Jeff Smith 2:30 p.m., June 26
How come kebob shops are suddenly everywhere? I’m looking at the answer here.
Fact is, you get a lot of bang for your buck. And it’s flavorful, and it's Turkey and the Middle East's and Europe's fast food du jour.
This is late night, downtown, at the Café Istanbul (921 Sixth Avenue, between E Street and Broadway, 619-544-1700). It's not far from Hustler, Larry Flynt’s store.
Not the primo spot downtown but just as old and quaint as the Gaslamp, next door on Fifth. And if you’re on a kebob kick as I am, this is probably the closest to the bus routes that run up and down Broadway.
Inside, one wall’s all mirror, so it doesn’t feel narrow.
Interior, as seen through the mirror
The other’s salmon colored with pictures of Istanbul...
...and Whirling Dervish dancers...
...and a 1513 map by a Turkish navigator named Piri Reis. It’s of the world. First scientific, accurate map, they reckon. Huh.
Masood, the one-man band here, says it has been open eight months. He’s Chaldean, but the owner’s from Istanbul. And yes, they cater to the late-night crowd hauling out of Gaslamp bars.
I see Masood has two shawarmas, gyros, döner kebabs (“turning kebab") going.
“One’s beef, the other is lamb,” he says.
I can feed my lamb fetish, though I'm almost tempted by the swords loaded with beef or chicken for the $8.49 shish kebab plates that come with “hummus, salad, rice, and home-made bread.”
The guy at the next table has the beef plate.
But no, stay loyal to my lamb. Could order the lamb sandwich or wrap for $5.99, but I go for the lamb döner shawarma plate for $8.49, because it has the hummus and the salad.
Comes with sliced, dipping bun
Of course, this is shaved lamb piled onto a spit and slow roasted, with the fat dripping off. So one, being shaved, it’s guaranteed tender; two, slow cooked means it keeps its flavor; and three, its healthy, fat-wise. It has all dripped off.
Man, there’s a lot. Yes, I love mixing it in with the hummus and salad, so a lot of oil involved, but good olive oils.
Next time, the sword kebab. Out on the little patio.