First Entry For Battle of The Shawarmas


Last week I suggested a shawarma taste off between the two new spots that opened up in Adams Morgan – Shawarma King located at 1654 Columbia Road and Shawarma Spot located at 2418 18th Street. I didn’t think I’d be an impartial judge so I got a few volunteers to share their opinions with you. The first entry is from Jaime.

Shawarma King:
When you walk in, you are greeted by bright orange walls and bright smiles from what seems to be a family-run business. They are still sporting a Christmas tree – it may be time to take that down. They offer small or large chicken, beef or falafel shawarmas in either a pita or a wrap. The menu is a little confusing. We opted for the wraps, but are still unsure if you can choose a small or large wrap or if the wrap is the large option. They called us up to the counter after about 5 minutes. We topped the shawarmas ourselves at the topping bar. They had lots of options – fried cauliflower, tahini, tomatoes, onions with sumac, sauces and much more. After that, the server took our sandwiches and warmed and pressed them in a panini maker. This made it a lot easier to eat. They tasted pretty good and the enthusiastic workers were sure to ask us if we enjoyed it. The wrap was more than enough food for one person. At only $5.95, it was a great value. This is an excellent addition to Adam’s Morgan.

Shawarma King PROS:
Enthusiastic Ownership
Put on your own toppings with more choices
Slightly Better Prices
Confusing menu & process Continues after the jump.


Shawarma Spot:
From the menu to the branding and decor, the shawarma spot is solid. The menu includes beef and chicken shawarmas, but also flatbreads, stuffed grape leaves, kibbi, dessert and salads (no falafel here). If you pick a shawarma, they’ll call you up to the counter once your pita is heated up in the big oven. You tell them what toppings you want. There aren’t quite as many toppings to choose from here, but they have everything you need to make a great tasting shawarma. The green Lebanese hot sauce is very good, but watch out, it’s quite hot! The chicken was extremely tender and well seasoned and the hummus was great as well. The Shawarma Spot is definitely craveable and defintely a place that I will return in the near future.

Shawarma Spot PROS:
Bigger Menu
Better Taste
Better atmosphere
You don’t put on your own toppings
No Falafel

To sum up, if I had to choose between the two places, I would go with the Shawarma Spot. I still think that Amsterdam Falafel beats both places if you’re hankering for falafel instead of chicken or beef though. They have the topping bar down to a precise science.

43 Comment

  • that’s what kills me. As a vegetarian, can you beat Amsterdam Falafel? If not… then…

    couldn’t someone try, I dunno, vegetarian kibbe or something you otherwise can’t get here?

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Shawarma King has incredible Falafel.

  • I’ve heard good things about the King… nothing yet about the Spot since I think it just opened.

  • I love the shawarma at Shawarma King.. it tastes just like the shawarma in the Middle East… and their falafel def. beats Amesterdams falafel!!

  • Shawarma King’s falafel is indeed better than Amsterdam, the balls themselves at least. Amsterdam still has the do it yourself bar though, and I think that wins out. Shawarma King has all the makings of a great fast food place, but it suffers from a relatively awful location – it’s right there in Adams Morgan, but on Columbia and 17th or whatever it is it’ll never get any walk-ins from weekend barhoppers.

    Servings at Shawarma spot are HUGE. The large size is easily enough for two meals – I give it a month before they raise the price past six or seven bucks. It’s an insane value right now.

  • i have never had shawarma, and actually still have no idea it actually is, but now i want it!

    also, that lady in the first picture is absolutely stunning! talk about ‘the beautiful life’, wow!

  • Amsterdam Falaf is ok but havent you guys tried OLD CITY. its the same exact product. same fixins bar. but with ample seating and friendlier staff. sadly it doesnt seem to do that much business so Im not sure how long it will last. next time you are in adams morgan and want a falafel walk an extra block past the lines at amsterdam and give it a try.

  • Im happy that something has opened on this stretch of columbia rd. it was hurting for a breath of fresh air. F the burger king. its all about the shwarma king. and I always see people in there so it must be good. I think the location is good and it does get some bar hoppers as chief ikes is close by and there is actually more foot traffic from the columbia heights station to adams morgan than people realize on the weekend. college parkers for instance.

