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Feb 20, 2010 12:44 PM

Some recommendations for cheap food in Berlin

Hello fellow chowhounds.Yesterday I became a fan of this board after going to the Imren Döner Imbiss in Boppstraße. I had never heard of the place until I read about it here, and I have lived in Berlin for many years. I went with a friend who is a born Berliner, and he had also never heard of Imren. Looking in from the outside, we were not too optimistic, it's a small room and doesn't look much different than a hundred other Döner shops, but from the first bite we were both believers.Basically, almost every Döner tastes about the same in Berlin, but Imren spices their meat quite differently, and it was indeed delicious.Tastewise, I found it closer to the Lebanese beef schawarma than to the Döner we have in Berlin, and that is much to my liking.
So now I would like to make a few suggestions of my own. I am definitely not a gourmet, but I do know a fair number of Imbisses in various parts of town, so here are some favorites in various categories.
First of all, this being Berlin: currywurst. This is offered in hundreds or thousands of places, and it is usually mediocre, sometimes bad. Personally, I don't much like the famous Konnopke, I just don't think the food is anything special, likewise the often mentioned Curry 36 on Mehringdamm. You go to Curry 36 more for the clever banter of the people who work there, or to hang out with the cool after- theatre crowd that congregates there every evening. But on the other hand, the place is always packed, so maybe I'm alone with my opinion. But now, my personal recommendation(drum roll, please...): Petri's Imbiss in the Marheinikehalle in Kreuzberg:


The Markheinikehalle is itself something of a food destination. The Berlin market halls are a relict of former times, long before there were supermarkets someone came up with the idea of moving the open air markets into warehouse type buiildings in various parts of the city. A few have survived, and the most successful of them is the Marheinikehalle. After becoming somewhat run down and pokey in the last decade or two, it received a major facelift in 2007, and a good one at that. It is now quite airy and bright, and the collection of stalls is now very much oriented toward the young urban crowd. There are all sorts of organic food,bakers, fruit stands and there is an aisle of somewhat upscale imbisses with a nice selection of inexpensive food. Anyway, one of them is Petri's, and they offer a selection of Berliner specialties at better quality than you will find elsewhere: the currywurst, Boulette (meatballs- be sure to get the "hausgemachte Boulette") Eierkuchen, Senfeier (yuck, eggs in mustard sauce) etc etc. They have managed to retain their old fashioned Berliner charm in the face of all those hoards of yuppies who have invaded the Markthalle, and they are inexpensive; we're talking about meals for three or four Euros here. You will also find an Italian imbiss with tasty Italian sandwiches made on flatbread, a good Greek imbiss(the gyros sandwich for €2.50 is very good, and would be my personal pick for the best food value anywhere in Berlin), a pretty good Thai imbiss, a French croissant and coffee place, a seriously lousy Lebanese schawarma stand, and a few others.
On the topic of Schawarma, I have made something of a project of testing as many Lebanese imbisses as possible, and I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the best of the lot is Maroush in Adalbertstraße:

This Imbiss is almost always good, and is very popular with the student crowd. I always have the schawarma, but apparently everything else is also recommendable, especially the falafel.They have a lot of turnover so things are fresh, and they never use the microwave. Portions are generous, and everything they make tastes great.
Right aross the street from them is a restaurant that makes the best Gözleme in Berlin, I forget the name, it used to be Cafe Bellona. Gözleme are normally pretty bad, but this place always makes them fresh, they even roll out the dough right before your eyes and the results are pleasing.The fillings are ground meat, spinach and cheese, or potato Two doors down is Hasir, which was my first choice for Döner until yesterday, and around the corner is a good pizza by the slice place(for once, run by Italians).There is also a good inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant, meals run about 7-8 Euros, and some good Turkish bakers.
My second choice for Schawarma would probably be Adonis at Torstraße 132 near Rosenthaler Platz; it was opened a year or two ago by one of the people from Maroush, and is similar in terms of price and quality. Third place would go to "Orientalischer Imbiss" on Mehringdamm just below Bergmannstraße; they have a more earthy charm but the food is good.
Further west, on Uhlandstraße about 50 meters from Kurfürstendamm is Taormina, a perennial favorite for pizza by the slice and Italian fast food. This is old school pizza, none of your Rucola and fancy ingredients, but if you want a good slice of old fashioned Salami pizza on the cheap, by all means go here. This place is somehow well known among backpacking American student tourists; its fame is well deserved.
For asian in Berlin, the rule of thumb is: forget about the Chinese food, it is 99% lousy. The Thais are usually but not always better; the best inexpensive one I know is Pagode, across the street from the Marheinikehalle;

The best are the Vietnamese, I like Mr Hai:

though it isn't that inexpensive.
For inexpensive Sushi I like Ishin's lunchtime specials,
The branch in Charlottenstraße is best.You can get a complete Sushi lunch for 5 or 6 Euros.
I will post again when I thnk of more. I hope this helps someone.

