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best food neighborhoods in Berlin

Hi, all -- I'm going to be spending 2 weeks in Berlin in April for the first time. I've already seen some recommendations here that look excellent, but I'm wondering if anyone could suggest a neighborhood (or neighborhoods) with interesting, edgy, not terribly expensive restaurants and are more or less centrally located. (If someone has already done this, I apologize -- I missed it, and I'd be grateful if someone could refer me to it.)

Also, does anyone have advice for food to buy in Berlin as presents that aren't easily available, or not available at all, in the US?

Thanks! And thanks also to all of you who have already put up some very useful posts.

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  1. Kreuzberg, Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Schöneberg.

    19 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Thanks, linguafood! By the way, I've seen several of your earlier postings on here, and they're splendid -- definitely among the most useful and interesting I've seen on any chowhound board.

      1. re: lotsoforegano

        Thank you, that is very kind.

        You can also look at my Best of Berlin entries on my blog. Yes, they are two years old, but most of those places have been around for quite some time and have been reliably good. That said, I am very much looking forward to being back again this summer.... lots of new places to check out, for sure :-)

        1. re: linguafood

          Hi, linguafood -- I read your Best of Berlin series, and I'm going to download it and carry it with me. It looks much better and appealing than what I'm seeing about restaurants in most guidebooks. (And although this is completely irrelevant to chowhound, I was delighted to see that you're an Obama fan! When I rule the world, you'll get to vote in all US elections.) I hope I'm not imposing too much, but could I ask another question: do you know of any spectacular cooks in Berlin (more creative urban hipster than stodgy rich conservative) who open their homes and serve dinner to visitors, and whom you'd recommend? Thanks again!!

          1. re: lotsoforegano

            Unfortunately, given my almost 2 years away from the city, I'm not hip to the private supper clubs available, nor can I recommend any.

            Here is quite a comprehensive list, however, which might be a starting point for your research:

            http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/berli...

            1. re: linguafood

              Linguafood, this is terrific! Thanks! I only wish there were a Linguafood in every city I visit for the first time. Of course, I'll keep track of your posts whenever you return to Berlin; I'll be eager to see your new discoveries.

              1. re: lotsoforegano

                >blushing>

                Why, thanks, lotsoforegano -- of which I am a huge fan in my Greek cooking, btw :-)

                Hope you have a fabulous time.... eh, scratch that: I *know* you will. It's such a great city. And maybe even the notoriously crappy weather will play along.

                Please report back on your trip in this thread or your own and share your experiences (and perhaps a few new discoveries of your own) with the rest of us!

              2. re: linguafood

                Hello - where might I find this Best of Berlin series referenced above? Googe has not been very helpful.

                Thanks!

                    1. re: jmie79

                      Keep in mind, tho, that those lists are about 2.5 years old. Many if not most of the places *should* still be around, but there are, of course, plenty of new ones I need to check out.

                      Thankfully, I will have that opportunity during the next 2 months and shall revive that crusty, cob-webbed blog o' mine :-D

            2. re: linguafood

              Hi linguafood!

              I'm trying to put together a little homemade guidebook for my boyfriend, who will be in Berlin for the month of June, staying in Prenzlauer Berg. (This is my idea for a no-cost birthday present -- a digest of interesting & affordable chowhound suggestions (mostly yours) for Berlin...)

              I'll definitely spend some time with the Best of Berlin series you listed above! But let me know if you have any specific suggestions for Prenzlauer Berg. My boyfriend is a curious and adventurous eater who likes everything, and likes to find interesting places, and is on a pretty low budget.

              Again, I'll go do some work on those blog entries. But do let me know if there's anything I should definitely include!

              Thanks - and yes, thanks for your amazing Chowhound contributions, as some others have said!

              sara

              1. re: skendall87

                I am just back from Berlin and a friend there took us to a wonderful Austrian place (not expensive at all) in the Kreuzeberg area. I was amazed how many, small and interesting restaurants were on that street. I'll try to get the name for you.

                1. re: zuriga1

                  Sounds like Mitterhofer in the Graefe/Fichte neighborhood.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I was silly not to write down the name. I'll try to ask my Berlin buddy.

                  2. re: zuriga1

                    The street with many restaurants is Bergmannstrasse. At 26 is Felix Austria, which is very good.

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      Ah, gotcha. Yes, Bergmannstrasse is another place with numerous restaurants -- most of them, however, not worth a visit.

                      Felix Austria and Fratelli Biondi (excellent pizza) being 2 noteworthy exceptions.

