Over the past few weeks I’ve come across more than a handful of people on Twitter headed to Berlin and took a few minutes to write up and share my favorite places with them. Seems many more are headed to Berlin this year, (you lucky, lucky people!) and so I thought I would finally sit down, sift through my photos and throw together a post on my favorite bites in Berlin.
As an undergrad, I worked in Berlin for one summer juggling two internships and more than a few bottles of Hefeweizen. Since then, I’ve returned to Berlin to spend a summer taking German classes and lots of time in its biergartens and continue to head back a few times each year. It’s such a fantastic city, especially if you’re a student and much more appreciative of Berlin’s affordability and abundance of nightlife. The gentrification of many of East Berlin’s districts becomes more noticeable each time I return, but I still love the contradiction of graffiti alongside the new boutiques and the now-expensive flats in what used to be monolithic, concrete blocks reserved for the working-class East Berliner.
Below are a few of my favorite places to head to grab a bite or a drink – and a few other places to chill out. Enjoy!
Prater Biergarten (http://www.pratergarten.de/)
10435 Berlin, Germany
-I’ve been coming here for years and love the classic, unfussy German dishes. In the summer they have a fantastic beer garden and in the winter they maintain an excellent restaurant with affordable German favorites, including an absolutely huge Wienerschnitzel. It’s situated in what appears to have been an east German sports/cultural centre (including a diving board to nowhere) and fills up with locals year-round.
Corner of Schonhauser Allee and Kastanienallee
(http://www.konnopke-imbiss.de/) on same street as Prater
-Famed for the best Currywurst in Berlin, it’s a must do on a trip to Berlin. Konnopke’s has been situated directly under U-bahn Eberswalder Strasse for decades, but as the U-bahn is under construction it’s now moved to a small platz just opposite. Long lines during the day evidence how popular this place has been for years, so do give it a go as Currywurst is a Berlin specialty!
Cafe Anna Blume (http://www.cafe-anna-blume.de/)
10435 Berlin, Germany
-In my opinion, one of the best places for breakfast in Berlin. As Berliners wake up extremely late on the weekends, expect the busiest time for breakfast to be well after 12pm and take your time with the classic ‘late and long’ breakfast that you must indulge in. It’s not hard to find a good, standard breakfast plate of meat and cheese in Berlin, but Anna Blume take it to a new level with their tower of breakfast foods (Fruhstucksetagere) – smoked fish, meats, fruit, cheeses etc. It’s absolutely lovely, and all of the clientele hail from the cafe’s neighborhood, Prenzlauer Berg – you get a real mixture of artists, actors, and a yummy mummy or two. Also, diagonally opposite is a bakery from the same owners and the perfect place to indulge in another Berlin ritual – afternoon cake. Be sure to peep over and have a look at the incredible cakes, at the very least.
PS: On Saturdays (think even in winter) there’s a fantastic local market on Kollwitzplatz, (just 2 min south walk from the cafe) with lots of locally-produced goodies, including an amazing local artist who makes beautiful cutting boards – intricately laid wood, all naturally-colored etc. I’ve bought more than a few from him!
Weinerei (near Rosenthaler Platz U-bahn; around the corner from Zionkirchplatz)
Veteranenstraße 14, 10119
-A favorite cafe of mine that would put out lovely bottles of wine for its guests and had a policy of ‘pay for what you think you drank’ (another classic example of the German honors system). Sadly, it seems to have ventured a bit more toward capitalism, (perhaps as people were constantly ripping them off) and they will now ask for a deposit of 2.50 on your glass. But hey, that’s still pretty affordable – no? A really cool place to visit – not only because you find people from every walk of life in Berlin, but because it’s a great place to hide out in when Berlin’s cold winter weather gets to you. The interior is a mish mash of crazy art (think religious art mixed with odd installations) and furniture reminiscent of an East German grandmother’s living room. Staff are equally quirky, but they serve up an amazing lunch and dinner alongside the wine – including excellent soups for lunch, cakes that disappear within an hour of their appearance on the table, and some sort of meat+cabbage+carb for dinner on a buffet. This is a great place to hang out for an hour or two, especially when the interior is candlelit at night and you’re sipping on some wine alongside other Berliners. Incredibly affordable and fun — and if you like one of the wines you can hop across the street and buy it from their wine shop!
And if you’re in Mitte and in need of a drink in a cosy little place, this is my favorite: http://www.qype.co.uk/place/3444-Bierstube-Alt-Berlin-Berlin.
-Perhaps the best burger I’ve ever had was here – very surprising. But it’s owned by Americans, so I guess it’s not that big of a shock that they serve burgers the proper way – with plenty of handcut fries, squeezy ketchup and mustard and cooked to pink perfection (perhaps not to the like of many Germans!). Didn’t get a chance to return last time I was there (due to a 2 hr wait on a Sunday night!) so if you want to go for dinner be sure to give them a call and book a table. The Big Crack burger is one of the best – a gourmet Big Mac. Head here if you can’t stand the sight of another schnitzel or mysterious pork products. And they have a bar you can sit at and eat if the tables are all booked up.
(Haven’t been yet, but have heard good things)
Lüneburger Straße 390 (near S-bahn Bellevue)
My go-to in Berlin when I’m craving Kässpätzle with caramelized onions (cheese spätzle is a Black forest specialty – think of a cross between pasta and dumplings the size of gnocchi) and Maultaschen (giant ravioli filled with meat and veg). Tucked underneath the S-bahn line it’s quite hidden away from view, but that doesn’t stop the crowds coming to have their favorite Swabian foods. Each time I return we’re served by the same elderly man wearing his traditional lederhosen and judging by his choice of words in interacting with the chef, I assume it’s his wife back there cooking up such great food. I believe it’s cash only (and there are ZERO cashpoints in the area, so bring some first – lesson learned the hard way) and I don’t think they take reservations. Can’t believe how hungry I’m getting thinking of the food here – definitely worth a visit!
A former barge that was converted into a swimming pool and then plonked in the River Spree. In the summer you have an incredible view of Berlin’s skyline whist taking a dip in the water. In the Winter it’s covered up like an igloo and transformed into a spa.