Berlin is certainly known for its impressive art scene, compelling history and wild nightlife, but not as your typical foodie hotspot. Sausages, sauerkraut, potato dumplings and lots of steins of beer are probably the first things which spring to mind when you think German food.
I fully immersed myself in German culture on landing, with a stein of beer. Although not an avid beer drinker the fruity kind more than quenched my thirst. Apart from the beer swilling, my first visit to Berlin very quickly abolished all my foodie preconceptions.
The melting pot of Italian, Turkish and Middle Eastern immigrants in the capital has redefined the culinary scene with a range of exotic food styles. Today, the diverse and eclectic city presents a vibrant and innovative food culture which sits side by side the traditional fayre synonymous with the country.
Our gastronomic adventure included lip-smackingly tasty vegan Vietnamese, Turkish in Kreuzberg and a cool Japanese American brunch spot to name a few.
The visit also coincided with the season of Germany’s King of Vegetables – White Asparagus. This veggie couldn’t ignore that little fact of course!
And whilst we’re on the plant-based topic, I never expected it be the vegan capital of the world. Yes, seriously! The city has embraced the whole veganism movement with full force, with a whooping 471 restaurants catering for vegans. It doesn’t end there either. Schivelbeiner Strasse is also the world’s first street dedicated to all things animal product-free, known locally as Vegan Avenue. That’s Berlin for you, unpredictable – just like it’s food.
From street food, to fine dining and some ultra hip joints – Here are six places which seriously rocked my taste buds on our recent city break:
Trying to find this restaurant is an adventure in itself, particularly when you have to traverse through a car park past dumpster bins! Once at the door remember to press the buzzer. You’ll head upstairs to an industrial looking dining room with white concrete pillars, soft lighting, white linen draped tables and raspberry coloured seating.
The open plan kitchen gives a glimpse of chef Stephan Hentschel creating his experimental plant-based creations which have earned him a Michelin star. With usual veggie suspects like pasta banned from the menu, you’ll find dishes such as vegetarian caviar, Parmesan dumplings and cornflakes ice cream.
I loved how the attentive trendy staff enthused over the dishes and the fabulous wine pairings. We devoured some of the most exceptional and inventive flavours and textures. It’s one of the coolest vegetarian restaurants I’ve dined in with a very reasonably priced Michelin Star menu. A four course menu is €59 and a three course €49. The camera is also banned at this establishment, so there are no photos – just tasty memories.
House of Small Wonder
The urban greenhouse is known for being one of the most iconic cafés in Berlin, tucked away in Mitte the heart of the city. Headed by husband and wife team Motoko Watanabe and Shaul Margulies, it follows in the footsteps in of its Brooklyn predecessor. House of Small Wonder draws on the owners culinary heritage and offers an American menu with a Japanese twist, with a big emphasis on comfort food.
Here you can sup on a matcha cappuccino whilst chomping a Tex Mex inspired Okinawan taco rice or an apple-brie-fig mustard sandwich. You’re guaranteed to be captured by the homely feel to the place with the eclectic mix of cutlery and furniture, charming and quirky in equal measures.
We covered both bases with our order I veered to the American with two sunny side eggs, the creamiest potato gratin and Mediterranean salad. Mr S went all Japanese with two onigiri rice balls seasoned with purple shiso, served with vegetable side dishes and vegan miso soup,
Let’s not forget the iconic winding staircase! Framed with potted greenery it’s proved to be a hit with the Instagram massive. It would have been rude not to pose.
Curry at the Wall
Currywurst, the famous Berlin dish which wouldn’t exist without the British! A lady called Herta Heuwer invented the fast food in 1949 when she obtained ketchup and curry from the British soldiers. She mixed these ingredients with other spices and poured it over sliced, grilled pork sausages. Recipe mastered, Herta went onto selling her spicy snack from a street stall in Charlottenburg. And the rest as they say is history.
My quest for finding a veggie friendly version led me straight to Curry at the Wall. Where I found an incredibly tasty vegan currywurst. This local speciality is made from seitan and wheat protein, doused in a rich spicy curry sauce, sprinkled with curry powder and served with a portion of french fries and a soft drink. All for €7.90, what’s not to like?!
