Kebabs, whether they’re enjoyed on the way home from a night out, or in a buzzy restaurant dishing out Turkish cuisine, are one of life’s great joys. We've tried and tested the very best of these meaty treats that London has to offer – here’s a list of our favourites.
The best kebabs in London
Recommended dish: Chargrilled lamb shish kebab
Comprising three different set-ups behind four shopfronts, Antepliler is part restaurant, part café and part pâtisserie (check out its baklavas and homemade ice creams). Adventurous cooking from the Silk Route is the attraction – witness the sogan kebab (skewered minced lamb koftes served with pomegranate sauce and grilled shallots, alongside a crisp salad and traditional Turkish pide bread).
Recommended dish: Mixed meat shawarma on fries
A boho-chic Persian hangout from the people behind Bao and Hoppers, lively Berenjak does a good line in kebabs among its more upmarket, modernist offerings. Take a punt on the chunks of chilli-marinated lamb rump or the minced goat shoulder seasoned with onion and black pepper. Best of all, staff are eager to please and the bill won’t kill.
Recommended dish: Adana lamb kebab with yoghurt sauce
The hipster’s ocakbasi of choice in Dalston, Cirrik has a way with the Turkish classics. There’s charcoal-grilled bread for dunking into meze dips and thin-based yet fluffy pide, but this place is particularly strong on kebabs – from a classic sis (shish) to the full mixed kebab, a huge platter (including quail) designed to feed four people. There are offshoots in Stoke Newington, Hackney and Tottenham.
Recommended dish: yogurtlu adana (a hand-shaped lamb kebab)
There’s usually a queue at this ‘Med-inspired’ Turkish grill in Ladbroke Grove, but efficient no-nonsense service means you’ll bag a table pretty quickly. While you wait, get the juices flowing by watching Fez’s kebab maestros as they rotate the hefty barbecue skewers loaded with seriously juicy kebabs and shave slices off the own-made doners. They’re also dab hands when it comes to knocking up chunky falafels and other meze treats. Fez Mangal is BYO, and they don’t charge corkage – hooray!
Recommended dish: minced chicken beyti
Come hungry and expect a crowd at Gökyüzü – a sprawling Green Lanes institution renowned for its prodigious kebabs, huge sharing platters and excellent Turkish feasts. Anything skewered from the charcoal grill is worth ordering but do try the minced chicken beyti (we counted 15 pieces!), wrapped in cheese-filled lavash bread, drizzled with butter and served with bulgur wheat, yoghurt and salad. Gökyüzü also has branches in Walthamstow, Finchley and Chingford.
Recommended dish: Chicken shawarma
A cut above your typical kebab joint, this cash-only hole in the wall uses prime meat from Smithfield market. Chicken shawarma is the house speciality (it also does a lamb version): ours was moist and nicely charred, while the addition of tangy, chilli-spiked taramasalata gave the whole dish some extra oomph. Judging by the queues snaking out of the door, the locals think it’s worth it.
Recommended dish: Single kebab skewer (chicken or lamb)
This consistently reliable Whitechapel canteen deals in full-flavoured Punjabi street food, from snacks and curries to the eponymous meat on a stick. Despite the moniker, there are only two kebabs on offer – one seekh (a sausage of seasoned, finely minced lamb on a skewer) and a classic chicken kebab: both are excellent.
Recommended dish: Falafel kebab with almond houmous, grilled cauliflower, golden raisins and pickled cauliflower stem
It had to happen, didn’t it? We’ve had gourmet burgers, gourmet hot dogs and gourmet fried chicken. Now it's the kebab's turn. Le Bab’s versions are decidedly posh, served open and painstakingly arranged over thin, house-made flatbread – a bit like Scandinavian smørrebrød. It almost seems a pity to roll them up. Fillings change seasonally, with preserved and fermented ingredients adding to the Nordic vibe.
Recommended dish: Lamb köfte kebab
East London’s most famous ocakbasi has been around for more than 20 years, but this kebab king still lures in passers-by with its enticing smells. Meat is the main event here, so hold out for the succulent cubes of grilled lamb in the insuperable cop sis kebab, or the garlicky lusciousness of the minced chicken beyti served with an oversized salad and warm leavened bread.
Recommended dish: Lamb kebab
On a small side street off the Edgware Road, this tiny Persian hole in the wall specialises in chargrilled koobideh-style kebabs – minced and seasoned (halal) lamb or chicken moulded like a long sausage down the length of the skewer. Factor in some terrific just-cooked flatbreads and verdant salads packed with herbs, and you’ll forgive the cramped, basic surroundings.
Recommended dish: Lamb koobideh kebab
Though plenty of rich, homely stews are on offer at this Persian restaurant, its tender skewered meats are by no means poor cousins. Make a beeline for the lamb koobideh kebab or the chelo joojeh kebab – a small, whole marinated chicken (the joojeh in the name) served with grilled tomatoes and fluffy rice.
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