the berlin bites burger bonanza

it seems like these days you can’t swing a cat without hitting the window of a recently opened or soon-to-be-opened burger joint.

haus or house – what’s it gonna be?

granted – the lowly hamburger has always been a popular fast food, but the sudden explosion of  burger places in berlin is a fairly recent phenomenon.  let’s avert our eyes from monstrosities such as this

papa… no! nooooooooo!

some things are better left unthunk. good heavens.

on offer at a local chain hitherto mainly famous for being a horrific excuse for a “sushi” restaurant that apparently didn’t want to feel left out.

to select the good, bad, and ugly, i took the heavy burden upon me to visit a few of them, ranging from established places to newbies, so you don’t have to waste money on sub-par patties.  i basically stuck to ordering cheeseburgers, because a burger without cheese is like pizza without cheese, and i sometimes got fries on the side, but they were a minor point in my final judgment.  sooo – let’s start with the worst of the bunch and work our way up to the ultimate burger nirvana, shall we?

V. ketchup & mayo / oranienstr. / newbie

i simply couldn’t resist the rather grandiose advertisement promising ‘finest burger cuisine.’  the namesakes – ketchup & mayonnaise – are available at the counter in large vats with no restrictions and no extra pay.  bonus point.  the menu offers a variety of burgers including vegetarian versions, but really, why bother?  we’re talking beef here, after all.  and omg, those patties are bad.  it’s like biting into a slice of meatloaf: densely packed & strange-tasting, no amount of free ketchup and mayo could make up for this awful, pasty mouth feel.  i don’t recall whether the patties are fresh or frozen, but really – who cares at this point?  epic fail.  stick to the fries instead which are actually some of the best i’ve had at any of the burger joints visited.

IV. marienburger / marienburger str. – duh / old school

this place has been around for a while, and has a fairly large and passionate fan base.  the people working the grill that day were ink & metal-augmented, which is a rare sight in the overly gentrified pregnant hill these days, and very friendly and swift.  orders are taken at the counter and called out later by name.  it’s tiny, and there is very little room to sit save for a narrow counter at the wall and a couple tables outside.  ketchup and mayo are on the tables free of charge.

looking good, baby. but beauty is only skin deep…

unfortunately, the patties are frozen, fairly flat (but much larger than your usual mcdirt size), the toppings generous & fresh, the buns toasted.  bonus point for that one.  no floppy buns for me, please.  alas, the mouth feel is once again too dense for the perfect burger, but certainly edible.  damage per burger: €3-4

IV. drachentöter / am falkplatz / newbie / update: CLOSED (huge surprise. not.)

it sure takes some ginormous balls to open up a burger place right next to the bird (reviewed below), undoubtedly the benchmark for any burger joint in berlin with obsessive fans, and it’s been around for a good 4 years.  i just had to find out what kind of a nutcase was running this operation, and how their burgers stood up to the competition next door.

it’s got a bistro atmosphere with 80s style pastel colors, which somehow just didn’t seem right for a burger joint.  surprisingly enough, the people who run this place don’t seem crazy at all and are rather friendly.  you can choose from a variety of burgers with cutesy german first names, and made with fresh meat.

this burger may slay the dragon, but not the bird.

the buns are toasted, there’s some sort of ‘special sauce’, and the toppings are fresh.  unfortunately, the patty has a similar texture to the marienburger – too dense.  overall not bad, but just.  not. right.

the fries are second best to ketchup & mayo. damage per burger: €3.50-6

III. bbi – berlin burger international / pflügerstr. / newbie

neukölln’s first address for your burger cravings.  a hole in the wall just off of sonnenallee, this place offers burgers made with a mix of  90% beef & 10% lamb = 100% fresh, and you also have the option of ordering any of their burgers in a mini version, which is about a 4 oz serving and perfect if you’re hungry, but not that hungry.  you order at the counter leaving your name, and wait till you’re called & eat at a tiny counter on the wall or at one of the few tables outside.

international (?) burgers in neukölln

this is where i noticed what seems to be a relatively new fashion:  potted rosemary as a centerpiece (i’ve seen this at a bunch of places now). not sure if this is a burger joint thing or just the latest trend, but whichever it is, i like it.  it creates the illusion of ‘atmosphere’ and style while sitting across the street from a bookie, and your only view is the M29 bus stopping right in front of your table every 10 minutes.

