Known for a somewhat brisk mentality, Berliners are true to form when it comes to food on-the-go: sure Berlin is a contender for best kebab in the world, but beyond that there’s a host of fast, hearty and best of all, cheap street food options.
At the head of the table is the unholy trinity of Currywurst, Bockwurst and Bratwurst, but add to this the flavours of Berlin’s diverse ethnic communities – Turkish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Slavic – and eating here is an exciting experience. At the higher end, the scene has vastly improved over the past few years. Where there was once a dependence on stuffy luxury hotels, Berlin now has its fair share of the coveted Michelin stars, while contemporary mores for sustainable and locally sourced produce are flourishing. Whether it’s cooking of the molecular variety or a Schnitzel the size of a plate, the city is dishing it out with the best of them.
This tiny Japanese restaurant is tucked away on the predominantly Turkish Kottbusser Damm; it looks as if it’s been lifted directly out of Shinjuku, right down to the dog-eared posters of old Sumo stars. The lunch menu is a steal for fresh sushi.
Musashi, Kottbusser Damm 102, 10967 Berlin (
030 693 2042). U1, U8, Kottbusser Tor. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Taxi drivers swear by the döner at this Rosenthaler Platz institution, but they also deserve acclaim for the pizzas hurtling out of the wood oven.
Schlemmerbuffet, Torstraße 125, 10119 Berlin (030 283 2153). U8 Rosenthaler Platz. Open 24/7 daily.
The hollowed-out remains of an old public toilet under the tracks of the U1 serve as the kitchen for this popular burger joint. The patties are generous and grilled to order and make perfect fodder before a night in the Kreuzberg clubs.
Burgermeister, Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin (0176 2153 0440, www.burger-meister.de()). U1 Schlesisches Tor. Open 11am-2am Mon-Thur; 11am-4am Fri, Sat; 3pm-2am Sun.
Styling himself ‘The King of Falafel’, it’s actually Mo’s wife who forms the little chick-pea balls at this hole in the wall on Graefestraße. Mo himself has his own place on Urbanstraße and they are a winning team, both serving enormous falafel wraps stuffed with salad for just a few euros.
Mo’s Falafel, Graefestraße 99,
10967 Berlin (
030 7407 3666). U1, U8 Kottbusser Tor. Open 1-11pm daily.
Another Berlin street classic, this rotisserie churns out food thick and fast to a mixed crowd of punky students, workmen and Turkish families. It’s no wonder really, with a half of spit-roast chicken and fries for just €3.50.
Hühnerhaus, Görlitzer Straße 1, 1
10997 Berlin (030 6122 532). U1 Görlitzer Bahnhof. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
The infamous Berlin Currywurst is best enjoyed as a punchy breakfast when returning from a wild night out, and this Mehringdamm spot is one of the oldest and best; expect queues.
Curry 36, Mehringdamm 36
10961 Berlin (030 251 7368, www.curry36.de). U6, U7 Mehringdamm. Open 9am-4am Mon-Fri; 10am-4am Sat; 11am-3am Sun.
Italian punks opened this pizzeria, which explains the load of old NoFX tour posters still adorning the walls. Now a small chain, the Kreuzberg location is still the best with its outdoor terrace seating on Planüfer overlooking the canal. Service is sharp but the thin, crispy bases of the pizzas are excellent.
Il Casolare, Grimmstraße 30,
10967 Berlin (
030 6950 6610). U1, U8 Kottbusser Tor. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
This cute Mitte restaurant ups the competition among Berlin’s many Vietnamese restaurants. Their pho perfectly balances the delicate fragrances of lemongrass, ginger and chilli with its tasty and pure chicken stock. No reservations.
Monsieur Vuong, Alte Schönhauser Straße 46
, 10119 Berlin (
030 9929 6924, www.monsieurvuong.de). Sbahn, U2, U5, U8 Alexanderplatz. Open 12noon-12midnight.
Easily the best köfteci in town. The Turkish baguette is toasted over the grilling meats, which you pick from an assortment of veal and lamb kebabs. Finished with rocket, mint leaves and plenty of umac, the sandwich takes on a life of its own.
Gel Gör, Kottbusser Damm 80, 10967 Berlin (030-6958 2753). U8 Schönleinstraße. Open 12noon-12midnight daily.
Yearning for an authentic sausage fix, but concerned about the industrially processed content of your average Imbiss offering? look no further. Witty’s features a fully organic menu of Berlin staples, including Currywurst and fries, at the slightest of premiums.
Witty’s, Wittenbergplatz 5
, 10789 Berlin (030 211 9496). U1, U2, U3 Wittenbergplatz. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Fans of this Kreuzberg restaurant may try to keep it a closely guarded secret. Its traditional Austro-Hungarian menu, including game dishes and goulash, is served up without any of the traditional Austrian stuffiness. Red walls and candle-lit interior make this a good choice for the romantically inclined.
Jolesch, Muskauer Straße 1
, 10997 Berlin (
030 6123 581, www.jolesch.de). U1 Görlitzer Bahnhof. Open 9.30am-1am daily.
