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Berlin For the First Time

  • 3star Jun 30, 2008 03:44 PM
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I am planning a trip to Berlin towards the end of July and am in search of can't miss restaurants. I have never been to Germany so am looking for really anything that is worth going, not something available everywhere. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

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  1. How long will you be there? Are you looking for a typical "Berlin" or German experience? Price range? If you narrow it down a tad more, I'd be more than welcome to help you out.

    Also, do a search on the international board re: berlin, you might find some inspiration for starters.

    3 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Im really not sure what I am looking for, a range in price thats for sure... cheaper lunch spots maybe and then moderate dinner prices... the euro/dollar for me isn't that wonderful so probably nothing near the 100 euro per person range, anyhthing below that though I am interested in. I would like a typical Berlin experience as well as other great places people love to go. I will be there about a week I am planning. Thanks for the help!

      1. re: 3star

        There are almost no places in Berlin that are more expensive than 100 EUR p.p, so this wasn't much help in narrowing down the wide array of Berlin restaurants.

        I'll tell you some of my favourites, but mind you that for me, 100 EUR is something to feed my whole family for a week on:

        Asian: I like Monsieur Voung (Vietnamese); "Good Friends" (Chinese, I think Cantonese but not really sure); Ashai and Ishin Sushi. There is a Korean I really want to try, called Maru, in the squatti area of Friedrichshain.

        Middle Eastern: Berlin is a good place to try Turkish food, if you haven't yet. It has nice, "respectable" Turkish restaurant like the Hasir chain, and also Doener Kebap stands in every corner (I especially recommend Didim on Erkstrasse and Kotbusser Tor; but I am not so sure these are the first places I would send a tourist to...). I also like the many Hummus places on Sonnenallee, but again not so sure I'd send a tourist there...

        European: Ottenthal is a great Austrian on Kantstrasse; I haven't been to, but everybody's praising Grill Royale (French and meat) and Brandol Sur Mer (French and seafood); Still looking for a good British restaurant in Berlin. Also - Gabriel's, the restaurant at the Jewish Community Centre (which is naturally Kosher) is not bad at all IMHO, but quite expensive for what they give.

        Italian: Again - my own budget sends me to good, but not so fancy, Italian restaurants across town. I like Due Forni despite the slow service (in general, as Linguafood suggested, don't expect good service in Berlin). Bocca di Bacco is supposed to be amazing, but I haven't been there; also try Via Condotti.

        German: Weihenstephaner may not be the "best" or the most authentic German restaurant in town (it is actually Bavarian, which most Germans would not qualify as part of Germany), but it is a good restaurant; you will find plenty of Berlin-style raunchy places in Nikolai Quarter; and Oderquelle in Prenzlauer Berg also comes up high. For a beer-garden experience, consider spending an evening in the Prater.

        Some fancy chef restaurants: except for the unique chocolate/cocoa restaurant of Fassbender and Rausch, I haven't been to, but again heard good things about: Borchardt, Fischer Fritz, Facil, Hugo's, Vau, Refugium, Shiro i Shiro.

        Deserts: I have already mentioned chocoholic heaven (or hell, depending how you look at it) Fassbender & Rausch. You should also try the cakes in the Operpalais.

        I will probably remember more restaurants, as if this list is not enough for 10 years in Berlin.

        1. re: 3star

          My wife and I visited Berlin this past July. We stayed in the Mitte - just inside the old Soviet sector off the Gendarmenmarkt. We found a place we really liked just a few blocks from our hotel. Lutter and Wegner. Traditional German food. Founded in 1811 I think. they have several places in Berlin. Go to the spot on the Charlottenstrasse at # 56. Try the Tafelspitz. We liked it so much we ate there three nights in a row. A bit pricey, 105 Euros, 105 Euros and 95 Euros (cheap date the last night)

          Web Site:

          http://www.lutter-wegner-gendarmenmar...

      2. Actually, polyg, there are quite a number of places where one can easily spend 100 €/person and more -- Ana e Bruno, Margaux, Facil, Lorenz Adlon, First Floor, Fischers Fritz.... but I wouldn't say that any of those are places uniquely Berlin.

        Monsieur Vuong, despite its lasting popularity, is as good as it was on the first day (presumably, I haven't been in a year).

        The best sushi place is on Olivaer Platz: Mr. Hai's Kabuki Kaiten Sushi Bar. I go there at least once a week to get my sushi fix -- they have an excellent lunch offer for 9.50€.

        I would stay FAR, FAR away from Grill Royal. The service is absolutely abysmal. If you like to pay through your nose for horrific service and average food, go ahead.

        For a cheap & excellent Berlin experience, head over to Kreuzberg to the Gasthaus Henne. Best damn fried chicken in town.

        Berlin's oldest and, imo, prettiest beergarden, the Prater has already been mentioned.

        polyg is right that you should definitely get some Turkish food, be it a sit-down place (don't go to Hasir, then) or just a döner to go. It is THE street food in Berlin, and your stay would be nothing without it.

