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Currywurst – German/alpine
despite the notoriety of curry 36 and konnopke – both of which I could take or leave – neither of them can beat my favorite spot.
bier’s curry & spieße / friedrichstr. 142 / mitte
i’ve never been much of a currywurst fan until i tipsily stumbled upon this lovely spot. i still pretty much would file currywurst in the category “drunk food”, but this is good eats. a house-made sauce that actually has flavor and a good kick to it, and isn’t just ketchup sprinkled with lame-ass curry powder.
DESSERT / PASTRIES / CAKE
i’m not a sweetie. just ask anyone who’s met me ‘-)
however, i don’t live on an island, and many of my friends and loved ones occasionally insist on the german kaffee & kuchen tradition, which is about as german as it gets. these are the places i would send them to, or even come along when i’m in a sugary kinda mood.
atelier cacao / linienstr. 139-140 / mitte
right in the middle of everything, but a bit off to the side. artisanal chocolate creations and fantabulous hot chocolate. do try their dark chocolate ice cream.
operncafé / unter den linden 5 / mitte
an incredible selection of cakes, pies, tartes and petits fours that’ll make any red-blooded grandmother or great aunt visiting you in the big bad city swoon. the large terrace is a nice hang-out for families & tourists alike. beware of the pesky little sparrows who will fight you over the last crumbs on your plate.
werkstatt der süße / husemannstr. 25 / p’berg
edible pieces of art.
it’s strange. i can’t get a decent döner kebab 9 months out of the year, yet every summer, it’s usually not until i am almost ready to leave berlin again before i get my hands on the iconic street food. perhaps this is because, like currywurst, i consider it drunk food rather than a valid dinner option. or perhaps because a good döner is hard to find, or sometimes simply not worth the trek. the following are worth it… if you want the good stuff.
imren / boppstr. 4 / neukölln
a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of kottbusser damm, imren runs two places –a restaurant and a snack bar further down the street. the snack bar is where you should be heading – the flatbread is baked right in front of you, the seasoned meat tastes unlike any other döner “meat’ that’s been processed into oblivion – with hints of cloves, cinnamon, and sumac. it’s its own thing … but that’s kinda the point.
hasir / adalbertstr 10 / xberg & maaßenstr. 10 / sch’berg
i’ve never forgiven hasir for their swanky tourist temple on oranienburger, which is what you’d expect from the location: overpriced, underspiced, and run for the sole point of feeding busloads of tourists. but both locations in xberg & schöneberg continue to do a fine job with dürüm döner.
ah, chickpeas. could there possibly be a more boring ingredient? if so, i don’t need to know. but deep-fry them with the perfect mixture of spices and herbs, and they become something really special. there is only one place that does it right.
habibi / goltzstr. 24 / sch’berg
the line outside the door should tell you all you need to know. the falafel sandwich here is delicious: the falafel is fried to order, resulting in a hot, crispy-crunchy exterior and a well-seasoned moist interior. add to that any veggie under the sun (well, at least in the glass counter – deep-fried cauli is my personal fave), your sauce/s of choice, and off you go. if you’re lucky, you can find a seat on the bench outside or one of the tables and take in the unique scenery.
while i generally save my seafood splurges – especially when it comes to home cooking – for the US, there are many fishy things that i crave which are pretty easy to come by in berlin: grilled, smoked, pickled, cured; herring, matjes, eel, pike perch, mackerel, butterfish, brook trout… i try to make the most of my summers in berlin by frequenting these great harbors of halibut & co.
rogacki / wilmersdorfer str. 145/146 / w’dorf
oh, how do i miss a good variety of smoked, pickled or cured fish. rogacki (featured on the bourdain no reservations berlin episode) delivers on all those counts and more. located far west of my kiez, this deli/food court/fish monger/catering place has been around for decades. besides the aforementioned seafood bounty, there are several counters with gourmet cheeses, house-baked bread and a good selection of meats, game and poultry. the big draw for me, though, is the lunch counter in the big hall where one can get crispy pork knuckle, half chickens, or delicious fried & breaded fish filets and a variety of potato salads, cucumber salad & other sides, all charged by weight. the food is served cantina-style, you grab a tray, stand in line, and you eat standing up at high-top tables while taking in the lunch crowd. which is a great mix of the neighborhood crowd – from working class up to your retired & well-bejewelled wilmersdorf widow.