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  1. I'd add Berkis on Winterfeldtstr. for the best damn gyros pita in town; they also have a sit-down area with a great menu full of meses (the usual suspects), grilled seafood, and souvlaki. Cheap.

    Dolce Pizza is the best slice in Berlin, hands down, at 2 Euro a pop. Though they insist it's foccaccia, I don't care. It rocks, and is made of the best ingredients.

    Imren's got good döner, even tho it's not what people are generally used to.

    Try Henne for the best fried chicken in town, and Wok Show for awesome & cheap dumplings.

    10 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Berkis sounds great, I will go soon. The level of the pizza by the slice in Berlin has really gone up in recent years, these places with the oval shaped pizzas are all over now, and they are usually pretty good.By the way another old style pizza by the slice would be Ali Baba at Bleibtreustraße 45 near Savignyplatz.I suppose one should also mention Dolores for the burritos; if you are a homesick Californian they can help:
      The one link in my posting above should have been:
      I have usually had my best bratwurst at S-Bahn stations.With bratwurst, quick turnover is of the essence, and that's what you tend to have at S-bahn stations. There used to be an excellent one on the platform at Ostbahnhof, and a colleague of mine swears by the one at S-Bahn Schöneberg.Other than that, I would probably try the open air markets for bratwurst.
      One other thing that I should probably mention is that Germans are completely incapable of making a hamburger; odd given the name...I make mine at home.
      If you ever find yourself at an IKEA store, be sure to get one of the 1 Euro hot dogs; they are completely non-American, but make for a good, very cheap snack on the fly. Also if you are taking a road trip in Germany, consider the possibility of eating at the cafteria at an IKEA store rather than going to the Autobahn Raststätte, which is sure to be expensive and give you indigestion.

      1. re: Doggnose

        Dude. There is an AWESOME burger to be had at The Bird.... admittedly prepared by ex-pat NYers. And it is not cheap at all -- starting at 10 Euro a pop. But really, really worth it, if you have a craving.

        I also heard decent stuff about Kreuzburger and Marienburger, but haven't gone. The Bird is frankly the only place I will travel to for a burger.

        Have you been to Maria Bonita on Danziger? Pretty authentic Cal-Mex.

        Oh, and this thread should probably be moved to the Europe board, as Germany is no longer International.... go figure '-)

        1. re: linguafood

          Thanks for the tips, I have been to Bird but not to Maria Bonita. That will be coming up next.
          Another idea for train station food would be the Leberkäse stands at the Alexanderplatz and Friedrichstraße stations. The quality is surprisingly good, and they move their food pretty fast so things are fresh.This is Leberkäse in a roll with krautsalat and sweet bavarian mustard. Cheap, filling, very german and good.
          Moving the thread sounds logical, but I don't know how that's done.

          1. re: Doggnose

            Yah, not sure how to move it, either.

            Not too crazy about leberkäse. I'd take a falafel (Habibi, Winterfeldplatz or Sesam, Gneisenaustr.) or shawarma or döner over that any time. I must be a bad German!

            1. re: linguafood

              I have now visited Maria Bonita and Berkis.
              Being an expat Californian and having lived some time in Mexico City, I would have to say, Maria Bonita still has a way to go. My shrimp tacos were borderline acceptable (cold tortillas? Shrimp way too spicy, the whole thing buried in some kind of cabbage salad...not good). However, my friends liked their food somewhat better, and I certainly give them credit for concept and effort, so next time I am up that way I will give them another chance. At this point I would say, Dolores has better food. A Mexican friend also recommends this place in Schöneberg:


              By the way, one of my favorite blogs is this:


              It's about the L.A. taco scene.

              As to Berkis, yup, definitely this is a very good place, don't know how I overlooked it in the past. Personally, I would put them neck and neck with Olga in the Marheinikehalle, but I won't quarrel with anyone who considers Berkis better. The quality of the meat is better at Berkis, and that would probably be the deciding factor for a lot of people, but somehow I like the whole product at Olga a little better, also Olga has a bit more selection. Olga is cheaper by 70 cents for the gyros pita, but both places are very good value.
              I also had a look at Dolce Pizza around the corner, and it does look good. Winterfeldplatz is a good cheap food area(especially on market days, and I can see that I will be spending more time there from now on.

              1. re: Doggnose

                Hi there berliners - i have been searching through the berlin posts because i have the feeling i read a few posts about really good italian places in schoeneberg. sorry if it's just slipped past my notice in one of these threads, but wondering if anyone's got a favorite or two - places which are casual and not super expensive. my former favorite is the goldene hahn in kreuzberg, though the cooking is a little uneven. curious for suggestions...

