“Hipster” coffee shops, underground bars, micro breweries, a lil’ bit of Asian Fusion, a lotta’ bit of currywurst…and KEBABS. Lots and lots and lots of kebabs. Oh, and your occasional German restaurant. As anywhere, the food scene in Berlin is super reflective of the culture. And a unique culture, it is: Marked by the decrease of traditional German influence, and the huge increase of eco-lovin’ hippies, underground grunge, and the quickly growing ethnic population, especially from Asia and Turkey. Fun fact: Thanks to the Turkish, Berlin is the birthplace of the internationally adored Doner Kebab. #ReasonsILoveBerlin.
Mind you, when on the hungry search for food, it’s important to think about the neighborhood that you are eating in. The wall might be long gone, but the cultural split between the East Side vs. West Siiiide is still very there. Here’s a broad break down of neighborhood by the eats:
Kreuzberg (Central East): This gentrified super-cool area has been built up within the past 10 years. That being said, there are loads of artsy cafés, ethnic restaurants, vegan spots, and on-the-go places. Here you will find the best kebab and currywurst! (See below for the deets)
Friedrichshain (Far East): That real Berlin Grunge. Marked by graffiti, hipster coffee shops, kebab shops, and underground bars and clubs.
Mitte (West): This is your “trendy chic” neighborhood. Here, your cafés will be a little pricier, your restaurants will have prettier awnings, and your passing “hipster” will be wearing a 90€ “vintage” dress. But don’t worry…it’s Berlin, everything is still affordable!
So, whatever side you might find yourself on when your tummy starts to talk, I gotcha’ covered. Now, let’s get munchin’…
Why: BAGELS, BAGELS, BAGELS….and some more bagels. And some really great coffee…oh, and CHEESECAKE. And of course, hipsters drinking coffee on sofas. I am obsessed with this place. I originally waltzed into this little, hidden corner café for a simple cup of coffee. I left stuffed with a bagel, a cheesecake, and another cheesecake to go. That’s when you know, it’s gotta be good. The minute you walk in, it feels like you are in your living room. Or rather, what you want your living room to be. Complete with big red vintage sofas, antique chandeliers, and some cool thrift shop paintings. However, imagine your living room was conveniantly stocked with a display of the most beautifully crafted artisan bagels, a collection of decadent cheesecakes, and every type of coffee a caffeine lover could want. Now open your eyes. Your in Wahrhaftr Narhraft. NOTE: Remember, I am from NYC, the land of good bagels. These are a different kind of bagels. More of an artistically crafted bagel, if you will. Ya can’t compare.
What to order: The raisin cinnamon bagel with goat cheese, plum sauce and arugula, OR the bagel with pomegranates, feta, spinach and prosciutto. Also try their oreo cheesecake…and the chocolate espresso karamel schnittle (it’s a brownie on steroids).
Price: 4.50€ for a big bagel, 3€ for cheesecake or a schnittle.
Find it: Revaler Straße 16 (Friedrichshain)
Why: When you imagine yourself sitting in a cute little cafe in Europe, this is the place you are imagining. Complete with an array of deicious French influenced food (Quiche, french cheeses, baguettes, etc.), delicious omelettes, and a wonderful array of coffees. Or, if your thirsty for something else, wine. They have a huge blackboard filled out with an overwhelming selection of French wines (especially overwhelming if you have no idea what any of them are…), all very well priced.
What to order: A quiche, or the omelette with bacon, scallions, Jurassic French cheese, and grilled tomato.
Find it: Weinbergsweg 20 (Mitte)
Why: I was on a serious search for the best “wurst,” as that is the classic German fast food. Everyone mentioned to me, “oh, Curry 36, of course!” And then when I continued to interrogate them, the general consensus was…”Well it’s not that I would eat there. It’s just that it’s the most well known spot.” DING DING DING. So, when I get down to the nitty gritty local spots, this place was RAVED about. The awesomely flamboyant guy who works at the Jewish Museum said to me, “darling. This is your ONLY spot to eat currywurst. But don’t expect to see anything in English…” And boy, was I not let down. Holyyyy currydog. This little hole in the wall hotspot has your unusual selection of vegan, organic, skinless, and classic wurst options. They also have an impressive array of sauces to choose from; from mango pineapple, wasabidip, truffel mayo…you name it. Oh, and all of their wurst’s are hand grilled by the one and only chef. This ain’t your amateur child’s play street griller.
What to order: Despite the wonderfully available vegan option, go for the real deal with the skin (if your not a Veggie, that is!). It’s just the best. However, make the real deal “happy” and get the organic wurst. Or as they call it, the “happy pig.” Same great flavor as the classic, just organic! And make sure you smother that sucker in extra grilled onions, and the full smorgasbord of curry spices and sauces. If you must pick one, their homemade chilisauce is bomb.com. Oh, and lots of hot sauce if you’re anything like me.
Price: Base price of 1.70€, plus .50 € for sauces (pick two…it’s worth the extra 1€!)
