London’s Best Kebab Shops

doner_kebab

Kebabs’ dubious culinary merit and their association with late-night drinking force them a long way down the pecking order when it comes to the best places to eat in the capital. But there are plenty of fine kebaberies in the city to get your greasy meat fix — here we sidestep the fashionable shawarma joints and proper Turkish restaurants to give you London’s best sellers of a proper dirty doner.

(Edit: there are too many on Green Lanes to pick any single one, so it has its own dedicated article.)

Planet Kebabs, Archway
Right, let’s get this out of the way now: in the battle of the Archway kebab shops one always ends up on top, and it’s not Planet. Archway Kebabs, directly across the road, is so highly acclaimed it even won a gong in the most recent British Kebab Awards. But Planet gives you bigger portions, the staff are friendlier and it provides a better overall experience than its nemesis, which has started letting success go to its head. One word of warning: Planet’s salad is excellent, but avoid the onions with the greenery in it or you’ll be picking bits of basil out of your pita all night.

Brothers Kebab, South Ealing
Everyone knows the ideal time of day for a greasy doner is whenever the barman has shaken his head dolefully at you for the final time of the evening. Unusually, this gem on South Ealing Road tastes best at 6.15pm on a Saturday evening — following a few pints, a trip to nearby Brentford FC and a couple more for the road. Regardless of the scoreline, the Brothers make the long walk up the road to the Piccadilly Line a marvellous experience with their uncomplicated, splendid fare.

Quality Cafe, Brixton
Now this might seem like an implausible selection to anyone who has walked past Quality Cafe. It looks like a bog-standard full-English gaff from the outside, and the staff look at you sceptically as you order a kebab. It turns out, though, to be remarkably tasty fodder, perfect for a post-Academy treat, and of ideal size to chomp on the way up to Stockwell tube in a bid to avoid the monstrous gig crowds piling onto the Victoria Line at Brixton.

Kentish Delight

Kentish Delight, Kentish Town
Kebabs are inextricably linked with hangovers, given their irrevocable pairing with large amounts of drink. Thankfully, the upstanding men of Kentish Delight have developed a foolproof hangover prevention kit in the form of their large chicken doner. No-one knows how it works — simply rest one of these beasts on top of your bellyful of beer and you’ll wake up fresh as a spring lamb. Like sausages and Dr Pepper, it’s probably best not to ask.

Dilber Kebabs, High Barnet
At the very extremities of the tube network you can often find yourself shivering, tired and seemingly so far from food it that you’ll be staring at your forearm and seeing a ham. At times like these, a place like Dilber Kebabs comes into its own — a beacon of hope in an under-loved part of darkest north London. Londonist recommends an unorthodox order of two small doners instead of one large, to sensibly sustain yourself out in the wilderness.

Kebab King, Putney
This outlet’s unassuming facade hides a fine line in standard kebabs, but its chicken shish is a particular delight. In the words of one south London source it “makes the long drunken trek up Putney Hill toward Wimbledon just about bearable”. However, be warned that should you order a chicken shish from any kebab shop in the mistaken belief it’s healthier, you will incur the wrath of anyone you’re in there with who orders something that doesn’t take half an hour to cook.

Diyarbakir Kebab, Lisson Grove
Sometimes it really is all about appearances. Diyarbakir makes our list not for the quality of its product but for the incredible girth of the elephant’s leg in the window. Honestly, this thing is the size of a turbine at Heathrow; it easily matches the huge trunks you see rotating brazenly in cities like Munich and Vienna. So close to Lord’s cricket ground it’s frankly unseemly, and yet worthy of as much applause as an Eoin Morgan pull for four.

City Best Kebab, Old Street/Hoxton
Two features of this outlet’s kebabs launch it far above its competitors in a part of town still recovering from the hipster wars of 2009. Firstly, the portions are gigantic: Londonist has so far not been able to finish a single one of the many large lamb doners picked up on Pitfield Street. Secondly, the chilli sauce: it will have you sitting in consternation for to 48 hours later, as all good chilli sauce should.

