At some point in our conversation about Goldadelux’s celebrated sabich, Avi Levy compares the pita wrap to “an orgy”. To which I can only add: yes, and a very well-lubricated one.
Aside from the slight crunch of the pickled onions on top, everything about this take on the Israeli street food staple is engineered for maximum smoothness, from the silky steamed aubergine to the unctuous boiled egg to the soft potato and creamy-spicy-tangy triumvirate of tahini, smoked harissa and Iraqi-style mango chutney. You don’t bite into it so much as nuzzle it.
Devoured at one of a handful of seats or out in the sun on Wassertorplatz, it’s as ideal a hangover brunch as one could ask for, although its relative healthiness and €6.50 pricetag also make it a viable option for a mid-work lunch break.
From the silky steamed aubergine to the unctuous boiled egg… you don’t bite into it so much as nuzzle it.
Golda has gone through a few different incarnations since Levy and chef Yuval Tidhar founded it in early 2020. There was the Greek pop-up just before corona, the lockdown-era takeout window with shawarma and challah sandwiches, the stint at Neukölln’s Keith Bar with mac ‘n’ cheese on toast. By the time they landed a permanent spot this past January, though, the duo had fully committed to their signature product.
The sabich sold behind the gold-coloured counter in their itty-bitty Kreuzberg storefront is subtitled “the King”, and it’s indeed the best version I’ve tried since first encountering the project a year and a half ago. It’s also basically the only menu item, unless you count the option to veganize it or order a “Kinder” version for €3.50.
If you need an excuse to keep coming back for it, you could start a wrapper collection: since the beginning, the brown envelopes (barely) containing Golda’s pitas have been decorated with custom doodles, most recently by tattoo artist Barak Radovich. Or you could try the desserts. These will likely rotate, but currently include a droolworthy rendition of French toast with homemade brioche, rooibos syrup and popcorn-flavoured cream, the prevailing texture of which is – oh, yes – smooth as hell.
If it’s cronchy-with-an-O you’re after, head south to Boddinstraße and another former sandwich nomad. How it took Piri’s this long to move to Neukölln, I have no idea. Or actually, I do: Julian Boyce, the prolific Aussie restaurateur who introduced the piri piri-sauced breaded chicken burger to Berlin, discontinued the cult-beloved dish after Piri’s original shop on Wiener Straße shut down in 2018.
During the pandemic, he revived it at a trio of pop-up locations, each of which turned out to be “cursed”: his Mexican restaurant Santa Cantina (kicked out when Boyce’s business partner sold the place – it’s now a French wine bar), Manifest Taproom (given the boot for reasons unknown) and Parker Bowles (evicted, along with the rest of the crew at the Wolt-sponsored Parker Bowles & Friends).
But when the Lord closes a door, he opens a Baustelle. Piri’s and its new neighbor Loophole are a match made in heaven: the scuzzy indie venue that has miraculously survived a decade’s worth of gentrification, and the chicken burger that will not die. It’s the same recipe as ever, except the aioli’s now eggless and the Bekarei sesame seed buns have been swapped out for less sturdy but more reliably obtained rolls from a nearby Turkish bakery.
The punters still love it – especially on Mondays, when it’s €5 instead of €7.50 – but lately, it’s had competition from the source of the aforementioned cronch: Piri’s new fried oyster mushroom burgers. One’s vegan (“MF Shroom”, with piri piri sauce and chipotle aioli), the other vegetarian (“Monster Mush”, with spicy “bison” sauce, pickles and blue cheese); both are towering beauties that may actually contain more breading than ‘shroom but are so delightful to eat that it doesn’t matter.
Lest you think Boyce is making too many concessions to local vegans, there are also stunt creations like the “Adonis”, a bacon cheesesteak topped with a chicken cutlet, or even more grotesque specials – I’ll let you discover the contents of the “Ragin’ Rooster” by yourself. Show up on a Tuesday for tacos from Boyce’s alter ego Ultima, washed down with a properly slushy frozen margarita. Whether birria, burgers or Buffalo wings, meatless or carnivorous, you’ll end up with a faceful of sauce and the feeling, as Boyce puts it, that “you need a shower”. This Neuköllner wouldn’t have it any other way.
Goldadelux, Erkelenzdamm 45, Kreuzberg, Fri-Mon 12-19
Piri’s, Boddinstr. 61, Neukölln, Mon 12-21:30, Tue, Thu, Sun 17-21:30, Fri-Sat 12-22