Kebabs get a pretty bad rep, they’re often touted as a milestone marker for the demise of a night out or referenced in relation to low-brow cuisine. Well, we’re here to tell you we love kebabs and we don’t care who knows it. These beautiful, varied, spiced beauties come in all shapes and sizes and shouldn’t be solely stowed away for a sneaky face-stuffing at the end of an evening (although there’s no denying they’re pretty good in that moment too).
From deliciously smoky shish numbers, cooked over smoking coals for that chargrilled finish, to headily scented minced meat varieties that are carefully shaped around sticks before being caramelised for crispy edges, there really is nothing quite like a kebab. In London restaurants age-old recipes are equally stuck to with ferocious loyalty as they are toyed with, with that playful sense of fusion cooking our chefs are known for across the world. Once you’ve picked out your favourite kind of filling (be that a handed down recipe perfected over generations or a new little number thought up on the back of a napkin), then comes the sides – which are nearly as good, if not better than the main event itself. Will you got for something fiery by way of a good hot sauce and pickled chillies or will garlicky cucumber yogurt be more to your taste, with lashing of salad and perhaps a few chips thrown in for good measure. Whatever you decide, it’s pretty hard to go wrong when tucking into one of the best kebabs in London.
Ready to get started? The best kebabs in London don’t take much uncovering, thanks to there being an incredible middle eastern restaurant in nearly every district of the capital. To help simplify things though, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to create this quick-fire guide on where to find London’s best kebabs so that you can find your closest one quickly and easily for when you’re left asking yourself that crucial, existential question: ‘where’s a good kebab near me?’.
Whether it’s your first time in the big smoke, or you’re a born and bred Londoner, you may be curious to uncover a new favourite Middle Eastern joint. Below we’ve detailed each of our favourite kebab shops and restaurants in London, what we love about them and where you can find them. We’ve included a range of budgets and styles so that there should be something to suit everyone and every occasion, but if you have an insider tip, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a message on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and if we’re able to check out your recommendation we may just add it to the list below.
Why: The Athenian started life as a street food stall, set up by two now-Londoners who were born and raised in Athens and Cyprus. Having kicked off their food journey whipping up traditional dishes back home alongside a local Greek lady, the owners decided her secret recipes were too good not to share. Bringing their new-found knowledge back to the big smoke with them(presumably with said lady’s permission) they set about making and selling some of London’s best souvlaki. With a sustainable model (high quality ingredients are carefully sourced; food waste is tackled through a partnership with Too Good To Go and packaging is made from plants not plastic) you can feel good about the company’s credentials while you tuck into one of their temping offerings. Choose between chicken, pork or halloumi fillings which will be packed into a pitta alongside your choice of homemade sauce, salad and fries. Gyros, loaded fries and croquettes all add plenty of choice for mixed groups.
Where: Various London locations as well as a site in Bristol
Why: Berenjak celebrates the coming together of family and friends to enjoy Persian food around one of their tables, which just happen to be set in an Instagram-friendly room of rough plastered walls and tons of foliage. With reasonable pricing and colourful plates, this Soho restaurant became a pretty popular spot within weeks of throwing open its doors. An entire kebab section on the menu leaves you in no doubt that this restaurant takes its grills seriously, and our favourite has to be the classic ‘Koobideh Kabab’. This unctuous serve is made up of minced lamb shoulder carefully flavoured with onions and the heat of plenty of black pepper – a simple, satisfyingly savoury serve. Other more unusual offerings include a whole seabass with garlic, tomato and chilli, with a preserved lemon dressing or a poussin marinated in chilli, garlic, somagh and red pepper paste. Complete your meal with a selection of house sides, from saffron rice and buttered potatoes to a roughly chopped salad or pickled chillies.
Where: 27 Romilly Street, Soho, W1D 5AL
Black Axe Mangal
Why: With somewhat of a cult follow, Black Axe Mangal feels like a place where those in the know go, giving you smug satisfaction if you manage to bag a table among the regulars. Tucked away on a quiet North Eastern backstreet, this flaming hot spot is centred around an open coal-fired grill for that authentically smoky kebab flavour. With a wonderfully irreverent feel to it, no two visits to this ever-evolving restaurant feel the same. The menu is in a consistent state of change, so kebabs can’t be guaranteed but when they’re on the set list, they make excellent additions to London’s line-up of the best kebabs in the city. Expect unusual flavour pairings coupled with flamboyant plating and a good whack of chilli heat.
Where: 156 Canonbury Road, Highbury, London N1 2UP
Why: Oklava is the power product of a couple of the industry’s finest experts. Cooking up a storm in the kitchen is Selin Kiazim, a British chef with Turkish Cypriot roots, while Laura Christie, a formidable front-of-house manager, handles the interesting wine list. The restaurant’s signature kebab serve is a bit posher than your average, coming plated on clean white crockery and garnished with colourful twists of herbs, pickled onions and fresh lemon. The kebab itself is made from beef mince mixed in with lamb fat for a wonderfully indulgent mouth feel and flavour. Once the whole thing is barbecued for that gorgeous smoky finish it’s layered up onto a flatbread which soaks up all the flavours and is just as delicious – if not more so – as the main event.
