Last summer was an ice cream shaped blast. Judging from the photos on my computer, I didn’t do an awful lot apart from eating filthy burgers in Berlin. When curious people who were just about to explore Europe’s hipster capital, repeatedly asked for recommendations, I pulled some of the above mentioned photos together and happily re-immersed in the where’s and what’s of Berlin’s culinary treasures.
Yes, I frequently release our flat’s fire alarm because of my inability to cook pasta, which doesn’t quite make me a 5* Michelin expert in quality ingredients, organic sourcing and the like. But we can have a chat about the few legendary, innovative or little places that I kept coming back to. Be warned, you can spend entire days eating your way through Berlin’s cafés because there is such a mere infinity of affordable #foodporn.
(The picture quality varies a little, that is because I was constantly juggling between a crappy phone camera, an even crappier compact camera and a beautiful Canon from the office, as mine broke just a few days before leaving London. Maybe that’s why I stuffed ice cream in my face.)
Coffee: No Fire No Glory, Rykestraße 45, Prenzlauer Berg
Let’s start with what is one of the truly most important things in life. If you think coffee from that big green chain is the best sip in the world, you’re on the wrong track. No Fire No Glory not only unleashes the full flavor of freshly roasted espresso beans, but you’re also free to choose how strong (i.e. what particular bean) you want it to be. As the Berlin version of Flat White, its interior feels a bit like 19th century Hemingway in Paris, without the picturesque drama of someone who doesn’t know where to sleep the next day.
Breakfast: Wohnzimmer, Lettestraße 6, Prenzlauer Berg
For a fabulous vegetarian cheese breakfast, just walk a few streets up from NFNG and you’ll reach a café bar that gives you a slight idea of what the ideal GDR interior must have looked like. Surrounded by flowery sofas and appealing Kitsch, you’ll get a huge breakfast for a student-friendly €3.95 and it will be the best you’ve had in a while! Wohnzimmer has the feel of your grandparents’ living room, which also happens to be the German translation of the word.
Pancakes: TassenKuchen, Malplaquetstraße 39, Wedding
They don’t sell post cards of the Brandenburg Gate in Wedding, or any other souvenirs, because the district usually isn’t on anyone’s must-see list. As part of a general uplifting of its rather run-down image or gentrification however, an American lady opened a beautiful little café that will fill your hungry hearts with artsy cakes and pancakes and other sugary blessings. On Sundays they offer a pancake flatrate where you can eat as many as you want for €8. As that is the London price for one, I quickly identified TassenKuchen as the ultimate paradise too.
Ice Cream: Eismanufaktur, Simon-Dach-Straße 9; Auguststraße 63; Gräfestraße 7; Mitte and Kreuzberg
This one surely is no secret for locals: Eismanufaktur sells the best ice cream in town. They usually don’t do boring traditional flavours, so why not forget about your Straciatella obsession for a second and be a bit more experimental with flavours like White Chocolate with Parmesan or Indian Mango Sorbet? If you fancy pretty things, you should ask for that colourful top up … which is usually only offered to children. Oops.
German Bread: What do you fancy love, Knesebeckstraße 68, Charlottenburg
The guys who run that independent café in one of the poshest districts in Berlin have been travelling for a couple of years (chat with them about London or New York, they’ll love you!) before settling down in Berlin to make use of all these inspirations. And oh boy, the combination of fresh and tasty rye bread with different toppings and the most revitalising pressed fruit juice will lead to the odd shout of approval…
Burger: Burgeramt, Krossenerstraße 21, Friedrichshain and Dream Burger, Danziger Straße 16, Prenzlauer Berg
Burgeramt is excellent. As Bürgeramt in German actually means citizen council, they wonderfully played around with the fact that burgers are as essential as governmental support. Choose different versions from classic Cheeseburgers to Mediterranean. Be creative! Meal deals include chips and a drink for approx. €8.
If you’re a bit fuzzy and/or like to see how everything’s done in front of your eyes, go to Dream Burger on Danziger Straße where you can decide what exactly will be on that little piece sent directly from heaven – from a variety of chips to salad, different Jalapenôs and cheese!
Don’t go to The Bird in Prenzlauer Berg. Nearly every guide will tell you that it’s the absolute best one in town but in case you’re not up to “burgers” that only contain a massive bunch of half-raw meat and a small piece of bread, kick it from that list!
The Cheapest Pizza: Pizza Bella, Gräfestraße 8, Kreuzberg
A whole pizza for €1.95? No, I’m not kidding and yes, it’s a real pizza. It’s not only a very valuable place when you’ve spent all your money on thrifted clothes or drinks, but it’s actually a very big and tasty pizza. They have every traditional topping you could dream of and offer pasta dishes for as little as €2.49. But please, don’t be utterly shocked when the “waiters” will not overwhelm you the charming customer service that you’re used to… So grab the pizzas and stroll to Admiralbrücke for a few beers and some outdoor acoustic music on a bridge.
Hipster Evening Beer: Mein Haus am See, Brunnenstraße 198, Prenzlauer Berg
Although Berlin probably has more bars than offices, there’s a certain hierarchy of coolness. Mein Haus am See is on top of that list. With stairs instead of chairs, books instead of the obligatory empty bottles decoration and all drinks from tea to Tequila, the bar/café/music venue sets the right setting for pretty much every purpose.
Midnight Snack: Schwarzes Café, Charlottenburg
Again, Charlottenburg is not usually the place you’d go to party or hang out as a 20-something. It used to be though, so who knows what your parents did in the area. But now that the dancing part of the population has swiftly moved to Kreuzberg or Neukölln, Schwarzes Café remains a trusted remnant that is open 24/07 and provides great bruschetta at 6am just before you’re ready to face the hangover.
Waffles: Kauf Dich Glücklich, Oderberger Straße 44, Prenzlauer Berg
Kauf Dich Glücklich is a concept store that includes everything from vintage furniture, clothing lines and books to waffles and ice cream. It started at this store in Oderberger Straße and is now rapidly expanding to many other German cities. Imagine a warm waffle with home-made strawberry jam and a scoop of cookie ice cream. That does taste about as perfect as it sounds, yes. It’s open until midnight and there’s nothing like sitting outside and watching the stars above you. Sorry for the cliché. But it’s still nice.
Cupcakes: Cupcake, Krossener Straße 12, Friedrichshain
Being the girly girl I am, I don’t even try to say no to cupcakes. Cupcake is just a few blocks away from Burgermeister and therefore the ideal stop for a walk on the fairy dust side. The owners are always up for a chat and have big enough tables to host sweet feasts for fancy hipster launch parties. In case you were wondering, the cakes are exotic and creative too.
Kebab: Go! And! Explore! Berlin!
The best kebab is always the one that you’re going to have next. There’s nothing that explains Berlin’s spirit better than a kebab at 8am (Yes, if it’s any earlier you failed!) when you’re on the way home from an infinite clubbing night with pals that look just as horrible as you do. If you still need a bit of advice, go to the street that surrounds most clubs anyway: Warschauer Straße in Friedrichshain. Between East Side Gallery and Warschauer Str. U-Bahn there’s plenty of good kebabs who have benches outside and play glorious 90s music…