"Context and memory play powerful roles
in all the truly great meals in one's life."
- Anthony Bourdain
I'm a self-proclaimed foodie. I love all things food and drink and when asked if I am hungry, my response more often than not is, "I can always eat!" Many of my memories include meals I have shared with friends and family. There is something familiar and comforting about food, who you share it with, and the memories formed while enjoying meals.
Throughout my year in Berlin I have eaten some pretty amazing cuisine - from traditional Deutscheküche, to food from just about every Asian country, Arab specialties, Eastern European fare, and even South and North American dishes. While I wish I could share each and every memory from these meals with you, I'll spare you the lengthy memoir and just leave you with some fun or essential information about each restaurant or Imbiss.
Guten Appetit! Saha! Happy eating!
Umami - Indochinese
From yummy and familiar starters, to rice pots (my fav is the Fish Pot with seared salmon!!!) and delicious teas with fresh ingredients, Umami warms the heart and soul with scrumptious Indochinese food.
Nusantara - Indonesian
Admittedly this Indonesian restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside, but the food itself is delectable. They have a great deal on ordering multiple appetizers as your meal, so you can get a small taste of many different dishes. Order 3 or 4 for yourself, or 6 to 8 to share with someone for a lot of variety. Their refreshing lime iced tea pictured is bomb, too!
Sushi Express - Japanese
Sushi Express is underground in the Passarelle Passage in the Sony Center at the Potsdamer Platz Station. It has surprisingly delicious sushi with great happy hour pricing.
Cocolo Ramen - Japanese
Cocolo has some of the tastiest ramen I've ever eaten. Order a couple apps and drinks to start while they make your ramen since the wait time can be a bit long for your perfectly fresh ramen.
Cozymazu - Twaiwanese
A friend of mine recommended we come here with their two Taiwanese friends (who dubbed this very authentic, btw) and were blown away by the variety and creativity of the dishes here.
Each of us ordered something different and ended up eating rather family-style so that each of us could try at least of bite of everything. Their hot and iced teas and cocktails are also the jam!
Thuy Nga - Vietnamese
This little vietnamese restaurant is juuuust off the beaten path in Prenzlauer Berg that there is never a wait here. The food is fresh and delicious and features bio meat and fish.
My favorites here include the fresh summer rolls with salmon, the mixed salad served over rice noodles with organic grilled salmon, and their house-made lemon iced tea with fresh lemon and mint.
One and Only - Vietnamese and Japanese
The goal of One and Only is fresh, healthy asian food. Light Thai and Japanese options that pack a flavor punch.
Konditorei Aljazeera - Arab baked goods
This bakery features traditional Arab baked goods. My friends say they are also very authentic. Try the Halawe bl Jebben, a Syrian pastry filled with sweet cream cheese topped with Aleppo nuts (pistachios) and rose water syrup.
Humbaba Falafel - Arabic
Humbaba Falafel is one of my favorite falafel joints. It's a tiny Imbiss with only outdoor seating, but you can order falafel a la cate - perfect for someone like me, who often can't eat a whole sandwich or plate. Perfectly crispy on the outside, while still moist and flavorful on the inside, topped with some of the tastiest tahini sauce in Berlin.
Also... too lazy to go, but reeeeallly want delicious falafel? You can have it delivered, you lazy bum ;)
Falafel in Berlin - Arabic
I hit up Falafel in Berlin with a friend after happy hour and had the most delicious Kofta and Falafel plates. What makes this place unique is the use of Sima2 or sumac seasoning. It adds that special edge to Arabic food that is truly outstanding.
Azzam - Lebanese
Go to Azzam hungry. Like really hungry. And exercise restraint when ordering, because at Azzam the portions are HUGE. Pictured is what you get when you oder one falafel entree and one order of baba ganoush - the veggie plates (one per person), condiments plate, and WHOLE bag of bread come complementary.
You really can't go wrong with anything on their menu. Hit up the tea cart with fresh mint after your meal to help as a digestive.
Al Andalos - Lebanese
Come to Al Andalos for their falafel. Order as a sandwich for a sort of falafel burrito of sorts which is super affordable about about 3,50€
Shaam - Syrian
My Syrian friends swear this Shawarma is the best in all of Berlin. Shaam is an affectionate nickname for the capital of Damascus, Syria and you can tell that this restaurant is a nostalgic gathering place for displaced Syrians who now call Berlin home. Trying Shawarma for the first time? Order a Shawarma sandwich for 3,50€. It is served with a small plate for pickled vegetables and Toum garlic mayo sauce. Spoon some sauce on the sandwich, drizzle with Pomegranate molasses (found in a plastic bottle on each table) and follow every once in a while with a pickle - Enjoy!
