3515 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
(No longer in business.)
In Berlin there aren’t a lot of good places to eat burritos, so people eat döner instead. Also known as döner kebab, the Turkish import has been around for generations, and Germans have adopted the flatbread sandwich stuffed with sliced rotisserie meats as a national staple.
Here, most of the rotisseries are tabbed for al pastor (derived from the same culinary tradition). While we have a few kebab shops, most bypass any German point of reference, opting to embrace an unfiltered Mediterranean influence instead. Which makes sense. When we think German food we think sausages, right?
Enter Spitz. The name of the new Hillcrest restaurant translates to “sharp” in German, and the menu takes inspiration straight from the Berliner döner tradition. The L.A.-based chain serves a choice of beef and lamb, chicken, or falafel wrapped in lavash served over salad or atop an order of fries. I can’t tell if the latter is more a nod to carne asada fries or German currywurst, but the so-called döquitos are definitely modeled after flautas.
Spitz took over the Fifth Avenue space formerly known as Sally and Henry’s Doghouse, and its spacious back patio remains dog friendly — you just have to hustle your mutt through the sportsbar-like interior. Though I didn’t have my dog with me for a recent lunch, there’s no question the patio, with its Astroturfed cornhole corner and shaded bench table seating, is the way to go at Spitz.
One unusual thing you’ll notice on this patio are the various kegs hanging from hooks on the walls. The place boasts a decent craft taplist, and I suppose these serve as décor, storage, and impulse-marketing opportunities. Even more peculiar was finding a spraypainted stencil of late author (and tennis aficionado) David Foster Wallace on the restaurant wall facing the patio. Honestly, it even feels out of context for me to point this out in a Feast post, and I can only conclude the owners here are proudly literate. Which I suppose makes Spitz a safe space for me to work on my Sunday crossword.
There are six kinds of döner wraps to choose from, and most of the differences boil down to sauce. You can go for hummus, chile sauce, or a “zesty feta” spread, for example. I was personally torn between the garlic aioli of the Street Cart Döner and the Berliner red sauce of the Berlin Döner.
In the end, I got to try both sauces, getting the red sauce in a wrap and ordering the Street Cart style over fries as a side dish. The wrap featured a cabbage/carrot slaw, feta, and the intriguing inclusion of sumac. I got it with the beef and lamb mix, and while the heavy sauce and veggies overpowered the thin strips of meat, I enjoyed it. However, after getting a taste of the garlic aioli on the fries I can say with certainty I would choose that again every time. It’s not quite like the döners you get in Germany but clearly better than eating a burrito in Berlin.