big, beautiful berlin

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It’s quite a daunting prospect to write a singular blog post on the rich, diverse food culture of Berlin. After staying in the city for almost two weeks, I still felt like I had only scratched the surface of what it means to be a ‘Berliner’, both in past and present sense.

As you may be aware, Berlin has a significant and dark history that was arguably punctuated by the construction and eventual dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The division between East and West Berlin has resulted in discernible differences across the city in terms of landscape, affluence, culture and population. As one could expect, this has also had impact upon the food.

adalbertstraße

As a newbie to this big, beautiful city, I was fortunate to have some help from a blogging friend to begin exploring some of the local hot spots including Neukölln, Mitte and Kreuzberg. The lovely Claudia from Food with a View spent one morning and one evening with Aaron and I (the second occasion with her partner Arne and our friend Paul) initially at Barcomi’s Deli and secondly at Prinzessinnengärten, an urban garden and café near Moritzplatz. Both experiences were beautiful opportunities to get to know one another whilst enjoying quality coffee, snacks and incredible homemade truffles from Claudia’s kitchen.

Claudia also gifted me with some stunning Amarena cherry and Amaretto liqueur preserve which I’m taking it home to Australia with me (thankfully Claudia has posted the recipe for when my jewel-like jar of deliciousness runs out!).

Thanks again Claudia for your generosity and kindness during our time in Berlin; it’s a blessing to count you as a true friend. If you haven’t yet discovered Food with a View, please head over to Claudia’s blog for beautiful photographs and drool-worthy vegetarian recipes in both Deutsch and English.

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Prior to arriving in Berlin, Claudia emailed me a comprehensive list of notes, links and tips that proved invaluable when trying to unearth the real foodie culture of Berlin. I’ve included some of the websites below, plus a few others that Aaron and I found useful (which I’d recommend browsing if you are planning your own Berlin trip in the future):

Berlin blogs (in English language or with an English option):

Exberliner

Where Berlin

Berlin Food Guide

CeeCee Berlin Newsletter

What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today – Eat Berlin

Now, on to my own personal notes: below you will find some of our favourite places for food and cuture, most of which were frequented more than once over our two weeks in Berlin. Please note, I’ve divided the notes by ‘geographical area’ (i.e. boroughs of Berlin) so that you can plan your future trip(s) accordingly.

Strap in and enjoy a ‘virtual visit’ to what has become one of my favourite cities in the world: big, beautiful Berlin.

A kindly warning before you start: this post is word and picture heavy. Sorry, we had about three million photographs and… well, I loved them all. **Note: associated pictures are BEFORE the name of each establishment.

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Neukölln

During our time in Berlin, Aaron and I continued to gravitate back to Neukölln despite visiting many other local destinations. The combination of grittiness, grunge and flourishing street art was a ‘perfect fit’ for our personalities. Neukölln has one of the highest percentages of immigrants in the city of Berlin and it shows in the vibrant food and street culture. Here are some of our favourite spots:

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Roamers Cafe and Booze – Pannierstraße 64 (near Hermanplatz station)

This lovely little café has a friendliness that was unmatched by many other destinations in Neukölln. It’s a great spot for good coffee, avocado toast (my favourite breakfast) and fresh juices (including melon and rosemary). They also serve booze which is, well, awesome, if you’re a bit like me. It’s an excuse to stay at this gem-of-a-place for hours on end.

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Berlin Burger International – Pannierstraße 5, open from 12pm to midnight

If you’re a fan of doorstopper burgers and beer, you will immediately fall in love with Berlin Burger International. This place is constantly busy for a very good reason. We visited twice during our two weeks in Berlin, initially for Chilli Cheese and Chicken burgers and secondly for Halloumi (a vegetarian option) and Four Cheese. Each burger was better than the last, piled high with fresh salads, bacon and sauce. Go there. You won’t regret it (I haven’t even mentioned the chips… oh my).

