With dining possibilities ranging from stand-up snack bars to Michelin-starred hotel restaurants, there’s something for every occasion on offer in Berlin. And with round-the-clock dining a commonplace in Berlin, your stomach need never rumble for lon
For restaurant recommendations select the cuisine that whets your appetite.
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Tel. 030 28 59 83 63
This self-consciously American deli specialises in delicious home-made bakes created in its sister shop at Bergmannstraße 21 in Kreuzberg. Coffee aficionados can choose from 13 different coffee blends (lovingly roasted in the Kreuzberg branch), while homesick Americans can stock up on high-calorie comfort food from its shop section.
Tel: 030 2823843
In the basement of the house where Bertolt Brecht spent his final years as East Germany’s leading intellectual is a great little restaurant. It features Viennese recipes directly from the unpublished cookbook by Brecht’s wife and collaborator, Helena Weigel. The interior is all dark wooden panels and theatrical lights, and in summer the restaurant expands into the charming garden upstairs. The food is typical Austrian fare, but of superior quality, and include baked chicken, goulash and schnitzel. It is all delicious, but there is not a great deal for vegetarians. It has an excellent wine list, and the staff are among the most professional I have seen in Berlin. A real Berlin experience off the tourist trail.
Tel: 030 31 32 659
Voted Berlin’s best Chinese restaurant by Berlin tabloid BZ. If you don’t trust the taste of the BZ staff, Good Friends’ popularity with Berlin’s Chinese community is perhaps more convincing. Unlike the rash of trendy pan-Asian restaurants which have recently opened in Berlin, the décor is refreshingly unfashionable. It’s always busy, so reservations are a good idea.
Lychener Str. 12
Tel. 030 48 62 55 95
U-Bahn Eberswalder Str.
Ethiopian food was so last year. Now Massai, in a quest to satisfy Germans’ hunger for the exotic, brings Eritrean food to Berlin. If you’ve tried Ethiopian food before, you’ll be on familiar ground (although given the two nations’ history of mutual antagonism, you might want to keep comparisons with Ethiopian food to yourself)–spicy bean and meat dishes served with traditional injera bread. The Ghanaian banana beer goes down very smoothly; unfortunately the mead (in contrast to that at Beijte Ethiopia) tastes all too home-made, a property which may be desirable in food but is certainly not positive when it comes to alcohol.
Tel: 030 262 59 33
This charmingly self-effacing Ethiopian restaurant is a good choice if you’re looking for something really different. The food is served on huge metal platters and you have to eat everything with your hands, with the help of Ethiopian enjera bread (somewhat akin to a soggy pancake). Try the surprisingly tasty mead, served in a flask. The quietly friendly staff are always ready to explain the etiquette of Ethiopian cuisine to Europeans.
Budapester Str. 45 (Hotel Palace)
Tel: 030 25 02 10 20
U-Bahn/S-Bahn Zoologischer Garten
Michelin-starred restaurant located in the Hotel Palace. Former ‘German Chef of the Year’ Matthias Buchholz combines French and Mediterranean cuisine, with his signature dish being Breton lobster on braised artichokes and Perigord truffles. His most exciting moment to date was giving Queen Elizabeth his recipe for an elderberry dessert, apparently.
Unter den Linden 78 (entrance on Wilhelmstrasse)
Tel: 030 22 65 26 11
S-Bahn Unter den Linden
This stylish restaurant has been one of the most popular in Berlin since it opened in 2000. Michelin-starred chef Michael Hoffmann gives a German twist to French cuisine, and the restaurant’s sommelier Rakhshan Zhouleh won the title of Gault Millau Sommelier of the Year in 2002. The EUR 35 three-course lunch is excellent value.
Kollwitzplatz/Ecke Knaackstraße 37
10435 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Tel: 030 442 92 29
Fax: 030 443 59 540
The fact that Gerhard Schroeder famously took Bill Clinton to Gugelhof might lead you to expect some kind of horrendously expensive Michelin-starred establishment, but this Alsatian restaurant is surprisingly down-to-earth and affordable. With its wooden interior and cheerful white-aproned staff, Gugelhof is reminiscent of an old-fashioned German Kneipe. It is unclear whether Schroeder and Clinton tried the house specialities of raclette and fondue–one struggles to imagine the two leaders melting cheese over a meths burner.
Tel: 030 44 00 80 80
U-Bahn Eberswalder Str.
Unpretentious café/restaurant with excellent, creative food. The dishes are mostly modern German with the occasional Italian speciality. The best tables are in the cosy back room with its old church pews and pleasingly mismatched furniture. The clientele is agreeably mixed, with Prenzlauer Berg trendies rubbing shoulders with elderly locals.
