Incredibly Cheap Eats — Yatagan


What carnivores among us can resist stopping and gawking when a giant mass of meat heaves into view? Turn the corner from Bleecker onto MacDougal and there it is, a giant meat cylinder the size of a basset hound, dripping, sizzling, and slowly rotating in the open window. The proprietors of Yatagan, a long-running Turkish café – it’s like a Third-World food stall, really — cannot be oblivious to the pornography of meat.

The meat cylinder, composed of molded lamb and lamb fat, isn’t called a gyro (that’s Greek), and it isn’t called a schwarma (that’s Middle Eastern). Rather, it’s known as a doner kebab, and forms the basis of many Anatolian plates of food. If you’re by yourself, you’d better get a pita sandwich, which bulges with such a quantity of oozing lamb, that most patrons leave the sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil and eat it out of the top of the paper bag with a plastic fork. In addition to meat, the sandwich contains onions, lettuce, and good tomatoes, and your choice of sauces includes tahini, garlicky yogurt, and the hot relish sometimes called harissa, which you can apply for yourself from the vessel on the counter. If you’re like me, one sandwich is too much to eat for one meal, so consider sharing it. 104 McDougal Street, 212-677-0952. The cost: $5.50