After receiving plenty of recommendations for kebab shops, here's a compilation of what we have so far. If you've got anything to add to the list, do start a conversation below, as always, and we'll add your choice when we come to revise this entry.
Crystal Charcoal House, Holloway Road, London, UK
Some people will raise their eyebrows in curious disgust at the mention of the word kebab. Proprietors of the average kebab shop would have us believe that it is a cheap form of chipboard mystery-meat saturated in grease. I used to think this too, until one night on the Holloway Road I stumbled (that is the only way to enter an establishment dedicated to serving post-closing-time food) into The Crystal Charcoal House, opposite the Odeon.
For a takeaway kebab that enlightens as it burns your mouth there is almost no parallel. Shish kebabs are treated to a charcoal roasting, which leaves the meat succulent and mercifully free of hard burnt, carbonated chicken. The doner, once the scourge of food poisoning units of hospitals around the country, is clearly of a top standard. "How can you tell?" you ask. Well, it's all in the layers. If you can see actual layers in the column of what usually looks like chipboard then it is unlikely to contain sweetmeats, Alsatian and so on.
The piece de resistance is the bread. Home made, round, and rolled around the meat and salad, it is a doughy joy to eat. The chilli sauce is one to watch out for, as I'm sure they make it hotter the later it gets.
Night Star Kebabs, Holloway, London, UK
Another 'new generation' restaurant (i.e. serving kebabs like they should be) is the Night Star, next to St Mary Magdalen Church. Again this is on the Holloway Road, but at the other end. They do the same kind of bread and charcoal cooking affair, and the doner looks pretty smart too. It's a little cheaper and the atmosphere is slightly more friendly. The Holloway road is long and the Night Star is more easily reached by the Islington-end drinker.
Solly's, Golders Green, London, UK
I haven't spent much time on Green Lanes myself (north-east London, and centre of a large Cypriot community), but friends tell me that Solly's in Golders Green is the king kebab house of North London, and I concur. It's right at the end of Golders Green High St. If you turn right out of the tube station, keep on to the end of the parade and it's on your right, with a purple front.
Golders Green is a little out of the way for after-hours food - I've never been drinking in Golders Green, ever - but it's worth a trip to eat there of an afternoon. Just don't go on Saturday, as the Sabbath prevents the owners from opening up. The Middle Eastern atmosphere in this tiny place makes it feel more alive than most non-fast food restaurants I've been to. People rush in, ordering in Hebrew, and the highly professional staff whip it up in record time. The kebabs are only one element of the cuisine, which is all Kosher and a lot of it is vegetarian. My personal recommendation is either a lamb doner or falafel with salad and hummus. Divine.
The Bouzouki Kebab and Pizza House, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, UK
Despite having recently been closed down for the second time on the grounds of hygiene, this place does a great kebab. Situated a short walk from a range of pubs1, the friendly atmosphere and enticing smells of partly-cooked ruminant cannot fail to excite you deeply.
Because The Bouzouki Kebab and Pizza House is located in Lincolnshire, you are unlikely to be mugged outside; and can sit on a small wall, a few yards away, to eat your food in comfort.
The chilli on the kebabs, while not the best, is better than the watery efforts concocted in sophisticated city kebab shops. The pizzas are uninspired but edible, the chips of the thin but more-ish variety, and the burgers suitably bovine.
All in all, The Bouzouki Kebab and Pizza House, Horncastle is definitely worth a visit. If it ever reopens.