Berlin is only 3 hours away from our home town. A few years ago we decided to visit the city for a weekend. We took off on a Friday afternoon, directly after work, to be able to enjoy the evening already onsite. I guess I never stop being amazed that with modern mode of transportation you can be within a few hours in a totally different place, where people speak a different language, where the climate varies, and what is most important to me, of course, food is nothing you are used to! The German capital is therefore a fantastic place to be.
Since that first weekend, we are paying a visit to Berlin every once in a while and have been able to try out many restaurants, bars, street markets and even food trucks representing various cuisines from around the world.
Here is a list of places that we have discovered so far and would come back again and again. The reasons for it, besides the food itself of course, may be different - the ambience, a hidden gem or even a price/quality ratio.
If you wish to try some really tasty US style BBQ in the heart of Berlin, there is no other place to go. Big Stuff is really hard to find if you don't know the exact address. It is located in the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg district, among other fixed food stalls. So how do you find it? Look for the longest queue and with 99% certainty this will be it.
Big Stuff is all about meat. Every day you may have a different choice such as beef short ribs, beef brisket, pork belly, pulled pork, pork pastrami within a sandwich etc. You can also order a small, medium or large plate that will give you the opportunity to try the full offering and most probably you won't be able to eat it yourself due to its size. A good option is to take the big platter and share it between two. The tray comes with the meat selection offered that particular day accompanied by three BBQ sauces, jacket potatoes, coleslaw and a salad. It not only tastes amazing but the visual side of it is to die for!
2. Brio (Graefestr. 71, Berlin Kreuzberg)
In 2013, somewhere on a small street of Kreuzberg, two young Italian cooks, who previously worked at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Italy, decided to open one of their own. This place specializes in Italian tapas, so called “piattini”. Therefore the dishes are rather small and it is recommended, according to the menu, to eat two or three of those to feel full.
But most importantly the food - it is just amazing. When you read the menu, it seems to consist of simple Italian dishes that you have eaten before. But don't be fooled by that. When they are presented to your table, you realize that they have a touch of the traditional Italian cuisine yet they are different.
I fell in love with gnocchi fritto accompanied by a great selection of cold meats and baked ricotta served with caramelized onions. Everything is served with wisely chosen wines that can be order by the glass (starting from 4€). The prices for the dishes are also very modest, rarely exceeding 10€.
3. Imren Grill (Boppstr. 10, Kreuzberg)
This is already an institution, serving one of the best (if not the best) döner kebab in Berlin. Its history started in the early '90s and till now they have established a few branches all over the city. Though, the flagship location is the one on Bopp street in Kreuzberg, which represents one of the largest Turkish communities in Berlin.
The restaurant itself is kept very simple and doesn't differ that much from other kebab places that you might have visited in the past. What makes this place so unique is that they do everything themselves: the pide breads, the sauce, and the famous beef kebab which according to what they say, is layered with lamb fat and various Middle Eastern spices.
The whole menu is visualized right above the preparation area, so if undecided, you can take a look at all the possibilities which are accompanied by a picture.
Prices are very affordable. You can spend somewhere between 4€ for a smaller dish (like Dürüm roll with salad and sauce) or 8€ for a döner combo which is served with rice, salad, sauces and chunks of flatbread. And last but not least, you should not miss a glass or two of a traditional Turkish tea which is free of charge.
4. KaDeWe (Tauentzienstraße 21–24, Berlin Schöneberg)
Kaufhaus des Westens (abbreviated to KaDeWe) is the largest department store in continental Europe with about 40-50 000 visitors on a daily basis. Its 6th floor is also the largest food department store with around 34 000 different products laid out on 7 000 square meters. Between the wide variety of food and beverages from all around the world, you will be amazed to find 30 gourmet counters supplied by 110 cooks, 40 bakers and confectioners. Its reputation for being food lover´s paradise is more than true.
If you wish to try new things and treat yourself to something you have never tried before, then this is an ideal place to be. Among others there is a famous oyster bar and a fish section, a stand serving a variety of gourmet burgers made of Black Angus and a lobster tail, four champagne bars for those who love a glass or two of bubbly and a chocolate bar where master chocolatiers deliver gorgeous chocolate creations.
This is not all that the department store has to offer. The next, top floor, is a giant food court with a beautiful glass rooftop with over 1000 seats. Food can be bought at a a self-service buffet which serves a variety of cold and hot dishes from scrambled eggs over to Italian pastas and curry wurst with chips.
With around 20 000 Vietnamese people in Berlin, it is the largest group of East Asians in Germany. Due to this fact, Vietnamese cuisine is also very well represented in the capital.
District Mot serves mainly a variation of Saigon street food and is famous for its burgers. They come in steamed bao buns made out of rice flour and are served in different variations (with or without meat), with ingredients you would not expect (like mango slice) and great Vietnamese spices. Besides, for those who are looking for some more exotic experience, there are pan fried frog legs and deep fried silkworms.
The scenery of the restaurant is also extraordinary. It feels like being on a colorful street of Saigon, with little plastic stools, crazy power lines hanging from the ceiling, Vietnamese Budda altar or mobile food cart.