Excellent shawarma involves the use of both fatty and lean cuts of meat, and for lamb, the layering of tail fat within each piece.
In the Levant, the emphasis is on the spice marinade, and a broad variety of spices are employed.
While migrants from the Levant brought shawarma to Western cities, where it has become a popular late-night snack shaved on vertical spits, in parts of North and West Africa it has been reinterpreted and changed according to the available cooking technology and spices.
This means that shawarma may no longer refer to slow cooking on a vertical spit, but rather to a dish of seasoned, grilled meats in a wrap with a sauce.
In London, this reasoning has evolved further, and there are numerous playful reinterpretations of the original notion (some without meat!).
Additionally, a greater range of breads are employed to wrap the items than with falafel.
In conclusion, London has so much more to offer than the ubiquitous late-night mix of pre-minced and fatty meat: here’s where to locate the best shawarma in the city.
At Hiba, you should definitely have the lamb shawarma wrap. The meat could be more blackened, but it is generally well-cooked, and the seasoning has a hint of sweetness.
The wrap’s toasting is also well-judged. In addition, the chefs strive to mix the meats with the elements that complement them best, like in Palestinian cuisine.
The chicken is served with toum, while the lamb is served with tahini sauce, tomato, raw onion, and acidic pickles.
The shatta is tangy and sour, and the heat is nearly in the background; it is worth ordering as an occasional dip. Expect service that is surprisingly quick.
Tel: 020 7831 5171
Address: 113 High Holborn, London WC1V 6JQ, United Kingdom
2. Shawarma Bar
At the Exmouth Market location of Berber and Q, there is lamb for meat lovers and cauliflower for vegetarians. Both may be ordered in a traditional pita, a rice bowl, or a platter.
For the complete experience of mixing, matching, and crafting the ultimate snack, the restaurant suggests ordering a plate, which includes extra toppings.
The lamb itself is sufficiently soft, really flavorful, and charred to perfection. Underneath the meat, the burnt, fluffy bread becomes slightly wetter than one would want, but not too wet to work with.
Tel: 020 7837 1726
Address: 46 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE, United Kingdom
ShakeShuka is the very first Palestinian eatery to open in London. The restaurant delivers the warmth of Palestinian hospitality to the capital through its location in the famous Marylebone.
This restaurant’s menu of excellent Lebanese food is popular with all of its customers. The chicken shawarma, lamb, and hummus served at ShakeShuka are cooked to perfection.
This location is well-known for its excellent service and pleasant staff, who are always willing to help. Here, you will incur democratic costs.
At this restaurant, diners can take pleasure in the cool ambiance and fantastic design.
Tel: 020 7487 4797
Address: Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5PH, United Kingdom
Since moving to the United Kingdom in the late 1990s, Naz, a chef born in Syria, has worked in a number of Middle Eastern restaurants in London.
Naz has also worked in Loughborough, outside of the capital. Having left his native of Damascus, Syria when he was young, he has also worked in restaurants in Cyprus, Malta, and Italy.
With a great cooking experience, this chef serves his customers with the tastiest shawarma.
Shawarma wraps from other restaurants barely include any filling and leave you feeling like you are just eating bread, but at Shawarma, the wrap is so stuffed with food that you could hardly hold it in your hands.
The meat is of the best quality, warm, and tender, while the vegetables are crisp and proportioned to perfection.
Tel: +44 7477 607633
Address: 84 Brick Ln, London E1 6RL, United Kingdom
5. The Best Broasted
This Syrian restaurant serves its customers the best shawarma in London.
Here, you can purchase chicken and lamb shawarma as wraps, however doing so would prevent you from eating them with salad, pickles, and potatoes on a platter.
The flavor of both meats is exceptional, with the cinnamon-like sweetness of the lamb being particularly enticing.
It is stuffed with velvety toum, pomegranate molasses, and black and white sesame seeds within a khobez that has been seared with the excess fat streaming from the vertical spit.
Tel: 020 3731 7693
Address: 18-f High Rd, London NW10 2QD, UK
6. Taza Takeaway Kebab House
Taza has been one of the oldest kebab restaurants in London, having been in operation since 1985 for almost 32 years.
At about £5 for a small shawarma, Taza delivers excellent value. The choice of bread is pita, and while both the chicken and shawarma could benefit from a bit more moisture, their charred crispness is excellent.
For this reason, a combination of both should be chosen. Tahini, toum, spicy tomato and chili sauce, raw onions, and shredded cabbage and carrot salad are contained within.
On the side, there are kabis kar (pickled green chili) and fresh mint, which are worth adding for their individual zing and freshness.
After the shawarma has been made, it is roasted for added crispness, which is a wonderful touch.
Tel: 020 7727 7420
Address: 35A Queensway, London W2 4QJ, UK
7. Palmyra’s Kitchen
Palmyra’s Kitchen is a new Middle Eastern restaurant with independent ownership that serves a variety of Syrian and Lebanese delicacies.
This is the place to go in Northeast London for Lebanese cuisine, and the shawarma is delicious, as proven by the well-layered chicken and lamb spits covered with a coating of fat and garnished with lemons.
A mixed plate with very good vermicelli rice may be had for £14, but the wrap, priced at £6.75 for mixed, £6.49 for lamb, and £6.20 for chicken, is a better bargain and provides a more complete shawarma experience.
Tel: 020 7272 6343
Address: 5-7 Wells Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JU, UK