Greek – Thai
oh, my swarthy sweetheart, misunderstood mistress of covetous carnivores… after many childhood summers spent all over greece, where i experienced the true variety and awesomeness of greek food, i am very happy that – within the last couple of decades – germany (and, to an extent, berlin) has been blessed with plenty of tavernas, ouzerias and estiatorios whose culinary comestibles go well beyond massive mountains of meat à la gyros, souvlaki & rubbery cheese-stuffed keftedes, piled over fries (!) with the obligatory blob of tzatziki, and which represent a broader range of traditional mezedes, seafood & regional specialties.
ousies / grunewaldstr. 16 / sch’berg
far from being an insider tip, this place has been a mainstay for reliably good mezes in schöneberg for a long time.
berkis / winterfeldtstr. 45 / sch’berg
as you can tell from my very own blog post back in 2009, i was rather enthusiastic. i’ve since been back a number of times each summer, and i have to say that the quality has gone down. which is to say from fantastically awesome (way better than ousies, and cheaper at that) to probably as good as ousies / not as good on bad days, with still slightly cheaper prices than ousies. the gyros pita is still on the awesome side, though i order it w/out the fries. same neighborhood, but smaller & very popular. just try to get a table outside in the summer. you’ll be waiting a while…
the fairly decent number of high-class foodie temples in berlin can be found on any other old blog/website. i personally can’t think of a single one that couldn’t be located anywhere else in the world. if you must, just go already and spend your hard-earned cashola on fancy fress-fests with exhausting concepts & ‘flavor profiles’ served to you over hours in minuscule portions until, after course #18 (petits fours and truffles on the house), you’re finally too full to do much of anything, let alone fuck. but hey, enjoy – what do i care :-P
like every hot-blooded german or shall i say most human beings, i have a love affair with italian food. if it weren’t so goddamn unhealthy, i’d eat pasta every other day. its versatility and deliciousness has no equal, at least not in my heart (or my stomach).
noi quattro / südstern 14 / xberg
it took owner and chef andreas staack a while to figure out what exactly he wanted this place to be – for a while, the place was even divided into an ‘haute cuisine” and a “regular” dining room, with neither ever being quite busy enough to justify that separation. i’d been there once even before that division took place, 5 or 6 years ago, and had found that the food, while sounding interesting and innovative, was rather lacking in flavor. it took a good 5 years and one revelatory dish of an incredible osso bucco raviolo with gremolata and sautéed chanterelles at the annual kreuzberg kocht event last year to completely change my mind. this is fantastic modern italian food – their house-baked breads and their take on vitello tonnato alone makes me want to go back again and again. bonus: a fairly large terrace with a nice view of südstern.
donath / schwedter str. 13 / p’berg
a neighborhood fave, this place is run by a horde of italian punks who cook incredibly delicious, down-home pasta dishes. you won’t find any fancy-shmancy ‘creations’, and if i hadn’t lived next door to the place, i likely would have never found out about it. nor would i make the trek from another neighborhood. but if you happen to be in the area and are able to snag a table, it’s reliably great & won’t break the bank.
spaghetti western / torstr. 179 / mitte
despite its cheesy name & the location on berlin’s hipster food mile, the pasta served here is quite lovely. the menu is a comprehensive collection of traditional and non-traditional spaghetti dishes, including some fresh pasta options as well. the adjacent wine bar is, to my knowledge, owned by the same folks, and has a good selection of italian wines. order a bottle and you get a nice plate of delectables to munch on – a slice of pizza, some olives, a little slaw. great view of the hipster crowd parading by.
i do get my cravings for some nice middle eastern food out in the boondocks. berlin has an abundance of options for those addicted to hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, and the like in pretty much any neighborhood.
yarok / torstr. 193 / mitte
this little syrian gem near tucholskystr offers wonderful appetizer platters with all the usual suspects, but done excellently: grilled vegetables, lamb marinated in pomegranate molasses, zesty chicken & fabulous hummus. the housemade, fruity hot sauce is to die for – it delivers quite a zing with hints of orange zest, ginger, cloves and peppers. the ayran is served with fresh mint. lovely.
there was a time, not so long ago, when mexican food in berlin (and germany) meant badly executed tex-mex… heavy on the burrito, beans & rice side, but not in a good way. three amigos have saved many a north american’s culinary sanity by opening up a trio of mexican joints that offer a fairly accurate taste of cal-mex and baja cuisine. the original, maria bonita, is still my numero uno, hermano.
PIZZA & FOCCACIA
a good pizza is hard to find, and the opinions on what makes the perfect slice are about as diverse as the range of possible toppings. i prefer a crispy & chewy, neapolitan-style crust with a good ratio of sauce, cheese and 2-3 toppings at most. quality ingredients go a long way, as these two pizza parlors will prove on any given day. because i’m also not a fascist about pizza, one of my choices is actually a focacceria. whatever. close ’nuff for this gal.
due forni / schönhauser allee 12 / p’berg
lots of haters out there who have a million & one reasons not to eat here – aloof or, depending on your tolerance level, rude service (almost exclusively native “punk” Italian) comes to mind, the fact that the nice beergarden is always packed to the rafters when the weather’s nice, that the restaurant was blacklisted for hygiene issues a few years ago, etc. etc. personally, i have never had a bad experience, so it remains my go-to spot when i’m in the hood – it’s great for larger groups & the pizza is the best to be had on “pregnant hill”.
dolce / various locations / sch’berg & xberg
fantastic slices of outstanding foccacia. most locations have a fairly high turnover, so many focaccie come straight out of the oven. seriously good eats.
while i’ve yet to discover really good phô in berlin, i can satisfy my cravings for noodle soup at this tiny place in the gallery district. the guy behind the counter used to run a traveling soup kitchen out of schwarzenraben & has spent several years in hokkaido. the ramen is GOOD – just the right thing to warm you up when the berlin “summer” does its thang.
cocolo / gipsstr. 3 / mitte
before the korean wave came the vietnamese wave came the sushi wave. there isn’t a single area in the city center that doesn’t have at least 5 sushi joints offering 50% off deals all day on everything. surely, a true sign of confidence and quality. if you actually care about your fish & don’t do cheap-ass sushi, head over to either of these fine establishments. depending on your personal preference, you’ve the choice of going the more traditional route in a very classic japanese ambience in the east, or enjoying the creativity of the very friendly kaiten sushi dudes (who are all vietnamese, btw) on olivaer platz in the west.
mr. hai kabuki sushi / olivaer platz 10 / w’dorf
thick slices of sashimi, creative nigiri (salmon brulée with a housemade, addictive sauce of ginger, kewpie mayo, sesame oil & soy sauce), maki, te-maki, assorted specials like seared scallops or seared tuna threaded with green asparagus, deep-fried white tuna with a sweet, sticky dipping sauce and, last but not least, a very good miso soup make this place a weekly lunch spot for me. from 12 to 4 pm, a lunch special gets you bottomless tea, miso soup & 3 plates of your choice for 9.50 euro. dinners, on the other hand, can get expensive.
sasaya / lychener str. 50 / p’berg
for the sushi purist – a japanese-run place that’s far away enough from kollwitzplatz serving very good quality fish with a number of nice, traditional (warm) japanese choices beyond sushi. reservations are fairly essential, lunch can get very busy. pricier than mr. hai.
go to there.