Café Myxa – Lenaustraße 22

This place rocks. It’s open til about 1am most nights for booze, breakfast, salads, quiches, great coffee… and free wifi, which always helps. We ventured to Myxa both for breakfast and late-night drinks; both occasions were met with great service and food. They’re also great supporters of local art and music, so check their website for occasional exhibitions and dreamy acoustic sets in the evenings.

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Art und Weise – Leinenstraße 48

This small bar is quite difficult to identify from the street (as it has no signage) however the venture is definitely worth it. Quality cocktails in an eclectic setting. As per Myxa, this place is a huge supporter of local artists so there’s usually an exhibition going on.

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Sowieso – Weisestraße 24

Our favourite Berlin bar (yes, I’m calling it). We returned to Sowieso three times within two weeks for quality cocktails (the cheapest on the street), board games, rocking music and… well, just to mix with the locals. It’s definitely not a touristy establishment. You can also sleep in the bath (if you so desire. No further information; you’ll just have to go there to see what I’m talking about!).

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Klunker Kranich – Karl Marx Straße 66, Neukölln Arcaden (rooftop bar, level 6 carpark)

This open air bar is a bit of a hidden gem. Located in the rooftop carpark of Neukölln’s biggest shopping mall, Klunker Kranich serve giant glasses of wine, quality cocktails and delicious local beers in an ‘urban garden’ setting with woodfired pizzas and couches a-plenty. There’s even a sandpit for the kids (or adults, depending upon what you fancy).

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KR/23 Liquor Company – Weserstraße 53

Also worth mentioning is the tiny shoebox office of the LQR Company. This group of passionate young Germans have long been known as importers of fine whisky and gin but, more recently, they’ve started making their own small-batch kräuterliquör (herb liqueur; think to Jägermeister but MUCH nicer) under the brand KR/23. As per the title, KR/23 contains 23 unique herbs, spices and botanicals, all of which are left to macerate in vodka for approximately 6 weeks before being filtered and bottled. It’s dangerously delicious… but unfortunately, they’re not presently taking online orders. You’ll just have to visit Florian (hello Florian!) yourself for a chat, sample and (yes, it’ll happen) purchase.

Freidrichshain-Kreuzberg

This neighbouring borough to Neukölln has a similar vibe and became our second-favourite part of Berlin city. Freiderichshain was a free-standing borough to Kreuzberg prior to 2001; it was formerly part of East Berlin and has become known for its ‘trendy’ restaurants and bars. Kreuzberg on the other hand has become known for its punk rock culture and large proportion of Turkish immigrants (which in turn has led to the availability of some incredibly authentic Turkish food). We loved everything.

Kaffebar – Graefestraße 8, Kreuzberg

This little café has hands-down the best panini’s in Berlin (that I tried, anyway). They make their own pesto and a great Eggs Benedict. Their coffee was my second favourite in the city (read on for my favourite below), creamy and delicious with just the right amount of bitterness. There are many delicious options for vegans, too.

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Bonanza Coffee Heroes – Oderbergerstraße 35, Kreuzberg

Best coffee in Berlin (according to me, anyway). This café has a very limited range of food or other beverages but the coffee alone is worth the hike.

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Markthalle Neun – Eisenbahnstraße 42/43, Kreuzberg

This place is amazing. It’s a varied venue but we visited purely for the Thursday 7pm food market which beats with incredible food, booze, eclectic people and general energy. Get there before 10pm for pulled pork sandwiches, Asian char siew rolls, handmade pies, delicious ice cream cookies, black bean, guacamole and jalapeno arepas with charred chorizo… need I say more? We went twice in two weeks. That’s testament enough.

Gipfeltreffen – Gorlitzerstraße 68, Kreuzberg

This beautiful cafe cum restaurant is right near the green expanse of Gorlitzer park. We visited on a sunny Summer day and sat outside in the balmy evening breeze; though in saying that, this little place provides delicious breakfast options that are worth the slightly higher price (than many other cafes in Kreuzberg). Pretty decent coffee, too.