                1. re: 10997AD

                  Friends of mine really liked I Due Immigranti; then there's Trattoria A Muntagnola -- didn't impress me much, but their caponata is pretty damn awesome.

                  If you're looking for super casual, grab one of the fantastic foccacie at Dolce (several locations in Sch'berg).

                  Al Sarago near Viktoria Luise Platz ist also good, but more expensive.


                  1. re: linguafood

                    I went to this place a few years back. For my budget it's expensive, and it's in Steglitz, but it was fun and the food was good.


                    Back to the original topic, I went to the Winterfeldt market on Wednesday at lunchtime, and there were all sorts of interesting food stands. I tried a meat pastry made by a guy from Turkmenistan, and a piece of charcoal grilled fish(with bread, potato salad, etc.) made by a fellow from Bavaria. Both tasty, inexpensive (I think €1.50 and €3) and very friendly. So I got sidetracked again and didn't make it to Dolce Pizza.
                    Also I was at the Marheinekehalle yesterday and had a gyros pita. At the moment I would say that Berkis has them beat. Sorry Olga...

                    1. re: Doggnose

                      Oh yeah! The steckerlfisch stand supplied my brunch pretty much every Saturday. The fish is to die for -- whether you get the trout or the mackerel. I prefer the much more flavorful mackerel. And Jürgen, the owner, is super-friendly.

                      If you go back to W'markt on a Saturday, make sure to try the Thai stand. They have a delicious wonton soup and excellent homemade dumplings.

                      There's also a hot-smoked salmon stand, but it's pretty damn expensive.

                      I'm psyched to go back to all those places soon.

                    2. re: linguafood

                      Here's the website for the Italian pizza in Uhlandstraße.


                      geez, everybody's got a website these days...anyway, I love this place.

      2. To pick up on the "asian food" scene:

        Wok Show in Prenzlauerberg and Selig near Savigny platz are quite authentic northern chinese and very good and very reasonable. Jiaozi, while with limited stuffings, are on offer and hand made.
        Selig has an excellent beef and lamian noodle (handpulled noodles) soup, complete with sichuan peppers in the broth.

        I've not been yet but I've heard only good things about Lon Men, a taiwanese noodle joint.

        Cocolo on Gipstrasse is considered the best ramen in europe by some Japanese tourists and expats.

        While we're on Japanese, Heno heno on Kantstrasse has excellent gyu don and udon noodle dishes. The "real deal", so to speak.

        I'd rant about the lamentable state of vietnamese and thai here but to be honest I've not dug in too deep yet. The sad experiences so far have me traumatised...


        3 Replies
        1. re: bopuc

          For very decent Sichuan, Tian Fu on Uhlandstr., or Hotspot near Kudamm. Across from Tian Fu is a ramen place that looks great and I heard good things, but haven't had a chance to check it out.

          Wok Show has fabulous dumplings.

          Supposedly, the best Thai in town is Mr. Edd's, but I've never been to find out if the hype is true. For me, good Thai restos have to adjust their heat to my request, if they don't, I don't return. I've found that both Phuket on Mehringdamm and the Thai place on Maaßenstr. in Sch'berg will make it as spicy as you want. Also, the latter is open till after midnight which is a big plus.

          And I like Monsieur Vuong and Si An for good Vietnamese, but I'm not nearly as interested in finding good Viet food as I am in good Chinese & Thai.

          Thanks for all the other recs. Must give them a shot.

          1. re: linguafood

            tian fu also has another restaurant which is billed as a noodlehouse, where they have handshaven noodles and dim sum. i think it's great, and they even have shanghai-style soup dumplings with the soup on the inside! attached next door is their own grocery, where you can buy all their frozen dumplings (and steamed buns) in huge portions.

            i find tian fu's dumplings better than wok show. and if you want frozen ones to take home, they're even cheaper at tian fu. it's a win-win situation.

            1. re: fudduf

              that's really cool news, thanks for sharing!! i've not yet been to the noodle house (and neither places are really my kiez), but not having had soup dumplings EVER, i may just have to check this out. soon. very, very soon!!!!

        2. I'll leave the Donner/Currywurst debate to others...My husband and I were in Berlin for 4 Days in early March. I have two recs in Berlin for moderate, traditional german food. 1) Mommsen-Eck (" House of 100 Beers") at Mommsenstrasse 45. Great half duck and extensive beer selection. I think the half duck was 6.50 euros. 2) zum Letzten Instanz: Waisenstrasse 14. Very traditional fare, such as Eisbein. Neither of these is cutting edge, just better than average food at very good prices. Would also highly recommend Cafe Heider in Potsdam.

          1. The original comment has been removed