                  3. re: skendall87

                    Some of my favorites in Prenzlauer Berg (and Mitte) neighborhoods:

                    - Les Valseuses: a cute little French bistro I love so much I ended up going there 3 times during my first week back; very moderate prices

                    - Prater: Best Beer Garden Ever. Period.
                    - Donath: Great home-style Italian pasta; cheap
                    - Maria Bonita: great Mexican (baja) hole in the wall
                    - Berkis: great Greek food
                    - Due Forni: best pizza
                    - Sasaya: great, Japanese-run (this is worth pointing out, actually) sushi place

                    Mitte:
                    - Katz Orange: pricy, but fab slow roasted meats
                    - Yarok: Syrian, cheap
                    - Toca Rouge: Asian Fusion
                    - Cocolo: great ramen

                    Tell your BF to avoid Oranienburger and Kastanienallee for the most part; he should be fine '-)

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Thanks linguafood and zuriga1!!!! So great.

                    2. re: skendall87

                      The street with many restaurants is Bergmannstr. At 26 is the Austrian one we liked...Felix Austria.

              2. I’ve now returned from two weeks in Berlin. It was my first trip there. What a vibrant, exuberant, complicated, exciting, enchanting city it is. My only regret is that it took far too many years for me to go.
                Before I left, I solicited and got some splendid advice from other hounds. Thanks to all of you! Although I hesitate to single anyone out, I’m especially grateful to linguafood. For me, her two most helpful suggestions were: (1) her list of neighborhoods with interesting and/or quirky food (I took her advice and stayed in Prenzlauer Berg); and (2) her recommendation of the website slowtravelberlin.com, which is infinitely more useful and interesting than the average best-selling travel guide.
                And now, to the topic dear to every chowhound’s heart: food.
                Prenzlauer Berg has an exceptionally diverse mix of restaurants – Argentine, Brazilian, Persian, Indian, even a place named for the first Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – whose range reminds me of Astoria in Queens or maybe Brooklyn. Usually, you’ll do fine in Prenzlauer Berg if you amble around and head into the first place you see when you’re hungry. The restaurants may not be worth traveling 100 miles, but they’re definitely okay and often more than okay.
                However, there’s one exception to the rule: a small and fairly new family restaurant called Alesendro, which I stumbled on by accident. It is absolutely one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve been to in years. I went to several Berlin restaurants once. I returned to Alesendro five or six times.
                My favorite meals there were grilled calamari (11.50 euros), an elegant marinated salmon with onions, garlic, capers, olives, and tomatoes (also 11.50 euros), and a delightful seafood risotto (12.50 euros). All of those are on the menu – but honestly, if you’re going there for the first time, I’d suggest asking Vladimir (the owner), Cathleen (his partner), Gokhan (the waiter), or Luka (Vladimir’s son who is, incidentally, Europe’s foremost expert on the Washington Wizards) what’s especially good that evening. They’re all cool and delightful, and they won’t steer you wrong.
                Alesendro’s address is Knaackstrasse 45. But since navigating around Berlin for the first time is about as simple as running for Congress or falling in love, here are easy directions using public transportation (and they’ll look lots easier once you’re in the neighborhood):
                - Make your way by subway (U Bahn), elevated train (S Bahn), bus, tram, camel, helicopter, or donkey to Alexanderplatz. It’s a big transportation hub. Even I couldn’t miss it.
                - Take the #2 tram, which terminates and briefly parks right next to the Alexanderplatz station, for 4-5 stops to Marienberger Strasse.
                - You’ll be at the intersection of Prenzlauer Allee and Wortherstrasse. (Note: there are two tiny little dots above the “o” in Wortherstrasse. I have no idea how to type them.) Meander for 5 minutes on Wortherstrasse, which will be a fun little stroll, until you get to the far end of the tiny park on the left (Kollwitzplatz, which also has those two pesky little dots above the “o”).
                - Turn left and Alesendro will be the second or third building on the right.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lotsoforegano

                  Hi 'regano, I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself in our fair city :-)

                  And thanks for the tip on the seafood place -- I'll have to check it out next time I'm near Kollwitzplatz.

                  (Not sure if you have a mac, but for an ö, you hit control u at the same time, then hit the o).

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Guten tag, Lingie! I loved Berlin -- the weekend karaoke in Mauer Park, the Bundestag tour (far more intelligent than tours of the US Capitol or House of Commons), the picnickers on the canal, the magnificent symphony, the seedy Turkish bars, the brilliant wackiness of the Bauhaus Archiv, the Pergamon Museum, the happy street mobs on May Day amidst every left-wing tendency known to humanity, the Sanssouci palace in Potsdam (can I move in?), the gorgeous trannies parading on the street, the spectacular jazz cafes, the demons of history that are exorcised except when they aren't.... Like John Kennedy said, ich bin ein Berliner (except isn't that a kind of donut?). And thanks for the tip about the two little dots! That's very sweet of you. Alas, I have a PC and my technical skills are non-existent.

                    1. re: lotsoforegano

                      Oooh! I did not know that Mauerpark karaoke was still going on -- thought the guy had to shut it down due to the crazy fees he was being charged by the city.

                      Will hafta check it out!

                2. Hello there linguafood.... I'm headed to Berlin for a few weeks and I'd like to find the link for your Best of Berlin posting. Can you point me to it please? Thanks so much!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rms9004

                    Never mind. Found it after some hunting. Thanks again for your tips.