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Prinzessinengärten – Prinzessenstraße (Moritzplatz), Kreuzberg

Prinzessinengärten started as a pilot project in the summer of 2009 at Moritzplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg, a site which had been a wasteland for over half a century. A group of dedicated volunteers cleared away rubbish, built transportable organic vegetable plots and reaped the first fruits of their labour. it’s now become a community garden (where people can participate in growing and harvesting processes) with a bar and organic cafe. Go along to meet some of the dedicated individuals who run the urban garden whilst eating beautiful, moist apple cake.

Aunt Benny Café (the Antlered Bunny) – Oderstraße 7, Freiderichshain

This cafe is a little off the Kreuzberg beaten track but the hike is worth it for incredible bagels and to-order mixes of cream cheese. They also serve stunning cakes, juices and great coffee. Do it.

market marketdoor lemonaid

Neue Heimat – Revaler Straße 99, Freiderichshain

Neue Heimat is an awesome market space that offers a range of bars, food, music, art and design, brac-a-brac… everything you could hope for in a thumping event. We attended the Summer Market launch at the beginning of August… unfortunately this season ends on 27/08/2014 but I’d recommend checking their facebook page for events that pop up throughout the year.

Mitte

Mitte (translating to ‘middle’ or ‘centre’ in German) is Claudia’s favourite area in Berlin and I can definitely understand why. It’s vastly different to the gritty area of Neukölln, with clean, calm streets that are distinctly more quiet in the late hours. Mitte is the historical heart of Berlin, containing the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall Memorial. There are also many quality cafes, shopping areas and (most outstandingly) glorious sandwiches. Read on.

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Barcomi’s – Sophie Gips-Höfe, Sophienstraße 21 (near Weinmeisterstraße station)

This lovely New York Style deli has become a Berlin icon due to the fame of its creator, Cynthia Barcomi, who has now written several cookbooks. Aaron and I visited with Claudia (in part due to the fact that its hidden courtyard entry is quite difficult to find for a non-local) and sat in the beautiful outdoor courtyard whilst munching on bagels and a vegetarian plate (with dips, salads, cheeses and fruit salad). Barcomi’s also offers a range of New York style cheesecakes and slices that won’t disappoint.

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Mogg and Melzer – Auguststraße 11-13

This eatery has reached internet fame for a very good reason. Located inside a former Jewish school for girls, Mogg and Melzer specialize in New York style pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork and to-die for Reubens. Each sandwich is served with a pickled gherkin and a side of coleslaw. So, so good. I would travel back to Berlin just for the Reuben (seriously).

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Another couple of interesting (to me, anyway) facts about Berlin:

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1. Wasps. Throughout the warmer months, Berlin has a bit of a wasp problem. They’ll be crawling under the glass on pastry counters, they’ll plague you as you eat (particularly sweet things) and they’ll often crawl into sugar dispensers with spouts that are left on outside tables. As Claudia advised me, “Berlin wasps are easily provoked”, so… just accept it. Tips from the locals: 1) always check your beer bottle for wasps before taking a sip, 2) bang any sugar dispensers horizontally on a table to ensure any wasps fly out before directing it towards your coffee, 3) if they keep coming near your face, gently guide them away with a napkin or piece of paper. Most restaurants have anti-wasp devices (aka jars of honey or nectar, see below) near outside areas to distract wasps from their customers. Interesting.

smoking

2. Smoking. For an Australian used to strict anti-smoking rules in public areas, Berlin’s acceptance of smoking is rather overwhelming. Whether it be shisha pipe, cigar or cigarette, you’ll probably find someone smoking within five metres of your person. I ended up getting headaches from passive smoking after a few hours… not very good. But it’s unavoidable. roamers pizza

3. There’s so much good food that you’ll forget where you ate it all. Like the pizza above; crisp speck with creme fraiche, chives and Spanish onion. So good. From a beer garden somewhere. SO GOOD. breadmantonsteinegarten

So that’s it. My little foodie tour of Berlin, written whilst sitting on the floor of my Uncle’s apartment in (currently dreary) Surrey, England. If you’re heading to Berlin sometime soon, I do hope that you’ll track down some of the delicious haunts that I’m already missing. At the very least, please have a beer for me. Okay?

