The 101 restaurants on this list run the gamut from hushed Michelin temples to clamorous street stands, their prices ranging from €5 and under to €225 and up. They’re overhyped and under the radar, run by local legends and fresh new faces. They serve seasonal vegetables grown in Brandenburg and fat-marbled beef flown in from Japan. They’re Turkish, Vietnamese, French, Mexican and sometimes even German. Put together, they create a culinary portrait of a city that’s traditional yet dynamic, sophisticated yet down-and-dirty, internationalised yet unmistakably itself.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, but rather a snapshot of a dining scene that’s constantly in flux even when there isn’t a pandemic going on. The one thing we can tell you for certain? All of these places have been personally visited and vetted by our team – and all will guarantee you a meal that’s delicious, memorable and 100 percent Berlin.
“Kantstraßenmafia” don Duc Ngo brings us a gangster-glam wonderland of sushi, sashimi and Nikkei fusion with a social club vibe and an illustrious guest list.
- Kantstraße 135/136, Charlottenburg
The selection of fine, hand-crafted, natural wines, the careful contemporary updates to authentic dishes, the precision of finding and showing off the perfect raw ingredients, the lovingly tended ambience of the place itself – there are few restaurants in the city that embody all these qualities so harmoniously as Il Calice. That’s thanks in large part to host Antonio Bragato, who has perhaps never been so ambitious in his reworkings of classic Italian cuisine.
Even more dreamy than the pasta are antipasti creations like wafer-thin slices of lardo di Colonnata resting on Parmesan chunks, so intense you’d think an entire pig had been condensed into one bite. The front of the place has been redesigned as a wine bar, the better for you to sample Bragato’s wealth of open vintages. In summer, though, the best place to sit is outside on Walter-Benjamin-Platz, a Lambrusco in your hand and a “Superdegustazione” platter on your table.
- Walter-Benjamin-Platz 4, Leibnizkolonnaden, Charlottenburg
Kurpfalz-Weinstuben is a rustic institution where little has changed since it first opened its doors back in 1935 – that is, until culinary expert Vencenzo Berényl took over the shop in autumn 2015, inviting head chef Sebastian Schmidt to join the team a year later. The two agreed to retain some of the classic German dishes: the stews, sauerkraut, and Palatinate Saumagen, or sow’s stomach. New additions include an ambitious seasonal daily menu and a general shift towards a more handcrafted practice relying on high-quality raw ingredients.
The most impressive feature of this particular establishment remains the prodigious selection of open wines – now around 60 varieties – and 700 different bottled ones. Anyone planning to leave here sober and hungry has made the wrong decision.
- Wilmersdorfer Straße 93, Charlottenburg
As the son of a triple-starred Parisian chef and former protégé of Alain Ducasse, Régis Lamazère is intimately acquainted with the world of haute cuisine, and the elitism and formality that all too often comes with it. His Berlin brasserie, by contrast, offers a seldom-seen pleasure in this city: bistro-style dining that’s light on fanfare, steeped in high-quality produce, and served up with friendly nonchalance. Dishes like braised ox cheek, duck confit or parchment-baked fish arrive not on plates but in cast-iron cocottes or enamelled casseroles, Lamazère’s way of drawing guests into the kitchen action.
A chalkboard lists the day’s offerings – usually just four entrées, four main courses, three desserts and a selection of cheeses. Create your own three-course meal, or simply let Lamazère and chef de cuisine Michael Päsler (who also ran the Michelin gauntlet at Bandol sur Mer) surprise you. No matter what, end on a high note with the rice pudding, a superlative salted caramel version that transcends the dish’s kiddie reputation.
- Stuttgarter Platz 18, Charlottenburg
It’s funny how the Berlin press met the 2015 opening of Madame Ngo with reproachful incredulity. French and Vietnamese food in one place? That’s “culinary confusion”, scoffed one local paper, obviously forgetful of the deep cultural influence exerted by colonial France over Indochina.
Maybe that’s why this Duc Ngo effort, the prolific restaurateur’s first deep-dive into his own food heritage, soon jettisoned its more overtly French aspects and retrained its focus on pho. The decision was for the best if you ask us. Made with beef, chicken or vegan broth simmered for hours in 100-litre pots, Madame Ngo’s version of the traditional rice noodle soup is the best in Berlin.
