Berlin Street Food: The Currywurst & The Döner Kebab
When it comes to good food I don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if it’s served at a Michelin-starred restaurant or out of a truck on the side of the road – good food is good food and I’ve got love for it all. In Berlin I came across two popular street foods that are both delicious and addicting: the Currywurst and the Döner Kebab. If you’re in Berlin it would be nearly impossible to miss these local delicacies, as they’re sold at hole-in-the-wall storefronts and sidewalk stands all over the city. These quick bites are often enjoyed after a late night on the town, but I can attest that they are just as good in the light of day. They also have a bit of history and culture behind them, and who doesn’t love food with a story?
Let’s start with the Currywurst. You’ll find this ketchup-slathered wurst all over the country, but Berlin is where it was born. Back in the post-WWII days of 1949, food staples weren’t exactly in abundant supply so Herta Heuwer took what was available from British soldiers – ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and curry – threw it all together, slapped it on a sausage, and TA-DA, the Currywurst was born. At first I was very skeptical – I’m all about sauce, but this seemed like too much, even for me. Lo and behold, there is a reason why the Currywurst is so popular – it was delicious. Often served with a side of fries, or pommes frites, a Currywurst will definitely hit the spot after a long afternoon of touristy activities. People love the Currywurst so much that there is even a Currywurst Museum in Berlin. We didn’t have a chance to check it out, but it seems like it would be a fun stop. Add the Currywurst to your list of Berlin to-do’s now, it really wouldn’t be a true Berlin experience without one!
Next up on the list of can’t-miss street food in Berlin is the Döner Kebab. I had a heads up on this delightful creation thanks to Mike who indulged in a döner or two while living in Germany. A döner kebab/kebap is the Turkish equivalent of the shawarma or the gyro. The meat is slowly roasted on a vertical rotisserie, shaved off, tucked inside pita-ish bread, and topped with vegetables and other goodies. Thanks to Germany’s large Turkish population, you will find the döner kebab all over the country; however, I am a very, very firm believer that the best döner I will ever eat came from Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap in Berlin.
Located right outside the Mehringdamm U-bahn stop, Mustafa’s is basically Berlin’s döner Mecca. Their döners have a cult following with people waiting in line for over an hour for a little taste of döner heaven. We arrived around 10:30am on a Monday to avoid the crowds, but I would absolutely wait much longer to get my hands on another one of these delicious sandwiches. Mike and I each ordered a Hähnchen Döner mit Gemüse (chicken kebab with vegetables). First they slather the bread with 3 different sauces – not quite sure what each one was, but I know there was a little garlic, a little spice, and a whole lotta love. Next, the chicken is manually shaved off their giant spit (no lazy electric shavers at Mustafa’s!) and packed tightly into the bread along with the fried vegetables. That sexy package is then topped with fresh vegetables and a sprinkling of fresh feta cheese. Pair it with a beer from the convenience store behind you and you’ve got yourself one amazing meal, and all for under 5€! No joke, this is probably my all-time favorite sandwich. Mike even agreed that for him, this could only be eclipsed by Oklahoma Joes’ Z-man, and for those of you familiar with this Kansas City BBQ staple, you know that’s a really big deal! Bottom line: these döners are worth the wait!
Been to Berlin and indulged in their street food? Have a Currywurst or Döner Kebab spot that can’t be missed? Let me know in the comments below!