Prost!

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59 responses

  1. Hi beautiful painfully missed woman!! when i noticed the first ashtray on a table I did wonder how you’d handle the smoking, and now you’re in England (unashamed smoking capital of the world second only to Amsterdam) terribly annoying! Glad you’re enjoying you’re whirlwind tour though, love all the pics, keep enjoying yourselves (so you run out of money and have to come home early) did I say that out loud?! oops. Big love babe xxx

    • Oh how I miss you! I do wonder whether Berlin has overtaken England on the smoking levels though, it was ridiculous! And shishas seem to have become ridiculously cool… They are everywhere. Not just for alternatives now ;) We will be home eventually, the plan now is to drive north in England to Scotland and explore Campbell country. Love you, I’ll tell you when to put the kettle on (as I’m visiting as soon as I get home!) xxx

  2. Oh, how I love your narrative! Here’s a word of advice…if you ever visit Illinois, please don’t set high expectations.I’m afraid it’s quite boring, compared to Europe or Australia. We are just a bunch of cornfields (or ground, if it’s winter). I’ve loved your pictures and stories about your travels and food. Thank you for checking in with us. (P.S. I’m doing good…just slowly getting better, and I’m not a very patient person. But, each day is a step forward, and for that, I’m very grateful for all of the prayers that are being answered). xx

    • I am SO glad that you’re doing ok!! I have been praying daily and thinking of you since the surgery in particular. Glad that you’re getting a bit of escapism with these posts :) As for Illinois, I think if I visited it’d be to see you guys rather than the scenery (so cornfields would be enough!). Australia isn’t that interesting either… I do think that each place is what we make of it, in combination with the people that we are with :) Lots of love, take care beautiful! Xxxx

      • Thank you, sweetie! And that’s why we moved back to the midwest–to be with our families. They mean more than the scenery, for sure! I so appreciate the prayers. I’m more than ready to be back in the kitchen full-time, rather than supervising Jerry. Enjoy your weekend and the rest of your Great Adventure! xx

      • Oh I definitely understand… it’s frustrating to be in the recovery phase. But you will be back in the kitchen before you know it, I’m certain! Thanks for the kind wishes, sending you hugs xx

  3. We totally fell in love with Berlin too. The food scene, the culture…the music!! When we lived in London we visited Berlin a couple of times to attend the Love Parade before it got moved (that’s going a few years back lol). Over 1 million people attending a free dance music festival was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever seen. Love your pictorial accounts and definitely not too photo heavy….I want to see MORE!!!!

    • Wow, that sounds amazing! There was lots of street music when we were there too but definitely not a free festival. Where’s the parade now? And I am so glad that you enjoyed the post. Haha. I could’ve easily made this twice as long (or more!) xx

    • It was so great! We took so many pictures of the street art too, I haven’t added them in here (as the post was so long already!) but every (previously) blank wall over there is now a gallery! Love you xoxo

  4. Brilliant! Have never visited but feel like I just did. I am now hungry and have itchy travel feet. I really enjoy Food with a View. Great to know that Claudia is as lovely a person as she seems in her blog.

    • Oh she definitely is, I feel very lucky to have met Claudia and her partner Arne! Thanks for the lovely comment… I do hope that you get to visit Berlin for real one day :)

  5. What a wonderful Berlin post, dear Laura! As a resident, it is so exciting for me to take a look at my town with your eyes, and my friend, this is amazing. Indeed, I don’t know many of the exciting places that you have visited since we haven’t been around Friedrichshain and Neukölln a lot in recent times. I guess we should do so very soon – thank you so much for so many new great hints :-). I’m very happy that you also liked Street Food Market and Mogg & Melzer, they are both among our favourite Berlin food places.