Pro tip: After your meal, look for a tea cart and have serve yourself. Mix the tea in a 1:5 ratio with water and add some sugar. Perfect ending to a meal!
Falafel Abu Jehja - Syrian
Abu Jehja (orJohn Jr.) used to make the falafel at Shaam. He opened this little Imbiss in the bottom of the Eberswaldestraße Station while I was in Berlin and I'm so happy he did. If you are in the Prenzlauer Berg area, you MUST come here.
Order a Falafel plate, Ful Medames (a garlicky fava bean and tomato salad) and Fatteh (fresh casserole made of hummus beans and yogurt topped with fried pita bread, olive oil and lemon juice) from some of the kindest, most generous chefs in Berlin!
Aldimashqi - Syrian
This Syrian restaurant is the place to come for Kebab from the grill. It is smokey and moist, served on a bed of salad, pita bread with chili paste, hummus und Toum (garlic sauce).
After dinner they offer a variety of desserts all made in-house and a man will serve you tea table-side.
Cafe Susam - Turkish
Funky, late-night place to grab a tee, something sweet to eat and even smoke some Shisha, if you’re into that.
La Femme - Turkish
La Femme has delicious Turkish breakfast and lunch, a huge selection of Turkish dessert and baked goods (baked in-house), and classic Turkish tea.
Come here to try Kumpir, or Turkish baked potato - a huge potato that you can top with scrumptious toppings such as kaşer cheese, corn, jalapeños, and many more options.
Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap - Turkish
One of the most popular Döner stands in Berlin. I'd only eat here if you happen to catch it at a time when there isn't a line. Otherwise it isn't worth a long wait. Confronted with a huge line, but still looking to try the style of Döner with roasted veggies and goat's cheese? Head to Favorit Gemüse Kebap in Moabit (also in my list), which also has roasted vegetables and there is never a wait there!
Kilicoglu Baklava - Turkish
Looking for Turkish desserts? This is a good one-stop-shop. There might be a language barrier if you don't speak Turkish, and make sure you pay attention to the pay-per-weight system they have going on so you don't end up with a huge tab.
Keb'up House - Turkish
Standard Döner Imbiss conveniently located in Schöneberg just across the street from the U Nollendorfplatz station.
My favorite thing to do here was order a Döner Box zum Mitnehmen and take it to a nearby park to enjoy!
Favorit Gemüse Kebab - Turkish
This place looks like another nondescript Döner Imbiss. But trust... this place has the most delicious Schafesoße, hot sauce, I've tasted in Berlin. It isn't overly spicy, but gives the most yummy heat to your Döner or Dürüm. I like it sauce-y, I challenge you to ask for all three of their sauce (Kräuter [herb], Knoblauch [garlic], and Scharf [hot sauce]) for a flavor explosion!
Kaplan Döner - Turkish
This is a chain in Berlin, but it all comes down to the unique location. I recommend the location in the Luxemburger Straße at the U Leopoldplatz station. It is the ultimate perfect place to pre-funk for an evening in the Eschenbräu beer garden, just FYI.
Hisar - Turkish
The Hisar Döner stand in the Yorkstraße is a super convenient place to grab a bite to-go to enjoy picnic style in the park next door, or they have covered seating indoors, too.
Cafe Katulki - Polish
A cute little Polish cafe with smoothies, baked goods, and other light cafe-fare. Not great (read not attentive or timely, perhaps a cultural thing) service, but yummy treats!
Datschka - Russian
The boiled and pan-friend Pelmeni at Datscha are serious comfort food. Order an entree of one kind, or opt for a mix of three different flavors served together in order to try a variety. Perfectly paired with one of their Russian lagers on tap!
Gorki Park - Russian
Gorki Park is a little time capsule back to Soviet era Russia or East Germany. From smorgasbord-style appetizers that are great for sharing (served with or without a shot of vodka!), to Blini (or Russian crepes) to Beef Stroganoff, Gorki has all the Russian classics on its menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their selection of Russian vodka and beers is also pretty impressive.
American / South American
Nalu Diner - American
If you are, for whatever reason, looking for an All-American breakfast, head to Nalu. It has serious diner vibes with its drip coffee and booth-style seating.
Bobsek Burger - American
Bobsek serves a pretty serious burger. While I wouldn't classify the toppings as "American" they are seriously delicious!
