Opening an eatery with the word spit in the name doesn’t strike me as especially keen marketing. But then, what do I know about branding? Not much, apparently. Because Spitz is doing quite well, thank you very much, with four Utah locations plus more in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Portland.
Spitz – with stores in downtown SLC, Sugarhouse, Cottonwood and Lehi – calls itself the “home of the döner kebab.” Don’t know what a döner kebab is? Well, it’s very much akin to what you typically find in Greek gyros or Arab shawarma: meat stacked and cooked on a vertical rotisserie, sliced into thin strips and served, sandwich or wrap style, stuffed into pita bread. That’s very much what’s going on at Spitz; that and much more.
Spitz is very much a mix-and-match, customizable affair in terms of menu selections. There’s a nearly infinite number of permutations of the “Mediterranean Street Food” served there, and all items can be made vegan or vegetarian. There are bowls, salads, wraps and an array of sides to choose from.
For most of the Spitz offerings – salads, döner wraps, bowls – you’ll begin by selecting a main ingredient. There’s beef and lamb döner (very much the same as typical gyro meat – a mix of lamb and beef), chicken, mixed meat, falafel, or veggies. From there, the sky’s the limit, with a chance to make your döner, salad or bowl truly your own.
My wife, for example, opted for the Spitz Remix Bowl, which was brimming with Berlin slaw, tomato & dill quinoa, minced cucumber, olives, crumbled feta cheese, tomato, roasted corn, crispy garbanzos and harissa, topped with beef/lamb döner, and finished with a sprinkling of sumac and parsley. There’s a lot going on in that bowl, but somehow it all just works – the melange of flavors blending together beautifully.
Part of the appeal of Spitz, for me, is the intentional kitsch. Spitz restaurants are decorated with classic vinyl record album covers ranging from Molly Hatchet and Barbra Streisand to Saturday Night Fever and Yes. Board games too – both classic and contemporary – play a big part of the Spitz ambiance and frivolity.
There’s also a keen sense of humor here, like the sign at the counter tip jar which reads: Every time you don’t tip, a child gets a mullet. SAVE THE CHILDREN! I also appreciate that although the franchise is expanding, no two Spitz eateries that I’ve been in are alike; each is unique. These are not cookie cutter cafes.
My favorite wrap at Spitz is also their most popular: the Street Cart wrap. It comes with a choice of protein rolled up with romaine lettuce, cucumber, onion, cabbage, tomato, green pepper, tzatziki sauce, garlic aioli, and fried lavash strips. Now that’s a helluva wrap!
Another house favorite are the fries. There are Street Cart Fries topped with garlic aioli and feta, or Berliner Fries which come with Berliner red sauce and a cabbage & carrot slaw. You can also get what’s called a Döner Basket: salad and fries with tzatziki, garbanzos, falafel, olives, fried pita, hummus, feta, pepperoncini, tomato, green pepper, onion, and cucumber.
On Saturday and Sunday, Spitz offers brunch with a special menu and choices like the Breakfast Döner Wrap, Spitz Griddle and The Hangover Basket. Beverages such as Mimosas, Sangria, and Spicy Mango Chelada (pilsner, mango puree, cayenne pepper, fresh lime, salt) make weekend brunch all that much more festive.
While Spitz might not have invented the döner kebab, it has certainly elevated it to a level and status that all but obscures its humble beginnings, with a nearly endless variety of appealing accouterments, all served up in a fun and funky atmosphere.
Culinary quote of the week:
There will not be peace until access to the kebab is universal. — Kofi Annan
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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