After three months at Short Cuts in Kreuzberg, I really explored the area on Mehringdamm street and the adjacent neighborhood called Bergmannkiez (Bergmann is the name of the street in Kreuzberg + Kiez is a German slang word for 'hood) for good eats, happy hour joints, and shopping opportunities.
Here are some of the most famous "hits" and some of my favorite discoveries:
Curry 36 - Curry Wurst stand
The Curry 36 outdoor sausage Imbiss, or stand, is famous for ALWAYS having a line. While they have a pretty sizable menu, the most-ordered item is the Currywurst, a pork sausage that is steamed and pan-fried, then topped with a curry ketchup. One can get this with casing (mit Darm) or without (ohne Darm). This tastes especially good with a side of fries, or Pommes. I like to order my Pommes "Rot/Weiß" or red/white, which means that I want both ketchup AND mayo. Mmm!
BKA-Theater - Berlin Cabaret Theater
The BKA cabaret theater is sandwiched between Curry 36 and Mustafa's (see below) on Mehringdamm. This little venue highlights comedians, drag queens, and musical acts in a fabulous Kleinkunst fashion. There is a bar inside that offers drinks and small eats before and during the show - a waiter will even bring it right to your table during intermission. I great place to visit if you're looking for some entertainment and want to support the local Arts.
Mustafa's - Döner Imbiss
Right next to Curry 36 is Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap, where they serve one of the most hyped Döner in Berlin. Every Döner stand in Berlin will be slightly different - be it the bread (thin and crispy, or soft and focaccia-like), the type of meat (beef, lamb, or chicken), the tips of veggies (fresh salad and veggies vs. grilled veggies), and sauces that can include herb, garlic, and chili.
What make's Mustafa's Döner unique is the combination of grilled veggies (we're talking potato, eggplant, onion, pepper, and tomato), their house-made Kräuter (herb) sauce, soft and bouncy bread, and the use of feta cheese on top.
Rain or shine this place will have a line. If you are in the "Brunch Scene" you'll be just fine. Others might have to practice some patience before they have a Döner in hand.
Cafe Tinto - Späti or Bodega
Cafe Tinto is a corner shop that opens in the morning for coffee, and stays open late for those last-minute beer runs. They also have a rare bathroom for patrons (Note for Americans: public restrooms are seriously a rare thing here - one can not expect there to be a bathroom to use even if you buy something!) so you can also stay a while at Cafe Tinto!
Short Cuts - Design and marketing agency
Okay, clearly I'm biased by adding Short Cuts to the list, but I can't resist. They love visitors - so if you are interested in the marketing or design industry, or are looking for a Pflichtpraktika (internship), pay them a visit!
Al-Arz - Middle Eastern Food
Al-Arz offers really tasty Falafel and Schawarma at a great price. 4€ will get you a HUGE lunch box here. In the warmer months, you can sit out front in their sidewalk tables, or in the colder months, hope you get lucky to find one of the limited indoor tables. This was a go-to spot to get lunch zum Mitnehmen, to-go, while working at Short Cuts.
Dolden Mädel Braugasthaus - Craft Brewery
This craft brewery uses hops from all over the world - and proudly, several from Washington and Oregon state! The atmosphere at Dolden Mädel reminds me a lot of a 10 Barrel or Breakside in Portland, so I felt right at home here. Browse through the menu for the dozens of beers their have available - or check their chalkboard for the latest taps they have on rotation.
Clash - Punk Bar
Okay, this bar is for all my fellow former (or still?) punk kids! When you try to find Clash Bar, you might think you stumbled into the wrong Innenhof - but on the far corner of the courtyard, you'll spot the bouncer. This bouncer is less there to check your I.D. (I haven't been carded since moving to Berlin, and I'm starting to take it personally) and more to make sure that patrons are respecting the neighborhood's quiet hours.
Once you walk into Clash Bar a cloud of smoke envelops you and your ears are inundated with punk classics. This place welcomes ALL and is the perfect place to have deep, philosophical discussions (shouted) over dirt cheap beers.
Umami - Indochinese Restaurant
The first thing that draws someone to Umami is the totally Instagram-able decor. The atmosphere here is really wonderful - a dark, yet warm interior is lit with paper lanterns. In the back they have rooms filled with cushions to eat on the floor, and even their bathrooms have candles and plants in them that continues the theme.
