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to-eat list

Berlin

November 28th, 2018

BY Per Meurling

From “poor-but-sexy” to “not-so-poor-and-very-hungry”, Berlin is in the process of replacing its wild techno culture with food and gastronomy. The German capital isn’t traditionally associated with having a great dining scene, but the last decade has given birth to a whole new generation of smart culinary entrepreneurs as both domestic and international prodigies innovate the city’s food landscape with their projects. These accents of culinary brilliance mean there’s plenty of room for savvy eaters from all backgrounds and aspiration levels to be inspired. And thanks to an eclectic offering of affordable eats and immigrant-centric foods as well as fine-dining splurges, Berlin has all the requirements for a great food destination.

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Fine Dining

Ernst

counter dining devoid of compromises

Berlin’s most exciting restaurant is this new fine-dining project located in the heart of the refreshingly ungentrified northern Wedding district. 24-year-old Canadian chef prodigy, Dylan Watson-Brawn, moved his legendary private dining project out of his apartment into a restaurant during the fall of 2017 and his young, hungry kitchen crew have been serving their radical, produce-focused 30-course dinners to the twelve lucky guests who manage to obtain a ticket five nights a week, ever since.

INSIDER TIP

Don't be late for the seating, and finish the meal with a bottle from their fantastic collection of sour beers.

Local Speciality

Imren Grill

The döner kebab revelation

The döner kebab wasn’t invented in Berlin, but the Turkish meat sandwich is our number one street food and has long surpassed the magnificently boring currywurst as Berlin’s most important drunk food. For the best beef döner in Berlin, go and find one of the six Imren outlets. Here, the succulent beef has been marinated overnight in spices and onions before being stacked with lamb fat onto a rotating skewer. The grilled meat is thinly sliced then served with salad, tomatoes, onions, and sesame sauce in a toasted homemade flatbread – hands down the best meal that 3,50€ will buy you in Berlin.

INSIDER TIP

A true Turkish style döner is eaten without sauces and salad - try it out if the meat is cut freshly

Local Speciality

Zur letzten Instanz

Berlin's oldest restaurant

Berlin’s oldest restaurant also serves the very best traditional local cuisine from a 1621-dated venue that borders Berlin’s medieval city wall. Locals and tourists walk through the doors of this institution side-by-side for sublime plates of Königsberger Klopse (veal meatballs in cream sauce), Kohlrouladen (cabbage rolls) or Eisbein – the massive, boiled pork knuckle which originated in Prussia. In a city where many food traditions were lost due to world wars, political turmoil, and poverty, Zur Letzten Instanz has held the flag high by cooking local classics in a manner that’s hard to find elsewhere.  

INSIDER TIP

Show off your local knowledge with this random fact: "Eisbein" is so named after kids used the clean knuckle bones as ice skating blades back in the day!

Worth the hype

Lode & Stijn

Dutch beef bitterballen heaven

The doors to this celebrated casual fine-dining eatery opened in 2016 and thanks to the strikingly honest, produce-focused cooking executed by the two Dutchmen in charge, Lode van Zuylen and Stijn Remi have taken the Berlin food scene by storm. With plenty of fine-dining experience beneath their belt buckles the beautiful Kreuzberg restaurant space is home today to a food style best described as “fine-dining with a homely touch”. The Dutch beef bitterballen are sensational, the razor clams in smoked bone marrow, legendary. But it’s the beef tartar on Lode’s famous sourdough bread, served alongside Stijn’s cunning wine and sour beer pairings that sees people returning on a weekly basis.

INSIDER TIP

You can buy a loaf of Lode's freshly baked sourdough bread to take home.

Worth the hype

Michelberger

The indie-hotel restaurant

Berlin’s coolest indie-hotel is home to a superb and equally relaxed restaurant. Offering both simple lunch trays and classy dinners, the Michelberger serves casual international fare executed with local ingredients that’s best shared amongst friends. Be it a winter meal in the cosy candlelit dining room overlooking the subway tracks; or a summer feast in the oasis-like courtyard, the Michelberger is a magical place and once inside you’ll find it quite hard to leave.  

INSIDER TIP

Make sure to drink a can of the hotel's own-brand coconut water called "Fountain of Youth".

Baked Goods

Zeit für Brot

Cinnamon buns and Bauernbrot

The quest for Berlin’s greatest cinnamon bun always ends at Zeit für Brot. This brilliant bakery has a huge offering of both classic and modern baked goods, all made in-house at the three different branches. Get a coffee and a cinnamon bun to eat inside one of their beautiful venues, or buy a loaf of warm bread to take home and enjoy later. Even better: quiet your lunch hunger with a Stulle – an iconic German sandwich which feeds hungry school children across the country, every day.

INSIDER TIP

One of the only bakeries in town that's also open on Sundays.

Trailblazer

CODA

The fine-dining dessert bar

The most magnificent way to extend a night in Berlin is to venture into Neukölln and pay Germany’s only dessert-cocktail bar a visit. In this minimalist dark space you’ll be in the hands of René Frank, a former three Michelin star pastry chef who cunningly pairs his showstopper desserts (all with no added sugar) with cocktails from the sensational bar. It’s a one-of-a-kind restaurant experience, not to be missed.   

INSIDER TIP

Book a table at 19:00 and enjoy the full six-course dessert tasting menu with cocktail pairing.

