What’s the meaning of Christmas in this godless, anti-consumerist city? Obviously, it’s to gorge yourself as much as humanly possible before New Year’s puts you back on the organic-raw-vegan-breatharian train.
But where? With ever more restaurants catering to the townies and expat orphans hanging around Berlin for the holidays, it’s never been harder to answer that question. Let’s narrow it down by nationality. All restaurants are open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day unless otherwise specified…
German As most German restaurant staff are “lucky” enough to spend time with their families on Christmas Eve, your options are pretty much limited to hotels… or Treptower Klause, the incongruously upscale eatery across from the Lohmühlenplatz trailer park. They’re doing a four-course dinner (€53.50) featuring beef with elderberry sauce or goat cheese “flan” with red cabbage and poppyseed noodles. If you plan ahead, you could also go traditional: Charlotte & Fritz (f.k.a. Fischers Fritz) is serving Christmas goose with all the trimmings to those who phone three days in advance (€220 for 4-6 people).
French Brasserie Collette, Tim Raue’s “better than a spoof” take on bistro cuisine, has a four-course menu on deck that includes red cabbage soup, venison and truffle-laced Pommes Maxim. €59 gets you the whole shebang, with wine pairings for an additional €42 and the option to order a €79 gift basket complete with cremant, cornichons and – because the end (of the year) is near – Raue’s memoir My Way.
Swiss Pop-up La Fondette has brought melty cheese to Mitte for the second year in a row, and this time you can eat it in a gondola transplanted from Gstaad to the Rosenhöfe. It’s all very Swiss, except for the price: a very reasonable €35 per person for a three-course menu with fondue or raclette as the centrepiece.
Irish Expat-beloved gastropub Salt ‘n’ Bone has made an annual tradition out of its Christmas Eve feast (€32/three courses; €25/two). Expect turkey and ham (or vegan-friendly stuffed pumpkin), mince pies, craft beer and an afterparty during which someone will definitely put on “Fairytale of New York”.
Mediterranean Layla, the bold-flavoured Israeli newcomer we review in next month’s issue, is proudly open for business, serving yet-to-be-disclosed holiday dishes on top of star chef Meir Adoni’s kitchen-sink fusion. They don’t advertise it, but we suspect it’s business as usual at most Sonnenallee restaurants as well.
US Didn’t want to brave the Trump circus this season, Amis? We don’t blame you. Fear not, Hard Rock Café has all the American Christmas classics you know and love, like, uh, nachos, BBQ ribs and bacon cheeseburgers. U.S.A.! A three-course “Festive menu” runs €35.95, free glass of Sekt included.
Chinese This one’s for you, American Jews. Dia Jia Le in Schöneberg is open on Christmas as it is every year, serving its ultra-authentic northeastern Chinese fare. But if you’re looking for something closer to the mediocre Cantonese your family ate back home, you can’t go wrong with Aroma on Kantstraße. Bring your friends, load your table with fried duck and dim sum, and go to town.
Mexican If you’re still hungry on December 26, Friedrichshain bar and taqueria Tentacion is preparing a day-after feast starring homemade chiles en nogada. Stuffed green peppers blanketed in white sauce topped with red pomegranate seeds – what could be more festive?