Berlin is easily one of my favourite cities in the world. There’s so much good food and so many great and interesting bars. It’s also a good city to be in both if you’re a backpacker on a budget and if you want to treat yourself. I must admit, during my summer in the city, the main thing I did was eat so this guide will mainly focus on that but since many of these places also do good drinks, that really is a win win.
1001 Falafel – Kreuzberg
1001 Falafel is the place that converted me to the ways of falafel. Their falafel and halloumi wraps, packed with salad and drizzled in garlic sauce, are reasonably priced (€3.50) and absolutely amazing. I usually have meat in most things but I was left seriously craving these. I ended up here on more than one occasion.
Aki Tatsu Sushi – Kreuzberg
Aki Tatsu has a great happy hour deal that runs from 12pm – 11pm (it’s open until 12am), making it a bargain. I have to admit, sushi is not really my thing but the sushi-loving Berlin Buddy told me that she was in heaven.
Amrit Indian Restaurant – Kreuzberg
Amrit is nicely decorated and serves very tasty food. The portions are also enormous. I have a more than hearty appetite but even I asked for a doggy bag! The Berlin Buddy and I could probably have got one portion between the two of us but that would have meant we didn’t have some delicious leftovers for lunch the next day.
Burgermeister – Kreuzberg
Chances are you’ll hear about Burgermeister before you stumble across it under the U Bahn line in Kreuzberg by Schlesisches Tor station. Sadly, I’m not sure my burger quite lived up to the hype (although it was still good) but that was certainly the minority view. You are pretty much guaranteed a queue but you may be able to grab a crate to perch on and eat if you’re lucky. The place has a great vibe, is reasonably priced and I’m certainly willing to give those burgers another go.
Chaapa Thai Kitchen – Kreuzberg
Chaapa is one of my favourite restaurants in the whole of Berlin. The interior decor is very oriental, the atmosphere is relaxed, the staff are efficient and the food comes quick. The wantons and spring rolls make for very good starters but the highlight for me is the chicken phad si lew (fried noodles) which is what I order every single time.
Gemuse Kebap – Kreuzberg
I very rarely meet a kebab I don’t like (and I’ve had a lot of kebabs) but this was something else. The Berlin Buddy had never tried one before and I’m glad she tried one this good but I’m not sure it was properly representative of kebabs in general. It came in a grilled bap and had veggies, salad which actually looked quite fresh, chicken, seasoning and feta cheese. You would have been happy if you’d been served this at a restaurant. It was both filling and a bargain and lasted for brunch the next day.
Green Bambo Vietnamese – Kreuzberg
I must admit, Vietnamese has never been my favourite cuisine but the Green Bambo proved me wrong. I am a big fan of fried noodles and the chicken pho xao I ordered here was amazing.
Paglia – Kreuzberg
Paglia is a really good value Italian restaurant. The interior is nice and there is also street seating outside. The pizzas are huge, the salads are tasty and the calzone are delicious.
Tiki Hut – Kreuzberg
Tiki Hut was designed in the kind of quirky way that made you feel like you should be somewhere more beachy rather than sitting out on a street in Berlin. The cocktails were yummy, as were the nachos and the delicious Jack Daniels burgers – and I don’t even like Jack Daniels. It was also pretty well priced.
Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt – Mitte
If you’re looking for some local delicacies then Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt’s Bavarian cuisine might not quite be typically Berlin but it’s cultural enough. My beef goulash was insanely good. It was served with Swabian egg noodles which I didn’t think were as good an accompaniment as some creamy mash potato or chunky chips but I was willing to overlook that for this stew.
Borchardt – Mitte
Borchardt’s history dates back to the 1800s. It is an expensive choice but seems to be a bit of a Berlin institution. When I arrived at 8pm on a Friday night, it was still a bit quiet but it wasn’t long before it became so packed that people were queuing for seats. Being so popular, the tables for two are tightly packed, so it feels like you’re dining with the people on either side. This gives the place a sociable atmosphere – although if you’re not a people person, this may not be for you!The service did slow down as the restaurant filled up but this was hardly surprisingly given the waiter-to-customer ratio. It kind of had the vibe of a Parisian brasserie – as the guy at the table next to me pointed out. It’s an open space with four big pillars in the centre and plush red seating, lined with golden bars.
I had the caesar salad to start (just with parmesan and without the chicken option, as this would have taken the price from about €9 to €18) which was lovely, followed by the half grilled lobster (€36). The lobster was tasty but I was left a bit hungry – for the price I would have liked a whole one.
