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My first taste of doner kebab was from a hole-in-the-wall in Western Germany. Typically served as a sandwich, kebab, or plate, the Turkish version of the gyro is addictive to almost everyone who has tried one. So, when I saw Shondiz—a bustling food truck on the corner of Glenarm Place and 16th Street—advertising doner, I got in line.
Shondiz’s kindly chef, Ahmad Esmaeili (whose brother Mohammad owns the cart), offered menu suggestions while shearing fresh lamb off a rotating spit. I pondered the chicken but ultimately settled for a classic—the lamb and beef doner sandwich, which, by the way, is a steal at $6.25. (None of Shondiz’s dishes cost more than $10.)
I wasn’t disappointed. The thick, doughy pita held slow-roasted meat, fresh tomato slices, hummus, lettuce, pickled cabbage, and grilled onions; I interspersed bites with sips of Shondiz’s $1 Mediterranean lemonade. What the drink lacked in traditional lemony tartness, it made up for with subtle floral notes courtesy of rose- and orange-blossom water. The icy concoction helped tame the fire of the chile sauce I’d added to the sandwich, per Ahmad’s suggestion. As he said, “It’s hot enough to taste, but not so hot that you can’t talk.”
Try this doner once and you’ll quickly memorize the cart’s hours (weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; weekends 11 a.m. to midnight). Shondiz is serving the Turkish dish the way it should be: streetside and hot off the spit. 16th Street and Glenarm Place (across from the Hard Rock Cafe), 303-351-4492, shondiz.com
Mediterranean Lemonade $1
Dolma $1.50 (three rolls)
Greek Salad $6.25
Doner Kebab Sandwich $6.25
Pita and Hummus $1.50