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Feb 26, 2014 01:52 PM

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:


            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


                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.


                    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!


              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

                    - 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, 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.

                  2. I am at risk of high-jacking this thread, or resurrecting a zombie, but I did want to report on our Berlin dining experiences as this conversation and other contributions, especially by linguafood and BerlinFoodStories, were helpful to us. I am not going to do a free-standing report as it was long ago (October 2014) and my memory is not that sharp! We did more high-end dining than we would typically do, as we were celebrating a significant birthday.

                    Inspired by the neighbourhood theme, we picked a couple of "destination" restaurants, Horvath in Kreuzberg; and PaulySaal in Prenzlauer Berg (or Mitte, close enough!). Our plan was to taxi or transit one-way and walk back to our centrally-located hotel. That worked for PaulySaal, we had a great walk back after a delightful dinner. It was pouring rain, though, so we taxi'd to and from Horvath. Too bad, as it was looking pretty lively even in the gloomy wet. And for our last night and big splurge, we booked at Fischers Fritz, right across the street. FF was an experience--that level and intensity of service is becoming increasingly rare. For the $$, I thought the food at Horvath was the most interesting, and PaulySaal was the most enjoyable overall experience -- the unique setting, the concise and careful seasonal menu, and our great walk home.

                    We also braved the KaDeWe dining floor for lunch, and were well-rewarded.

                    Thanks again to Chowhound companions for enriching our trip.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: painperdu

                      Thanks for taking the time to add to this thread, since I'll be in Berlin for business in June, but will have time for some escapades. Your post revived in my mind a debate abut whether to go to Pauly Saul for lunch, since I am certain to go to the Kennedy Museum in the same building. I'm a big fan of seasonal menus, but one of the things holding me back is a feeling that the history of the building makes it too jarring a setting for enjoying a gourmet meal. Somehow, Mogg & Melzer strikes me differently, and we may end up going there. Did you have any such thoughts going in that were resolved by the actual experience of eating at Pauly Saul?

                      Also, any more details and tips you can add about your lunch at KaDeWe would be appreciated.


                      1. re: Michaelspont

                        Mogg & Melzer is decidedly more low-key and not really in the same range as Pauly Saal.

                        Have you looked at Katz Orange or Lokal? Both offer seasonal dishes and are pretty much in the same area (Mitte).

                        And, of course, Weinbar Rutz :-)

                        1. re: linguafood

                          Thanks. I hadn't looked at Katz Orange, but will. One reluctance I had about Lokal was needing to make a reservation. I am not sure we will be in complete control of our time, and I hate making reservations and canceling them last minute. I feel it is unfair to restaurants. Knowing that we are going to be in the same building as Pauly Saul/Moog & Melzer, I feel like even if I made a reservation, I could make it work with our museum visit, whether we arrive early or late.

                          I was aware of the total difference in menus between Pauly Saul and Moog & Melzer, and it may be that my partner would lean in the direction of Pauly Saul's menu, but I haven't asked yet. (I'm a pastrami lover!) But so far, I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of enjoying a gourmet meal in that setting, whereas Moog & Melzer seems to take the history head on and strike a harmonious note with it. If people generally say, "it just isn't an issue," I can go with that. I'm not trying to prove anything here, just wondered if anybody had the same thoughts I did and what their experience was having actually eaten there.

                        2. re: Michaelspont

                          Interesting question, Michaelspont. I appreciate how Berlin has acknowledged its past--the Holocaust Memorial, contemporary art museums, the Topography of Terror, the stolperstein installations... My experience in Pauly Saal was not different--the history of the building is transparent and respectfully remembered. I find this easier to deal with than when things are muffled or obscured; Vienna gives me the creeps. And if we were going to avoid all the places that raise challenging memories, we might never go anywhere interesting.

                          KdW--just take your time to thoroughly cruise the offerings before grabbing a tray, there are lots of specials and made-to-order items that arent obvious on the first pass-through. Invite yourself to sit at a bigger table that only has one or two (hopefully friendly) looking other people at it. I suppose it is an option to stake out a table before going to collect your meal, but we didnt.

                          1. re: painperdu

                            Hi, thanks for your response. Sorry I couldn't answer earlier. I have since talked to my partner, who has no feelings about this one way or the other. I am rather picky about restaurant venues and ambience, and can find them jolting or uncongenial for a variety of reasons (including the restaurant plopped down in the beautiful piazza or atop the pristine mountain, not just the one with an infinitely sad history). It never stops from me traveling, and we will surely be in that building whether we eat there or not, then subsequently traveling further on into Poland, specifically in search of shedding light on more "challenging" memories. But setting and overall culture does often factor into my decisions about restaurant choices.

                            The elaborations on KdW are much appreciated. Thanks again!