Impossible to find from the street, this cute Italian joint has white linen strung up all along the ceiling, as a nod to the original occupant, a laundry house. There is just one fixed menu for dinner at the very reasonable price of €40 a head. It changes weekly and features a large selection of classic antipasti, such as tonnato, squid salad and sardines, followed by a pasta starter and homely mains. All this is washed down by a choice of wines from the Sabina area in Italy. Bookings essential.
Lavanderia Vecchia, Flughafenstraße 46,
12053 Berlin (030 6272215, www.lavanderiavecchia.de). U8 Boddinstrasse. Open 12noon-11pm Mon-Fri; 1-11pm Sat, Sun.
A Prenzlauer Berg staple, it’s a case of love it or hate it when it comes to The Bird's famously meaty burgers and no-nonsense approach to American staples. Kitchen towels are provided at the table to encourage a hands-on approach. Meat is sourced directly from Iowa to make the doorstop-thick hunks of grilled steak, served with mounds of hand-cut fries. The variety of burger fillings are served unusually, in between floury English muffins. If you have room, the homemade cheesecake comes highly recommended.
The Bird, Am Falkplatz 5
, 10437 Berlin (030 5105 3283, www.thebirdinberlin.com). U2 Schönhauser Allee. Open 6pm-1am Mon-Thur; 5pm-2am Fri; 12noon-2am Sat, Sun.
Café Jacques is a charming little candle-lit spot on the Maybachufer, on the Nuekölln side of the Landwehr canal. The menu is of mixed provenance fare, with heavy French-Algerian influences and a fantastic wine list. Its dark and cosy interiors mean it’s a real dating favourite, so reservations are recommended.
Café Jacques, Maybachufer 8, 12047 Berlin (030 694 1048). U8 Schönleinstraße. Open 6pm-2am Mon-Sat; 6pm-12am Sun.
The original Cantonese mainstay and still the best, Good Friends provides a welcome alternative to the large number of nondescript pan-Asian restaurants around. In Charlottenburg’s very own miniature Chinatown, this place packs out with large groups of in-the-know Asians, tourists and locals alike; the hustle and bustle adds to the atmosphere, but equally authentic are dishes such as jellyfish with eggs of a thousand years and lettuce stuffed with pork and chestnuts.
Good Friends, Kantstraße 30
10623 Berlin (030 3132 659, www.goodfriends-berlin.de). S-bahn Savignyplatz. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Part of the vaunted ‘New Spanish Wave’, the actor Daniel Brühl – born in Barcelona – teamed up with an old friend Atilano González to show Berlin how it’s done. In a large modern canteen-like setting overlooking Gorlitzer Park, the open-plan kitchen plates up classics such as Spanish omelette, salt-cod fritters and succulent Bellota hams. Match your meal with a crisp Fino sherry.
Bar Raval, Lübbener Straße 1, Ecke Görlitzer Strasse, 10997 Berlin (030 5316 7954, www.barraval.de). Open 5-11pm Mon-Thur; 5pm-12midnight Fri; 12noon-12midnight Sat; 12noon-11pm Sun.
Sarah Weiner im Hamburger Bahnhof
The energetic television chef Sarah Weiner brings her fresh take on German cooking to an awesome setting – Hamburger Bahnhof houses modern and contemporary art in a former railway station. This is the more popular of her three museum cafés and opens only for lunch and tea.
Sarah Weiner im Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstraße 50,
10557 Berlin (030 7071 3650, www.sarahwiener.de). S-bahn Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Open 10am-6pm Tue-Fri; 11am-8pm Sat; 11am-6pm Sun.
The Russian influences on Berlin are alive and kicking in this Friedrichshain restaurant. Not only are customers greeted by giant wall paintings of the eponymous doll, but the cooks cater expertly for the Russian palette. A star of the no-frills approach to home cooking is the powerful borscht.
Matreshka, Boxhagener Straße 60
, 10245 Berlin (
0163 987 0767). U5 Frankfurter Allee. Open 12noon-10pm daily.
Café am Neuen See
In contrast to the rundown living room bars of East Berlin, this lakeside beer garden provides a taste of well-heeled Bavarian life, and is best for al fresco dining. Refreshing draught beers and the usual sausage choices are on offer, albeit at Münich prices.
Café am Neuen See, Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin (030 2544 930, www.cafe-am-neuen-see.de). S-bahn Tiergarten. Open 10am-late daily.
Sale e Tabacchi
This sleek, modern Italian serves an imaginative trattoria-style menu with classic dishes such as stuffed courgette flowers and ossobuco. The restaurant is housed in a building owned by Tageszeitung, a left-leaning broadsheet beloved of Berliners while nearby is the Axel Springer media complex, home to Bild and many magazines; this high-ceilinged dining room therefore sees trendy Mitte folk rubbing shoulders with journalists and tabloid hacks alike.
