It used to be all about currywurst and döner kebabs, but the Berlin food scene is now an explosive, constantly expanding mix of tradition, innovation, and a lot of style. Take the scenic route and discover each neighbourhood’s idiosyncratic appeal through their eclectic cafés and restaurants.
Tucked away down a quiet side street in Friedrichshain, BöseBubenBar is a warm, cosy oasis where you can happily spend a whole afternoon. With a homegrown, laid back feel, complete with book-lined walls and slouchy leather sofas to sink into, the rustic food (which is served on mis-matched china) just adds to the atmosphere. Everything smells amazing, but the feta cheese and honey omelette is a house speciality and is a must-order. That said, make sure you leave space for one of the many home made cakes!
Tap into the vegan, vegetarian, healthy-eating ethos which is taking over Berlin at this slick Israeli restaurant whose philosophy – ‘eat with bare hands and pleasure’ – sums up the atmosphere. At Hummus & Friends, the hummus is, unsurprisingly, the staple ingredient which the rest of the menu revolves around, and it’s very, very good. Drizzled with tahini and topped with parsley and fava beans, it’s the perfect complement to the various tapas dishes on offer, all of which are inventive and exotic. Top picks include the oven roasted beetroot and sweet potato and the crispy cauliflower. The food here is excellently priced, so it’s not hard to justify sampling everything!
Berlin winters can be brutal, and sometimes all you need is a bit of comfort food to warm you up. Schönes Cafe, nestled in one of the quieter streets of Kreuzberg, serves up delicious home made cakes and mouth-watering Dutch-style pancakes, which are thick, pan sized, and stuffed with all kinds of toppings from camembert and cranberry sauce to crispy bacon and maple syrup. Coupled with the excellent hot chocolate and coffee, a brief brunch here can easily turn into an all day feast.
In Berlin, döner kebab’s are the highest quality fast food around, so forget any pre-conceived notions you might have about kebabs until you’ve tied one from Rüya. A little off the beaten track and tucked away in Schoeneberg, this unassuming little cafe is the kind of place real Berliners visit frequently. The succulent chicken doneris layered with spices and comes topped with char-grilled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a spoonful of Turkish white cheese.
Although predominantly a bar, Dachkammer also has a small menu to complement the array of cocktails available (the Rusty Nail is especially great). Choose from generously portioned plates of nachos or wafer thin Flammkuchen, a kind of Alpine-esque version of a pizza which can be topped with either feta cheese or onion and bacon – either way, it’s the best kind of bar food! This local hangout has a wonderfully laid back atmosphere; it’s at once artsy and bohemian while being very welcoming.
If it’s vegan food you’re after and your sweet tooth needs satisfying, then Charlie’s Asian Bakery & Coffee is the place to go. This café is all about fusion and innovation: the Vietnamese coffee is made with condensed milk, and the decor is a mix of brightly coloured vintage furniture and Japanese ceramics. All of the food is vegan, and very decently priced. The matcha banana chocolate cake, topped with bright green icing, might look like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, but tastes delicious, and the lemon vanilla blueberry cake is also very good. Grab a spot by the window and enjoy people watching while eating a delicious pastry.
For a totally different foodie experience, brace yourself for the frenetic energy of the Street Food Thursday fair. Located in the old Markthalle 9, an unrenovated market hall near Gorlitzer Banhof, it’s a whirlwind of sights, smells and every kind of cuisine imaginable, from Thai tapioca dumplings to Nigerian FuFu and New York cheesecake. Vendors change every week, so who knows what you’ll find —but rest assured you won’t be disappointed. Go with stamina and an appetite!