Cafe Einstein – Mitte
Berlin is big on coffee house culture and it seems to be a favourite pastime in the city to sit outside a cafe and watch the world go by. I must say, I do see the appeal of it and at Cafe Einstein you can do it with some really good ice cream, which really is the best way.
Fassbender & Rausch – Mitte
Fassbender & Rausch is pretty much my idea of heaven. It’s a chocolate shop (complete with chocolate sculptures) with a cafe and restaurant on the floor above where you can snack on a dessert or a full blown chocolate-inspired meal. I’ve only been for the desserts but I’m not sure I’ve ever been that happy.
On my first visit, I went for a wafer bowl lined with dark chocolate, filled with stracciatella ice cream and topped off with whipped cream and an iced mocha, which looked like a huge milkshake. On my second visit, I had a white chocolate mousse with raspberries in the centre, sandwiched between a layer of sponge and a layer of raspberry goo and all wrapped in a thin layer of white chocolate. On my third trip, I went with the caramel mousse with almonds, nuts and caramel creme with a layer of sponge, this time wrapped in a layer of dark chocolate. (The white chocolate option was my favourite). Then there’s the hot chocolate, which comes in either milk or dark chocolate varieties and with various flavourings. It’s so rich and delicious that it needs to be served with a little shot glass of water. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
Sukho – Prenzlauer Berg
I found this Thai restaurant completely by accident when I got lost exploring Prenzlauer Berg and it turned out to be quite the hidden gem. My duck and fried rice was delicious and I could sit outside in the sun with a nice Thai Singha beer, which made me reminisce about my trip to Thailand. I then took a beer to Mauer Park opposite and relaxed surrounded by the locals who had flocked there. It was a great way to spend an evening.
Daitokai – Wilmersdorf
When my Dad first took me to Berlin, him and I went in search of this place in the Europa Center as his Dad had taken him around 20 years before. It was still there. The restaurant has wood panelling lining the walls, a little stream trickling through it (complete with fish) and waitresses in kimono. The chefs cook the food at the tables on big metal plates so you get dinner and a show – this included setting my ice cream on fire, without it melting. The food is absolutely amazing.
On my first visit, I had duck and beef and while the food lived up to the amazing setting, my own culinary skills did not. The rest of our communal table started giggling at the sight of me failing to use chopsticks and the chef offered me a set for kids – with an elastic band around the ends so you could pincer your food. I managed without those in the end. On my second visit I had the an incredible six course Japanese feast. There was chicken, duck, noodles, veggies, salmon, sushi… I could go on but I slid into a food coma and cannot remember what else there was. I actually woke up with a food hangover.
Dean and David Cafe – Wilmersdorf
Dean and David was a brilliant find that specialises in healthy and fresh food. The salads are huge, the curries are fragrant and the wraps are tasty.
Franceso Forgione – Wilmersdorf
If you’re in the mood for some warm, comforting Italian food then Franceso Forgione is the place to go. The staff are friendly, the food is homey and delicious and the wine is cheap – like Italy wine prices. I opted for the rich tomato soup to start and then the tortellini with ham and a creamy sauce. The ham came chopped up in little pieces on top, so I’m not entirely sure what it was actually in the tortellini. Probably just a different type of ham. Either way it was great and left me too stuffed for dessert. I also appreciated the fact that the waiter left a big pot of parmesan cheese on the table, instead of grating a bit for me – that way I could ladle on as much as I wanted without feeling guilty for ending up with more cheese than pasta. I’ve since been back and tried the pizza, which is big, reasonably priced and tasty.
Max und Moritz – Wilmersdorf
Berlin is a good place to go if you’re a fan of kebabs – you can get something really special here. I’ve heard that Max und Moritz often has queues of people waiting in line for their kebabs, so when I passed by late one night when it was quiet and nothing else was open, it seemed like the perfect time to try their doner. It was presented to me like a trophy on a plate. Instead of a pita, the bap was like a big crusty roll which had the bread centre taken out and replaced with tasty meat, fresh salad, garlic mayonnaise (optional) and even the odd chip. I could see what all the fuss was about.
Reinhard’s im Kempinski Hotel – Wilmersdorf
In comparison to nearly every other restaurant I have been to in Berlin, Reinhard’s is ridiculously expensive but it is also ridiculously good. In fact, I had the best steak of my life here. I find that steaks either have no taste or all of the taste and this one was most certainly the latter. It also came covered in sauce and alongside some pretty tasty chips. My pea and parmesan ravioli soup (a piece of ravioli surrounded by soup) was also faultless.
I also had the biggest breakfast I’ve ever had here. It may have been expensive but it consisted of a buffet with everything you could possibly want – cold meats, fish, cheeses, fruit, cereal, breads, yoghurt, eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and even mini muffins and doughnuts. It was absolutely amazing.