Sale e Tabacchi, Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 23
, 10969 Berlin (030 2521 155, www.sale-e-tabacchi.de). U2 Kochstraße. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Nola’s am Weinberg
This Swiss café is housed within a former pavilion in Weinberg park above Rosenthaler Platz in Prenzlauer Berg. It boasts a roomy terrace overlooking a grassy slope, dotted with sunbathers whenever weather permits. Among hearty staples such as goulash and fondue, take note of the rösti, which is extremely dense and comes topped with a fried egg.
Nola’s am Weinberg, Veteranenstraße 9,
10119 Berlin, (030 4404 0766, www.nola.de). U2 Rosenthaler Platz. Open 10am-1am daily.
Part of the latest American influx, Kevin Avery and Jeffrey Sfire started out by running the Palisaden Supper Club and have expanded with this super trendy Neukölln restaurant. The interiors were sourced from an architectural salvage yard, and make a perfect setting for the changing menu of impeccably presented dishes composed with produce sourced from local growers, farmers and hunters. Expect dishes such as pig’s head and red lentil soup and prune-Armagnac ice cream.
Little Otik, Graefestraße 7, 1
10967 Berlin (
030 5036 2301, www.littleotik.de). U8 Schönleinstraße. Open 7pm-12midnight Wed-Sat.
Great staff and a bustling atmosphere make this Prenzlauer Berg eatery the first choice for authentic Japanese food in Berlin. The sashimi here is eye-poppingly fresh and they also serve the interesting thick sushi rolls futo maki alongside an extensive sake menu. This place packs out: reservations required.
Sasaya, Lychener Straße 50, 10437 (030 4471 7721). U2 Eberswalderstraße. Open 12noon-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm Thur-Tue; closed Wed.
A grand old dame of the Berlin restaurant scene, the original 1853 brasserie was destroyed during World War II but continues to feed the city’s better-heeled residents in a faithful reconstruction next door. Barrack Obama was recently seen eating in its palatial dining room, which provides a rich menu of oysters, steaks and Schnitzels produced to exacting standards by head chef Markus Herbicht. Book well in advance.
Borchardt, Franzosische Str. 47, 10117 Berlin (030 8188 6262, www.gastart.de). U6 Französische Straße. Open 12noon-12midnight daily.
A fairly recent arrival to Berlin, Grill Royal opened to much fanfare – an array of celebrities and big wigs were photographed as they tucked into mammoth steaks. Meat is sourced with expertise from Argentina, Ireland and Australia, and increasingly, more local produce is being introduced to the menu. The front of the restaurant commands a view of the Spree and the Pergamon, but the interior is not to be missed. The walls are adorned with art from the owner’s collection, which sits alongside rows of enormous fridges displaying their meaty treasures with equal pride.
Grill Royal, Friedrichstraße 105 10117 (
030 2887 9288, www.grillroyal.com). U6 Friedrichstraße. Open 6pm-12midnight Tue-Sun.
Situated in Mitte’s Camper Hotel, Dos Palillos is the brainchild of El Bulli protégé Albert Raurich. With a sister restaurant in Barcelona, the concept behind it is to provide traditional Japanese dishes in a tapas style. There is a 12-course tasting menu at a reasonable €45 as well as the more extravagant 16-course option. Expect dishes such as burdock root pickle, marinated algae with sea snail and onsen tamago, where eggs are, so tradition goes, simmered in the waters of Japanese thermal springs.
Dos Palillos, Weinmeisterstraße 1,
10178 Berlin (
030 2000 3413, www.dospalillos.com). U8Weinmeisterstraße. Open 6.30-11pm daily.
Pappa e Ciccia
Pappa e Ciccia is another delightfully modern Italian restaurant with its own delicatessen attached, providing for the canoli-loving denizens of Prenzlauer Berg. Pizzas, homemade pastas and more substantial fare are all served at the large communal dining table by snappy Italian staff. Try the delicious spread of antipasti served as Sunday brunch. All certified organic to boot.
Pappa e Ciccia, Schwedter Straße 18
, 10435 Berlin (
030 77905976, www.pappaeciccia.de). U2 Senefelderplatz. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Christian Lohse is currently the only Berlin chef to boast two Michelin stars at this lavish restaurant within the Regent Hotel in Mitte. Specialising in impressive fish dishes – a sea bass cassoulet or tartar of smoked eel might be on the menu – the availability of private rooms makes it a prime location for power lunches and the exercising of expense accounts. As with many high-end establishments, you can sample Lohse’s culinary genius with the more affordable prix-fixe lunch, where two courses are available for €35.
Fischers Fritz, Charlottenstraße 49,
10117 Berlin (
030 2033-6363, www.fischersfritzberlin.com). U6 Französische Straße. Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
Exciting German chef, Stefan Goldman rightfully proves his Michelin credentials in this Neukölln townhouse basement with his weaving together of traditional French ingredients. Tasteful surroundings accompany meals of monkfish with artichoke variation or veal kidney and sweetbread and mille-feuille of white chocolate.
Hartmann’s, Fichtestraße 31,
10967 Berlin (
030 6120-1003, www.hartmanns-restaurant.de). U7 Südstern. Open 6pm-12midnight Mon-Sat.
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