This ridiculously diverse ‘hood is home to a ridiculous diversity of food, from kebabs to Michelin meals and everything in between. In honour of the Bezirk’s famous weekend-long art festival, here’s an epic eating crawl that showcases (northern) Neukölln in all its glory.
Friday, 19:00 Wine and a snack at Le Balto
Neukölln used to have an Eckkneipe on every corner; now it’s all natty wine, all the time, especially in ever-posher Reuterkiez. Dive into the scene at this new venture from Laurel Kratochvila (Fine Bagels) and Aishah Bennett (Geist im Glas), where you can sip hand-picked Austrian, French or Czech selections – available by the glass, by the bottle or even on tap – while nibbling on toasted challah with a schmear of whitefish salad.
- Hobrechtstr. 28, Wed-Sun from 16:00
Friday, 20:00: The locavore’s dilemma: Barra, Jaja or Ezsra?
Three trendy restaurants, three similar-sounding names, one concept: a tightly curated menu of farm-to-table shared plates accompanied by natural wine. What to do? Barra is the gourmet favourite, with creative raw fish preparations, homemade pasta and vegetable dishes that do justice to Brandenburg’s finest produce. (You also have to pay a €40 deposit with your reservation, so don’t invite your flaky friends.)
At Jaja, some of the veg comes from the chef’s own garden; it’s served alongside smoked fish, grilled pork belly or the requisite burrata and paired with mostly-French quaffs. Ezsra, meanwhile, tries to bridge the divide between old and new Neukölln with dishes like grilled halloumi (from local cheesemakers Urstrom Käse) and homemade dumplings that more than resemble Turkish manti.
- Barra, Okerstr. 2, Mon-Fri 18.30-22.30, reservations here; Jaja, Weichselstr. 7, Tue-Sat 18-24, reservations here; Ezsra, Schönstedtstr. 14, Wed-Fri 12-14:30 (lunch), Tue-Sat 18-24 (dinner), reservations here
Friday, 24:00: A midnight kebab at Imren or Halil’s
Admit it: You can’t get full on small plates alone. If you’re a carnivore, now’s your cue to head to the Rathaus Neukölln branch of kebab champ Imren and order a hefty, lamb-fat-infused beef sandwich with homemade spicy sauce. If you’re out for something lighter, Özkul Halil – proprietor of the fast-food stand on the little island next to classic dive Warthe-Eck – makes Neukölln’s best chicken-and-vegetable döner, with fresh-tasting ingredients, a variety of homemade sauces and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses on top. Mustafa who?
- Imren, Karl-Marx-Str. 75, daily 9–3; Halil’s, Warthestr. 1, Sun-Thu 10-24, Fri-Sat 10-1
Saturday, 10:00: Palestinian breakfast at Azzam
Sonnenallee wouldn’t be Berlin’s Middle Eastern epicentre if it hadn’t been for this humble hummus haven. Some go for the mixed platters, brimming with falafel, halloumi, schwarma and/or roasted veggies and large enough to feed an army. We prefer the traditional breakfast dishes, like chunky, hand-pounded musabaha or nutty, yoghurt-smothered fatteh, plus a fresh-baked za’atar-coated flatbread or two.
- Sonnenallee 54, daily 9-23
Saturday, 14:00: Get messy at Piri’s
Whether it’s breaded chicken or crunchy deep-fried oyster mushrooms, crisp-edged smashburgers or unhinged specials like the “Ragin’ Rooster”, everything at this Aussie-owned sandwich shop is dialled up to 11. A slushy frozen margarita helps the fat and carbs go down easy, and smooths the burn of the infamous “Trauma Sauce”.
- Boddinstr. 61, Mon-Sat 12-22, Sun 17-22
Saturday, 16:00: Sweet simplicity at Eis de Rix
“Sometimes all you need is a damn good chocolate ice cream.” That’s the motto of the three friends who’ve been running this Rixdorf Eisladen since 2017. Don’t expect crazy experiments here – just terrific homemade scoops, including what might be Berlin’s best mango sorbet.
- Böhmische Str. 48, daily 12-22
Saturday, 19:30: Wine and vegan tapas at Café Pilz (or Alaska)
Anton Pilz’s Levantine tapas bar might just be the quintessential modern Neukölln eatery: laid-back, vegan without making a big deal of it, beloved by the artist and foodie crowd alike. It’s easy to while away an evening here, sipping Lebanese wine and grazing on crispy potatoes, tahini-coated cauliflower and labneh with homemade bread. That is, if you have a reservation. More spontaneous eaters will usually find a seat at Alaska, which serves cocktails and Spanish wines alongside all-plant editions of traditional tapas like patatas bravas, croquetas and tortillas.
- Café Pilz, Weisestr. 58, Wed 17-22, Thu-Sun 12-22; Alaska, Reuterstr. 85, Mon-Thu 17-24, Fri 17-2, Sat 12-2, Sun 12-24
Saturday, 22:00: A five-course dessert at Coda
Neukölln’s only Michelin-starred restaurant is also the city’s weirdest: an experimental “dessert bar” that makes you question everything you knew about the post-dinner meal. From parsley root to kimchi, black garlic to caviar, there’s no ingredient chef René Frank won’t dessertify – except refined sugar. Paired with custom cocktails, sparkling wine or local spirits, it’s a pretty unforgettable way to end an evening.
- Friedelstr. 47, Wed-Sat 18-24, reservations here
Sunday, 8:00: Rise and shine at Gorilla Bäckerei
The scrap-metal ape, a holdover from the late lamented Batman Elektronik, guards the entrance to a French-Italian-German wonderland of artisanal sourdough and flaky pastries. Grab an almond croissant, a cardamom bun or a moist, caramelised kouign-amann.
- Hermannstr. 211, daily 8-18
Sunday, 11:00: Anglophone brunch at Lonely Hearts
A queer-owned, vegan-friendly British-American diner obsessed with Twin Peaks and Dolly Parton, Lonely Hearts fits with Neukölln as seamlessly as Dolly’s vocals fit with Kenny Rogers’ on “Islands In The Stream”. Consequently, the wait for a table can take up to an hour, which isn’t a hardship when you can simply leave your number and zonk out in the Tempelhof sun till they call you. Get the full English fry-up, with back bacon or vegan sausage and a plant-based or chicken egg, accompanied by a bottomless mug of, yes, damn fine coffee.
- Mahlower Str. 32, Thu-Sun 10-17
Sunday, 15:00: Baklava heaven at Damaskus
Driven out of his home in Homs by the Syrian civil war, Tamem Al-Sakka transplanted his family’s sweet shop to the middle of Sonnenallee in 2016. Since then, Berlin’s baklava game has never been the same. Crisp, multilayered, made with the finest Dutch butter and Turkish pistachios, these high-end pastries are the best you can get – rivalled only by Damaskus’ other desserts, like the rosewater-flavoured cheese roll halawet el-jubn.
- Sonnenallee 93, Mon-Sat 9-22, Sun 12-20
Sunday, 18:00: A pizza finale at Gazzo
Neukölln’s best contribution to the Neapolitan pizza craze isn’t Neapolitan at all, but a new-school hybrid with a sourdough crust and local-artisanal toppings like custom-made salsiccia from The Sausage Man Never Sleeps. The restaurant’s secret weapon: a partnership with a buffalo farm in Brandenburg that supplies fresher-than-fresh mozzarella, ricotta and burrata for its pies, plus milk that’s turned into the dreamiest olive oil-topped soft serve.
- Hobrechtstr. 57, Sun-Thu 12-22, Fri-Sat 12-23