If you just fancy something lighter (and cheaper), the mozzarella with pesto and tomatoes on brown bread is a popular and refreshing choice. You can eat it with a coffee at one of the tables outside on the pavement, whilst watching the world go by.
Weyers – Wilmersdorf
On my last trip to Berlin, I was in the city for three full days and I ate at Weyers exactly three times. It’s a popular place that’s open all day but I got particularly attached to the breakfasts. The place had the feel of a quirky hotel restaurant, with painted brick walls and menus that were sandwiched between hardback covers of old Vogue magazines. The staff were really friendly, the orange juice was freshly squeezed and the menu had a lot of options (not all of which my mediocre German was up to translating).
On my first day, I had two fried eggs (with lovely runny yolks) with perfectly cooked bacon and bread. It was an excellent choice. On my second day, I tried the scrambled eggs with bacon, ham and onions (aka an omelette) and bread. I must admit, this wasn’t my favourite. The amount of onion was slightly overpowering – I would have swapped some for a bit of cheese. On my third and final visit, I shared the breakfast for two, with a selection of breads, meats, cheeses, fruits, jams and salmon. This was the winner and probably an obligatory German breakfast option.
Luzia – Kreuzberg
Luzia was a pretty popular bar on Oranienstraße around the corner from where I was staying. The inside appeared to have been stripped but then not redone, giving it a quirky interior with its bare walls. On a warm day, the entire front of the bar opens up so you are practically sitting out on the street. I liked this one.
Tiki Tonga Bar – Kreuzberg
Tiki Tonga has a pretty interesting decor – there’s a gold square board above the bar that actually moves. I think it was meant to resemble rustling leaves but it did freak me out a bit. I had to wait a little long to order but the cocktails were lovely and the fact that the happy hour lasted from 6pm – 10pm made it a very happy hour indeed.
Mein Haus am See – Mitte
Mein Haus am See was a bar recommended to me by some Berlin locals, which I took as a good sign. It seems to be known for having staggered seating that’s inspired by baseball stadium seating. It also has a good atmosphere and was pretty busy, even on the weekday night I went.
Newton’s – Mitte
The bar in Newton’s runs alongside the wall on one side of the venue and, in warmer months, gets extended so that it actually curves out onto the path in front – so there is plenty of space to pull up a stool and have a drink. There’s a good vibe and there is something classic about the decor, with its brown walls and red leather arms chairs. Although, there are also photos of nude women on the walls, taken by the bar’s namesake, Helmut Newton. The gin and tonic is expensive (€12) but you certainly get your money’s worth as far as the amount of gin is concerned. The beer is much cheaper (€5).
Weinerei – Mitte
The idea behind the Weinerei is that you rent a glass and then help yourself to wine throughout the night. Before you leave, you just pay what you feel you owe. I can imagine people taking advantage of this but it seems people must be pretty honest and I think I actually overpaid for my share! I do love the idea and it certainly attracted it’s fair share of people who agreed with me on that.
Alcatraz Backpackers Hostel – Prenzlauer Berg
I stayed in the Alcatraz hostel on my first night of my summer in Berlin and found that it was way more welcoming than the name suggests. The staff were helpful and the atmosphere was friendly. The location was also very good, on a main road through Prenzlauer Berg close to Eberswalder Strasse U-Bahn station, although this did mean that it was quite noisy. Still my room was clean and comfy. I’d left it pretty last minute but was able to get one night in, just not more after that, which was a shame because I enjoyed my stay.
Lette’m Sleep Hostel – Prenzlauer Berg
Lette’m Sleep was where I stayed when I couldn’t book back into Alcatraz. It was only a stone’s through away on a side street in Prenzlauer Berg, meaning that it was much quieter but still close to bars, restaurants and an U-Bahn station. The common area was quite buzzy and I was able to spend a day in there using wifi to send off some job applications. Again, I enjoyed my stay but left it too late to be able to book more than a couple of nights.
Corner Hostel – Prenzlauer Berg
The location of Corner Hostel wasn’t quite as convenient as Alcatraz and Lette’m Sleep as it was in a more residential part of Prenzlauer Berg, but it was still walking distance from the local amenities and U-Bahn station. It didn’t feel quite as modern as the others but I ended up in a nice room with some friendly people. I did get locked out of my room for a few hours one night and, on my first day, I had problems with another guest staying in my dorm but I was offered another room and after that the staff went out of their way to look after me and make sure I was okay. They also put out free, coffee and cakes in the common area, which I certainly enjoyed taking advantage of.