Choose pho bo tai to get thinly sliced raw beef thrown in last-minute and cooked in the soup – a rare joy, literally. Then the nem! The deep-fried spring rolls come piping hot and served the proper way, with a side of whole lettuce leaves, lots of fresh herbs and sweet-sour fish sauce for wrapping and dipping. Prices are higher than at your average Vietnamese joint, but so is the quality. For a real indulgence, try the hefty, paté-smothered version of that original French-Viet fusion sandwich, the bahn mi.
- Kantstraße 30, Charlottenburg
With humble understatement, Nomu describes itself as a sake bar and izakaya (gastropub). In fact, behind the inconspicuous round arch of an old Wilmersdorf façade is one of the most beautiful, stylish and conceptually impressive venues for Japanese cuisine that Berlin has to offer.
Underneath a ceiling made of almost 1000 wooden sake boxes, Californian owner and sake sommelier Sarah Stein guides you through not only the bar’s many rice wine varietals, but also a menu that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity. Luxurious ingredients like wagyu beef, freshwater sea urchin and monkfish liver (aka ankimo, the “foie gras of the sea”) are accentuated with dashi, genuine Japanese wasabi and expertly applied fermentation techniques. All this quality comes at a price, but the omakase menu is an absolute delight even before you add in the sake accompaniment, a study in hot and cold, aged and new, fruity and roasted.
- Ludwigkirchstraße 3, Wilmersdorf
If you were an artist, actor, director or musician in 1980s West Berlin, you came to Paris Bar. And even today, you still do. Lined with artworks by former patrons (most notably the late Martin Kippenberger) and photos of guests like David Bowie and Yves Saint-Laurent, Michel Würthle’s neon-lit façade is known for many things, but its food isn’t one of them. With that said, stick to the French classics – steak frites, boudin sausage and what’s widely reputed to be the best sole meunière in town – and what’s on your plate will be nearly as captivating as your storied surroundings. The artist crowd may have thinned in recent years, but a few eccentric regulars have stuck it out, and there’s always the chance you’ll glimpse a familiar face.
- Kantstraße 152, Charlottenburg
We’re used to chefs putting an Asian spin on European fine dining. When was the last time you went to a fancy restaurant that didn’t use miso, kimchi or XO sauce? Middle Eastern influences, though, are another story. Which made it all the more refreshing when chef Gal Ben Moshe, who landed in Berlin after apprenticing with the likes of Alinea’s Grant Achatz, introduced a modern, creative tasting menu inspired by the flavours of his native Israel and the Arab greengrocers of Sonnenallee. The results speak for themselves: tahini instead of foie gras, Armenian cucumber instead of French truffles… or perhaps all of the above, with a slice of house-cured camel pastrami to boot. Central to the experience is Prism’s charcoal grill, which lends smoky notes to dry-aged lamb and tender octopus.
Ben Moshe’s molecular gastronomy training comes to the fore every now and then – as in the quail stock, heated right at the table in a syphon designed to suction every iota of aroma from the bones – but it doesn’t interfere with the pure, uncomplicated pleasure of dining here. Since 2019, Michelin inspectors have felt the same way.
- Fritschestraße 48, Charlottenburg
Homestyle Korean the way it’s meant to be eaten: with a whole galaxy of side dishes, including at least three types of kimchi. The raw crab is not to be missed.
- Knobelsdorffstraße 27, Charlottenburg
This venerated deli is all about the fish – fresh or cooked, smoked or pickled, sautéed or deep-fried, taken home or eaten standing up amid tourists, construction workers and West Berlin regulars.
- Wilmersdorfer Straße 145/46, Charlottenburg
In less than the time it’d take you to queue at the famous Mustafa’s, you could take the Bahn to Charlottenburg and order Berlin’s actual number-one chicken döner – a mountain of spit-roasted meat, vegetables and feta on sturdy pide bread.
- Otto-Suhr-Allee 19, Charlottenburg
The interior’s barely changed since the ‘70s, and neither has the menu: hearty soups and salads, caviar-topped buckwheat blini, grilled shashlik and lots of tea.
- Luisenplatz 3, Charlottenburg
Of all the vendors at Thai Park, that semi-legal outdoor market organised by Wilmersdorf’s Thai community, Siliya Rothert – better known as the “soup lady” – was by far the breakout star. You could recognise the Sukothai-born chef from her picnic blanket covered in plastic tubs of all shapes and sizes, a sprawling mise en place, from which she assembled bowl after bowl of pork tom yum. That noodle soup, a sweet-sour-spicy symphony of tastes and textures with an epic ingredient list, is naturally the number-one order at her restaurant on Kantstraße (a recent upgrade from her first location in Wilmersdorf).
