Daily dilemmas of living in Germany: What's the best fast food in Berlin?

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected] • 4 Oct, 2019 Updated Fri 4 Oct 2019 12:20 CEST
Daily dilemmas of living in Germany: What's the best fast food in Berlin?

Berliners are spoilt for choice when it comes to snacks thanks to a diverse food scene. But many often turn to two of the city's classics: the Döner kebab and the Currywurst.


But which one is actually better? We asked Local readers to vote on it.

Here’s the results:

In our Facebook poll, the Döner Kebab won a huge majority of the vote, with 72 percent, while 28 percent went for the Currywurst.

In our Twitter poll, the result was split slightly more evenly. The Döner received 56 percent of the vote, and the Currywurst got 44 percent.

So what makes the Döner so special?

These delicious snacks are a type of Turkish dish made with seasoned shaved meat (or sometimes halloumi cheese or fake meat for vegetarians or vegans) sliced from a rotating skewer and placed in pitta or flat bread.

Hungry customers can get their kebab stuffed with salad and optional hot sauce. They are hugely popular in Germany (and worldwide) as a late night snack or a quick meal when you don’t have time to cook 

In Germany alone, Döner kebab sales top €3.5 billion each year, and 600 tons of Döner meat are consumed each day, making it one of the most popular fast food items in the country.

The man credited with inventing the Döner kebab is Kadir Nurman, who died in 2013. While there are other possible "inventors" of the meal, Nurman's contribution was recognized by the Association of Turkish Doner Manufacturers in 2011.

READ ALSO: From Berlin to the world: The doner kebab

Nurman, who was born in the Turkish city of Antalya and moved to Stuttgart in 1960, is said to have sold his first Döner just opposite Bahnhof Zoo in West Berlin in 1972.

Some of the Döner ingredients in a kebab shop in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In Turkey it was a tradition to eat grilled meat skewers with rice and salad, but this was served on a plate. Nurman adapted the dish and served it in bread for the residents living in fast-paced West Berlin, making it a perfect take-away food.

Slicing lamb or beef from a skewer and packing it into a Turkish flatbread with onions, Nurman kept things simple in the beginning. Later on, salad, tomato and a choice of sauces added – not to forget the kebab seller's final question: “mit Scharf?” – “with spice?”

The Döner has had a huge impact on life in Germany, especially in Berlin's food scene. 

Our readers jumped to the defence of the Döner when it came to the vote with Nate Larsen saying the Döner kebab was the top choice "without question".

Deepak Oza also said the Döner was "for sure" the best.

'I'm a Berliner, I stick to Currywurst'

But the Currywurst does have some strong fans.

In reply to the poll, Laura Kambach said: “In Berlin it's Currywurst, everywhere else in Germany it's Döner kebab!”

The Currywurst. Photo: DPA

Andrew Lack said: "I'm a Berliner, I stick to Currywurst. I live in Melbourne Australia and I miss anything German."

The Currywurst is a distinctly Berliner food but evidence suggests the dish, that's made of sliced pork sausage with a sauce consisting of ketchup and curry powder has British roots.

As The Local has reported, the Currywurst may not have been invented without the presence of British soldiers in Berlin after the Second World War. 

Bianca Wohlfromm, project manager at the German Currywurst Museum Berlin (which sadly closed at the end of last year), previously told The Local that Currywurst "would not have been possible if the Allies were not in the city".

According to the museum, the snack was first created on September 4th, 1949 in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, on the junction of Kantstraße and Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße by the German woman Herta Heuwer.

Frau Heuwer traded with British soldiers for the key ingredients of ketchup and curry powder. 

READ ALSO: 'More than just a sausage': German Currywurst museum closing after 10 years

She then combined the tomato sauce with the curry powder and served it with pork sausage. The ingredients of her sauce recipe remain a secret to this day. Heuwer also patented her "Chillup Soße" in 1959.

For some readers, it was too difficult to pick a favourite between the two much-loved dishes.

Roy Sidharta said: "Nobody should choose between one of them. They are both Berlin's trademark now."

And proving that there's a lot more variety nowadays one Local reader said: “You can get vegan versions of both, so either!”


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