Kreuzberg has long been attracting hungry visitors, all hoping to experience the area’s vibrancy through the innovative restaurants for which it has become known. Beat the tourist traps and discover the best restaurants that energetic Kreuzberg has to offer.
Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s most popular neighbourhoods, home to many of the city’s most renowned attractions: Berlinische Galerie and the Jewish Museum, the charming Landwehr Canal and some of Berlin’s best street food at Markthalle Neun. A diverse district, with restaurants that reflect its contemporary spirit and some that echo the area’s turbulent past, Kreuzberg is making a name for itself as a prime destination for foodies. Kreuzberg’s best restaurants run the gamut from vegan twists on German classics and authentic Turkish cuisine, to Michelin-star fine dining.
There are three Burgermeister outlets throughout Berlin, but the one by the Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn is the best sit-in to enjoy what is arguably the most popular independent burger place in the city. Burgers start at €4, with prices rising just a little for the more decadent options. These include the bacon-laden Meisterburger – a house favourite, best combined with cheese fries and washed down with a lemonade or beer. While a restaurant in its own right, Burgermeister stays open until 3 or 4am, attracting hordes of hungry burger-devotees seeking a post-party snack. You can expect to queue to partake in this fast-food heaven.
Walking inside this Tyrolean-style restaurant is like being transported to a cosy lodge in the Alps. Wirtshaus zum Mitterhofer deals in southern dishes, such as the highly recommended schnitzel, potato salad and käsespätzle (a hearty dish of fresh pasta dumplings, cheese and fried onions). Anyone looking to try something a little more unusual can sample tafelspitz boiled veal or beef with broth, served accompanied by minced apples and horseradish) with hollandaise-esque Bolzano sauce, washed down with slightly sweet Tyrolese Gewürtztraminer white wine. Make sure you go hungry; in the team’s own words, the food is “not small and definitely not fat-free”.
In Berlin, it can sometimes seem like meat-eaters have all the fun. That’s certainly not the case in Kreuzberg, and in particular at Café V, a relaxed restaurant offering a vegan and vegetarian menu that changes weekly. The owners dub their style ‘Swabian-Mediterranean’, meaning there’s a fusion of classic southern German dishes with flavourful Mediterranean ingredients. Here vegetarians can experience a seitan schnitzel, along with a vegetarian take on the popular ravioli-esque pasta dish maultaschen, which is filled with seitan (a wheat-based meat substitute), vegetables, garlic-yoghurt sauce and tomato rather than the classic meat and spinach. Drawing guests for 22 years to its airy space and charming terrace, Café V is a relief for anyone wanting to try local food without eating meat.
Kreuzberg is home to a large Turkish community and, as such, a Turkish meal is just as much of a local dining experience as anything more traditionally German. In an area saturated with competing oçakbasi (charcoal barbecue) grillhouses, Fes offers a unique selling point in its innovative DIY approach, taking its cue from Korean BBQ. With a grill on every table, guests can cook slabs of fresh marinated beef, chicken, or lamb to their own taste alongside some delicious meze dishes (and a jug of raki aniseed brandy for anyone feeling particularly brave). The restaurant’s interior fuses tradition and contemporary interior design, with exposed brick walls and minimalist furniture offset by the vibrant traditional patterns on the cushions. Book well in advance, as Fes fills up fast.
For a tranquil dining experience, head to riverside restaurant Freischwimmer. Set in a former boathouse on a canal just off the River Spree, this relaxed dining spot is packed with antique wooden furniture and boasts stunning views of the water. On balmy summer days, Freischwimmer’s outside spaces become Kreuzberg’s ultimate chill-out spot, while the restaurant’s candlelit interior is wonderfully cosy. The affordable, unpretentious menu is packed with comfort food like beef stroganoff and fresh Mediterranean-inspired treats such as feta tart filled with beetroot and caramelised walnuts. Pro tip: try the Saturday breakfast buffet or Sunday brunch buffet from 10am, and follow up your meal with an afternoon exploring the nearby East Side Gallery.
A true Berlin institution, the building now home to Michelin-star restaurant Richard has been witness to the German capital’s tumultuous 20th-century history. The 1930s saw the Nazi elite come here to party, while in the 1970s Leftists would head to this grand space on Köpenicker Strasse to hang out and debate. Centring on French cuisine with international twists – think goat with chanterelle mushrooms and paprika, or roasted white asparagus with bottarga cured fish roe, tarragon and peanuts – Richard’s contemporary culinary offering is just as elegant as its decor, which features an ornate carved wooden ceiling and bubble chandeliers. Aside from the regular menu, which changes with the seasons, there’s an extensive vegetarian selection on offer – try the grilled aubergine with sesame. The restaurant might be a piece of Berlin history, but it is frequented by trendy Kreuzbergers of all ages.
This Kreuzberg stalwart has served one thing since it opened in 1908: milk-fed rotisserie chicken. Anywhere that can survive over a hundred years on one dish alone must be special and, accordingly, Henne should be high on the Kreuzberg culinary ‘to-do’ list. Pair the rotisserie chicken with traditional German potato salad and cabbage. The decor is charming and old-fashioned, with antiques lining the dining room shelves – an echo of the restaurant’s longevity. Don’t miss out on the extensive Bavarian beer list, and be sure to book early in advance. This rule always applies, but particularly so in summer when the garden area opens up and Henne’s popularity soars.
Umami is located on bustling Bergmannstraße, one of Kreuzberg’s most stylish and charming streets and a burgeoning destination in itself. In a neighbourhood populated with foodie options – from colourful Thai restaurants to American-inspired coffee joints – Umami stands out for its 1950s decor and delicious bowls of pan-Asian delights. The affordable menu (many things are sub 10 euros) ensures that vegetarians are well catered for (try the Diving Dough dumpling filled with pak choi, shiitake and tofu), while meat-eaters will love options like the roast duck with Thai basil pesto. The terrace area is packed all year round (not only in summer) and makes for the perfect people-watching spot in this unique yet sometimes overlooked part of Kreuzberg.
Kreuzberg has its share of fine-dining establishments, and Tim Raue sits at the top of an exquisite list. With two Michelin stars, ambient retro decor and a refined menu which draws on the chef’s love of Asian cuisines, Tim Raue is famed for such dishes as wasabi langoustine and unusual dim sum fillings including pea and Peruvian mint with green curry. Dishes are delicately constructed for maximum taste and plate appeal, while the in-house sommelier will pair your dishes with a diverse range of wines from France and Germany. Although a meal here is on the pricier side, a steeper price tag is more than justified – Tim Raue’s strong reputation for fine dining suggests a third Michelin star might well be on its way soon.
Kumpel und Keule began as a butcher-cum-deli in the Markthalle Neun (Kreuzberg’s renowned indoor market hall). Thanks to its huge popularity, the group opened a restaurant on Skalitzer Straße, and were heralded the ‘most exciting opening in 2018’ (Berlin food guide, Zitty Magazine). It’s easy to see why: an emphasis on high-quality cuts of meat has carried over, adapted to the intimate sit-down restaurant, which seats guests on wooden benches at communal tables. Pro tip: try the dry-aged burger or the 24-hr stewed ox cheek, paired with pints of craft beer.