        For a relic of the early 90s, check out Tacheles on Oranienburger. Other than that, stay clear of Oranienburger, it's practically Berlin's Times Square.

        Viel Spass!

        1. Zwiebelfisch in Savignyplatz is my favorite restaurant/bar. Their soups (the onion soup and the chilli) are amazing.

          For lunch on a Sunday, the market at Winterfeldplatz (take the U-bahn to Nollendorfplatz) is fantastic. The waffle stand there serves the most delicious waffles I've ever tasted.

          Curry 36 is supposed to have the best currywurst in Berlin. Whether there or somewhere else, make sure you try some.

          Also, I don't remember the name, but right outside the Oranienburger Strasse Ubhf is a place that serves just french fries, but with any topping you could imagine. It's amazing. :D

          For Biergartens, my favorite is the Fischerhuette, all the way in the south (near Krumme Lanke U-bhf)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Entchen

            Oh yeah, Winterfeldtmarkt is awesome. The Thai stand has spicy dumplings and a fantastic dumpling soup. There's a fish-monger with hot-smoked salmon rolls. A Turkish place with zucchini fritters and eggplant mousaka.

            And Tiramisú for dessert.... trust me, you won't leave hungry.

            1. re: Entchen

              Konnopke in Prenzlauer Berg and Krasselt's in Steglitz have the best currywurst, and obscure neighborhoods like Alt Moabit/Turmstrasse also have really cheap ethnic eateries, almost all Turkish and Lebanese, as well as one of the relic Markthalle locations.

              Alter Krug is a beautiful beer garden in Dahlem.

            2. Replace Bocco di Bacco with Sale e Tabachi. BdiB is overpriced, snobby, and the food is not that great. S&T is far better in that general price range.

              I second Oderquelle, Prater, Henne (beer and fried chicken and great schnapps selection) as great German and Berlin-ish experiences.

              Imren is the best for döner if you are in Kreuzberg. Real lamb. Not meatpaste. Defne for sit-down Turkish.

              You should really do a search here- there are lots of great suggestions in the archives.

              1 Reply
              1. re: desylicious

                Very important!

                Be prepared to pay in cash at all times. Being able to pay with credit card or EC card is rare, even in moderate to higher end restaurants.

              2. Make sure you visit the sixth (food!) floor of the KaDeWe, the huge department store in what used to be East Berlin. One of the best gourmet floors anywhere.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  KaDeWe is a definite must-see for foodies- go hungry, but it definitely was not in East Berlin, in fact the Ku'damm was the center of the former West.

                  1. re: desylicious

                    Sorry. Sure you're right. I just remember crossing the line where the wall used to be on my walk from the university to KaDeWa. Maybe I have it all backwards.

                2. this is my first post here, but i am from berlin and i would like to contribute a small list of some of my favourite places here, mainly in mitte, because i live there.

                  first of all, despite all the grill royal bashing an chow hound, it is in fact a very good place to eat, hang out, drink, talk and watch people (of course more interesting if you are familiar with german celebs and intellectuals). in the beginning they admittedly had a lot of problems with the staff, but by now they have a very good team together. they are international, friendly, very fast and professional. and some of them are real characters. anyway, i have never been disappointed by the food. beside the always great, french classics they serve, there are some modern variations with a twist. also, the bread is fantastic, so is the cheese platter, and they have a small but great selection of wines.
                  in fact, i have to admit it's best to stick to wine or champagne though, as other beverages tend to be overpriced. for example a campari orange (with fresh juice, at least) costs almost as much as a glass of champagne...
                  overall, it is simply a great venue, also considering the atmosphere, design and location. just one more thing: choose a normal week day for your dinner, avoid fri and sat. keep your eyes peeled for art pieces by up and coming german artists like jonathan meese and marc brandenburg.

                  concerning bars: the bar chef at tausend, mario, was mixologist of the year in 2007, so, if you go on a weekday when he's working, you have a good chance to get a liquid treat from him. again, avoid weekends if you want an excellent cocktail, but go if you want to party. keep in mind though that they're on a summer break til september i think. mario is using the time to redo the old rheingold bar which is due to open sometime in september, so check out these two in about a month.

                  the shochu bar that belongs to the tim raue ensemble of uma and ma at adlon is very easy to get into (referring to a question in a different post here) because it's pretty empty still. the staff is extremely attentive, i'd say maybe a bit to much. at times they make too much of an event out of everything. the menu sounds very promising, but the cocktail i had with a grapefruit espuma tasted not too special i have to say. also the rum cocktail my boyfriend ordered was rather inexpressive. such a shame because it contained lovely falernum, which totally got lost in the mix.
                  but still, i'd give it a chance and keep checking the place every now and then.

