Hackney’s finest kebab house cuisine

Turkish kebab. Credit: Ajans Medialine.

The UK’s first ever kebab shop opened in Stoke Newington in 1966, paving the way for similar takeaways all over the UK. 52 years on, Ruth Comerford takes you through some of the best bites in the borough from family-friendly meat feasts to vegetarian bonanzas to a favourite haunt of Rowan Atkinson.


  1.  Mangal 1 – Best for meaty kebabs

Tucked away on a corner of Arcola Street is this typically garish gem. Ignore the glaring red plastic frontage and confidently order fresh lamb shish kebab, chicken tavuk ?i? or adana kebab. For vegetarians, the falafel wrap is very good, as are the sides of cacik  (traditional cold yogurt dip with cucumber) and sarma (stuffed vine leaves). Kebab fillings are generous, salads are fresh and the service is quick.

For takeaway, you can choose your meat at the counter and loiter at the front of the restaurant. Keep an eye out for famous clientele; they include the actors Rowan Atkinson and Elijah Wood, and chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Be prepared to wait if you visit at the weekend.


  1.  Stone Cave – Best for sitting in and sharing plates

A nominee for the Time Out Eating Out in London Awards, Stone Cave is located right in the heart of hipster haven Dalston, on the busy Kingsland road. Soak in the smells of the ockasibac and order a huge platter of cold mezze to start, followed by Hagia Sophia Chicken and Iskender lamb shish.

The halloumi kebab and Hunkar Begendi (traditional dish of stewed spiced lamb served on pulped smoked aubergine) are also winners. If you have room, stick around for the cinnamon ice cream with freshly made baklava. A bit pricier than the others, but well worth it for a special occasion.


  1.  Cirrik 19 Numara Bos – Best for leisurely eating with the family

Make the most of the corkage fee and grab a couple of bottles to enjoy alongside a hefty Et Beyti (spicy minced lamb shish with garlic and parsley), mucver (courgette fritters) and tavuk sis (tender chicken breast cooked on a charcoal grill).

This is a small family-run restaurant on Stoke Newington Road with good table service and generous portions. Cirrik has a loyal customer following, but is quiet enough during the week to bag a table.


  1.  The Best Turkish Kebab – Best for a late-night snack

This imaginatively named, family-owned branch – also on Stoke Newington Road – has been catering for the insatiable appetite of Hackney for the past 34 years.

Very reasonably priced and speedily served, the large lamb doner is a staple as is the chicken halep. Vegetarian sides are very cheap, a sizeable falafel and hummus box will set you back just £3.50. Chips are available to sort the hangover…


  1.  What the Pitta – Best for vegans and veggies

In recent years Hackney has become a mecca for trendy vegans. What the Pitta boasts an award winning vegan doner kebab, lauded by the likes of grime artist JME and renowned blogger FatGayVegan.

Seasoned soya pieces are smothered in hummus and sweet chilli sauce, tossed with a salad and stuffed into freshly baked flat bread. If fake meat isn’t your bag, grab the couscous salad box and load up on toppings or choose a mixed meze. The vegan baklava is also very good.  

That’s a wrap.


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