Their pan-asian style food is truly delicious. From Pho to salmon fish pot, salad rolls to curries, Umami has something for everyone - omnivores and vegetarians alike.
One thing that especially impressed me was their teas. Umami treats tea like a hipster bar in Portland treats their cocktails - fresh ginger is cubed by hand and mint freshly muddled into your glass before adding blooming chrysanthemum flowers and Asteraceae root to steep into a Gesundheitstee (or wellness tea) based on ancient medicinal recipes.
Pick 'n Weight - Second Hand & Vintage Clothing Store
This concept clothing store is unique in that you buy clothes by the weight, not by a price listed on a tag. At Pick 'n Weight, clothing is categorized into colors which are associated with a cost per kilo. You can place items into a special scale that calculates cost by punching in the color category.
I found the prices here comparable to Buffalo Gap or Goodwill in the States. Just be prepared to dedicate quite a bit of time sifting through all the sections of this store. I struck out on one visit, but found a great score on the other.
Ararat - Postcard Store
Ararat is a great place to find cards and postcards for any occasion or theme. They organize postcards by subject matter for easy self-service.
Ararat also has a rather great selection of little gifts - some kitschy, but also some quality-made selections by local designers. You can also grab the wrapping supplies you need for that gift right there in the store.
Limonadier - Cocktail Bar
Craft Cocktails are Limonadier's jam. The menu and ambiance here transport you to the 1920s. For Berlin standards, this bar is spendy, but if you are a cocktail afficianado, then Limonadier is a must-visit.
Marheineke Markthalle - Indoor Market
The Marheineke Markthalle is packed with amazing little shops. Ranging from local produce, dairy, and meat, to imported goods from Italy and France, to hand-made gifts, to herbs and spices, and delicious restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world. This indoor market is a one-stop-shop for an afternoon of grazing, or finding goods that have a small carbon footprint.
Asia Snack - Imbiss
I found this little gem of a food stand at the Markthalle one day on my lunch break. I was in search for something quick and easy, but also healthy. Since moving to Berlin I had really missed the crunchy fresh salad rolls I could get in abundance in Portland. Well, Asia Snack had them on the menu. One order of "Sommer Rollen" and Satay with peanut sauce later, I was hooked. 3-8€ will buy you any entree or two "appetizers" and I always had leftovers to take with me for the next day.
Trödelmarkt am MarheinekePlatz - Flea Market
Every Saturday or Sunday (dependent on the time of year), you can find a Trödelmarkt, or flea market, behind the Markthalle. There is always a good mix of vintage goods and antiques to be found at the Trödelmarkt am Marheinekemarktplatz.
Zaher's Lounge - Cafe and Bar
Zaher's is a funky cocktail bar that is sure to have something for most everyone. Comfy couches, Kicker (or foosball), a chalkboard, soccer on TV, and a dedicated smoking area.
The following three places aren't technically on Mehringdamm or in Bergmannkiez, but are so close that I wanted to include them anyway.
Viktoria Park - Park with waterfall
I wrote about Viktoria Park in another post, but wanted to give it another shout out here. Just three blocks from Mehringdamm, it is a great green area to escape into if you need a quick reprieve from the city's hustle and bustle.
Bier Laden - little beer & bottle shop
Bier Laden (German for "Beer Store") packs a punch - boasting quite the beer selection despite the small square footage. They are a partner with Bierrebellen, a beer distributing agency, that fosters the art of "Biergenuss" or beer enjoyment through seminars and training.
So whether you are looking to pick up some tasty brews, or to jump into the Berlin craft beer scene head first, this is a great place to check out.
Victoria Pizza Kreuzberg - Fire-baked Pizza
Are you craving freshly-baked pizza served to you by a real Italian? Then stop by Victoria Pizza in Kreuzberg for a quick lunch while you're under way. Super yummy, thin-crust pizza sold by the "slice" (but it is really by the "large quadrant"!). Feel free to mix and match - they have lots of seasonal veggie options, too.
Yorkschlösschen - Jazz Bar
For fans of the Blues and Jazz, Yorkschlösschen should be on your list. This bar has a small stage, but superior ambiance. Their kitchen serves up German and Austrian classics like Leberkäs, Schnitzel, and Flammkuchen (like pizza... but German?) and their bar features wine, Longdrinks, and beer from the tap (they even have a house-brand!). They also have a great outdoor, partially covered Biergarten available during the warmer months.