Dishonourable mention: All of Camden
Is there a single kebab shop in Camden that knows what it’s doing? Wraps and unacceptable sauce in bottles abound. In one place, a standard large doner comes with the meat, salad and sauce in the box as you’d expect…but with the pita bread, unopened, sitting on top of the box within the bag. How they expect you to eat this without somehow opening the pita yourself and putting the contents of the box in with your hands is a mystery worthy of Jonathan Creek.

Do you agree with our choices? Is there no decent doner in east London? Dare you defend one of the disgraceful Camden outlets? Name your own personal favourites in the comments below, though please note demands to include E.Mono will be disregarded, as it’s just too obvious.

Images author’s own

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chrislockie

Article by Chris Lockie | 75 Articles | View Profile

  • Fluffy

    You should also mention Brothers in Addiscombe Road, East Croydon – spectacularly good food, open until 1am or later…well worth the trip Daaarn Saarf!

  • Lee ‘Madz’ Madden
  • Doug

    What nothing in Hackney, Green Lanes or Enfield where the Uk’s largest Turkish population is?? Nor a mention of the famous Meze mangal in Lewisham?

  • Beau Edwards

    Wraps are a lot easier to eat than some ridiculous mess with a plastic fork that can’t penetrate anything. Article Fail.

    • Kebob King

      Hear hear! Anything not served in a wrap

      I also think that shops that STILL use polystyrene containers should get an automatic fail. I mean even McDonalds stopped using that shit in the EIGHTIES!

      • http://www.cidlockie.com/ Chris L

        Disgraceful. Kebabs aren’t supposed to be easy to eat, they’re supposed to go all down your clothes as you stumble down dark roads eating them with your hands and regretting decisions!

        • Beau Edwards

          If you’re in a state where anything you’re going to eat is going to make a mess you don’t want to be eating something that is impossible to eat even when sober. That’s just compounding the situation.

  • Technosmash

    No Green Lanes? Admittedly most are restaurants, but you can still get a takeaway as quickly as all mentioned above.

    Hala was a particular favourite
    http://www.halarestaurant.co.uk/

  • craig

    You serious? No FM Mangal in Camberwell? This chump don’t know his ‘babs.

  • Mark Walley

    Isn’t the lebanese place (la qila maybe?) at the bottom of Camden High Street sort of opposite Koko not terrible? It doesn’t seem terrible, but I haven’t tried it at 3am.

    • Nick W

      Al Qeula i think it’s called – really friendly staff and banging kebabs. Puts the rest of Camden to shame for sure

      • Endaf Lloyd Kerfoot

        It’s called Al Qalaa, it’s great – but in fairness the writer said he was going to exclude shawarma. Now at the bottom of Putney Hill we used to have an outstanding shawarma place, and two really crap doner places on the other corners (one of them is listed here as recommended). Guess which of the 3 shut down? That’s right :-(

  • Stephen Mount

    What about Efes 2, Great Portland Street? More of a proper turkish restaurant than a dirty post-nightout kebab house though…

  • Kebob King

    So many places missing from this list. Green Lanes and Stoke Newington Rd most glaringly obvious. Why City Kebab was included, I have no idea why when Best Mangal on City Rd is FAR superior!

  • Kebab lover

    Ranoush Juice should clearly be on this list. Proper shawarma

  • Starokey

    How can you not have anything from Turnpike Lane/Green Lanes?!

    • http://www.cidlockie.com/ Chris L

      Ohhhh…to address the Green Lanes point so many are making, no-one’s naming a specific shop. Green Lanes has some good places but none stand out, and we could hardly include the whole street.

      The piece highlights some of London’s overlooked gems rather than the obvious places other articles cover. Good to hear everyone’s personal favourites and to get the debate going!

      • laura

        Yayla- Green Lanes, and Testi on stoke Newington high road

  • Steve M

    best I’ve ever had is the Kebab Kid on New Kings Road, can’t believe it isn’t on this list given the plaudits it has received for years..