Conveniently located a few minutes from Checkpoint Charlie and directly opposite part of the original Berlin Wall, it’s the perfect spot to refuel when on the tourist trail.
This modern bistro style restaurant housed in an old brewery, celebrates local organic produce. There are various rooms, a lovely outdoor courtyard and live music whilst you dine. The brick walls and rustic wooden furniture is combined with ethnic elements of South America. Not a surprise when the owners were inspired by an orange cat for the name of the restaurant when travelling in South America.
The restaurant’s speciality is ‘candy on bone’ where you’ll find the pork Duroc which gets roasted for 12 hours at a low temperature and served with its own gravy. There are plenty of tasty vegetarian options to choose from too, such as this delicious crispy halloumi, tabbouleh and tomato.
And the corn bread, king oyster mushrooms and paprika.
To perfectly cooked fish dishes, such as Mr S’s oriental style salmon.
Our fantastic sommelier lead us into our first foray in orange wine. Its known to be bold and complex and he expertly chose the perfect bottle.
Delicious food, great wine, a fabulous atmosphere, attentive staff and a beautiful location. Katz Orange is a must for an entertaining and memorable evening.
In a city full of Turkish restaurants, Defne is the one you need to hunt down in Berlin’s dynamic and hip Kreuzberg. The canal-side restaurant has an outside terrace for a lovely dinner setting with river views. It serves classic Anatolian dishes using authentic ingredients from the local Turkish market, and also blends flavours from the Mediterranean.
The meze style sharing plate comes with incredibly flavoursome dips – hummus, cacik, spicy hot pepper salad, garlic carrots and the walnut chilli paste is to die for! The generous portion of sigaria boregi or crispy puff pastry rolls filled with a herb cheese filling were rather large but very delicious.
Carnivorous dishes which have the locals returning on repeat are the ali nazik, sliced lamb with puréed aubergine and yoghurt and the acili ahtapot, a spicy octopus served with mushrooms and olives in a white wine and tomato sauce.
Top tip: Remember to take cash through, as they don’t accept any credit cards and you don’t want to be left scrubbing the pots!
1990 Vegan Living
Head to Boxhagener Platz in Berlin and I promise you an extraordinary culinary vegan adventure. 1990 Vegan Living is an amazing Vietnamese restaurant in Friedrichshain.
The interiors and inspiration for the the restaurant arises from the period in 1990 when there was a lack of meat in Vietnam. People had to come up with tasty vegan alternatives whilst still including the exotic spices of Vietnamese cuisine. This is now reflected in the dishes served in the restaurant using only seasonal organic produce.
The all vegan menu offers tapas style food in small bowls – perfect for sharing. If you’re not the sharing kind, fear not, you can also order larger versions all for yourself.
There are 20 different tapas dishes to choose from, ranging from the traditional to some creative versions. packed with fresh ingredients they’re all wither served with noodles, white or red rice.
I can confidently say it’s the best vegan meal I’ve ever had! Remember to order the seitan on a stick utterly divine. And again don’t forget your cash. No cards are accepted.
Looking for a fabulous panoramic view over lunch or dinner? Then, the all-day restaurant Nene Berlin is for you. Located on the rooftop of 25hours Bikini Berlin it offers an eclectic mix of flavours on its menu. The sharing menu takes influence from Persian, Russian, Arabic, Moroccan, Turkish, Spanish but also German and Austrian dishes. I can guarantee it will be a tough to make a decision.
The interiors boast a greenhouse decor with wooden tables and colourful chairs. Incredible vistas of City West and the Berlin Zoo – will have you playing spot the gorilla in between starters and mains.
We started with a simple but rather tasty beetroot and horseradish hummus served with warm pita bread.
Followed by a Sabich, a street food speciality from Tel Aviv. The baked eggplant, hummus, tomato salsa, tahini with amba and soft boiled egg is served on a laffa bread.
Mr tucked into a warming dish of grilled marinated tofu, with giant couscous, black cumin, date syrup and chilli.
Once you’ve satisfied your foodie cravings, on the same floor you can head straight across the corridor to the Monkey Bar.
With a 360 degree terrace and a decent cocktail menu to work through. You’ll probably never want to leave. We didn’t.
I’d love to know about your foodie discoveries in Berlin. Let me know in the comments box below.
Below are more posts from my Berlin adventures:
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