At SPITZ You’ll Swallow!

10 Sep

Spitz — Home of the Döner Kebab
by Ewan Chung 

When you hear the word kebab, what do you think of?  If you’re an Amer­i­can, chances are you’ll pic­ture skew­ers of meat.  The new Los Feliz loca­tion of the L.A. döner kebab joint Spitz is out to prove otherwise.

A cur­sory exam­i­na­tion of the word kebab (thank you, Wikipedia) reveals that it is a broad term for grilled meat.  The Turk­ish word döner refers to the method of cook­ing – “turn­ing,” as in a rotis­serie.  For some rea­son, the Greek ver­sion (gyros) became more pop­u­lar in Amer­ica, and kebab ended up becom­ing mainly asso­ci­ated with shish kebab.  Spitz capa­bly shows you what much of Europe has been con­sum­ing as street food with the qual­ity and com­fort of a sit-down establishment.

Co-owner Robert Wick­lund (along with busi­ness part­ner Bryce Rade­man) first dis­cov­ered the kebab while he was in Spain. There was no late-night equiv­a­lent of this clas­sic post-drinking Euro­pean food sta­ple here, and thus Spitz was born.  The first shop opened in Eagle Rock and con­ve­niently ser­vices his alma mater, Occi­den­tal Col­lege.  Next came the Lit­tle Tokyo loca­tion with an edgier, urban feel.  And now our neighborhood!

This Spitz inhab­its the space at the cor­ner of Hill­hurst and Kingswell, for­merly occu­pied by Amwaj, a Mediter­ranean restau­rant that didn’t quite have the right char­ac­ter for a neigh­bor­hood main­stay.  Spitz eas­ily reme­dies this with a relaxed, airy atmos­phere.  The artsy graf­fiti out­side belies the inte­rior, which has a touch of what I would call “bunker bier­garten chic” but with a warmer, rus­tic charm and a side of Edi­son bulbs.

Spitz’s take on the döner kebab is Cal­i­forn­ian, in the best sense of the word.  They use qual­ity ingre­di­ents, includ­ing fresh breads and local veg­eta­bles.  Their self-prescribed “Cal­i­for­nia twist” guar­an­tees a clean, non-greasy expe­ri­ence.  It’s the per­fect (what Wick­lund calls) “fast casual” food.  Where many restau­rants attempt to cover too many ter­ri­to­ries, this menu is sim­ple.  It’s bet­ter that way.  This allows for var­i­ous minor per­mu­ta­tions to cover most pref­er­ences, all the while stay­ing focused on the spe­cial­ties.  Their star item is the Street Cart Döner.   For a per­fect mix of fla­vors, try the chicken in a lavash wrap.  It comes fully packed with let­tuce, tomato, red onions, bell pep­pers, cucum­ber, and a rich gar­lic aioli.  If you want to be more Euro­pean, get the heartier, tra­di­tional beef/lamb mix sand­wiched by foc­ca­cia bread.  For a spicier kick, order the Döner Lite or the Spicy Döner—the tzatziki and chili sauce are sur­pris­ingly perky.  Yes, Los Felizians, vegetarian/vegan and falafel edi­tions are also avail­able.  Non-meat ver­sions of their kebab can include hum­mus, feta, olives, or even fries inside.

Speak­ing of fries, another sig­na­ture item is their Street Cart Fries.  It’s a won­der­ful mess that’s like a cross between a pou­tine and nachos.  The fries are crispy; and the lay­ers of aioli, feta, mixed veg­eta­bles, olives, pep­per­oncini, and chili sauce can make it a meal in itself.  If you want to take the Cal­i­forn­ian twist fur­ther, go for the Döquitos, the “fried kebab” in a lavash roll.

You say you want a deal?  Spitz offers their “Not Unhappy Hour” from 3 pm to 6 pm on week­days, with spe­cials on cer­tain beers, chi­ladas (a kind of beer mar­garita, if you will), and san­gria.  The Fried Pita Strips with Hum­mus or the Crispy Gar­banzo with Fried Olives might go well with your drinks.  Like its Lit­tle Tokyo coun­ter­part, the Los Feliz loca­tion offers a wide selec­tion of 12 Cal­i­for­nia craft beers on tap and home­made san­grias (red/rosé/white/sake).

Spitz by day is cer­tainly more casual and light.  Spitz by night has the poten­tial to be a decent water­ing hole or gath­er­ing place.  There’s talk of get­ting a full liquor license and hir­ing DJs.  For you sport­ing types, there’s a shuf­fle­board table.  Just don’t put your drinks on it, please.

While the kebab expe­ri­ence here won’t be the same as when you’re stum­bling out of a bar or club in Europe between 2 and 4 am with a rag­ing hunger, you’ll actu­ally be able to taste how good it can be with­out prior inebriation.

Thank you, Spitz, for edu­cat­ing Los Ange­les on what a true kebab is.  Plus, it’s much eas­ier to pro­nounce than gyros.  Wel­come to the neigh­bor­hood, guys!


Spitz is located at 1725 Hill­hurst Avenue, Los Ange­les, CA 90027.  Call-in orders: 323.522.3309.  Open Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-midnight.

Stan­dard Menu

Happy Hour Menu

One Response to “At SPITZ You’ll Swallow!”

  1. six September 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    could you not think of a worse fuck­ing title?

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