Trendy Berlin now has a brunch scene to rival its nightlife. Start the day right with the help of food, culture and style blogger Mary Scherpe, who shares her definitive list of Berlin’s best breakfast and brunch spots.
Mary Scherpe, the founder of the long-standing and wildly popular blog Stil in Berlin, is a master of the Berlin breakfast scene. From traditional German brötchen and Swedish pancakes to scrambled eggs in a former post office, the best breakfast and brunch spots in Berlin are as diverse as they are delicious.
From the team behind Berlin’s wildly popular ‘Das Brunch’ series of pop-up brunches comes Rocket + Basil. Representing a unique heritage, Rocket + Basil is owned by two German sisters who grew up in Australia with an Iranian mum. The result is a Persian-inspired Aussie brunch and lunch. “For me, the Aussie brunch signifies lavish morning food,” says Mary. At Rocket + Basil, this means colourful and diverse veggies, fragrant fresh herbs and an intriguing fusion of flavours. Try the Iraniantahdig (scorched rice) or chicken schnitzel sandwich with preserved lemon mayo, rocket and cucumber.
Just outside the Boddinstraße U-Bahn station sits Isla Coffee Berlin, a bright and airy café that champions sustainability. Rather than describing itself as a “zero waste” café, something which Mary points out is difficult for most restaurants to accomplish, Isla promotes a circular economy in its food prep. “Circularity means striving to use up everything as much as they can,” says Mary. “For example, they use milk that is always surplus from coffee-making to make other products, such as yoghurt.” This experimentation goes alongside the café’s commitment to using small-scale, seasonal local produce: “It’s not so much a particular dish there, but the care they apply to their food in general,” Mary explains. Brunch treats on offer here include french toast with goat’s cheese and honey, and a scrumptious beetroot ricotta loaf.
Speaking of Aussie breakfasts, Silo Coffee was one of Berlin’s first “good Aussie-style breakfasts”, according to Mary. Expect avo toast with a twist – think additions of wasabi and apple salad or fresh pomegranate seeds, alongside some of the city’s best coffee. Giving café lovers a reason to head to Friedrichshain, Silo has become something of an institution, and its owners have since opened a sister restaurant in Mitte – Commonground – and are partners in Fjord Coffee Roasters, which means this is the place for a perfect flat white.
For a traditional German restaurant, Mary suggests heading to Hallmann and Klee next to historic Rixdorf (the small, cobblestoned village between Neukölln’s Karl-Marx-Straße and Sonnenallee). Serving cheeses, a selection of jams, brötchen (small bread rolls), eggs and pancakes, the options are similar to most German breakfast places, but according to Mary, the products Hallmann and Klee uses are what makes it stand out. “You can get a plate of cheese and some brötchen at many, many places,” says Mary, “but the quality of the cheese they use and the jam they make is all very high.” With its airy interior that mixes the traditional with retro and hipster touches, Hallmann and Klee is hot property at the weekends – make sure you get in early or book a table because it’s often packed at 10am.
According to Mary, Okay Café is “casual, very friendly, with very good food”. Owned by Swedish baker Marie-Louise Crona, it’s worthwhile going on the weekend so you can try its small Swedish pancakes, plättar. “Because they’re so small, you can try tonnes of them – just loads of these tiny pancakes,” says Mary. In the heart of Berlin’s trendy Neukölln, Okay Café’s edgy vibe fits right in. “It is certainly a very stylish, contemporary place – very Swedish in a way – but it’s not pretentious.” Mary also recommends the brioche toast with ricotta and jam, plus the extensive selection of gluten-free and vegan cakes.
The team behind Distrikt Coffee, the central Mitte district’s trendy coffee specialists with a cult following, opened Annelies in early 2018 next to Gorlitzer Park. “The dishes feel more expensive [than Distrikt] – they’re more refined in a way,” explains Mary. Scrambled eggs sit on a dreamily crusty piece of sourdough and are sprinkled with smoked egg yolk shavings and accompanied by fennel kimchi, for example. The presentation of dishes lives up to the presentation of the restaurant itself – minimal but refined. The amaranth granola is particularly beautiful – a flawlessly circular layered concoction of strawberries and basil, covered in yoghurt and topped with pink granola.
Serving traditional Lebanese breakfast food, this inconspicuous deli on Sonnenallee is often overlooked in favour of the ever-popular Azzam and Al Andalos across the street, which means you can avoid the queues while still getting the same quality. “If you go to Akroum, order fatteh and one of their fresh flatbreads,” says Mary. The fatteh, a chickpea and yoghurt dish with crisp fried bread and sprinkled with fresh mint, is truly soul-warming food. “If you order those,” promises Mary, “you’ll be done for the day – you won’t need to eat anything else.” What’s more, you’re unlikely to spend more than €6 (£5.39) per person.
As you enter through the vaulted archways, it becomes apparent that a visit to Hallesches Haus is worthwhile, if only to marvel at the stunning building it’s housed in – a red-brick former post office dating to 1902. Mary is adamant that this widely known café, general store and event space has the best scrambled eggs in the city. “Scrambled eggs are not easy to do,” she explains. “I like them when they’re still quite soft, so not all the way cooked through and crumbly but soft, and you have these layers of egg. Hallesches Haus does this very well.”
On the rare chance that you find yourself in the Friedenau neighbourhood and don’t know where to eat, Mary says a must-try is LuLa Deli Deluxe. She describes LuLa’s vibe as “stylish German” before that aesthetic was cool – think hanging plants, wood floors and pops of colour thanks to vibrant cushions, throws and flowers. According to Mary, the rotating menu makes it something of a unicorn in Berlin. “Often Berlin places just stick with one menu. But LuLa changes it every month, and that’s something that I really like,” says Mary. Make sure you stop by its bakery next door to try the delectable Swedish cinnamon buns.
Kanaan serves vegetarian German and Israeli-Palestinian fusion | Courtesy of Kanaan
Co-owned by Palestinian restaurateur and chef Jalil Debit (who comes from “great hummus heritage”, according to Mary) and Israeli marketing expert Oz Ben David, Kanaan has become a symbol of peace and diversity. “They are serving some of the best Middle Eastern food you can get. They’ve been very active in having a very diverse crew working there,” says Mary. The team is an international mix, with staff also from Yemen and Syria. This diversity may be the secret to its delectable hummus and successful community projects. Kanaan’s “divine” breakfast is only served on weekends, so be sure to head over between 10am and 12pm for shakshuka and challah French toast.