Where: 74 Luke Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4PY
What The Pitta
Why: Guys, don’t make a big deal out of this but What The Pitta only went and won the Best London Takeaway in 2020 at the British Kebab Awards (kind of like the Oscars for grilled goods you understand). With this not-so-minor accolade under its belt it might surprise you to hear that What The Pitta’s offering is entirely vegan. The signature serve is a soya donor kebab wrap which sees the protein expertly seasoned to a level which makes it near-indistinguishable from its meaty counterpart. The mock meat is then wrapped up with mixed salad, tzatziki, jalapenos and house-made sauces for a seriously satisfying tribute to its an original namesake. Family bundles are also available here, if you’re feeding the masses – with two mains and two portions of mock chicken nuggets all thrown in together alongside some good old fries.
Where: Camden, Shoreditch and Croydon
The Kati Roll Company
Why: The best kebabs in London are often measured on their Middle Eastern credentials, but other countries out there love a good old hunk of grilled meat too. Some of our favourite kinds of kebabs are Indian ones, which take succulent meat and fish or fresh veggies and marinade them in wonderfully fragrant spices for a moreish meal. The Kati Roll Company has become famous for its wraps that see a roti surround your choice of filling. Our favourite is the minced lamb and lentil patty for keeping our taste buds trailing along a similar path to what they’re expecting when we promised them a kebab, but elsewhere there are shrimp masala rolls which might speak to the pescatarians among us, as well as chicken tikka variants and spicy potato fillings. With outlets in both London and New York, it’s safe to say this popular takeaway is a global phenomenon.
Where: 24 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 8QL
Why: High quality ingredients like wild boar and corn-fed chicken ensure the end result of Suvlaki’s grills are rich and succulent. Meat is packed full of the heady signature Greek flavours of things like oregano and garlic. Each variant comes with different toppings, wrapped up in soft pita breads – the spicy prawns, for instance, come with chickpea relish and rose aioli, while the pork shoulder is kept more traditional with the likes of tomato, red onion and tzatziki playing second fiddle to the main event. If you’re a good kid and manage to polish off all your mains you can enjoy pudding options such as a moist orange and almond cake, or a Greek style cheesecake made with quinces and spiced poached pears.
Where: Soho and Shoreditch
Why: A kebab shop inspired by Lebanese grandmothers is never going to be a sad thing now, is it? Yalla Yalla is exactly that and exudes warmth and charm thanks to its sweet muses. Here you’re able to enjoy kebabs in a slightly more refined sense; skewers charred over coals and served with wonderfully savoury vermicelli rice, grilled sumac tomatoes and a crunchy Lebanese salad. Our favourite is the mixed grill, because we’re greedy, which allows you to sample the marinated chicken taouk, the lamb kofta and the lamb shis all in one goh. Hello, heaven. At £15.95 it won’t blow the bank either, and thanks to generous portion sizes it’s the perfect style to be shared with family or friends if you pick a couple of other mezze bits and pieces to go with it.
Where: Soho and Fitzrovia
Berber & Q – Shawarma Bar
Why: Berber & Q’s Shawarma Bar celebrates all things Middle Eastern Rotisserie, and aren’t we glad it does. Inspired by the streets of Tel Aviv, this kebab joint in the heart of London delivers all your favourite late-night flavours but manages to elevate them to delicious new heights. This one isn’t just for meat eaters either as Berber & Q is renowned for its veggie options. The restaurant’s shiitake and oyster mushroom kebab is heady with earthiness and intensified with a porcini tahini sauce and the sharpness of pickled leeks.
Where: 46 Exmouth Market, Farringdon, EC1R 4QE
Why: Somewhat of a party palace, Tarshish draws a glamorous crowd to enjoy its selection of Turkish-inspired kebabs made to age-old traditional recipes alongside its live DJ sets in a modern environment. All the favourites are on the menu - from chicken shish to charcoal cooked halloumi – so that there’s truly something for everyone. Sides include things like Greek salad, hummus and spicy bulgar wheat to ensure your meal is both delicious and filling.
Where: 16, 20 High Road, Hornsey, N22 6BX
Why: Proving kebab houses can be modern outposts of posh nosh, Maison Bab offers up kebabs made from seasonal, ethical produce. This particular attention to providence means kebabs here are a cut above the rest, bursting with fresh flavours and satisfyingly varied textures. Served in homemade flatbreads, your kebab choices here span from BBQ shish chicken with crisp cabbage slaw and chicken crackling to a smoky aubergine creation with yogurt, chilli peanuts and spicy yogurt dressing. The real star of the show, though, is the fifteen-hour pork shawarma which is made from free-range meat, lovingly stacked up onto the rotisserie in house to slowly caramelise and smoke throughout the day before being wrapped up with pickled cucumber and Chermoula mayo for you to enjoy. We’ll take two, thanks.
Where: 4 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, WC2H 9FA
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