    It has been such a very big pleasure to meet you and Aaron and Paul, and I wished, Arne and me would have had more time to spend together with you. I do hope that we can do so in the future when we meet again – I am very grateful, too, that I can count you as a friend :-). And last but not least, thanks so much for having such beautiful words about our blog – I want to give back in return the most lovely compliments and thank you again for the wonderful blood-orange infused olive oil, it’s just divine!

    All the best and hugs from Arne and me, and have a great time on your further Europe trip :-).

    • Oh Claudia, I do indeed hope that we meet again soon for more adventures! It was such privilege to catch up twice in two weeks, thanks to you and Arne for taking the time out to meet us and show us around your city! Sending you lots of hugs, you are beautiful inside and out! I hope that you love the little places we found as much as we did xxx

  6. Oh I’m so jealous! I’d love to go to Germany more than any place in the world (well, as much as NY and Australia) and apart from all that smoke Berlin sounds super amazeballs :) I’ll have to make a trip sometime and keep this post for reference – what a work: you’re definitely on your way to creating a very comprehensive guidebook!

    • Haha… oh my gosh, I had even more notes than this! It’s certainly amazing… I do hope that you get there yourself one day Trixie (oh yes… NYC is on my list too!). By the way… Aaron and I are in ENGLAND at the moment, we’re about to start a road trip at the end of this week. First stop is South West, Cornish peninsula… I don’t quite remember whereabouts in the South you and Clemmie live, but would you like to meet for a real cuppa tea? Email me lovely!! xx

  7. Laura, your photos are amazing, so vivid and breath taking! I am living vicariously through you and your amazing travels. . Berlin looks amazing (minus the smoking and wasps!)!! and aren’t foodie blogging friends the best?! What did we do for traveling/restaurant recommendations before blogs? :P I guess bloggers might be putting some travel guides out of business! I’ll be working on my gnocchi for you soon! I had to order a gnocchi roller. . I know I can use a fork but this was a great chance for me to actually order one! :)

    • Yes indeed Alice, I feel so blessed to meet blogging friends during my travels! I cannot wait to see your gnocchi post… I know that it’s going to be amazing. Thanks for offering to do one despite your busy schedule!! Hugs xx

  8. Lovely post with even more lovely pictures! We visited Berlin a few years ago in December during the holidays. It was freezing (!) beyond but we braved the cold to go to all the Christmas markets where we warmed up with hot chocolate in mugs and buying stuffed animals from the locals. I’d love to go back sometime soon and get to see it in a big warmer weather. Thanks for this post! <3

    • Thanks so much Pamela! My partner Aaron has been to Berlin during winter. He said that the Christmas markets, hot gluhwein, tree lights and grilled bratwurst were completely worth getting half-frozen for! I did love the Summer season though. Such good weather, art festivals everywhere and plenty of cold beer! I hope you get to see it one day… being the artsy couple you are, I think you and Matthew would adore it xx

    • Thanks Graz, yeah it’s been the worst few months of my life ;) And YES you would love the Berlin food scene, the burgers at Berlin Burger were freaking amazing. I’m going to try and replicate the chilli beef when I get home to kick your burger lovin’ ass!! Ha (actually, I’ve been doing so little cooking over here… I think I’ve forgotten how to make burgers altogether. I miss my kitchen)

  9. Laura, thank you for sharing your Berlin experience! It brought me back to the few days I spent in Berlin in college. History feels so alive in Berlin! The city has such a unique story. Safe travels, lovely!

    • You are so right Kate! The history in Berlin still seemed so raw and poignant, despite the wall coming down a couple of decades ago. I loved everything about the city and I can’t wait to go back! Thanks for the lovely wishes beautiful! x

  10. Laura – loved every bit of this post – especially all the photos. I haven’t been to Berlin since I was 14 (1972) and so much has changed in every way. I must go back! One thing that hasn’t changed (and I will never get used to) is the smoking. It can be pretty bad throughout much of Europe and, like you, I am used to our strict non-smoking policies and laws. Thanks for sharing your magica trip. Tchüß!