fischfabrik / danziger str. 24 / p’berg
a great alternative to your usual pizza/döner/hamburger or uninspired pan-asian lunch, this small space on danziger str. has a great variety of fresh fish which can be ordered whole or as filets; there’s also fresh oysters, generous skewers of salmon & butterfish with a perfectly dressed salad, bouillabaisse… the guys behind the counter are friendly and helpful, know what they’re doing… and it’s easy on the wallet.
steckerlfisch / various markets – check their website
i have sung the praises of winterfeldtmarkt before – it truly is the perfect lunch location for a saturday. the food choices are endless, and few of them have disappointed me so far. you can get swabian, middle-eastern, generic stir-fry (i don’t recommend it), african, organic lamb sausages, raclette cheese, currywurst, thai, etc. etc. that said, what really makes me haul my ass over to schöneberg on any given saturday is jürgen fürgut’s steckerlfisch stand: a southern german-style fish grill, offering a variety of whole fish like brook trout or pike perch or mackerel, as well as fish filets, shrimp or squid skewers, and nice sides like seasonal potato salad or seaweed salad. i am a sucker for the whole grilled trout and mackerel, which comes with lemon, diced onion, horseradish & house-made dill-cream.
berlin is neither the german birth place of fried chicken, nor is it particularly famous for it. that said, these joints make one hell of a good point for having some crispy, crunchy, juicy chicken.
henne / leuschnerdamm 25 / xberg
go to there. try to get a table in the beergarden if the berlin ‘summer’ allows.
zur kleinen markthalle / legiendamm 32 / xberg
here’s a dirty little secret. if you can’t get a rez at henne, which happens more often than not…. you can go to kleine markthalle instead, a stone-throw away from henne. because the chicken is pretty much identical to the original place. hell, the beergarden is almost nicer – well, it’s larger at least. they also have a nice red beets & cheese appetizer. what they don’t have is the bavarian landbier i love so much, but that’s pretty much it… it really is a more than worthy 2nd best to henne. enjoy!
angry chicken / skalitzer str. 36 / xberg
after the sushi and the vietnamese waves, berlin’s having its little korean moment. which is rather nice, ’cause i’m all for diversity ‘n shit. i also haven’t had really fantastic korean food so far, but i keep trying. what i have tried are the chicken wings at angry chicken, and they are good. i was hoping for serious heat when i ordered the “furious” version, and it gave me a nice head sweat – not something one can expect just anywhere. it’s your spicier, fast food alternative to the other chicken fry kings in the ‘hood.
GERMAN / ALPINE
really well-made german and austrian cooking, like most of the things mentioned in this list so far, are hard to come by where i hibernate, so i tend to indulge in heimats-fare whenever i get the chance. i will admit that i’ve decided to keep my absolute favorite place to myself. hey – we all need our little secrets.
renger-patzsch / wartburgstr. 54 / sch’berg
local, regional, seasonal cooking with a modern touch, a light alsatian influence with a good variety of tartes flambées, this place is my go-to restaurant for delicious food at moderate prices in a laid-back atmosphere. not least of all because offal is often on the menu – whether it’s lamb’s tongue or kidneys, rabbit liver or other delicious delights.
jolesch / muskauer str. 1 / xberg
one of the prime addresses for austrian food in town. they’ve managed to convert me to the serviettenknödel (bread dumpling), a thing i have hated passionately for most of my life. not their version, which is as light as air – almost like a dumpling soufflé. the saftgulasch and wiener schnitzel are also fantastic, and the service is very friendly and professional.
felix austria / bergmannstr. 26 / xberg
your option for really good eats in the bergmannkiez. we’re not talking about the restaurant austria. no, if you want to be truly happy (= felix), head over to this hole-in-the-wall place on marheinekeplatz for excellent wiener schnitzel and super-friendly service.