                  for a not extremely exotic but always excellent cocktail experience, go to windhorst bar. or green door. haven't been to lebensstern and beckett's kopf, but i heard good things about them. you might always book a table at triobar, a semi-private cocktail club that stocks the rarest of rare and antique spirits you can imagine, including vintage rums from the 1940ies and a vast selection of exotic gin.

                  newly opened and a bargain is tartane on torstr, near bandol sur mer. they serve simply but lovely 'panamerican' food. the prices are ridiculusly low compared to the the quality of the products they use, the size of the dishes and of course, the taste. nice design, too. but with pre dinner cocktails, only trust the dark haired barkeeper with the cute accent.

                  a great german place i hang out at regularly is lebensmittel in mitte, or simply called 'der schwabe'. it's a grocery/restaurant with southern german food, hearty, organic, local products, great beer, wine, and super lovely, homely atmosphere. in the morning, try the delicious müsli, or almost better, the 'stullen', slices of bread with amazing toppings. sometimes those are packed with tomatoes, sauted onions and an insanely big chunk of melted goat's cheese, or with cheese and asparagus when in season, or a whole filet of cured trout. it's basically a meal on a slice of good hearty german sourdough bread. great when you're hung over.

                  for a decent australian flat white, go across the street to olive, or to bonanza on oderberger str. in prenzlauer berg.

                  two good authentic 'kneipen' in the area are alt berlin and bar 3, which you will enjoy if you don't belong to the faint hearted. just keep in mind: those are neighbourhood joints. they have absolutely no problem with foreigners, just don't behave like a tourist. don't take pictures, don't dress in beach attire, don't wave with city maps. but i don't seriously assume chowhounders would do all of that. plus: don't complain about smoking.

                  the place i suggest you stay away from is white trash fast food. the burgers aren't good enough to compensate the clientele. it has turned into a full on tourist trap.

                  borchardt: not on week ends
                  san nicci: a treat
                  shiro i shiro: unstable, due to changing chefs, but will surely get better again. try one of filips cocktails.
                  i due forni: personally, i think it's a living hell
                  paparazzi: nothing new, but always fantastic
                  pizza strich: awful place, awful area, but chef manuels pizzas are very very good

                  for cream cakes, 'torten' in german, go to 'cake'. simply fantastic. run by a danish artist/pastry cook. try the cake/cava deal.

                  do not go to panasia. monsieur vuong may be good, but i am not sure if it's worth the hassle and probable waiting time. be prepared to feel like a sardine in a tin while dining.

                  for a quick salad, go to eve&adams.
                  another good place for coffee is buscaliogne, and the caras chain for to go coffee.

                  i can't think of more right now, but i'll keep posting.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kta

                    this is a brilliant and exhaustive list KTA - every suggestion or warning is SPOT ON!!!
                    anyone reading this i can confirm that these recommendations are on target.

                  2. * Estrella's Chocolaterie, http://www.estrellas-chocolaterie.com/ Estrellas Chocolaterie Esther Kurtz Akazienstraße 21 • 10823 Berlin
                    * Buddhahaus (great Tibetan/Nepalese restaurant) --> http://www.buddhahaus.com/kritiken.html; Akazienstr. 27, 10823 Berlin

                    * Brasserie Saint Tropez, Winterfeldstraße 25 in 10781 Berlin, Winterfeldtstraße 25
                    10781 Berlin http://www.brasserie-saint-tropez.de/
                    (must book in advance: +49 30 219 62 402 - but it's worth it

                    )

                    Tomorrow - Berlin Kreuzberg - Bergmannkiez
                    * The whole quarter is pretty cross-cultural and has a unique atmosphere about it
                    Go and see the Marheinecke Markthalle (and there is another excellent coffee roaster inside - the PrivatRösterei,
                    best coffee would be Ehtiopian Highland or CostaRica - and they serve a lot of specialties on the spot... http://www.berliner-grossmarkt.de/dt/...

                    near Kurfürstendamm:
                    * Sager's Kaffeerösterei
                    ... and when you go there you MUST have an Espresso Speciale, it's a unique experience; Sagers Kafferösterei
                    Lotte-Lenya-Bogen 555, visávis "Theater des Westens", 10623 Berlin
                    http://www.crowncoffee.de/

                    1. Berlin is a BIG city. Some idea of where you will be staying would help in making any recommendation.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Will5352

                        I leave in 2 weeks from U.S. and will be staying at the Estrel Hotel in Berlin, I know far away from the city and closer to the Polish border but will cab it.

                        Any suggestions for authentic German Food or anything Asian?

                        My 2 meals so far are:

                        "Sorriso-Berlin"-Italin
                        Impressum
                        AGERE GmbH
                        Kurfürstenstraße 76
                        10787 Berlin
                        Telefon: (030) 262 13 13
                        Telefax: (030) 265 02 77

                        and

                        VOX/Sushi
                        Restaurant Vox-Grand Hyatt Hotel-Berlin
                        Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 2,
                        10785 Berlin
                        Telefon: +49 (0)30 2553 1772

                        Thanks,

                        Stuart