    • Oh you and Mark definitely need to revisit David! It’s such an amazing, vibrant city. I think it’s a city that continually redefines itself also :) Glad that you enjoyed the post my friend!

  11. You know, I’ve never really thought of Berlin as a place I’d choose to visit over others. But you’ve added it to my list! Your photos, as always, are incredible. I can’t seem to understand people who don’t understand how other people like photos of food– Clearly those people have never seen food photos like yours! I want to teleport right now to Berlin Burger International and eat the burgers you ate. Aaaand pretty much every other thing you ate! Haha. Well, except the reuben. Sauerkraut is not a food I enjoy, but I’ll keep that out of conversation with the Germans when I visit. ;) I love all the local non-touristy recommendations! Those are always the best of places.

    Thanks for the first-hand view of your stay in Berlin! xxxx

    • Oh how I wish you could’ve been there at Berlin Burger Ali, the food was amazing! Rob would’ve loved the beer selection too! I’m glad that you loved the photos… Aaron always laughs at the proportion of food photos in my ‘holiday snaps’. I’m definitely a blogger-away-from-home! Hugs, glad that you enjoyed the post xx

    • It’s an incredible city. Bikes are definitely a great way to travel around but… we did see a couple of close shaves (cyclists in traffic, almost getting hit by trucks! Argh!). Hope that you get a chance to go one day. I adore the place xx

  12. Now that was a great trip! I was in Berlin about a year after the Wall came down. What a contrast between East and West! I’ve always wanted to get back there to see how well the 2 parts have merged. That they did it at all speaks volumes of its citizens and countrymen. Thanks for taking the time to organize and write this post. I really do need to get back there. :)

    • Oh wow, that would’ve been an incredibly significant trip John. I heard a lot of people talking about pre and post the demolition of the wall. There is still much difference between East and West which was fascinating for me (as a visitor who wanted to learn) to experience. I do hope you get back there one day. It’s one of my favourite cities now!

  13. Oh GOODNESS, lady, I love everything about this post. I’ve been to Europe a bit but never Berlin, never Germany! I am so eager to go. PS could murder that bagel right now. & BURGERS. Gah. Want. Adore your photos, am loving catching up on your blog x

    • Oh you must go Heidi!!!! It’s an amazing place, I think that you and Ben would adore it. So glad that you enjoyed the post… it was so much fun to write. But now I’m missing Berlin. Already. Gah! xxx

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  16. Thank you so much for this amazing list! It was so helpful!
    My husband and I just got back from our first trip to Berlin and we can’t wait to go back again! We completely fell in love and spent a lot of time fantasizing about moving there! If we didn’t have dogs we might just pick up and do it!

    We went to Roamers thanks to your advice and it did NOT disappoint!!! The food was phenomenal and felt so nice and light and fresh compared to the rest of the (mostly heavy & rich) food we ate on our trip. SO delicious!
    The servers were all native English speakers, which made us feel right at home too!

    The only thing I found a bit odd was how aggressively “hip” their decor felt. We live in the heart of hipster Brooklyn (Bushwick/Williamsburg) and felt like Roamers put Brooklyn’s level of hip to shame! Hahaha!
    It was so delicious though that it didn’t seem to matter much ;)

    • I definitely get what you mean Tux, Aaron and I wanted to move there ourselves (I still keep talking about it intermittently… and as we’ve got a dog too, I’ve even done a bit of research on the logistics of putting Loki in a travelling container for such a long journey! Would not be fun). Such an incredibly interesting city, so much cultural diversity, food and art (and booze, I do like me some booze). Glad that you and Russ had a good time there, despite encountering hipster-ville, haha! Roamers wasn’t quite that bad when we went. Maybe there’s been a bit of a decor overhaul since we were there… makes me cringe just thinking about it! At least the food didn’t disappoint! Glad you’re home safely too.

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