Burgermeister - American
If you are craving a juicy burger, check out Burgermeister kitty-corner from the Kottbusser Tor and Schlesisches Tor Stations in Kreuzberg. Order at the counter, get a number, snag a coveted seat and wait for your order to be called up. Usually this spot is fairly noisy and/or boasts a pretty awesome playlist. Awesome place to head on a night out drinking with friends, maybe not so great with families.
Cafe Mori - Brazilian
This tiny little cafe has some yummy Brazilian eats, as well as refreshing cocktails. They are also one of the few cafes in the area that has free wifi open to the public. Snag a spot outside when the weather is nice!
German / Italian / French / Swiss
Bar Misirlou - European Fusion
This cafe/bar is quiet and moody. Sit up front at a cafe table, or head towards the back for comfy couches. The service can be a bit slow or not attentive, but don't feel abashed to flag someone down. One of the few bars I've found that serves delicious and local Eschenbräu beer on tap.
La Maison du Chocolat - French/Italian/German Fusion
The pasta dishes at this restaurant are out of control. German favorites like Pfefferling mushroom with Speck bacon, or French appetizer of oven-baked soft cheese with marmalade, or Italian Tagiatelle made fresh daily with Pesto sauce. Didn't have your fill at dinner? Head over to their bakery for some other-worldly torts, macaroons, and chocolates.
Eschenbräu - German
Eschenbräu is my favorite brewery in Berlin. They have a wide selection of fresh beers on tap as well as offer some yummy "bar food" like Flammkuchen pizza or Prezel. In the warmer months a beer garden is open under a couple large trees in their courtyard. Feel free to bring a picnic of food with you to enjoy alongside some tasty beers.
Sage Restaurant - Modern European
Sage is a bit swanky, but I went here with my family to celebrate an anniversary and had a wonderful meal. They have come up with a modern twist on classic Austrian and Italian classics like Wienerschnitzel and Carpaccio. Whether you just saddle up to the bar, or are having a full meal, make sure you grab a cocktail. I had one of my (sadly) very few delicious cocktails here.
Tegernsee Tönnchen - German, Bayerisch
If you are looking to be transported to Bayern and indulge in some classic German dishes, Tegernsee Tönnchen is the place to go! Walking in you will see tables of blue hairs, who are clearly established regulars saying “Prosit!” over a Maß of beer. I had a HUGE portion of Leberkäse that was served with potatoes and an fried egg - heaven - and a cold Tegernsee Spezial beer to wash it all down. Better come hungry!
Sarah Wiener im Hamburger Bahnhof - Modern German
Spend a day exploring the Hamburger Bahnhof museum and treat yourself to lunch (or even just a coffee) in Sarah Wiener’s restaurant adjacent to the museum. When I went, I found the burn orange walls and huge, lush, green palms to be so warm and inviting.
Kantine Berliner Ensemble - German
This little cafeteria is a hidden gem just a couple blocks away from the bustling Friedrichstraße in Mitte. Whether you just want a coffee and cafe pick-me-up, or an actual lunch, this is a good option. You also just might run into a famous actor or two while there!
Curry 36 - German
This is another touristy-trap place that ALWAYS has a line. But if you are wanting the classic German, Currywurst experience, you gotta come here. My advice to you is to know what you want before coming to the window. The servers here will bark at you if you aren’t ready! I order my sausage without the casing and my french fries with ketchup (red) and mayo (white). Here is how I’d order, “Ein mal ohne Darm, mit Pommes rot/weiss” meaning, “One order without casing with french fries red/white”. You can also add onions, which are delicious, but make sure everyone in your group has some so you aren’t waving the Zwiebelfahne, or onion flag, by yourself afterwards!
Cascina - Italian
This place is a little out of the way in Hermsdorf in northern Berlin (bordering on C-Bereich, people!). But if you happen to find yourself “am Arsch der Welt” looking for a decent place to eat, come here. The owner and his sons run the place with exuberant Italian charm. Classic, comforting Italian dishes and wine served here.
Nola's - Swiss
Come here in the colder winter months to warm up in Swiss style. They serve a delicious Glühwein, or hot, spiced wine, to help warm you up from the inside out.
This tiny, corner cafe serves up yummy coffee drinks as well as baked goods - many of which are gluten free and/or vegan!
Mahlzeit’s menu features rotating, healthy breakfast oatmeal or yoghurt bowls that highlight seasonal ingredients.