Find it: Bergmannstraße 88 (Kreuzberg)
Why: I realize I’m contradicting everything I just said above. When you ask a Berliner where to get the best Kebab, they will ALL tell you Mustafa’s. And ladies and gents, this time they have a reason. Because I couldn’t find one single local to suggest to me a better Kebab place, I did some own personal foodvestigation. The result? Eight kebabs later (yes, 8…) Mustafa’s is THE BEST. Why, you might ask? Well, first thing is THE TOPPINGS: Fresh crumbled feta with parsley, caramelized seasoned grilled veggies, and the freshest of fresh salad ingredients. Of all my eight kebabs (and others I’ve eaten around the world) I haven’t found ingredients made with such looooove like these. Second: Their meat. It’s chopped right off the spinner, and seasoned with all sorts of secret ungodly spices. Then, the meat is sautéed with the veggies to make a flavorphoria. Finally, the sauces: Tzatziki and hot sauce is where it’s at. The THINGS I would do for one of these babies right now.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Musafa’s is known for their extraordinarily long line. I’m talkin’, a line that stretches down the street for this thing. For good reason, of course. Absolutely, 100% worth it. But be prepared to wait for about 30 minutes. Take a bottle of beer or something with you (because it’s legal in Berlin!). It’ll go a lot quicker 😉
What to order: A “Dürüm” kebab. That’s the one with EVERYTHING on it. If you leave something out, feel free to unfollow my blog.
Price: 4.30 € for a kebab the size of your head.
Find it: Mehringdamm 32 (Kreuzberg) *Note: There are actually two Mustafa’s. This is the original. Make sure you go to this one!
THE BEST AUTHENTIC GERMAN FOOD: Schwarzwaldstuben
Why: Berliners don’t eat much authentic German food. But when they do, this is where they go. Or, at least the ones who want chic ambience with awesome traditional cuisine. Let’s be honest. German food doesn’t have the best world rep. Nobody says, “When I go to Germany, I’m going to eat sooo much schnitzel!” Well, if you’re going to Schwarzwaldstuden you do. All of their traditional dishes are served just the way good ol’ Grandma Gertrud would make, except with a high culinary twist…and served on a way cooler plates.
What to order: You guessed it…the schnitzel.
Price: Dinner for under 10€ baby. Hellzyea.
Find it: Tucholskystraße 48 (Mittee)
Why: I went on a micro brewery beer tour, and this was my favorite. I visited two other more “traditional” micro brewery’s (Georgbraeu and Brauhaus Mitte). All were wonderful (then again, what could be bad?!), and if you have the time go to all three! But if you have to choose one, go to Pfefferbräu. I’m talking quality here, not quantity. The other two had a larger variety of beers to sample, however Pfefferbräu had the winning beer. I sampled their signature wheat beer and dark beer, and their dark beer was OFF THE CHAIN. And the group I was with unanimously agreed. Pfefferbräu takes the cake. Or beer, I should say.
What to order: The dark brew Boxer Beer! And if all that beer is making you hungry…get some Spätzle. It’s like German Mac N’ Cheese, but with caramelized onions. Can you think of a better beer sidekick?
Price: 3€ for a beer and 10€ for a big cheesey bowl o’ spätzle
Find it: Schönhauser Allee 176
Why: It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s local. Oh, and it’s delicious. This tiny little Vietnamese fusion spot is ideal to take out, or eat in. Whatever your little hungry heart desires. They’ve got a selection of Asian fusion salads, soups, noodle dishes, veggie dishes, you name it. However, they are known known for their “rolls,” consisting of veggies and your choice of shrimp, beef, chicken or tofu…all roooolled on up into some (really fun to play with) rice paper. Incase you aren’t familiar with rice paper, it’s this stretchy, soft, clear, thin stuff that they use to wrap your veggies n’stuff in like like a mummy. Add some sauces to it, and its a rolly pollly party. Did I mention the rice paper is really fun to play with?
What to order: A shrimp roll up! With the extra spicy hot sauce, of course.
Price: Three large roll ups for a bargain of 3€s. You’ll have a hard time finding something on the menu for over 6€.
Find it: Torstraße 117 (Mitte)
Why: Well, let’s start with the fact that it’s open 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. So, if you really wanted to you could spend your entire stay in Berlin here. They even have big comfy couches! Who needs a hotel room? But actually, on a more serious note; this shabby chic bar has it all. During the day, it’s socially acceptable to get a (really good) cup of coffee, a big plate of German stew, and whip out your laptop with all the other live-in-bar Berlin hipsters. Want a book to read? You’re in luck! The place used to be an old book shop, hence the bookshelves on the walls, fully decked with books for you to read (some are even the originals!). The later it gets, the more the cocktails are made, the dimmer the lights get, and the louder the music becomes. By 3 am, this once “hipster coffee shop/ chill bar” could be mistaken for a ragin’ trance club, DJ and all.
What to draaank: I got a bangin’ mojito their, but all of their cocktails are delish. These bartenders know what they’re doing it. After all…they got around the clock practice.
Price: 2-3€ for a beer (or coffee…), 5-6€ for a cocktail.
Find it: Torstraße 125
Why: I went here twice. That says a lot, considering when I travel I NEVER repeat places. This bar is the true definition of “Berlin cool.” It’s located in a “graffiti pit” off the main road, where you’ll find a bunch of underground-grunge bars, graffiti everyyyywhere…and kebabs. The minute you get past the (really scary) bouncer and through the rusting doors, you’re going to say to yourself, “ok, I’m in Berlin.” Loud electro-trance music, groovy lighting, bare brick walls, pipes dipping down from the ceiling, and German chicks with dreads bopping back and forth on the dance floor. Hellloooooo Berlin. Once you grab your drank from the bar, make your way to the back room. There, you’ll find German’s smoking (who-knows-what) on worn sofas, and the more active ones playing foosball. And to top it off, their cocktails are all amazing. Especially the….
What to draaank: MOSCOW MULE! I quickly became obsessed with this drink. They make it the absolute best, with fresh ginger and cucumbers. Have your drink, and eat it too.
Price: 5.50€ for a Moscow Mule (and about the same for any other cocktail). 2-3€ for a beer.
Find it: Revaler Straße 99 (Friedrichshain)