Berlin is about as cutting edge as cities come, but amongst all the fusion food and concept cuisines, be sure to throw a bit of traditional German fare into the mix. Work your way round Berlin’s best German restaurants with the help of Culture Trip’s handy guide.
Restaurant, German, $$$
Serving up some of the finest Bavarian food in the German capital, Zur Haxe offers traditional charm in trendy Prenzlauer Berg. The cosy restaurant is adorned with homely furnishings, creating an inviting, intimate atmosphere and staff in lederhosen and dirndls add to the authentic, Bavarian pub atmosphere. The menu is filled with rich dishes, promising all the Bavarian favourites that German cuisine is known for, paired perfectly with an ample, well-priced selection of German beers. Zur Haxe is the ideal spot for an authentic German experience in the heart of Berlin.
Southwestern German soul food finds a home in Friedrichshain at St Mauli. The minimalist, contemporary-style restaurant serves up truly delicious Maultaschen, a traditional German pasta-like dish, that originated in the region of Swabia in Baden-Württemberg. The restaurant was started by passionate foodie Nico Bulla, and his first love of spinning records can be felt throughout the restaurant’s cool interior, setting the perfect tone for a relaxed dining experience. A must-try in Berlin, this trendy spot is where traditional and modern elements perfectly come together to delight diners.
Eins44 is where fine dining and industrial design meet. Located in a former turn-of-the-century distillery, this impressive Neukölln restaurant keeps with the growing gourmet trend of seasonal dining, with a regularly changing menu that has German, Austrian and French influences. Offering fusion and traditional flavours in a unique, open ambience, Eins44 is known for its delicious dishes and impressive paired wine selection. Break away from the norm in Neukölln and lose yourself in the seasonal delights of this modern, trendy restaurant.
Alpenstück is a classy, contemporary restaurant that serves their schnitzels with other German delicacies like weißer Spargel, known to us English speakers as white asparagus. They also serve it with a lighter variation on tradition like their potato-cucumber salad. The menu is simple, and great care is taken in preparing each dish. Alpenstück also has its own bakery, so we suggest ordering another round of tasty sourdough for the table. Save space for an after-dinner pastry or two. The interior is pretty and decorated predominantly in white tones save for the feature wall at the back. This is made of inverted logs stacked on top of one another. Tables are adorned with tall white candles and seasonal flowers.
This cozy restaurant in Friedrichshain specializes in Bavarian cuisine. The combination of comfort foods and warm interior decor at Spätzle und Knödel makes it the perfect place to go on one of Berlin’s many chilly days. Warm up here when skies are overcast and the wind is unrelenting. Their schnitzel is simple: the breading is crispy, and the cutlet itself is still perfectly moist. This hearty dish comes garnished with parsley and lemon slices in traditional fashion. It is paired with classic German potato salad. Finish the meal with an apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce for the full experience.
Schneeweiß offers patrons delicious Alpine cuisine to be enjoyed in a fresh, white-walled and epically stylish environment. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the schnitzel is rumoured to be one of the best in town. Crystal lamps add a hint of glam to the dining ambience, while a pint of craft beer keeps things relaxed and cosy. It’s probably wise to book a table during peak times.
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.
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.
Between the designer shops, modern art galleries and cafés of Mitte lies a historic dancehall – Clärchens Ballhaus. This century-old two-storey ballroom, founded in 1913, may be best known for its charming faded grandeur and the regular dances it holds, but the food is also a major draw. Here, guests can sit down to German- and Italian-inspired lunch and dinner, served by bow-tied waiters. Staying true to Germany’s love affair with asparagus, the restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes with asparagus as the star — the wheat risotto with white and green asparagus and wild garlic pesto is a must-try. And what traditional German menu would be complete without a wiener schnitzel with potato salad? At Clärchens Ballhaus this classic dish is complemented by cranberry compote and cucumber salad. Looking to work off your meal? Learn to salsa, swing or waltz at one of the evening dance classes.
Although its name is a rough translation of “the last resort”, Zur Letzen Instanz is a popular choice for Mitte dining, serving up fine, regionally sourced German fare such as apple tart and pork knuckle. First opened in 1621 and claiming to have served Napoleon himself, Zur Letzen Instanz combines old-fashioned furnishings with an elegant ambience that make Berlin’s oldest restaurant feel surprisingly modern. Take the time to admire both levels, connected by a spiral staircase, and check out the 200-year-old tiled stove on display before sitting down for a plate of meatballs and a cold glass of local beer.
What once was an empty lot off of Kreuzberg’s Moritzplatz has now been transformed into Prinzessinnengärten, an urban agriculture project that produces more than 500 different types of edible plants. Started in 2009, this collective worked with the community to clear the area of trash and build a green space for urban gardening and education right in the middle of one of the city’s busiest districts. An excellent (and delicious) way to support the garden is to stop at the on-site restaurant for a meal prepared with ingredients from the Prinzessinnengärten itself, as well as from other farms and gardens in Berlin and greater Germany. Important to note: the restaurant is only open in the warmer months, between April and October, so plan your visit accordingly.
The picturesque Villa Rixdorf in Neukölln is known for being a cozy restaurant that makes for the perfect evening spent with family or close friends. The menu includes dishes derived from a variety of cuisines, with particular emphasis on Italian and German fare. The restaurant has a spacious terrace overlooking Richardplatz, and the bright interior with timber accents offers a homey setting for a sharing a dinner. There are high chairs available and a solid kid’s menu. Plus, there is a small playground at the exterior where children are welcome to play in the event that they get antsy while the adults are visiting with one another.
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.
If you’re close to Gesundbrunnen, or on the train passing through Gesundbrunnen, you will hear Germans talking about Curry Baude – if you understand German that is. Just listen closely for Curry Baude and watch as the locals lick their lips aching to get out of the train and onto their Curry Baude dish.