Berlin Recommendations Please
Heading to Berlin next week for 5 nights and looking for recommendations. Nothing terribly fancy. I live in New York City, so I'm really looking for food I can't get (easily) here, which I imagine would be German and Turkish -- maybe Austrian? Eastern European?.
I'd especially like to know of any markets or bakeries or other kind of specialty food store or food product I could make a special trip to see. I already know about the top floor of the department store and will definitely be checking that out.
They have these ground beef things - boulettes or something like that that can be okay and are definitely local. Go for either Turkish or German food. Try a sausage from one of the street vendors outside of the train stations. They are cheap and pretty good.
It's been a very long time but this was my favorite falafel place ever. Baharat at Winterfeldplatz, near Nollendorfplatz.
And this was my favorite cafe - very cozy in the winter. I still dream of Apfelkuchen mit Streussel und Sahne
Berliner boulette are typically made from pork or pork and veal, and while you are at it have a slice of the ham and crispy skin attached with some hot mustard on a roll. My favorite fresh falafel place in Winterfeldplatz is Habibi- open till wee morning hours. Cafe Einstein for breakfast or afternoon kaffee und kuchen since you are in the neighborhood. Awesome struedel and lovely atmosphere.
In Mitte: More steet food turkish style- doener kebap mit salat complet, Shark Doener in Mitte is fresh and easy to access, I like the veal better than the chicken. Cafe Altes Europa is nice for low key glass of wine and soups, salads, charcuterie with good german bread. Great local atmosphere and my old stammtisch. Schnitzel with potato salad, an onion tarte, soljanka, beer at Sophien Eck, at the corner of Sophienstrasse and Gross Hamburgerstrasse (?). Gallerie Lafayette has a gourmet bottom floor but it is not as good as KaDeWe.
In Prenzlauerberg: I second the currywurst idea (mit pommes at that stand under the Eberswaldestrasse U-Bahn station U2). Praeter Garten on Kastanienalle (great shopping street) is Berlin's first biergarten. Also in Prenzlauerberg hit the chocolate shop on Helmholtzplatz and pick up some dark Berliner chocolate. Stop by funky cafe/bar Wohnzimmer for a coffee while you are there. Kollwitzplatz has a good farmers market on Saturday or Sunday morning. Find the smoked fish lady and buy some mackerel- very northern german. Also a good place for sausages. Do you want a taste of the former East Berlin? Find someplace that serves Koeningsberger Klopse. There is a touristy place in Potsdammerplatz that serves it if you can't find it in the neighborhoods.
At this time of the year, definitely apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce. Also, hit the Christmas markets and have the Glühwein. Yum.
Have a good trip and report back!
I'd love to see what kind of places you discover, Joseph... I'll be in Berlin visting my parents for four days right at Christmas (and possibly moving there next year).
The Falafel place at Winterfeldplatz is indeed great, and if you are there on a Saturday, then go to the market... it's well worth a stroll around depending on the weather. You could just buy good food at the market and do everything al fresco, though in December that's a bit daunting.
If you want really good, but expensive hot chocolate and coffee, Café Einstein is very worthwhile... it's a teensy bit snooty, but fun. Two locations: one near Nollendorfplatz and one on Unter den Linden in Berlin-Mitte.
Here's market info:
Thanks for all the advice. We had a great time in Berlin. Christmastime is definitely a great time of year to go there because of all the Christmas markets that seem to have sprung up throughout the city. Christmas markets = street food and shopping.
I had forgotten how good and vast is breakfast at a German hotel. Big breakfasts definitely impinged on eating during the day. Here are some things that stood out:
Streetfood consisting of a huge plate of kale(!), with a wurst and potatoes. Weird to see people line up for kale, but a very tasty and prevalent dish.
currywurst: Had to try one. Local delicacy. Seemed to be a hotdog with curry powder and ketchup. One was enough, but glad I had it.
boulette: a more tender hamburger. Glad I tried it, one was enough.
Gluhwein and many variants: sold at every Christmas market. Really spiked, I was surprised. Very good.
KaDeWe 6th Floor food court: Totally lived up to its billing. All kinds of gourmet foods from Germany and around the world, but what really made it special were the numerous food islands where you could sit and eat prepared food. The two that stood out were the potato one (who knew a potato could be prepared in so many fattening ways?) and the wurst one.
PrenzlauerBerg: I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of restaurants/cafes in this neighborhood and can only imagine what it's like in nice weather with outdoor seating. Loved the Saturday market at Kollwitz Platz (U-bahn Senefelder), with a great selection of German prepared salads/wursts/cheeses etc.
Gugelhof: An Alsatian restaurant near Kollwitz Platz. Had some very good duck and tarte flambee
Praeter: (U-bahn Eberswalde) As mentioned above, the oldest beergarten in Berlin. I actually did not like the beer (which is rare for me) but the food on the limited menu was very good and the atmosphere was very informal and pleasant. We had a huge plate of goose with red cabbage, kale, baked apple with cranberries and dumplings (about 15 euros) and the meatballs (Kloppsburger...whatever they are called).
Grossbeeren Keller: (U-bahn Moeckernbruecke) The atmosphere here was so perfect (dark wood, antlers, old memorabilia) that I thought it must be a tourist trap, but nobody else spoke English. Had some good Ruhrei (scrambled eggs with bacon mushrooms and potatoes) and a big honking piece of some pig part that was incredibly tender.
Also went to the big markethall on Bergmanstrasse (U-bahn Gneisenaustr.) which had some nice stuff but was rather creepily quiet and sad. Found a neat bar just north of the intersection of Bergmanstrasse and Mehringdamn that served 10 different kinds of distilled brandies -- I think it was called Distillerie as a matter of fact. And just south of that intersection was a bar called Barbie that was completely decorated with Barbie doll paraphenelia -- you should check out the chandelier in particular -- not sure if it's a gay bar or a mixed crowd as we were the only people there.
I'm writing too late to be of any use to you, but for others visiting Berlin, I can heartily recommend the Oderquelle (www.oderquelle.de), which has a daily-changing menu highlighting ingredients from the Berlin-Brandenburg area. (Click on the dinner plate in the left corner for the menu - unfortunately only in German.)
For more details on the Oderquelle and on restaurants and food shops in Berlin, have a look at my website: reified.typepad.com.
Lutter & Wegner on Gendarmenmarkt is a classic restaurant serving traditional German/Austrian food - herring, Sauerbraten, Wienerschnitzel (they claim the best in Germany), potato salad, etc. along with their own private label sekt (sparkling wine). There are lunch specials and the menu at lunch is less expensive than dinner.