Zur Letzten Instanz
Tel: 030 24 25 528
With a history going back to 1561, Zur Letzten Instanz has a strong claim to being Berlin’s oldest pub. Its illustrious patrons over the years have included Napoleon, Maxim Gorki, and Charlie Chaplin. The urgemütlich interior is pleasantly old-fashioned with lots of wood panelling and even a coal oven, and the equally traditional menu features Berlin specialties such as Eisbein (knuckle of pork, for the uninitiated). Despite its secluded location, it’s popular with tourists and visiting heads of state; this is where Schroeder brought Chirac when he visited in 2003.
Pariser Str. 56/57
Tel: 030 88 68 06 48
Arguably Berlin’s best Indian restaurant, Namaskar impresses with its delicious regional specialties, classy decor and attention to detail. (It obviously impressed the ‘Gastro Award’ panel too; they named it Berlin’s best Asian restaurant in 2001.) The food is nicely presented, the service is good, and it’s not too expensive either, considering the location and quality. They specialise in tandoori dishes (marinated for 24 hours, no less) from the restaurant’s own clay oven.
Tel: 030 61 25 550
U-Bahn Görlitzer Bahnhof
Popular upmarket Indian restaurant which also has a restaurant in Mitte (Oranienburger Straße 45). No huge surprises on the menu, but the food is good and affordable and the service is attentive.
Tel: 030 39 42 081
S-Bahn Hauptbahnhof (Lehrter Stadtbahnhof)
This strangely isolated half-timbered building looks more like a fairytale house than an upmarket restaurant. Originally built in 1898, the building was at one point a pub with the unbeatable name of ‘Mutter Buschs Schultheissklause’, before being renamed ‘Paris-Moskau’ in 1987. Chef Andreas Lochner creates inventive dishes using recipes and ingredients from southern German, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Its proximity to the nearby government district explains its popularity with politicians.
Tel: 030 20 29 730
U-Bahn Französische Str.
Vau has had a Michelin star since the first year it opened, and it’s easy to see why. Chef Kolja Kleeberg uses fresh, seasonal produce, preferably from around Berlin, and never has more than three products on a plate — a rule he learned from his mentor Josef Viehhauser. The attractive interior (designed by the architect Meinhard von Gerkan and the designer Peter Schmidt) is the perfect complement to the food, with wooden floors, high ceilings and warm orange walls. It’s been full practically every night since it opened, so reservations are essential (although with a meal costing around the €100 mark, it’s possibly not the kind of joint where you’d just drop in for a quick bite to eat.)
Tel. 030 786 91 62
Founded by Piero De Vitis in 1977 and still run by his nephew Fabio Angilé, the Osteria Numero Uno combines the charm of a family-run restaurant with urban sophistication; past customers include Gerhard Schroeder and Wim Wenders. The menu features authentic Italian cuisine and an extensive wine list. In good weather you can dine in the restaurant’s beer garden, and the Viktoriapark is just round the corner, should you fancy a post-prandial promenade.
Tel: 030 69 50 66 10
U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor
Staffed by pierced and tattooed Italian anarchists, the restaurant’s political convictions are shown by the Che Guevara pictures and the posters for left-wing punk bands (whose signatures decorate the walls). The Casolare comrades further the cause of world revolution by selling excellent thin pizzas, with unusual toppings such as horsemeat (presumably appropriated from the stables of exploitative capitalists). Always hectic, you need a reservation any night of the week, unless you fancy queuing at the door for a table.
Tel: 030 32 30 38 66
Named after the silk merchant and epicure Pellegrino Artusi (author of the classic 19th century cookbook ‘The Science of Cookery and the Art of Eating Well’), Artusia is a spacious Italian restaurant located on the culinary desert of Ernst-Reuter-Platz. The minimalist design lends the restaurant an airy calm, and the enormous glass front allows patrons to watch the cars circling endlessly around the square and meditate on the futility of all striving over an espresso. The surprisingly affordable menu features daily specials as well as lighter snacks such as panini and anti-pasti, while the Italian staff ensure a suitably authentic atmosphere (at the expense of the occasional mis-communication).
Tel: 030 28 09 67 67
S-Bahn Oranienburger Straße
Small Italian restaurant/delicatessen with good weekly specials. Surprisingly easy to get a table, even on a weekend night. One lunchtime I saw renowned foodie and then German foreign minister Joschka Fischer dine here, accompanied by a bevy of bodyguards. The staff got our bills mixed up and I almost paid for his omelette.
Al Contadino Sotto Le Stelle
Tel: 030 28 19 023
The menus are all in Italian, and the crockery is chipped and mis-matched — two signs of a great Italian restaurant. The décor, with its naïf paintings and cardboard stars stuck to the blue-painted ceiling (someone obviously took the name a bit too literally), may resemble a child’s bedroom, but the food is proper grown-up four-course Italian dining.
Lychener Str. 50
Tel: 030 44 71 77 21
U-Bahn Eberswalder Str.
The fact that so many Japanese people eat at this unpretentious Japanese restaurant can only be a good sign. The reasonably-priced menu goes beyond the usual sushi and includes typical Japanese dishes such as udon noodles and tempura. The restaurant’s turquoise mats tend to fill up fast in the evenings, so reservations are a good idea (and essential at the weekend). Lunchtimes are quieter and have the added attraction of free green tea.
