How? How has a city as bread-obsessed as Berlin not managed to figure bagels out yet? The crumbly rings sold in your average café have about as much in common with pillowy, glossy-skinned New York specimens as Wonder Bread does with Roggenvollkornbrot, and the one exception – Fine Bagels, the in-house bakery at bookstore Shakespeare & Sons – has reigned basically unchallenged since 2013. So there’s lots of room for newcomers like Alex Frons, a New Yorker who slid into the Alt-Treptow café space recently vacated by neighbourhood favourite White Crow.
Like Fine’s Laurel Kratochvila, she’s a culinary newbie who named her shop after her grandmother. Unlike Kratochvila, she’s going for the whole megillah when it comes to Jewish deli food: not only hand-rolled bagels (€1.20 and pretty, pretty good), but challah sandwiches, matzo ball soup, very credible dill pickles and a damn tasty chocolate babka for dessert. Go on the weekend or an elusive US-style iced coffee: not cold brew, just cold coffee with loads of ice.
Masha’s Bagels & Delicatessen, Bouchestr. 15, Treptow Wed-Fri 8-16, Sat-Sun 9-16
What came first, the decision to serve sliders – those miniature burgers made famous by Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle – or the location next to Kleine Hamburger Straße? All we know is that this latest effort from the House of Small Wonder crew makes Japanese-accented American fast food that’s very hard to stop eating (although the less said about the ‘addictive’ name, the better).
The wee homemade milk buns, served in pairs and filled with grilled organic beef, fried chicken, shrimp croquettes, or vegetarian mushroom and bean patties, are good. But even better are the mochi-mochi fries: cartoonishly oversized potato tubes about the length of a hand and the width of a finger, with a creamy interior and a potato-starch coating that’s audibly crisp yet mysteriously pliable. If you have room for dessert, try the French toast: those same pillow-soft buns filled with fruity custard or chocolate ganache and topped with powdered sugar.
CRACKBUNS, Auguststr. 63, Mitte, daily 12-22
BAR BITES The Neighborhood
Friendly vibes, frozen margaritas, barely a wisp of cigarette smoke or a word of German to be found… amid the glassy Neubauten of Möckernkiez, this corner gastropub proves that you don’t need country music or trucker decór to be a real American bar. Aside from those slushy machine-mixed margs, owners Melissa and Christian Günther, from New York and Potsdam respectively, have amassed a collection of bourbon, rye and agave spirits seldom seen this side of the Atlantic, to be sipped straight-up or in speciality cocktails like the mezcal-hibiscus concoction “El Jefe”.
But most come for the food, served in refreshingly large quantities by San Diego-born chef Yair Valderrama. Here at last are homemade tater tots, those crispy-creamy potato nuggets made famous by school cafeterias and Napoleon Dynamite. Then there are the Buffalo wings – made with fried chicken or cauliflower, coated in a finger-licking hot sauce and served with the requisite blue cheese, carrots and celery – and Mexican-influenced snacks like fresh-fried tortilla chips with guac and homemade salsa, elote-style roast corn and, at Sunday brunch, a very legit breakfast burrito. Rest your feet in the outdoor kiddie pool, take a bite and let the 1980s soundtrack and chorus of uptalk carry you Stateside.
The Neighborhood, Möckernstr. 91, Kreuzberg, Wed-Thu 17-22, Fri- Sat 17-24, Sun 11-22.
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