|by Allison Tibaldi||Art + Culture, Food + Drink, Historical Travel, Literary Travel, Pop Culture and Travel, Walking Tours, Berlin, Berlin, Food + Drink||0|
German cuisine may not garner the recognition that French and Italian do, but a visit to Berlin will show you why this city is a magnet for up-to-date epicureans. You can feast on hearty Teutonic classics like and Schnitzel and Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), but Berlin really shines when it comes to casual, eclectic eats. The current food scene goes way beyond bratwurst yet doesn't eschew traditional flavors. Get ready for a mouth-watering adventure that's heavy on flavor and light on the wallet.
Doner Kebab (also known as Döner Kebap)
Best place to try it: All in One, Rosenthaler Str. 43
The doner kebab is a robust sandwich that rarely costs more than a few euros and is served at stands all over the city. Invented by a Turkish immigrant, it's thin slices of flavorful meat carved from a rotating spit, garnished with fresh veggies and your choice of sauce, all piled into warm bread. All in One in Mitte serves a delectable one. The fresh lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes add a salubrious crunch.
Best place to try it: Curry 61, Oranienburger Str. 6
Invented in Berlin after World War II, currywurst is the local's fast food of choice. It's sliced bratwurst served in tomato sauce that has been liberally laced with curry for a sweet-spicy kick. Berliners are so passionate about this fortifying snack, there's even a museum dedicated to it. You'll find currywurst stands all over town, but venerable Curry 61 won't disappoint.
Best place to try it: Fassbender & Rausch, Charlotten Str. 60
If you've got a sweet tooth, a stop at the self-proclaimed biggest chocolate store in the world, Fassbender & Rausch, is a must. The tempting goodies include truffles, pralines, and single origin chocolate bars. The atmosphere is as whimsical as Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, with eye-catching renditions of local architectural icons like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Reichstag carved entirely out of chocolate. Make sure to head upstairs to watch the chocolatier spin edible magic.
When JFK made his famous speech and proclaimed Ich bin ein Berliner, he was apparently making a grammatical mistake and claiming to be a doughnut, not a resident of Berlin. Berliners are jam-injected rounds of ethereal fried yeast dough dusted with granulated sugar. Mind-bogglingly good, you'll need some serious willpower to eat just one. Sold at every bakery in town.
Chicken at Da Henne
Best place to try it: Da Henne, Leuschnerdamm 25
This Kreuzberg stalwart has been serving the same minimalist menu since 1908. Crispy chicken is the star here and though the menu does include a few other choices, the bird is the word. This is fried chicken so good, you'll want to lick not only your fingers but the plate. A side of tangy coleslaw or German potato salad and a frosty beer are the perfect accompaniments.
Best place to try it: Factory Girl, August Str. 29
Unlike most of the Continent, where breakfast is not much more than bread, butter, and jam, Berlin's residents start the day with a fortifying breakfast. The town's trendiest congregate at Factory Girl, where a stylish morning meal is served all day. Nearly everyone orders vitamin-rich Magnolia, a soy-based pudding that somehow tastes like muesli infused with marshmallows.
Best place to try it: Monsieur Vuong, AlteSchönhauser Str. 46
Berlin is home to a sizeable Vietnamese community, good news for hungry visitors on a budget. There are many excellent eateries specializing in this delicate cuisine, but inexpensive Monsieur Vuong tops the list. Fresh, tasty, authentic food is the reason this place is always packed, so be prepared to queue. Sink your teeth into the spring rolls, pho, and glass noodles; it's worth the wait.
Best place to try it: Leylak, Kottbusser Str. 25
Turks form the largest ethnic minority in Germany and their influence in the edible arena runs deep. Step into barebones eatery Leylak and you may think you've taken a wrong turn and landed in Istanbul. An assortment of sweet and savory pastries wrapped in handmade dough or flaky filo are sliced from a gigantic sheet pan or served in individual portions. Order the fresh mint tea to complement this authentic taste of the Ottoman Empire.
Best place to try it: Weihenstephaner, Hackescher Markt
No trip to Germany is complete without sampling the local brew. Weihenstephaner is an atmospheric brewery located in a historic building in a scenic market square. They offer an extensive range, from mellow wheat beers to the strong and malty.
Take a Food Tour
Booking a guided food tour is an excellent way to sample a variety of eats in a limited time frame. Even if you're not a foodie, you will learn about the culture, history and sights of Berlin as you stroll the city and nibble away. Berlin Food Tour is owned and operated by a bilingual local who is both passionate and knowledgeable when it comes to what's cooking. They offer a score of diverse itineraries and low prices.
This article was written by Allison Tibaldi, a native New Yorker who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto, and Los Angeles. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. When she's not traveling, she's scouring NYC for delectable eats. As a freelance travel writer, she focuses on family, culinary, and car-free travel. She's also a senior travel writer at offMetro.com.