But at Archway Kebab House on Junction Road, the recipient of the inaugural British Kebab Awards last year, the feel is very different to what you’d expect to find at a late-night fast-food joint. This in part is down to the custom, 90 per cent of which comes from regulars rather than 3am drunkards, according to proprietor Hakan Topkaya.
The fruits of success lie in the 30-year family history of one of North London’s first kebab houses, and the “standards, taste and wisdom” that Topkaya insists have lived on. The tastes and flavours themselves have remained the same all the way through, as he has never changed the family recipe.
So what is it that makes this place stand out from the crowd?
It is not simply its roll-call of celebrity punters, including Jeremy Corbyn MP (a falafel fan), the cast of EastEnders and former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis. Neither is it the understated sign outside, part of a grand redesign which will feature rolling TV menus, making it appear more like an upmarket coffee shop than your average Islington kebab house.
Ultimately it’s in the food, and this is where the Archway Kebab House steals a march over its rivals. Topkaya believes his customers maintain better figures than the average kebab eater because his food is marinated and only lightly salted, but a mouthful of the famous Archway Special would lead you to think otherwise.
It is a £7.50 delight brimming with onions, peppers, chillies and garlic sauce, not to mention the main ingredients – chicken and lamb shish and lamb kofta. Not simply a meal that fills you up, but one that leaves that unmistakeable, delicious kebab taste lingering in your mouth for hours.
If there’s anything that’s holding it back, it’s the green-heavy ratio of insipid salad to succulent meat. The chicken reverts to flavourless type, but the lamb excels itself, offering a taste sensation that is sated by the abundance of peppers, chillies and onions on offer.
The appeal for the regulars is obvious, and that familiar tinge of regret that so often meets a moment of kebab indulgence is nowhere in sight.
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