  • Endaf Lloyd Kerfoot

    Kebab King in Putney? Come off it, bog standard at best. What’s the point of lists like these if you’re just listing any old kebab joint? You seem to have missed that entire area of NE London where there are dozens of great kebaberies. And close to the Putney area there are a handful of outstanding places – Kebab Kid, Parsons Green, Ottoman Grill on Fulham Palace Road, 696 Mangal on the Fulham Road, Best Mangal on Fulham Broadway. There’s plenty of places doing crap kebabs, you don’t need a guide to find them. The smell will normally let you know – as well as the presence of elephant leg or actual real doner meat on a spit.

  • ianxn

    I miss Dionysus at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road.

    Odd that this list of current establishments misses out Kebab Kid in Fulham.

  • Apollonas

    could it be a more obvious case of “hey mate give me some ££ and i will put a good word about your shop”

    • http://www.cidlockie.com/ Chris L

      You have no idea how wrong you are. I have put so much money into the loving palms of kebab shop owners over the years my hands are shaped like pita breads, and you really don’t want to know about the state of my insides. Or I don’t anyway.

  • Kay

    I dislike the idea that all those mentioned are greasy take-away Kebabiers. Pretty kebabist if you ask me.

  • Floralyd

    If kentish town is getting a mention, you should at least include Kentish Best Kebab, next to the Abbey. Not only is it great food, but the staff are so fun and friendly! Shocked to see another Kentish option listed!!

  • Ginsworthy

    No White Horse in Bethnal Green?

    And Spice Cottage is definitely a better bet in Putney.

    • Ginsworthy

      And of course the mighty Neden Urfa in Stoke Newington. Absolutely gamechanging chicken shish.

  • ramie

    next to camden town station (woody’s??) is quite good.
    I have to defend them!!

  • Max

    Helens Cafe on Edgeware Road should be on here

  • Nick

    Kebab Kid on New King’s Road and 696 Mangal on Fulham Road are both sensational

  • Simon B

    Putney also has a newcomer by the bridge, Putney Kitchen. IMO, is way better than Kebab King. They cook their meat over charcoal and it comes wrapped in a flat bread.

  • lola

    east london, for doner kebab meat, lightly tossed :) with onions and tomatoes and then wrapped in hot, fresh naan!

  • joeyinthebush

    so true about camden

  • Luke Jansen

    Kebab Kid on the New Kings Road, Parsons Green – always has a lot of black taxis standing outside too – the cabbies know what’s what ..

  • Avni Kensington Hotel

    Great, Kebabs’dubious shops just like Planet Kebabs, Brothers Kebab, Kentish Delight, Kebab King, City Best Kebab and many more best places in london.

  • Jim

    Excellent work and nice to see Brothers Kebab get a mention, enjoyed many a fine doner there

  • Billy Boab

    Gokyuzu on Green Lanes, fantastic takeaway and eat-in and currently rated around #12 best restaurant in London, on TripAdvisor.

    E. Mono on the parade outside Finsbury Park station is fantastic for take away. Kebabs and falafels, both fantastic.

    Seriously though, poor article not to include any Green Lanes shops, come on!

  • kebab man 89

    Surprised best turkish kebab in Hackney is not on the list. Has won so many awards and many really regard it as the best. Also surprised know where in North London although most are Shawarmas. To be fair there aren’t any good doner kebab places left in the slice form because meat has increased in value and it’s too expensive to make your own. 99.9% are bought from factories where the main goal is too make profit and quality is thrown out the window. When I was younger you could taste the meat but now the doners are bonded together with soya and fat. That’s why many turkish restaurants are now serving Shawarmas. However British people laugh at a kebab but a doner still has a higher meat content than an economy sausage or typical burger. They just are not made the same as 15 years ago when a quality doner was not really that bad for you and warranted to get the drunken man’s hangover cure labelling as the junk served on the streets today.

  • Chicko

    Best Kebab in London visit, Capital Restaurant 271 forestreet, Edmonton!