Although Kreuzberg boasts many buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s rare to find restaurants founded before the 1980s. Regardless of its merits then, Henne — founded in 1908 — would be worth visiting for its age alone. Situated at the very edge of Kreuzberg, five meters from the site of the Berlin Wall, Henne has more than its past to recommend it. It’s one of the most charming traditional taverns in the entire city, with dark wood-paneled walls and antique artifacts. The biergarten is tranquil and atmospheric, depending on the time of day, and the food is divine, centered on a single dish: Henne’s signature half-chicken. Served without cutlery but with a potato salad and freshly-baked bread, it’s a must-try for anyone with even the slightest taste for poultry.
In 1987, aged sixteen, Adriano Lisanti moved to Germany from southern Italy. In 2009, after 22 years working his way through the restaurants of Berlin, he opened Peperoncino along with his wife Ewelina. It was worth the wait. Peperoncino offers simple, flavorsome dishes with fine seasonal ingredients. Alongside a permanent menu of salads and pasta, there is a daily menu of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The antipasti is particularly excellent – try the fried artichokes with feta, or the beef carpaccio. Or go for the surprise menu, name your budget, and savor course after course of Adriano’s favorite Bazilicatan delicacies. The setting is that of a classic trattoria, with a rustic wooden floor, chessboard cloths and candles on the table.
Kreuzberg may be a youthful district, but it still finds room for the most delightful of German urban traditions, the biergarten. Situated along the Landwehrkanal, Brachvogel sits in a secluded patch of greenery. For the winter there’s a pleasant wooden pavilion, but of course the true joy here is to sit amidst the trees. Along with an admirable array of beer, the garden serves national classics like schnitzel and spaetazle, Bavarian vegetable dumplings marinated in sheep’s cheese and a spicy tomato sauce. There’s also a wide range of international dishes, including Argentinian rump steak, Greek beef dumplings and Turkish breakfasts.
Brachvogel, Carl-Herz-Ufer 34, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 6930432
As delicious as they often are, kebabs and plates of skewered meat are not the only variety of Turkish food available in Berlin. For something a little different, head to the unpretentious, unassuming La Femme, open for breakfast and lunch. Try the simit, circular bread rolls encrusted with seeds and and served with Turkish tea, cheese and conserves, or else the café’s range of pastries. The egg dishes, such sucuklu yumurta (ground beef sausage with egg, peppers and spices), are equally good. The real star though is kumpir, the Turkish version of a baked potato. After being cooked in tin foil, the potato is mashed with butter and cheese, then covered in a variety of toppings including tabbouleh, jalapeños and olives. A delicious place for lunch.
La Femme, Kottbusser Damm 77, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 53604057