Emerging from the U-Bahn station on the west side of Mehringdamm in Berlin Kreuzberg, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the first day of the sales or that a famous celebrity is signing autographs but the long line of people you see are queuing for a Döner at Mustafas Gemüse Kebap.
Strolling down almost any street in the German capital you’ll find a handful of options for Berlin’s most popular snack options the Currywurst and the Döner Kebap. Mustafa’s has been a cult favourite since it started selling a twist on the traditional kebab made with chicken and roasted vegetables.
Mustafa’s has appeared in numerous Berlin guide books and newspaper articles that guarantee it a steady stream of tourist trade to add to the local interest.
If that wasn’t enough, the guys made an advert.
All this adds up to spectacularly long queues.
Just walking along the pavement on Mehringdamm is difficult at times because the queues from Mustafa’s and another local legend Curry 36 often meet each other.
It’s not unusual to have to queue for 30 minutes or more.
The big question: is it worth the wait?
I have to say that I’m a big fan of the Hähnchen Döner mit Gemüse (Chicken doner with vegetables).
As is the norm, there is a choice of three sauces: Kräuter (herb), Knoblauch (garlic), Scharf (spicy) and the usual array of salad.
For me though, it’s the finishing touches that make the kebabs here special.
Firstly, shortly before serving a mystery liquid (Mustafa’s secret ingredient) is squeezed onto the meat and vegetables.
Then, the pièce de résistance a crumbling of Feta cheese and a squeeze of juice straight from the lemon add a freshness that elevates a Mustafas Gemüse Kebap above the average Döner.
Whether it is worth standing in the queue for upwards of half an hour to get your hands on one really depends on how busy you are and what else you could be doing with your time.
The obvious question when confronted with such a popular spot is why there aren’t branches in every corner of Berlin. There were outposts under Eberswalder Straße U-Bahnhof and on Oranienburger Straße near Hackescher Markt in 2012 but neither lasted unfortunately.
Other shops and stalls have popped up all over Berlin selling Gemüse Döner though so there are alternatives if you can’t face, or don’t have time, for the queues – I would recommend K’UPS Gemüse Kebap on Kastanianallee.
With so much hype surrounding a kebab shop it would be easy to write Mustafas Gemüse Kebap off as a Berlin tourist trap but the truth is that the Döner here is something special – and they do say the best things in life are worth waiting for.