everyone and their duck compiles their “best of’” lists at the end of the year – so naturally, i decided i’m gonna be totally, like, rad…and start the new year with a list of my personal favorites. might this be because in truth, i am a helpless victim of procrastination and just couldn’t be bothered to post this just a few days earlier? i guess we’ll never find out…
many of the places listed below have been previously reviewed on this blog, in which case i have linked to the respective posts (mostly in german, so sorry!). others are in dire need of reviewing, but hey – there’s a whole new, shiny year ahead of us. who knows what might happen ‘-)
so let’s dig into part one:
American – Coffee
“AMERICAN” (BURGERS & STEAKS)
while i am well aware that american cuisine encompasses a whole lot more than just burgers & steaks, most berlin restaurants (as well as their customers, for that matter) are not. so there.
the bird / am falkplatz 5 / p’berg
everything that needs to be said about this place has been said. the music’s too loud & of the “shitty rock” category, but i can ignore that for a grand piece of beef. while the service can be spotty at times, the quality of both burgers and steaks remains consistent. the proof? just try to get a rez on the same day you’d like to go. good luck!
hamburger heaven / graefestr. 93/ xberg
not nearly as overrun as the big cheese above, but it’s become quite popular & is a great alternative for a very good burger w/out having to play the reservation game.
tartane / torstr. 225 / mitte
a daily changing menu with a special burger on offer every day & a small standard menu with good eats for pretty much any taste. hipster-factor = not too high, despite its location on torstrasse.
there are so many ways pan-asian food can go wrong. just visit panasia near hackescher markt some time, or any other viet-thai-sushi-50% off place. thankfully, there are exceptions.
toca rouge / torstr. 195 / mitte
a fine example of very moderately priced, interesting twists on chinese & thai stand-bys, with incredibly friendly staff and an interior as dark as my soul.
dudu berlin / torstr. 134 / mitte
despite the location (waaaay too close to st. oberhip on rosenthaler platz) and a ridiculously high hipster-factor, i found the food there to be surprisingly delish. a very good grilled salmon dish with seaweed salad comes to mind, as well as a very generous sashimi salad. good ‘beautiful people’ watching, too >snicker<
BERLIN AT ITS BERLINEST
these are a few places that represent the berlin i love, and love to share with visitors.
clärchens ballhaus / auguststr. 24 / mitte
an old-school dance hall with decent pizza & fantastic people watching. the dance classes are legendary.
clash / gneisenaustr. 2a im mehringhof / xberg
quite a different kind of dance hall, and a very different kind of customer. i dare you to use the bathrooms sober.
mauersegler / mauerpark / p’berg
mauerpark itself is quintessential berlin history, and if you’re a dirty white hippie who loves drum circles and african dance, you’ll fit right in. mauersegler is a nice bar to hang out, sip beer and munch on various snacks while listening to some of the more interesting and talented bands than what you find outside on the dusty “lawn”.
prater / kastanienallee 7-9 / p’berg
oldest and most beautiful biergarten in berlin. ‘nuff said.
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
brunch is a well-loved tradition in berlin, one i rarely enjoy because my breakfast at home is so goddamn awesome. but sometimes i get lazy or just want to get out.
café morgenland / skalitzer str. 35 / xberg
despite the fact that one has to go on a diet before being able to maneuver the tiny (but well-stacked)buffet area, it’s well worth the trip from other hoods.
like in any larger german city, there are a million and one chinese restaurants in berlin, a lot of them located on kantstrasse in charlottenburg, aka little china. i don’t get too excited about cantonese cooking, so you’re on your own there.
hot spot / eisenzahnstr. 66 / ch’burg
that other sichuan resto that’s not quite as awesome as tian fu. if, however, you’re a fan of riesling, do check out the extensive wine list and ask the very friendly owner for recommendations.
tian fu / uhlandstr. 142 / wilmersdorf
spicy. salty. oily. just like it should be. order the hot pot or the chili chicken and let your tastebuds sing.
wok show / greifenhagener str. 31 / p’berg
best dumplings in town, and a garlicky napa cabbage salad that’ll make everyone you meet after dinner want to send you to a deserted island. just make sure to bring some of those dumplings along for company, which are also available to buy frozen for take-out.
cocktails and spirits have been experiencing a bit of a renaissance in the last decade, with all the insufferable snobbery and self-acclaimed “mixologists” that inevitably go hand in hand with such trends. that said, one can get a damn fine cocktail in all the places mentioned below. just ignore the hype if you can.
bar nou / bergmannstr. 104 / xberg
no attitude here, likely due to the location: bergmannstrassen-tourists and kiez people alike enjoy old-fashioned standards & house creations, with a decent single malt list to boot. if you’re lucky, your man behind the bar is michael, who’ll mix whatever you want (even a sex on the beach >gasp<) without batting an eye, and who’s always up for some light-hearted banter. sit at the bar if you’re older than 20, cuz the “lounge chairs” will kill your back.
reingold / novalisstr. 11 / mitte
definitely in the mixology category. this bar has a great atmosphere and high-quality drinks to match. if you are so inclined, you can discuss the intricacies of tequila or nuances of aged rums & rhums – berlin’s newest obsession – with the superduper-knowledgeable mixologists (no mere bartenders here, thank you very much). or, you can just sit back and enjoy your drink. that is, if you don’t mind smoke. cuz this is a smoking bar, just so you know.
stagger lee / nollendorfstr. 27 / sch’berg
likely also falls in the mixology-category, but with less pretentions suffered elsewhere. a small place with cozy leather seats and an atmosphere that’ll transport you to a saloon in the wild wild west, the drinks are fantastic, with the mint julep being the house specialty: served in a pewter cup with house-macerated cherries. i could make a single meal of those cherries. oh my.
rum club / top-secret location
an incredible collection of rums (the owner’s passion), a monthly sushi night and special tiki events await those select few who are invited to enter these holy halls of high-end alcoholism.
unlike amsterdam, where one can get a great cup of coffee pretty much anywhere, you have to be a bit more selective when it comes to a bean-brew that’ll wake you up and make you happy.
double eye / akazienstr. 22 / sch’berg
certainly no longer a secret, this is where you’ll get your perfect caffeine fix – likely after having waited in a line that sometimes goes out the door.
röststätte / ackerstr. 173 / mitte
you can buy the house-roasted beans or browse the wide selection of espresso machines in the store next door, or sit down with a delightful cuppa joe and watch the parade of “ironic” jeggings & fedoras pass by.