Neukölln is best known for its beautiful green parks and rapid gentrification, and was romanticised in David Bowie’s song of the same name. But scratch beneath the surface and you will find a wide variety of excellent culinary offerings.
Neukölln is home to one of the highest percentages of immigrants in Berlin, and has the energy of a bustling city. Overflowing with interesting places to hang out, it’s developed into a popular place for students, creatives and young professionals. A favourite in the Neukölln neighbourhood of Berlin is Alaska Bar: a vegan tapas restaurant that exemplifies the unique international offerings one can find in the area. Culture Trip speaks to the co-owner of Alaska Bar, Estefania Medina Muñoz, who shares her favourite places to wine and dine in Neukölln.
Guests will find southern-style Vietnamese cuisine at this efficiently run restaurant in the centre of Berlin’s Neukölln neighbourhood. The restaurant’s most recommended dish is roasted beef accompanied by sweet potato, ginger, spring onion and rice, and drizzled with satay sauce. There are vegan options too, including vegan summer rolls and vegetarian wraps, and as Medina Muñoz says, “the Buddha’s Joy is top notch”. The portions of tofu and assortment of roasted vegetables in Medina Muñoz’s favourite dish are generous, and are accompanied by excellent herbs and sauces.
The enticing smell of sizzling meat and halloumi hits you before you enter Azzam, which is always filled with regulars. Fancy falafel, charcoal-scarred kebabs or wine leaves? Then consider treating yourself to their meat or vegetarian plates, which are ideal for two or three people. Medina Muñoz often eats at Azzam for what she describes as their “colourful salads and plenty of hummus.” But it is their creamy musabaha that steals the spotlight – it’s essentially deconstructed hummus made from tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic and, of course, chickpeas.
It feels like the secret is out on Alaska Bar, where tasty food at affordable prices attracts a hip crowd. Alaska Bar’s menu includes well-loved Spanish classics such as patatas bravas and melt-in-the-mouth croquettes as well as international cuisine, all of which have been created in plant-based versions. Co-owner Medina Muñoz says of her restaurant: “Most people come for the vegan salmon with cashew cream cheese but I only have eyes for my vegan kimchi”. Depending on which night you go, they also host concerts, film screenings and animal rights charity events.
When Sara Hallmann realised the small German village of Rixdorf in Neukölln was bereft of a healthy everyday breakfast and lunch spot, she opened the restaurant Hallman & Klee. Hallmann grew up working on her uncle’s farm in southern Germany, which is apparent in her seasonal kitchen that balances modern German breakfast and lunch plates such as bread, spreads and eggs with organic ingredients. And it is their three-course dinner menu where the gastronomic creativity of Hallman & Klee really has the chance to shine. Their tantalising French-style steamed mussels and steak tartare are prepared with a master’s touch and are a permanent feature on their menu. Just be prepared to wait in line, or make a reservation in advance.
The distinctly warm and unfussy nature of Kuschlowski is apparent the moment you walk in, with its crackling fireplace and mismatched furniture. In fact, the vegan Russian restaurant is hard to miss when taking a stroll down Weserstraße, Neukölln’s energetic street of vintage boutiques and hipster bars. Come for traditional Russian dishes like the pelmeni – handmade dumplings stuffed with a mouth-watering filling of sticky rice, mushrooms, onions and green lentils. Stay for the impressive selection of Russia’s national beverage choice, vodka.
Founders of GORDON, Nir and Doron, opened this modern Middle Eastern restaurant in the charming streets of Neukölln. Having met in a Tel Aviv music school, what started as a café and record store soon transformed into a restaurant serving reasonably priced authentic Israeli dishes. Join their vibrant weekend brunch buffet for an all-you-can-eat experience that includes hummus, baba ganoush and salads made from the freshest ingredients, created daily in their kitchen. But the main draw is their shakshuka: expect a delicious sizzling plate of poached eggs in a tomato sauce with bell peppers and onions.
Which food guide list would be complete without the mention of an Italian restaurant? Especially when it comes to the home-made pasta and Italian sauces of La Bolognina, the best Italian restaurant in Neukölln. Start with the burrata cheese on a small platter of cherry tomatoes, zucchini and green leaves, then venture into one of the home-made pastas, such as the maltagliati (a pasta from Emilia-Romagna) with mussels for mains. Finally, end your night with a glass from their top-notch selection of white and red wines.
The true flavours of Thai cuisine in Berlin aren’t only found in the city’s weekend market, Thai Park. Like the best street food restaurants in Bangkok, Mae Charoen is a no-frills, family-run kitchen. And it’s also one of Medina Muñoz’s favourite places in Neukölln to satisfy her hunger. “We go to Mae Charoen quite often because it’s lovely, cheap, tasty and all home-made,” she says. You’ll see a mix of people from different backgrounds on benches on the footpath, united by their appetites. It all adds to the charm, with classics such as Pad Thai and Tom Yum Kung soup as highlights. With generous portions averaging €5 (£4.20), this reasonably priced hole-in-the-wall restaurant brings the crowds back time and again.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Alice Dundon.
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