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Heaven on sale for $8.50: sweet potato french fries and a vegetarian lavash wrap at Spitz.

Heaven on sale for $8.50: sweet potato french fries and a vegetarian lavash wrap at Spitz.

I almost died the night I went to Spitz.

            And by “almost died” I mean, of course, that I made a risky move by deciding to test the limits of my stomach’s ability to expand.

            Spitz is a Mediterranean restaurant and self-proclaimed “Home of the Döner Kebab” burrowed in a crevice between shops dangerously close to Yogurtland in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

            The options on the narrow, one-page menu are somewhat limited for a vegetarian like myself, but the few things I can eat are so delicious, I’m willing to overlook the fact. My vegetarian wrap was a crunchy combination of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bright yellow peperonchinis, and kalamata olives. Everything, smeared with humus and feta cheese,  was tucked safely into a chewy lavash (a soft variant of flatbread) wrap and the whole thing dripped the most divine Tzatziki chili sauce I’ve ever tasted.

            And the sweet potato fries. There simply are no words to describe the sweet potato fries.

             But what exactly is this “döner kebab” upon which Spitz so prides itself? According to the Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, it is a dish that hails from the Middle East, Greece and Turkey and includes “slices of lamb, highly flavored with herbs and spices, wound around a revolving spit, cooked in front of a vertical charcoal (or sometimes gas) fire.”

            At Spitz, the “delectable sandwich” is made from minced lamb and beef, ground chicken or falafel, according to the restaurant’s Web site.

            A Turkish döner is very nearly the equivalent of a Greek gyro or Middle Eastern shawarma. In a traditional Turkish döner restaurant, a chef might hoist a huge chunk of lamb onto a rolling vertical spit first thing in the morning and slice off slivers of it until closing time. Unsanitary? Maybe. Delicious? So the European masses contend. (I wouldn’t know – I’ve sworn off meat. (Actually I was just raised vegetarian. (But swearing it off sounds so much more hardcore.)))

            Spitz’s döner kebabs are modeled after the Spanish version of this dish that seems to have percolated all of Europe. In the bustling capital city of Madrid, kebab shops are “as ubiquitous as Spanish tapas bars,” says the Web site. In Spain, chefs use electric knives to cut away paper-thin slices of meat – and that is the so-called “Spanish version” of döner.

            Spitz in Little Tokyo was named one of the “Best New Restaurants of the Year” by Los Angeles Magazine’s annual restaurant awards issue. Citysearch.com dubbed it the #1 Quick Food Spot in L.A. in both 2007 and 2008. Zagat, a restaurant survey with legitimate clout, voted Spitz one of the top 5 “best values” in the city.

            What more can you want from a restaurant than accolades like these and crunchy orange sweet potato fries snuggly tucked into a little woven basket next to an unassuming foil-wrapped sandwich that is secretly the most amazing thing you haven’t tried yet?

            If you think you can stomach any more food after a night at Spitz – a feat I thought I could handle despite my small frame (I tend to grossly overestimate the limits of my body’s food intake capability) – Yogurtland is just around the corner. I told you Spitz was in a dangerous place – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For more information: http://www.eatatspitz.com

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