Trailblazer

Nobelhart & Schmutzig

the cool take on ultra-localism

Ring the nondescript doorbell on Friedrichstraße and immerse yourself in a contemporary fine-dining experience that’s rooted in a Berlin context thanks to its speak-easy atmosphere and urban feel. Then, take a seat at the long kitchen bar for a surprisingly simple ten-course tasting of wholly Berlin/Brandenburg terroir created by head chef, Micha Schäfer, using nothing but regional ingredients. Finally, allow legendary sommelier and owner, Billy Wagner, to get you drunk on the contents of his very fine cellar.

INSIDER TIP

There's a BYOB wine policy but the corkage price depends on how much Billy likes the bottle you've brought.

Trailblazer

Mrs. Robinson's

pushing the envelope

Run by a British-Israeli couple, this casual fine-dining concept has made huge strides since its opening in 2016 with its intelligent and forward thinking riff on fusion food. Located in the Northern part of Prenzlauer Berg, the boundary-pushing and technique-savvy creations which emerge from the kitchen take a lot of inspiration from Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Mrs. Robinson’s is as entertaining as it is delicious and easily one of the more interesting meals in Berlin right now.

INSIDER TIP

Sit at one of the six walk-in bar seats to see all the kitchen action.

Market Experience

MARKTHALLE NEUN

Berlin's legendary market hall

This 120-year-old market hall is one of just three still standing in Berlin (originally there were 14) and thanks to its owner’s dedication its become the main hub of Berlin’s contemporary food culture in recent years. The Thursday evening street food market is legendary, and themed Sunday markets have included dedicated breakfast, cheese, crafted meats and beer which regularly attract massive crowds. Fixed vendors to look out for include: Big Stuff BBQ, Kumpel & Keule butchers and Sironi bakery – all worth a visit in their own right on weekdays.

INSIDER TIP

Make sure you check out the individual vendor opening times online as they're not all the same.

Mon-Fri: 12:00-18:00 (Thurs until 22:00)Sat: 10:00-18:00Sun: Keep your eye out for special events
Breakfast

ENGELBERG

Proper German Frühstück

A proper German breakfast with heaps of great bread is all you need for a long day in Berlin, and Engelberg celebrates this artform with an extraordinary selection of some of the country’s finest cheese and charcuterie. Alternatively, go full-on Bavarian and order some Weißwürst (white sausages) with a wheat beer while you watch the crowds stroll past on Oderberger Str – one of Berlin’s most beautiful streets.

INSIDER TIP

Fancy breakfasting like a true local? Order the Mettwurst - raw minced pork sausage on toast. Trying is believing...

Chef's Choice

Standard pizza

True Neapolitan perfection

Of all the things you would expect to eat in Berlin, a true Neapolitan pizza might not be one of them. Behold though, Standard Pizza. This joint Austrian-Italian project is home to Germany’s most serious Neopolitan pizza thanks to a dedication to both craft and quality produce which makes this venue a must-eat destination, even amongst the most particular pizza aficionados.

INSIDER TIP

Standard's wine list is equally brilliant and packed full of unusual natural wines which the staff will easily guide you through.

CHEF'S CHOICE

St. Bart

Gastropub sanctuary

The freshest addition to Kreuzberg’s bustling bar scene is a rare establishment where superb natural wines co-exist alongside extraordinary cocktails, affordable beer, and an ambitious pub-food menu that’s both honest and tasty. Open seven days a week, this safe haven for both industry and regular guests alike has earned it comparison’s with London’s famous St. JOHN restaurant. Be it a sandwich and beer at the bar; or a full-on feast with a rare magnum enjoyed at a table – there’s always an occasion to visit to St. Bart.

INSIDER TIP

Go here on a Monday and you'll be hanging out with the Berlin chef community.

the institution

KADEWE

Europe's largest food hall

KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens (“Department Store of the West”) was famously the first destination many East Berliners flocked to after the fall of the Berlin wall and to this day, the seven floor store on Kurfürstendamm’s iconic shopping mile still remains a powerful symbol of west Berlin. The 6th floor food department is one of the largest in Europe and offers over 150 chefs cooking at 30+ different stations to bring you everything from oysters and champagne to burgers and beer, as well as an unprecedented offering of carefully sourced ingredients from all over the world.

INSIDER TIP

Keep an eye out for Berlin brewery BRLO's rotisserie chicken bar, hidden on the 6th floor.

mon-thu: 10:00-20:00Fri: 10:00-21:00sat: 9:30-20:00
WINE BAR

Freundschaft

Natural wines & sulphites unite

Smack dab in the middle of the Mitte business district you’ll find this tremendous new wine bar. Take a seat at the massive bar that stretches around the entire room, soak in the extravagant art collection, and allow the two very dedicated and immensely knowledgeable Austrian night-owls who operate this bar, Johannes and Willi, to keep your glasses filled with grape juice from one of Berlin’s best cellars. A great place for both natural wine freaks and more traditional sulphite devotees to join forces, the small menu of lovely bar snacks will ensure no one goes hungry.

INSIDER TIP

Enjoy a suckling pig sandwich and ask the guys who has the best vinyls in their collection.

Per Meurling

Per Meurling is a Swedish writer and food nerd living in Berlin who spends all his time searching for extraordinary restaurants and telling their stories on his site Berlin Food Stories. He’s a regular contributor to publications like Fool Magazine, Welt, Effilee, VICE Munchies, Gourmet etc. and also the official restaurant critic of the acclaimed radio station “Spreeradio”. He’s also one of the brains behind the exclusive dinner series NEU and the Berlin edition of the chef’s symposium Terroir. Follow his work on his social media channels.


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