raw cheese… now, that’s just wrong.

the patty is flavorful, if overdone – my ordering med-rare was refused by the cook for some reason, and the cheese wasn’t melted on the patty, which is a massive bummer.  the salad topping consists of an interesting mix of spring greens, not your usual watery shredded iceberg, which adds a nice touch.  damage per burger €4-6

II. hamburger heaven / graefestr. / newbie

hamburger heaven indeed.

this is the place to have a burger if you are craving good meat – after all, you can choose between regular, halal, organic, and free-range (the priciest at €8 or 9).  the tiny booth, tucked away in a side street near kottbusser brücke, is usually run by the owner who can be a tad bit slow when more than a couple of orders are up, reinterpreting the notion of “fast food”, but he is super-friendly, and the quality of the resulting burger more than makes up for the wait.

cheeseburger heaven, even! oh yeah, baby.

both the ketchup and mayonnaise are house-made fresh daily (!), the ketchup being tomato-y to the max, and the mayonnaise having a nice, eggy taste to it.  your choice of cheese is appropriately melted, and the burger is grilled to order – yes, you can get your patty med-rare if you ask for it. the fries are pretty awesome too, a small portion is definitely enough.  you can park your lardass on one of the few picnic benches and tables (decorated with the aforementioned rosemary planters. weird.), or stand at the single table near the window.

hands down best newcomer burger in town.  highly recommended.  damage per burger between €4-9, depending on your ecological conscience.

and now, the top banana, the big cheese, the winner!  the bestest, juiciest, most delicious piece of ground meat on a bun in all of berlin & perhaps the rest of germany:

I.  the bird / am falkplatz / old school – the be all and end all in burgerosity

what can be said about this meat lovers’ paradise, this cavern of carnivorous delight, that hasn’t been said already?  two expats from new york opened this place in 2006, and they have since set the standard for all burgers to follow.  orgasm on a bun, that’s what it is.

the ghetto deluxe w/american cheese. ’nuff said.

the meat for the patties is ground up freshly every day from quality meat cuts (the steaks served here will make you believe you are not in germany anymore), not cooked beyond medium, regardless of how much your german ass begs for a patty ‘well-done’ … talk about a misnomer.  your MEDIUM-RARE burger is loosely packed and NOT over-handled, it’s beefy, cooked just right – tho they do tend to err on the rarer side, making those sweet meat juices running down your chin and hands.

bite me. burger with an attitude.

the cheese is a generous helping of molten, gooey deliciousness, the buns (english muffins, which has led to some controversies but i frankly find they handle the massive beast better than those cottony fluff buns) are toasted, the toppings kept simple – tomato, onion, lettuce leaf, pickle on the side.

the fries are hand-cut, and of varying quality.  nobody cares about the fries here, tho.  seriously.  damage per burger €9-13 – cheap it is not.  good it is.  fantastic, to be exact. yoda out.

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15 Responses to “the berlin bites burger bonanza”

  1. 6kraska6 Says:

    Nice to read you again. Heavy stuff, but well done…

  2. Marion Says:

    Very impressive. So much prose on burgers, in Berlin.

  3. bunnyberlin Says:

    well… i was going to write in iambic verse, but decided against it.

  4. richensa Says:

    Actually you are so right: you can’t swing a cat without throwing it on a burger plate here in town! (did I mention that i like the phrase “you can’t swing a cat… ” very much???)

    Good to read you again!

  5. kormoranflug Says:

    give it faster to me…

  6. Sylee Says:

    Goodness, who knew there were so many burger joints in Berlin? I hadn’t heard of Pöpsy’s (impossible to keep up with Graefestraße these days!) but now I’m eager to try it. Thank you for the tip!

  7. eatingcheeseburger Says:

    Well done! Thanks a lot – especially saving me from a try at k & m. Keep it up.


  8. eatingcheeseburger Says:

    I am on my way!

  9. bunnyberlin Says:

    good eatings, then!

  10. eichiberlin Says:

    I´m quite curious about the new mobile Burger of “style your Burger”

    Has anybody had a taste?

  11. burgermeester – amsterdam « berlin bites Says:

    […] of course, one cannot live on toasties alone. sometimes, a heartier lunch is required. like a good burger – something to behold & cherish, for all burgers are not equal. […]

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