The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Sticks

#4: Ottobun with Beef – Otto

The Doner Kebab

With origins in the Ottoman Empire that date back centuries, doner kebab and its descendants have become some of the most popular foods of the Western world. The beloved dish stacks slabs of marinated meat on a vertical spit, which rotates beside a heat source, charring the meat’s exterior as it slowly cooks the interior. To serve, thin pieces are shaved by slicing down the outside of the meat.

As the dish has spread around the world, it has inspired spinoffs: Greece’s gyro, Mexico’s Al Pastor, and Lebanon’s shawarma, to name a few. But, it is Germany that is credited with boosting the popularity of the modern day version of doner kebab: meat stuffed into a pita, with any of a variety of salads, vegetables, and sauces. There are said to be more than 16,000 doner kebab establishments in Germany, and the sandwich has now spread through much of Europe, too.

Until recently, though, this type of doner kebab was not available in Charlottesville. (The doner kebab on Sultan Kebab’s menu, while delicious, is made from ground beef and lamb cooked on a grill.) In 2020, Turkish natives Ali Sevindi and Haldun Turgay came to the rescue with their restaurant Otto. Sevindi and Turgay met while working at Clifton Inn, and dreamed of opening their own restaurant. They had seen the popularity of doner kebab elsewhere, and thought it would appeal to Charlottesville, too. How could it not?

To make sure, before opening, Sevindi and Turgay spent months studying and perfecting their doner kebab. At Otto, guests can build a sandwich from an array of fillings, or choose from a menu of signature items.  Named with a nod to the dish’s Ottoman and German roots, the “Ottobun” offers a choice of beef, chicken, or falafel stuffed into pita with hummus, red cabbage, sumac onions, pickled cucumbers, tzatziki, and ezme – a Turkish paste of tomatoes and red peppers. A sign on Otto’s wall says: “It always starts with great pita!,” and Otto makes their own from scratch, soft and pillowy. In fact, they make just about everything from scratch, which may explain why one of Charlottesville’s top chefs called the Ottobun the best thing he ate all year.

#4: Ottobun with Beef – Otto
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Doner Kebab Sandwich at Sultan Kebab, Beef Shawarma Manousheh at Thyme & Co. Vegetarian Alternatives: Ottobun with Falafel at Otto, Falafel Wrap at Aromas Cafe, Falafel Flatbread Wrap at Sticks.

#13: Adana Kebab Sandwich on Pita, with Yogurt Sauce – Sultan Kebab

The Kebab Sandwich

It speaks volumes about the excellence and growth of our food scene that this was once my favorite sandwich in Charlottesville. It’s not that the sandwich has dropped in quality. Not at all. Since opening in 2012, Sultan Kebab has been a model of consistency, never offering something that does not meet the high standards of the restaurant’s two owners.

Those owners hail from two different regions of Turkey – Izmir and Adana – and Sultan Kebab’s food draws on both. The Adana kebab is ground beef marinated with fresh red peppers, red pepper paste and paprika, and then shaped along an iron skewer, and grilled over an open flame. For the sandwich, they wrap the long kebab in lavash bread, along with lettuce, tomato, and onion. While excellent, even better is substituting the lavash with Sultan Kebab’s house baked pita bread – soft, fresh, and delicious – and adding yogurt sauce. No matter how much Charlottesville’s food community grows, this sandwich would always be worthy of the area’s best.

#13: Adana Kebab Sandwich on Pita – Sultan Kebab
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Kafta Manousheh at Thyme & Co., Iraqi Kabob at Al Basha, Chicken Khati Roll at Kanak, Kibbeh Flatbread Wrap at Sticks, Souvlaki Pita at Tip Top. Vegetarian Alternatives: Vegetable Manousheh at Thyme & Co., Paneer Khati Roll at Kanak, Vegetarian Sandwich at Sultan Kebab

Five Finds on Friday: Angelic Jenkins


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Angelic Jenkins of Angelic’s Kitchen, the catering company with a food truck that will soon make a permanent home at the corner of Long Street and 250, offering wings, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and Jenkins’ specialty, fried fish. Stay tuned for opening details and hours. Jenkins’ picks:

1) Devil’s Pass Pasta at Sedona Taphouse. “The best tasting pasta. It has fennel, which I always told my husband I didn’t like, as well as chicken, onions and veggies in a delicious creamy sauce with a mild spice. I’m not a spicy eater but I can definitely enjoy this pasta dish.”

2) Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes at Sweethaus. “I love the mini cupcakes. The cake is always fresh and moist, and the variety of icing and toppings is awesome. My favorite is the Salted Caramel. I can actually eat these everyday.”

3) Cucumber, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad at Sticks Kebob Shop. “The chicken, beef and pork kebobs are very flavorful and tender and come with a choice of sauces. The cilantro sauce is delicious. But I really love the cucumber salad. The flavor satisfies all of my taste buds.”

4) Blue Cheese Dressing at Wild Wing Café. “I love love love the homemade blue cheese dressing! I guess I can say I eat the Wild West Ranch Wings with my blue cheese. I always get my wings extra wet for more of the delicious flavor of the sauce.”

5) Sausage Pizza with Garlic Crust from Marco’s Pizza. “The pizza sauce is sweet and tangy, the cheese is cooked perfectly, the sausage is very flavorful and the garlic crust option is a must! The best pizza in town. Oh, and you have to try the thin crust, too. Just yummy.”