As insane as it may sound, warm buttery ham and cheese croissant and piping hot croque monsieur oozing with béchamel can get old. After consuming way too many croissants for my own good during a recent two-month jaunt in France, I needed a (temporary) change of pace. I had my heart set on Middle Eastern street food, so I headed to one of my favorite doner (pronounced “dah-ner”) spots in Paris, Mac Doner. Yes, the name is a bad pun, but at 4 a.m. when you’re trying to explain to the Parisian taxi driver where you want to go, it rolls off the tongue quite well. Mac Doner sits on a residential, quaint street in the posh 16th Arrondissement. The small, mostly take-out restaurant’s location is unexpected, a refreshing contrast to the somewhat staid neighborhood.
Doner outposts are strewn across Europe, and especially prevalent in Paris, but Mac Doner holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s the bustling energy and the Turkish men with bushy Tom Selleck-esque staches yelling at each other behind the counter that remind me of home. Or the fact that the sandwich most likely saved my life in my college days during a semester abroad in Paris when I consumed enough Pastis (on more occasions that I’ll admit) to intoxicate a small army, and was in dire need of greasy food to line my stomach in the wee hours. Whichever it may be, I’m hooked on the glorious doner sandwich.
Let me first point out that I have an aversion to the name. “Le Grec” translates to The Greek, and is what the doner sandwich is called in France. Being part Turkish, this doesn’t sit too well with me. Not to get too political, but “Le Grec” should actually be renamed “Le Turk,” since it is a Turkish speciality, as I’ve pointed out in the past. Just in case you don’t believe me, Wikipedia has the final word.
Back to the sandwich: tender lamb or chicken marinated in spices is roasted on a vertical spit and then shaved off in chunks and stuffed inside a circular piece of bread that’s like a marriage of pita and baguette (pita-shaped but thicker, and crusty and chewy like a baguette). Then, a fistful of fries makes its way inside the sandwich, followed by the usual suspects: tomato, onion, lettuce. I ask for mine to be doused in sauce blanche, or white sauce, a mayo-yogurt condiment. The French have laid many claims as to what exactly makes it into the delicious sauce blanche, but no definitive recipe seems to exist (and it’s probably best not to know anyway). Still, “Le Grec” is all that a sandwich should be: big, saucy, greasy, difficult to eat, perfect at 4 a.m., and chock full of delicious meaty goodness.
64 Rue de la Pompe
75116 Paris, France
Neighborhood: Victor Hugo, 16éme.