  • POP- you say you cant be impartial? why is this? really whats your vote between the two?

  • I had shwarma king for lunch the other day. Seemed like a good crowd, but the folks working there were so confused as to who got what in the place. They gave me my fries like 10 minutes before my falafel.

  • Old City is great, but sometimes it feels too close to the 18th street mess to those of us who wish to avoid all that drunken humanity. (Amsterdam is out of the question.) So I think I’ll become a regular patron of S/K, should its falafel prove worthy.

  • how can these people think they are selling shawarma when there is no LAMB! it just pisses me off. the only hope for a decent schwarma in the DC metro area is sadly out in falls church, at this awesome lebanese butcher shop, market, ad restaurant.
    I am also dissapointed that they don’t put fries in the pita.
    And lastly, 6 bucks is not a deal. When are people in DC going to raise their voices about the overpirced food in this city.
    Bomb falafal and shawerma in other cities such as LA or NY will easily go for less.

  • no Lamb?
    what is this shit…well its not Shawerma.
    c’mon guys, lets get some legit pitas in DC.

    and 6 bucks is no deal. Theres no reason for it to be over 5.

  • i decided to drive because it was a cold and rainy night. as i pulled by the shawarma king i happened across a beautiful parking spot, directly in front of the shop. i did my usual move, inching past the opening and then popped it in reverse. as i did this, an aggressive driver pulled up right behind me and blocked me from entering this spot. i waited, waited and waited. what the hell! we were in a standstill. my girlfriend got out of the car with the a bit of attitude and i said “hey babe, don’t worry about it. that’s how people get shot”. so instead of giving the other car a mouthfull she just got out of the car and headed into the shawarma king. as she passed by the other care she gave him the evil eyes. he responded that “i was here first”. yeah, right. i spent the next fifteen minutes looking for a parking spot. turns out that the guy driving the car was the owner of the shawarma king and he and my girlfriend walked into the restaurant essentially at the same time. as soon as he realized we were customers he became profusely apologetic. as i walked in my girlfriend told me the situation. i half jokingly said to the man “so does one get a free shawarma for having my parking spot stolen?”. he said of course. i didn’t take him up on this offer because he ended up being an exceedingly nice guy.

    they definitely need a bigger trash can and i thought the chicken was tasteless.

  • I’ve been to Shawarma King, I thought the shawarmas, both beef and chicken, were good and tasty, but not great. Check it out, you won’t regret it, but you won’t be blown away. The staff was exceedingly nice.

    Their falafel was excellent, very very tasty. Decidedly better than Amsterdam Falafel.

  • I second Anonymous 9:22’s vote for Old City Falafel on Columbia Road. It’s better than Amsterdam falafel, same good fixin’s bar, good lentil soup, there’s always plenty of seating, and they take debit/credit cards.

  • Shawarma orginially made from beef with a lil bit of lamb… which tastes better.. much better than the lamb shawrma.. The wrap at Shawrma King is huge.. is enough for two people… and for less than 6 bucks!! its amazing! I will be coming back to Shawarma King very soon!!

  • I actually love the fact that SK had a christmas tree.. In orthodox tradition, christmas is held on Jan. 7th.. and I think its so considerate that they kept the christmas tree until then.. Plus their food is amazing! it’s a winner!

  • It sounds like a lot of people have been to and like the Shawarma King….but what about Shawarma Spot? Seems like only 1 or 2 who have commented have actually been there.

  • I had the chicken shawarma at The Shawarma Spot last week and it was great! Thanks for the reviews, Jaime!

  • I went to Shawrma King yesterday actually, and it takes them a lil bit to get the sandwich ready because everything is fresh. Everything is prepared when ordered, especially the falafel and the fries. But honestly.. I’d rather wait couple of minutes and get a fresh and delicious sandwich!

  • im sure shwarma spot is good too but im sticking with the king. its about time someone showed columbia rd some love and ill return the favor with my patronage.

  • Ross, I actually find the fact that it’s OFF 18th Street to be one of its biggest appeals. Dealing with drunk folks while trying to get food is not really all that appetizing.

