Overall Döner Score: 7.5/10
Notes: 5 is the baseline in this rating system. That means anything above 5 is above average and everything below is below average.
Ratings Adjustment: Rosenthaler Grill and Schlemmerbuffet downgraded from a 7.5 to a 7.
Adalbertstraße 98, 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
The first time I went to Tadim, was pre-Dönerstag, when I was young (24) and uninitiated and I truthfully found it pretty off-putting. Up until that point I had only eaten the more highly processed, inbred cousins of what Tadim slangs, essentially preventing me from reconciling Tadim with my mental model of what a Döner should be. To put it simply, I had been eating and was used to the McDonald’s of Döner kebab, whereas Tadim more closely resembles your local burger joint.
A large plastic sign displayed just inside the entryway confirmed what I had initially experienced at and since heard about Tadim: their meat was 100% Yaprak (“leaf” in English) Döner, a more traditional type of kebab usually made from whole pieces of veal leg (as opposed to ground/mincemeat). Tadim is similarly, but perhaps unnecessarily, forthcoming about who their meat supplier is and what they use to prepare their #Dönerstack. For the sake of clarity, I have listed and included descriptions of these ingredients below. If Tadim is the less processed option, think about what you are eating next time you drunkenly smash a post-club kebab from one of the many unaptly named King, Super, Wonder Döners in Berlin.
E621= MSG (monosodium glutamate. Used to create umami sensation)
E551= Silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)
E470= Fatty acid salts (anti-caking agent; emulsifier)
E262= Sodium diacetate (preservative; flavoring agent; pH adjustment)
E331= Sodium citrates (pH adjustment; emulsifier)
On my second visit, we were greeted warmly by a beaming, bald-headed gentleman whose ear-to-ear grin did not let up for the entirety of our interaction with him (see photo). It could have been because I was rolling deep with the Berlin Love’s You crew and that we were clearly there with journalistic intentions, but I’d like to think that he would have been similarly hospitable, had we not been donning cameras and carrying notepads. He insisted that we take pictures of him slicing from the #Dönerstack and we happily obliged.
Additives aside, I found the meat to be very tasty, if wildly under-stuffed, with a bit more depth of flavor than your average Dönerfleisch. Its texture was what you want in Döner and worked well with the chewy flatbread— a welcomed departure from the thinner, crispier and usually checkered bread that we’ve all come to know and… expect. Though I cannot immediately confirm that Tadim bakes everything in house, they are widely known for preparing and baking their own lahmacun fresh around the clock. The sauces were balanced and not overly sweet, which, alone, scores Tadim some extra points. They offer the typical fix-ins but committed the common Döner crime of using too much lettuce, nearly rendering my Döner a salad. I did not appreciate this but cannot say that it significantly detracted from the kebab as a whole.
At the risk of being skewered (pun very much intended) by my readers, I would say that my experience at Tadim did not differ vastly from my experience at Rosenthaler Grill and Schlemmerbuffet. Rosenthaler takes more risks, and bakes their bread, which closely resembles that used at Tadim, in house, but falls short in the sauce and overall flavor categories. That said, I would choose Tadim over Rosenthaler, and many other Dönerbuden in Berlin, any day of the week.