Rosenthaler Str. 38
Tel: 030 27 90 88 11
S-Bahn Hackescher Markt
One of a wave of fashionable Asian restaurants that have opened in the last few years in Berlin, Pan Asia stands out due to its excellent location and well-designed interior (the toilets are especially elegant, although their lack of clear labelling means you may be confused as to which one you should be entering). The food can be patchy, but the Mitte hipsters who frequent the place are probably more worried about their sneakers than their sushi.
10783 Berlin (Schöneberg)
Tel: 030 21 23 20 61
The upmarket-yet-affordable Russischer Hof cultivates something of a literary theme, with bookshelves in the cosy back room and copies of Pravda pasted to walls. All the usual Russian culinary suspects are on the menu, and the waiters are friendly, if somewhat imposing in their military-style uniforms.
Tel: 030 441 3399
Pasternak has some of the best service in Berlin (although, as the cheerful waiter pointed out to me, “that’s not difficult”); on a recent visit to celebrate a friend’s birthday, not only did said friend get a free piece of birthday cake and Happy Birthday played to him by itinerant Russian musicians, but his 6-year-old daughter got enough free chocolate bars to seriously spoil her appetite. If good service isn’t enough to entice you to visit, then the elegantly old-fashioned interior, superior Russian cooking (look out for their signature dough-topped bowls of pelmeni), and a superb view of the Wasserturm should suffice.
Tel: 030 44 40 422
U Bahn und S Bahn Schönhauser Allee
This family-run Russian café/restaurant deserves respect simply because it is named after the devil character in Bulgakov’s classic novel ‘The Master and Margarita’. The menu features simple but tasty Russian and Ukrainian specialities such as pelmeni and vareniki, as well as Russian beers and Georgian wines. (An endearing note on the menu explains that some drinks may be out of stock due to the vagaries of trans-Russian trade.) On Friday and Saturday nights they have live Russian or Balkan music and it gets very full; either come early or book ahead.
Tel: 030 28 04 25 60
S-Bahn Hackescher Markt
Named after the Almodovar film of the same name (whose English title of ‘Tie me up, tie me down’ would suggest an entirely different kind of establishment), Atame belongs to that rare breed of tapas bar which manages to maintain a Spanish character without lapsing into cliché. The Iberian feel is encouraged by the Spanish staff who show a healthy disregard for Teutonic notions of time; while orders do arrive hoy rather than mañana, diners in a hurry should seek their sustenance elsewhere.
Pavilion in the Friedrichshain park
10 249 Berlin
Tel: 030 42 08 09 90
This Swiss-themed café-restaurant has one of the finest brunch selections in Mitte. Situated in the middle of Weinbergspark on the border between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, this trendy place doubles as a night club some evenings, but during the day it is full of hipsters drinking coffee and enjoying the view over the park. The brunch buffet is a little overpriced, but if you choose from the menu then you can get a slap-up breakfast at a reasonable price. The champagne brunch is highly recommended for any special occasion.
Tel: 030 48 49 01-0
Something of an oasis in the culinary desert which is Berlin’s Wedding district, Kap-lan serves up authentic and well-presented Turkish food at very affordable prices. Extremely popular with the local Turkish community, it’s one of many projects of döner kebab magnate Remzi Kaplan, who owns the largest döner factory in Berlin and has recently expanded into Poland in the hope of conquering the döner market there.
Tel: 030 61 42 373
U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor
This Kreuzberg restaurant is the original in the Hasir chain, currently comprising five restaurants in Berlin and an optimistic (but empty) ‘international’ section on their website. The restaurants serve quality Turkish food with a self-confidence and panache that is sadly all too rare in Berlin’s Turkish eateries. Owner Mehmet Aygun is said to have invented the ubiquitous döner kebab back in 1971— a claim to culinary fame if ever there was one.
Sächsische Str. 72
Tel: 030 88 72 99 59
This upmarket Vietnamese restaurant makes a nice contrast to the allegedly ‘American’ diners that litter its immediate environs. Incredibly well-designed, the restaurant is full of subtle, witty touches such as miniature rickshaws on shelves. The attention to detail extends even to Vietnamese magazines in the toilets (although they might just be for the benefit of the kitchen porter I saw sneaking in there). The female owner looks magnificent in traditional Vietnamese clothing—a flowing red gown over red trousers, with the red matching the interior perfectly. Best of all, the menu is extensive, the portions are big, and the prices very low for this part of town.
Alte Schönhauser Str. 46
Tel: 030 99 29 69 24
This Vietnamese restaurant is incredibly popular with Mitte scenesters, and is packed every night of the week (they don’t take reservations, so get there early). An unintentionally homo-erotic portrait of a young muscle-bound Monsieur Vuong hangs on the wall. The menu is deliberately restricted to three daily specials plus soups. Wash down your meal with a Vietnamese espresso.