled veggies.
In Kaiserslautern, you can find a doner shop in just about every downtown street. Generally, there’s little variety in their takeout offerings.
But my personal favorite is Oz Firat Kebap Pizza Haus on Bismarckstrasse, about 400 meters from the central Stiftplatz square. It’s conveniently located on the way to or from the U.S. installations further down Mannheimerstrasse. And, in contrast to some doner places, the guys serving you speak English.
One of them, Ramzi Waleed, worked as a fixer/translator for U.S. journalists in Irbil, in northern Iraq, before emigrating to Germany. Another, Ali Fakir, is a Pakistani who has been here for several years. I’ve reported from both countries on numerous occasions, so I enjoy chatting with them.
Oz Firat’s menu is also pretty standard, but somehow their doners seem to be more succulent and more substantial than at most other places I’ve tried. Maybe that’s part of the reason it’s been a favorite for Stars and Stripes journalists based in Kaiserslautern for many years now.
But to be fair, there are other shops that are also popular.
Foremost among these is the Istanbul Kebap Haus at the beginning of Marktstrasse, the main pedestrian downtown street. This is normally a regular restaurant that offers Turkish mainstays, but now serves only takeout food.
But unlike the Oz Firat, where you can park on the street, it is impossible to leave your car anywhere near the Istanbul, which makes a quick run to pick up your order a bit more complicated. Other colleagues swear by Berliner Gemuese Kebap, around the corner from Istanbul, which includes fried vegetables and halloumi cheese in its kebabs. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll probably end up with a full stomach without breaking the bank.
Address: Bismarckstrasse 30, Kaiserslautern
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sundays noon-10 p.m.
Prices: 5 to 7 euros for most meals. Menu in German and English