Berlin Street Food

Döner Kebab © picture-alliance/ ZB Enlarge image The döner kebab is the most popular fast food in Germany. (© picture-alliance/ ZB ) Berlin boasts some thousands of imbissbuden (snack shops) selling quick food fixes from all corners of the globe. The döner kebab is by far the most popular, but the currywurst is a cult classic.

Germany's most popular fast food  

The döner kebab has Turkish origins, and its name means something like turned meat. As the story goes, Turkish guest worker Mehmet Aygün created the first döner kebab in Berlin in 1971. Traditionally, the marinated meat – usually a mixture of beef and lamb – is grilled on a spit, sliced thinly and then served with rice and salad. Berlin’s on-the-go döner creation is served in a pita bread with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, white and red cabbage as well as your choice of sauce. These sauces – such as garlic, herb, or spicy – are most definitely not a Turkish tradition, and many Germans enjoy getting a combination of them added to their döner.

Döner kebab snack shop Enlarge image The döner meat is sliced very thinly by hand from the spit. (© picture alliance / dpa) The döner’s close cousin is the schawarma sandwich. It is made with marinated chicken that is grilled on a spit like the döner and then served in a pita with veggies and tahini sauce.

Some 1,200 fast food joints and another 700 restaurants currently supply the denizens of the capital with a döner, according to the statistics compiled by the Berliner Zeitung.

A cult classic

Currywurst Enlarge image Currywurst pairs well with french fries. (© picture alliance / dpa) Another popular snack is the currywurst, or curried sausage. It comes traditionally in two forms – mit (with) or ohne (without) a sausage casing. Regulars simply order one mit or one ohne, leaving off the implied word currywurst. The currywurst sauce is also a German creation, something akin to homemade ketchup flavored with curry powder. One can also spice things up a bit with a splash of chili sauce.

The sliced currywurst is served on a square paper plate with a miniature fork which is great for spearing bits of sausage covered in sauce. French fries with ketchup and mayonnaise are a popular accompaniment to the currywurst. This is called pommes rot/weiß, or fries red/white.

There are ongoing debates about where the first currywurst was created; Berlin, Hamburg and the Ruhr area all stake claims. But one thing is clear: Herta Heuwer registered the first patent for a currywurst sauce, which she called Chillup, in Berlin on September 4, 1949.

According to the Deutsche Welle, some 800 million currywurst are eaten every year in Germany and about 70 million of those are consumed in Berlin. While not in the top spot, the currywurst has achieved a certain cult status. There’s even a museum dedicated solely to the dish – the Deutsches Currywurst Museum – which opened in Berlin in 2009.


Berlin Street Food

Curry 36 in Berlin