Cafe by day and bar by night, Tirree is a hip spot for creatives and young people in Moabit. It’s conveniently located right by the U9 Birkenstraße station and is a great stop on your bar-hopping adventures or for a low-key afternoon or night with friends.
my deli love - Veggie and Vegan cafe
This was one of my go-to healthy places to grab something quick in Schöneberg. From protein smoothies, or refreshing smoothie bowls, to pre-made sandwiches and yoghurts, my deli love always had something scrumptious to try.
My favorite cafe in Kreuzberg was this modern, small coffee roastery in the Adalbertstraße just a few blocks from Kottbusser Tor Station (U1, U3, and U8). Every kind of coffee preparation a hipster coffee drinker could dream of, plus house-made baked goods are at your fingertips here. Outdoor bench seating with afternoon sun is available in the warmer months, and indoor seating at window seats, or at a communal table is also available inside.
Whether you want to sit outside, inside, have an indoor Raucherbereich available, or sneak into a quiet sofa corner in the secondary upstairs in the “attic room” bar, Cafe Dachkammer is a super comfy spot to come.
In the heart of the LGBTQ-friendly Motzstraße of Schöneberg is Cafe Kalwil. With delicious tea pots and coffee drinks, light meal option, and scrumptious desserts, this place will lure you in with more than just yummy treats. The decor is so unique and feels like it could be your old, gay uncles living room. The furniture is a bizarre, yet super classy assemblage of old couches and chairs and antique rugs on hardwood floors with fabulous chandeliers, paintings and antiques covering every square inch - as gaudy as it is, it somehow still works and I loved coming here to meet with school friends or to quietly sip on a latte while writing postcards.
Markets und Market Halls
The Markthalle, or market halls, have a rich tradition in Berlin, many of which are as old as Arminiusmarkthalle, which was opened in 1891 , or older! This market is located on a side street just off the main drag of Turmstraße in Moabit. Just another great place to get artisan, organic, local, or seasonal groceries!
One of the central points in Bergmannkiez (a neighborhood in Kreuzberg) is the Marheineke Markethalle. Much like most other markets, you can find everything you need for an organic kitchen here. It’s also a great place to come grab something to eat if your group can’t decide on any one cuisine, as they have several great food stands inside serving up Italian, Asian, Greek, and German food. Asia Snack - Vietnamese
This is a great option for a quick lunch. My favorite on-the-go lunch was an order of fresh summer rolls and an order of chicken satay with peanut sauce.
Tucked away in Kreuzberg near the Görlitzer Bahnhof station is Markthalleneun. Their goal is to eat and shop for groceries differently - to create a respectful relationship between us humans, animals and the environment from which we harvest produce. Aside from meats, dairy products, and produce, you can also find handmade items to buy.
Wochenmarkt am Maybachufer - Turkish street market
Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:00am - 6:30pm there is a Turkish market set up on the banks of the Landwehr Kanal on the Mazbachufer street. From fabric sold by the yard, to middle eastern spices and foods, this is a very colorful market to explore in Neukölln.
Take the U8 line and get off at the Schönleinstraße stop and head down Kottbusser Damm street towards the water and you’ll see the market straightaway!
Ökomarkt am Kollwitzplatz - Organic street market
If you are looking for an organic market in the Prenzlauer Berg area, definitely hit up the one at Kollwitzplatz. This eco market has been taking place every Thursday for the last 20 years with a focus on Berlin- and Brandenburg-based vendors.
Ice cream gets its own section on my list because I happened to be in Berlin in the summer months during a particularly sweltering summer season. Ice cream is incredibly important in Germany - it must be quality and sound definitely be house-made.
Viktoria Eis is an upper-scale ice cream shop. Expect to pay a little more per scoop than at your run-of-the-mill Eisdiele in Berlin. But their Spaghettieis (a popular ice cream dish in Germany that is modeled after a plate of spaghetti with marinara sauce) is LEGIT. I shared this portion with a friend and we had more than enough!
This little ice cream spot is tucked into the outside corner of the Marheineke Markthalle in Kreuzberg. They just have about 12 flavors, but they are always delicious and reasonably priced. A great way to cool off and wander through Bergmannkiez in Kreuzberg!
This is legit Italian gelato served by a legit Italian man, who will serenade you while he scoops your choice of gelato into a cone. He will also serenade you while you are walking by hoping to entice you into multiple cones a week, which you know isn’t so good for your figure, but in the hot summer, you usually go against your better judgement and cave any way. I had the most unique Mandola d’Oro gelato here - almond gelato with freshly grated orange peel.