  • I agree that lamb must be a part of any shawarma. I have search all over DC for a lamb or partial lamb shawarma with no luck. Not even Lebanese Tavern Market and Deli, where they make multiple other dishes with lamb. With that said, I have recently discovered a truly fantastic shawarma in the area, but its up in Wheaton (north of the beltway a couple miles up Georgia Ave.) at a place called Max’s Kosher Deli (note its closed on Friday after 12 and all of Saturday). Although the shawarma is not lamb, it is turkey but with lamb fat on top of the spit so that the turkey gets a good lamb flavor. Each shawarma is meticulously prepared with two or three thin layers of meat and toppings so that each bite has a bit of everything! Topping choices include cucumbers, tomatoes, sumac onion, tahini, cauliflower, pickled veggies, garlic paste, and hot sauces and few more I can’t remember. Its worth the trip!

  • Am sticking with the king too!! I went there 3 times. Everytime I got something different; beef, chicken shawarmas and falafel and they are all delicious I can’t decide which sandwich I love the most!

  • You guys are crazy if you dont eat Sharwarma King, its ORIGINAL baby!!! Everything at the King is delicious. Also the customer service is awesome too. I just love the king and i think you have a taste at all if you do not eat there.

  • Someone stole your review and put it on Yelp! I don’t know who “Leigh L.” is (the offending plagiarist) but that’s not cool. I’m not a Yelp member, but if I was I would write something pretty nasty to this person.

  • Sharwarma King has the better food hands down. No matter what it is you order, the food still has that great Sharwarma taste. Looking for good food, then you have to eat here. And also the food is so fresh , it does take a lil bit to prepare but its quality and fresher then any other place.

  • I must have gone in on an off day but I was rather disappointed with SKing. I did love the decor and feel of the place and the owners were really friendly and accommodating. I ordered one of the chicken and one of the beef (they were enormous!!!) and an order of fries. Topped them off with my toppings, got them heated, and headed home. To my dismay both meats were cold and tasteless, so I nuked them both. That’s when the flavor came through on the beef …mmmm, but only for a minute or two bc after a few bites it did not taste so tasty. πŸ™ I couldn’t bare to take another bite. I don’t know what it was but I ended up throwing the beef out and only ate half of the chicken. The meats were dry and did not seem very fresh and the fries were soggy, but that may have been my fault since I had it to go. I’m sticking with Old City. It’s unfortunate since I live less than a block from SKing …perhaps I’ll give it another go, but with the falafel instead.

  • hey this is jamie, the reviewer (who it seems many people strongly disagree with!). i just wanted to clear up for Anon 5:25 that Leigh L. is my girlfriend who came with me on the shawarma challenge and helped with the review…so it’s cool. No plagiarism going on here. πŸ™‚

  • Coming from Detroit where shwarma’s are as plentiful as half smokes I had to try the Shwarma Spot. It was just pretty good. The chicken was not really seasoned very well and the babaganoush was really runny. It’s also very expensive. Overall I give it a C+.

    However I have on several occasions had the chicken shwarma, babaganoush, tabuleh etc, at El Kartoum (just down the street at Florida and 18th). Though its slightly different (seasoning) than the Lebanese version its much better than SK in my opinion.

  • There is just no beating Amsterdam Falafelshop for taste and consistancy. Their falafel is consistantly great. You get the same flavor and crispness every time day or night and the toppings are always fresh. They have it down right, I have eaten Falafel in several other places in the neighborhood and in Va. and have not yet found a better tasting product anywhere in the Metro area. I give them **** they should be Zagat rated.

  • I love Shawarma and I have been to almost all Shawarma places in this area (I have been living here since 2000) to search for a good shawarma. I used to go to Canada every few years and I would eat so much Shawarma there- they have really good places. Until SK opened, there has not been one place in my opinion that served Shawarma as I had it in Jordan, Palestine, and Canada. None of the other places taste as fresh or is slowly cooked like SK. I have been 3 times to Old City and I promised myself never to go back. It’s expensive and the food is not fresh.

