The 5 Best Döner Kebabs in Berlin

By berlinfoodstories on March 1st, 2016

Doner Kebab
Courtesy of

In its 40 years of existence, the döner kebab has become Germany’s No. 1 fast food. In Berlin, more than 1,000 eateries sell the German iteration of the classic, Turkish meat dish. Germany’s döner kebab industry generates more than 4 billion euros in revenue every year and German döner meat producers deliver their products all over the world.

The history of the döner kebab is surrounded by mystery, and no one really knows for sure who invented it. One thing is certain. The German version of the Turkish grilled meat dish, where the meat is put into bread with condiments like onions, salad, tomatoes, cabbage and mayo-based sauce instead of serving it the traditional, Turkish way on a plate with rice, was invented sometime in the early ’70s or late ’60s by Turkish migrant workers in Germany.

The most commonly accepted version credits the invention to Kadir Nurman, who in 1972 supposedly was the first to serve minced lamb and beef with onions in a pita bread at his shop across from the Zoologischer Garten train station in Berlin.

Kadir Nurman_Inventor of Doner Kebab
Kardir Nurman, granted a lifetime achievement award for inventing the döner kebab, died in 2013. / Courtesy of

Kadir Nurman’s version is also supported by the official Turkish Association of Döner Manufacturers in Europe (ATDID). In 2011, two years before Nurman’s death, the association gave him a lifetime achievement award for the invention of the döner kebab. Kadir Nurman passed away in 2013, a decade after his shop closed.

The awards did not, however, settle the controversy about who invented the döner kebab.

First, you have Mehmet Aygün, the founder of the Hasir kebab restaurant empire in Berlin. To this day, he claims that he invented the döner kebab in Kreuzberg in 1971. He worked for Kadir Nurman for a brief period, and common perception is he picked up the idea there. Another fascinating angle is a story that surfaced in 2012, when a Turkish family from Reutlingen in southern Germany claimed to have sold a version of the döner kebab as early as 1969.

We may never know the full truth about the true origin of the döner kebab. The only thing for sure is you can’t visit Berlin without eating at least one döner kebab. 

Doner Kebab on Skewer
Look for döner kebabs sliced from skewers stacked with slabs of meat. / Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

Finding a great one, however, is a lot harder than it sounds, because in Berlin there are a lot of terrible döner kebabs and only few great ones. Generally, you should always look for döner kebabs that use meat from a rotating skewer stacked with slabs of meat instead of a solid piece of pressed and processed meat.

Then there are two schools of döner kebab in Berlin that mainly differ when it comes to the meat and condiments used.

A classic döner kebab is served with veal or beef in bread that has been cut in a triangular shape from a round, Turkish flatbread. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and, in the classic döner, is filled with thin slices of meat, salad, onions and tomatoes and a choice between garlic (knoblauch), herbs (kräuter) and hot (scharf) sauce. Some also add shredded red cabbage to this version.

The other school of döner is the modern chicken döner kebab, which is often served with additional condiments like grilled vegetables, herbs and cheese.

Doner Kebab Preparation
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

Composition of these condiments is up to you every time you order a döner. Personally, I usually go for Kräuter sauce (sometimes also hot sauce, depending on the döner) and all the condiments except red cabbage. But every Berliner has their preference.

Without further ado, these are the five best döner kebabs in Berlin: 


Doner Kebab at Hasir.jpg
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

This Kreuzberg food institution is the restaurant of Mehmet Aygün, one of the people who claims to have invented the döner kebab. True or not, Hasir remains one of the oldest döner kebab eateries still in existence in Berlin. The beef döner at Hasir is very tasty and served in the classic, triangular flatbread with a choice of the classic condiments. The sauces are a bit too sweet, though, and the meat is sometimes a bit too dry.


Doner Kebab at Mustafa
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

By far the most famous döner kebab in Berlin, Mustafas comes complete with its own commercial, more than 20,000 Facebook fans and a line that at any given time stretches at least 50 meters past the shop. Recommended by almost every guidebook in existence, Mustafas serves a modern chicken döner in a customized bread that’s a mix between a pita and a flatbread. It’s stuffed with seasoned chicken, salad, tomatoes, onions, grilled vegetables and finished off with a spoon of Turkish white cheese and a squeeze of lemon. It’s a lovely döner with slightly too sweet sauces, decent chicken and very fresh condiments. Due to the long tourist lines and resulting waiting times, local Berliners, and especially Turkish Berliners, don’t eat at Mustafas. 


Doner Kebab at Rüya
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

Rüya serves a very good chicken döner kebab in a tiny shop on a main street in Schöneberg. Fatty, succulent chicken pieces are rubbed with spices and layered on top of each other with the occasional red pepper, grilled on the rotating döner skewer and served in a custom pita flatbread with salad, fresh herbs, onions, tomatoes and grilled vegetables and finally topped off with a spoon of Turkish white cheese. Rüya’s chicken, bread and fresh condiments are slightly better than Mustafas, and this place really serves the best chicken döner in Berlin.


Doner Kebab at Tadim
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

Tadim is another, iconic Kreuzberg food institution just a stone’s throw from Hasir. Serving a classic veal döner in a triangular flatbread with the classic condiments, this döner kebab is truly great on a level a chicken döner can’t really achieve. The meat is succulent, crispy and juicy and the bread and the sauces stand out from the competition and amplify the experience of a light and airy döner. Tadim is also one of the few places where I eat the hot sauce, as it’s actually spicy without being sweet. A great döner kebab and truly one of the best in Berlin.

Imren Grill

Doner Kebab at Imren Grill
Courtesy of Berlin Food Stories

Imren is a Berlin döner institution around since the ‘90s and nowadays has several branches in Berlin. The main branch is in Southern Kreuzberg and is renowned for its exceptional meat quality among the Turkish population in Berlin. Why? Imren marinates the beef in milk for 24 hours before grilling it to perfection on the skewer. True or not, while the triangular flatbread and the classic condiments of onions, salad and tomatoes are not really better than its competitors, it is, indeed, the quality of the beef that stands out at Imren. Layered with lamb fat and lots of Middle Eastern spices, the juicy and rich meat is complemented by the best and freshest döner sauces in Berlin, resulting in a döner that’s miles better than 99 percent of its Berlin competitors. Imren is a true institution and serves the best döner kebab in Berlin.

Meet the author


Per Meurling, the author of Berlin Food Stories, aims to identify the German capital’s culinary gold nuggets and help guide foodies through the city’s restaurant jungle. Born in Sweden, Meurling oversees Germany’s territory for Virtusize, a company that helps online retailers visually illustrate the size and fit of clothing. He is fluent in English, German and Swedish. Well-traveled, Meurling discovered it was hard to find reliable and in…... More