Updated: Jun 20
Overall Döner Score: 8.5/10
Notes: 5 is the baseline in this rating system. That means anything above 5 is above average and everything below is below average.
Skalitzer Str. 23, 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
First and foremost, thank you to Mohammed for the suggesting Tekbir way back in February. It was excellent.
Tekbir is the true embodiment of a hidden gem. Despite having apparently, according to the shirt, been around since 1979 and selling one of Berlin’s most elusive food items—Döner kebab cut from a 100% veal #Dönerstack that has been prepared and stacked in-house—it has remained one of Kreuzberg’s best kept secrets. I suspect that Tadim’s relative anonymity can be attributed to its location, which, despite being directly between Kottbusser Tor and Görlitzer Bahnhof, is slightly more off the beaten path than, say, Tadim or Hasir, both of which are just around the corner. What’s more, is that Tekbir’s Döner is nearly identical to, if slightly less enjoyable than, that of Imren Grill, one of Berlin’s highest profile Döner shops.
One of the most famously divisive characteristics of Imren’s Dönerfleisch is the unapologetically bold flavor it gets from the molten lamb fat that runs over the meat as it rotates. While many adore it, Imren has no shortage of critics, steadfast in their opinions that the lamb flavor of Imren’s meat is overbearing and deeply unpleasant. The meat at Tekbir, whose #Dönerstack also sports a crown of lamb fat that liquifies as it turns, does not have the same punchiness of that at Imren and has a far more subdued flavor. If the lamb flavor of Imren’s meat is a punch in the stomach, Tekbir’s is a gentle flick.
The sauces at Tekbir are a far cry from the typical mayo-based sugar spreads many lesser Döner shops use and are more reminiscent of what might be served at a more traditional Turkish grill house. I was offered two sauces, a spicy sauce and a yoghurt sauce, but cannot speak to the availability of other sauce options. I eagerly accepted both but was not particularly impressed by either. The scharf, a seemingly tomato-based sauce completely devoid of heat, could best be described as cross between marinara and curry ketchup—sans sweetness. It worked well enough but would have greatly benefited from a bit of spiciness.
I cannot confirm whether Tekbir bakes their own breads, but the bread I was served did not differ in any significant way from that used by most other Döner shops. It was crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, as a Döner flat bread should be. The fix-in options, too, were par for the course.
Having eaten at many—not all—of the Berlin’s heavy hitter Döner shops, I can confidently say that Tekbir has a lot more to offer than many of its more popular rivals. After all, not having to brave a line to get one of the city’s best kebabs should be a strong enough argument to keep anyone coming back. It certainly is for this Dönnoisseur.