Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap
Chicken/Gemüse Kebap heavy hitter with consistently long lines and great Döner. But is it as good as its year-round queues suggest?
Address: Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10:00-2:00; Friday: 10:00-5:00; Saturday: 11:00-5:00; Sunday: 11:00-2:00
If you were to ask one hundred Berlin residents if they like Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, half would probably tell you that they think it’s Berlin’s best Kebap, one quarter would probably tell you there is better Kebap in Berlin, and the other quarter would probably tell you piss off. There is a good chance, however, that almost all of those one hundred respondents would be at least tentatively aware of the existence of Mustafa’s, as it is undeniably Berlin’s, and perhaps the world’s, most famous Kebap. Indeed, the only queue in Berlin more famous than Mustafa’s is Berghain’s, though the two are probably equally divisive amongst Berlin residents.
A tremendous amount has been written about Mustafa’s (I will include some links below) and I have little to add, other than my opinion. It is undeniably one of the tastiest, highest quality chicken Gemüse Kebap in the city. Its bread does not differ wildly from that of other Gemüse Kebap, but has a rich, buttery crust that sets it up for success from bite one. The meat is spectacularly succulent, with a seemingly simple but thoughtfully concocted spice mixture, and is complemented by an assortment of fried veggies—the namesake of the Gemüse Kebap. The sauces are mayonnaise-y but not overly so and the scharf (spicy sauce) is appropriately spicy. Fresh mint and lemon juice cut through the fatty components of the sandwich (buttery bread, fatty chicken thigh, mayo-based sauces, soft cheese) with their freshness and acidity, providing some much-needed contrast to a dish that would, otherwise, likely be quite overbearing.
So, does the Kebap at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap warrant the hordes of curious tourists and loyal, longtime fans that queue daily—sometimes for hours—to get a taste of it? What I can say is that if I were surveyed as part of the above example, I would fall into both the first half and quarter of those polled. That is to say, I think Mustafa’s sells a very good Kebap, but one that is not the best in the city. There are at least a few other Gemüse Kebap that rise above what Mustafa’s offers, none of which require one to wait for up to an hour, which is enough to keep me from returning anytime soon. In summary: If you live in Berlin, you should probably try it. If you are visiting, then check out my Definitive Guide to Eating Döner in Berlin (coming soon) for my recommendations.
More about Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap:
There is really so much more about Mustafa's across the web, but here are a few selected sources that discuss different topics around Mustafa's.
National Geographic: 11 ways to experience the best of Berlin