  • None of these places serve authentic Shawarma as can be found o the streets of Beirut. A mixture of beef and lamb is a must. I prefer Old City Jerusalem Cafe for a complete middle eastern experience. Incidently, when I was in Greece their Gyros are pork only. Not like our pre-fab Gyros here. The reason I was given for the use of pork is that the meat had to be chunky on the spit in order to show it wasn’t blended with other meats (horse and who knows what meat in the case of Greece). I wonder why nobody in the States uses the authentic lamb/ beef mixture? Is there some sort of issue with authenticating it? Hmmm. Yet to figure that one out.
    And, a Yogurt drink with Shawarma is pretty standard in Beirut. Yet, none of these so called authentic Middle Eastern restaurants have tried to introduce it.
    All the Middle Eastern food is overpriced in DC. Especially the Falafels. Think about it. Ground Chick peas deep fried. Pennies.

  • I’m sticking with Amsterdam – best balls in town! Staff is friendly and helpful, toppings are AMAZING, clean place – and convenient parking garage next door!

  • Amsterdam falafel: $10 for falafel, fries + soda.
    parking $10
    Total price = &20 for falafel?? pleeeeease…..

  • Looks like a nice place, and I think the food will be good, but (in my humble opinion) NOONE SIMPLY NOONE and beat the Amsterdam Falafeshop experience….everything prepared fresh daily…..greatest people, multinational cuisine & clientele…..quite possibly the best hummus & tahini I’ve ever had…….

    do try the garlic cream on the fries with the smokey chipotle tabasco….manna from heaven….

    I dare you, try falafel from both places any night….then post again


  • I have been to all the spots mentioned, and this is what I thought…

    Old City: Too cavernous and wierd lighting make the food look sad… the food is ok, but the environment depressing.

    The Shawarma King: the Shawarma was good, but not as seasoned as I like. The falafel was ok, but the toppings were salty, limited, and not nearly as nicely spiced as the ones at the Amsterdam Falafel House. And it took forever to get my falafel, which came in a limp pita.

    The Shawarma Spot: Was delicious! Took a while to get the sandwich, but that will probably get better with time. The meat was spiced nicely, real seasonings in it, it was hot and a nice big size. And the pita was much better than the King.

    Amsterdam Falafel: Is really my favorite for falafel. They might not have Shawarma, but they know what they are doing with falafel, and it is the best I have had in YEARS. The toppings are varied and plenty, and the people who staff it are so nice to me after a long hard day… I love to go on my way home from work…

    And if you think that $10 is too much for a healthy meal, then we are just on different pages on that.

  • Just came from Shawarma King. I got a falafel and a beef shawarma in a wrap. The beef on the shawarma is very lean and spiced just right, with a hint of lamb (yum). It worked really well on the larger wrap with the assortment of toppings, including the spicy sauce (be careful).
    The falafel was good as well (since you can’t really get falafels wrong).
    I didn’t ask if they had the garlic sauce (amsterdams garlic sauce and toppings are great).
    I liked the fact that my food was prepared by a genuine Arab (not that you can’t teach a Latino or otherwise to do the same task).
    Overall, as their prices stand now, Shawarma King is a better deal for your money.
    My total for 2 very filling sandwiches was $12.
    Old City Cafe is very good but a bit pricey.
    Amsterdam has good falafels but to get a full meal you need to get fries with it and then the price becomes a bit high for a bunch of fried crushed chickpeas and potatoes.
    Shawarma King is as close as you’ll get to a street corner shawarma shop in Palestine.
    If they get the garlic sauce then there will be no need to go to the claustrophobic Amsterdam falafel space.

  • Oh wow! Shawarma King was great! Friendly staff, they let me sample the meat and falafel. And I chose the falafel which was sooooo good. As good as any falafel I had before. The decor is modern and spacious and the music was lively. Great price too. I will definitely be returning. Thanks George!

  • SK has garlic spread, which I think is similiar to garlic sauce that u talking about. I tried it yesterday and I love it! Besides I asked the chef about lamb shawarma and he told me that they mix the beef with a lil bit of lamb to give it that delecious taste! SK reminds me so much of the shawarma places on the street of Beirut and Jerusalem πŸ™‚

  • I will definitely be trying the garlic spread next time on the chicken shawarma. Thank goodness for Shawarma King. I miss Beirut and Jerusalem.

  • handsdown, good food is good food, lets help the homeless and hungry and naked. I like max’s although some of their employees are nasty, do not wash hands [ i saw one counter worker leave bathroom with out washing ] and some of their employees have nasty attitudes. no excuss 4 that. still their food is pretty good but price is not to good.

Comments are closed.