Berlin Like A Local: An Unconventional Day In Mitte

© Pablo Benzo | Courtesy of Magic Beans Gallery
© Pablo Benzo | Courtesy of Magic Beans Gallery
Photo of Brienne Pierce
21 September 2016

Mitte is the the literal epicenter of Berlin‘s cultural anatomy. Tourists flock to the heart of this city mistaking attractions for authentic experiences. The laundry list of conventional sights is weighted with pontification. So much gets missed in a city when ‘should’ becomes the operative word, when the onerous pressure of conventionality takes precedence. Berlin is a city of endless pockets, an orgiastic web of liveliness. An area like Mitte, because of its abundance of significant stops, becomes overgrown with chains and tourist traps. Skip the traditional guidebook agenda, and take the less beaten path. Mitte is a massive ‘hood, so here are some suggestions around Oranienburger Tor.

Grab a Beer at Clärchens Ballhaus

Clärchens Ballhaus is kind of a one-size-fits-all kind of place without losing any sort of personality. The exterior aches with an antiquated beauty that is slightly subdued by its location – it’s almost hidden in plain sight. Partly a music venue, partly a restaurant, and most importantly a charming beer garden, Clärchens Ballhaus fits any situation. The anachronistic interior mirrors a classic German style with hearty German (and Italian) eats. The exterior is a quaint beer garden sprinkled with twinkling lights, worn benches, and overgrown vegetation juxtaposing a brick-clad wall. It’s not a beer garden celebrated for its size, but rather its romantic allure. Clärchens Ballhaus was and still is a dancehall, making it possible to dance (not move haphazardly to blaring techno) whilst downing some hefeweizens. They also offer daily dance classes that cater to a more traditional type of movement, think waltz or tango. A pint in their quaint beer garden makes you forget you’re in Mitte.

Clärchens Ballhaus, Auguststraße 24, Berlin, Germany, +49 (0)30 2829295

Get some Kunst at Magic Beans Gallery

New to the neighborhood, Magic Beans Gallery is a highly welcomed addition to the contemporary art scene in Berlin. Its name stems from the story Jack and the Bean Stalk. A concept that implies how, even though artists sometimes grow separately, they can still meet in the sky or – in this case – a hip new gallery. The international and alacritous crew have a passion for diversified art due to their seasoned background. Showcasing new and thriving artists from around the globe, there’s always something or someone to discover at Magic Beans. The highly involved crew takes time to select their emerging artists based on craft and personality, often exploring the studios of their talent. It’s an art gallery that sees itself as a community; they are building their own colorful family, one artist at a time. With a rolodex of well-known, less-known, and emerging artists, their diversified shows shape their artistic voice. Their emphasis on young artists has nothing to do with age and everything to do with a fresh vivacity. Young here seems to be engendered to blossoming. A spacious and bright inside beckons fellow art lovers to relish, relax, and rethink a traditional galley.

Magic Beans Gallery, Auguststrasse 86, Berlin, Germany

Shot by © Martin Peterdamm / Courtesy of Magic Beans Gallery

Shot by © Martin Peterdamm / Courtesy of Magic Beans Gallery

Chow Down at District Môt

District Môt is a place that cannot be missed due to its colorful exterior. Think prismatic plastic furniture and fun awnings hugging their exterior. Their concept is Saigon street food. The phrase authentic gets thrown around often, but District Môt earns that quality by even having insects on their menu, for the brazen. It’s hard to get more authentic Vietnamese street food in Berlin than that. Their playful food ranges from fried sweet potatoes to proper Bun Cha ( BBQ beef with rice noodles and herbs). No aesthetic detail is spared in an attempt to recreate a Saigon street food haven. They even use toilet paper as napkins. If District Mot’s hyper-kitsch atmosphere isn’t enough to grab you, perhaps their flavor explosions will do the trick. Everything seems to tie into one another here, the food reflects the atmosphere and the atmosphere reflects the food. It’s a fun way to introduce Vietnamese street food for those who haven’t tried it and for those who miss it, it will be a reunion.

District Môt, Rosenthaler Str. 62, Berlin, Germany, +49 (0)30 20089284

District Môt | Courtesy of Brienne Pierce

Get Caffeinated at The Barn

Berlin’s third-wave coffee scene is no secret. It’s a movement that has made coffee aficionados proud and encouraged eager java heads to chase their next perfect cup. The Barn is a roastery and café that integrates knowledge, passion, and craft into its philosophy. The idea echoes the slow food movement, keeping distance between product and source. The owner Ralf Rüller is quality-obsessed, and it shows. He tries to keep the integrity of the coffee flavors by showcasing what’s really important: the standard of the beans. That’s why it’s not the place one can pop into for some for the lactose lovers. As a principle they don’t serve filter coffee with milk; cold milk and hot brews don’t mix in this joint. An enlightening chat with the barista can be expected. For those fervent about the art of coffee, The Barn is a spot to get caffeinated and educated. The minimalist interior reflects their artistry, an emphasis on purity. A selection of sumptuous treats await a pairing with this high-caliber brew.

The Barn, Auguststraße 58, Berlin, Germany

Get literary at Do You Read Me?!

With an excellent magazine and book selection, Do You Read Me?! is the go-to spot for variety. Its layout is almost museum-like, boasting floor to ceiling shelves that make the literature look like works of art. The mix of stark colors in the decor make the interior look pristine. The hyper-relaxed staff have an encyclopedic knowledge and are eager to assist. It’s a place to shop for books and magazines that carries an air of sophistication without being stuffy. It’s not the bookstore littered with comfy old chairs and busts of deceased greats, which is charming in another right. Do You Read Me?! holds its own in terms of bookstores because of its ambiance and its quality aesthetically-minded offerings.

Do You Read Me?! Auguststraße 28, Berlin, Germany, +49 (0)30 69549695

By Brienne Pierce

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