Of course we love Berlin for its beer gardens and currywurst – but beyond the traditional fare, a global menu of diverse street food has been evolving across the capital of Germany, making it an irresistible proposition for culinary explorers.
The long-standing Turkish population has always served up grills, kebabs and gorgeous pizza-like pides. But there’s more to enjoy in modern Berlin, reflecting the Middle Eastern, Thai, Polish and Italian sectors of society, among others, including Vietnamese, Chinese and Russian. Next time you find yourself in need of a bite in Berlin, take it from us – you can eat like a princess on the budget of a postgrad thanks to the excellent variety and quality of ethnic fast food here. Want to know where to indulge? Read on – here’s our guide to the best street-food markets in Berlin.
Street Food Thursdays
Internationally known for the (in)famous park karaoke session and flea market, Mauerpark attracts lazy-Sunday Berliners and strolling weekend visitors to the raffish district of Prenzlauer Berg. Join them and you’ll have a blast, rummaging for secondhand bargains, serenading the crowd with your best (or worst) Abba rendition, and tucking into all kinds of treats bought from the food market. Whether you’re in the mood for Japanese, German, Chinese, Spanish, Polish or Korean – or you just fancy a hangover-busting portion of perfect French fries – you’ll find a little bit of what you fancy definitely does you good at this vintage weekend wonder.
Unravelling along the Maybachufer canal every Tuesday and Friday is the Turkish Market, a Kreuzkölln institution. Locals love it for the sheer variety of fresh Turkish and Middle Eastern produce and street food. The yells of vendors calling out special prices to the shuffling crowds are transporting, as are the gorgeous aromas of cooking and pungent spices, drifting from the white tents: Istanbul in one giddy inhalation. Visitors pack in around small tables to wolf down pillowy breads with piled plates of köfte (meatballs). Just add creamy, garlicky hummus – and enjoy.
For more than two decades, Thai Park has been a Berlin culinary tradition. It’s a rather informal affair, which started with Thai families residing in Berlin gathering in a park in Wilmersdorf each summer to cook and sell their delicious traditional treats. The unique street-food market has become massively popular, and the past few years have seen crowds pour into the park from midday on Saturdays and Sundays to fill up on the best authentic Thai food in the city. Things fire up in summer, as they always have – and carry on for as long as the weather permits.
Boxhagener Platz Food Market
Every Saturday, among the leafy streets of boho Friedrichshain, sooner or later you’ll happen upon the fizzing food market at Boxhagener Platz. From 9am, vendors begin rolling up to set out their stalls, ready to attract visitors with fresh produce and delicious street-food creations until 3:30pm. There are old-school favourites – for instance, crepes – while that Berlin staple currywurst is ever-present and correct. Every bit as appetising are sizzling portions of grilled fish, crispy, zingy tomato-topped bruschetta and all kinds of homemade jams. For a bellyful of Berlin living, Boxhagener Platz is hard to beat.
History echoes about the cathedral-like dimensions of the Arminiusmarkthalle, which opened for business in 1891. Fully renovated in 2010, it’s now a neighbourhood food hall serving the multicultural area of Moabit, part of central Mitte. As you might expect, it sells fresh produce for weekly shoppers and street food for busy Berliners on the move. Daily, between 8am and 10pm, restaurants fill with nattering friends and business associates, all grazing on global cuisine. Highlights include the Alabama-style ribs at Pignut BBQ and the Austrian schnitzel and blutwurst at Hofladen. When you want to switch from city sights to city bites, this resounding triumph has you sorted.
Part of the street-food scene since 2013, Bite Club shows no signs of cooling down, with new chefs rolling in all the time. The clue’s in the name – the market is a club hosting pop-up culinary experiences around the capital. It has made guest appearances at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – and Berlin Food Week. When summer comes, it takes up residence in Kreuzberg in and around the MS Hoppetosse, adjacent to Berlin’s floating swimming pool, the Badeschiff. Living up to its name, Bite Club pumps out music to go with the menus – by which we mean upbeat and very funky.
Every Sunday in the mid-2010s, from noon until late evening, dozens of international food trucks would gather in a post-industrial space in trendy Friedrichshain, a hub for art shows, DJs and live bands. Neue Heimat now focuses on popping up at Berlin’s best-loved cultural events like the legendary Lange Nacht der Museen, when more than 70 museums throw open their doors until 2am. They work with great names in the Berlin street food scene: Tapiocaria, serving smoky Brazilian black bean stew with their namesake cassava-based snacks; or Aftab’s Persian food van, its spiced meaty mains served with aromatic saffron rice, almonds and fresh minty yoghurt.
Burgers & Hip Hop
This one does just what it says on the tin – if you like flame-grilled burgers and hip-hop music, this is the place. The party-style combo, happening every six weeks at the Prince Charles club in Kreuzberg, is a winner. Arrive promptly, eat and drink all afternoon, then dance the night away. You can even vote for Berlin’s best burger from among the gourmet, globally inspired offerings of local chefs and café owners. Burgers & Hip Hop is the brainchild of Kavita Meelu, the British-Indian Berliner, who also masterminded other popular culinary events, such as Street Food Thursday.
All vegan and always seasonal, Berlin’s Green Market offers top-notch street food: we’ve enjoyed so many things, memorably a vedic masala dosa from Goura Pakora with spinach and chilli; and tangy, plant-based sarnies with sauerkraut, mushrooms and garlicky creamed cashews from the VeganOst truck. You must try the Vietnamese bánh xèo coconut pancakes packed with seeds, herbs and shoots from the Toctoc snack van, and keep your eyes peeled for tofu burgers and natural waffles with non-dairy ice cream. The food is served along with music, fashion, workshops and gift stalls. Find it all in the cool biergarten space outside Café Jules in Kreuzberg, near the Gleisdreieck U-Bahn station.
Phoebe Taplin contributed additional reporting to this article.
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