Her other specialities are equally worthy of attention. If you’ve been looking for Berlin’s best Pad Thai, look no further. The same goes for the boat noodles, with their incredibly funky broth that goes light on the pork blood and hard on the fermented bean curd.
The restaurant’s open daily except on summer weekends, when Rothert goes back to where it all started: Thai Park, now a government-sanctioned street food market with proper stands instead of blankets. You can still spot her in an instant, though. Just look for the longest queue.
- Kantstraße 57, Charlottenburg
Gorge on creative tapas-sized Vietnamese bowls and bites, priced at just €4.50 a pop, surrounded by fellow herbivores in Berlin’s most vegan-friendly of neighbourhoods.
- Krossener Straße 19, Friedrichshain
At Aleppo Supper Club’s pair of locations, the drama of the Syrian conflict literally comes to the table. The mother of owner Samer Hafez fled the country with her meat grinder stuffed in a suitcase: after all, it’s an indispensable tool for making traditional kibbe, small bulgur patties filled with lamb and nuts. And that very same grinder served as the keystone for Hafez’s catering company, which has since enjoyed the honour of cooking for such luminaries as German former president Joachim Gauck.
We love to share the eggplant dip known as metabel and the incredible, incarnadine pomegranate salad with red cabbage and plenty of garlic. Sour, sweet, creamy and crisp – it’s worth every step on the journey to Friedrichshain. And it would be a shame to miss out on the mains: the rice dishes maqluba and kabsa are aromatic, nutty and electrifying.
- Rigaer Straße 58/Wühlischstraße 21, Friedrichshain
Hand-rolled by self-taught baker Laurel Kratochvila in the back of the English bookstore Shakespeare & Sons, these chewy rings aren’t the best bagels in Berlin – they’re practically the only bagels in Berlin.
- Warschauer Straße 74, Friedrichshain
In an impossibly crowded ramen scene, the noodle shop on Boxhagener Straße (no relation to the inferior Hakos in Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg) remains our go-to favourite. It’s the pure gestalt of the place: the broth-scented steam that fogs up your glasses when you enter, the bandana-clad cooks boiling batches of homemade noodles in the wood-framed open kitchen and the long counters tailor-made for solo slurpers. In pure Japanese-ness, it’s second only to Sapporo-via-Düsseldorf import Takumi Nine, with shorter wait times and more reasonable prices.
Of the many meat and veggie soups on the menu, we’re partial to the tonkotsu gyokai, with its murky broth made from pork and dried sardines. The combo of meaty savouriness and fishy funk, finished off with thick chashu (braised pork belly) slices, wood ear mushrooms and a jammy marinated egg, gives you umami for days without overloading you on salt and fat. Almost as good is the vegan tonkotsu, which uses soy milk to mimic the cloudy unctuousness of pork bones to surprisingly convincing effect, and its sweet brased eggplant topping. Both come with the same lightly crimped noodles that stay al dente till the very bottom of the bowl.
- Boxhagener Straße 26, Friedrichshain
A warm, minimalist dining space on Friedrichshain’s Altbau-lined Gryphiusstraße. Blue paint on the right, bare brick on the left, handmade crockery, and a concise natural wine selection. So far, so trendy. But what comes out of Gaan Woraphon Kitkoson’s kitchen is something more timeless: Thai cuisine, just like his grandma used to make. Not fine dining, but not street food either.
Guests usually order one seven-course meal for the entire table – you can choose your own soup and dessert, but for everything else, you and your dining companions have to agree on one of two options. Which can be tricky, with such delectable salads, curries and chilli dips to choose from. We can vouch for the mixed corn salad, the full-bodied, unapologetically spicy Massaman curry, or the steamed fish whose delicate texture belies its serious heat. Not to mention the desserts – coconutty concoctions that proudly buck European expectations.
- Gryphiusstraße 10, Friedrichshain
Thin-crusted American-style slices and whole pies, topped with everything from lamb Köfte to celery root, slathered in garlic butter, Parmesan and pesto mayo. It ain’t subtle, but it’s satisfying.
- Frankfurter Allee 43, Friedrichshain
- Markthalle Pfefferberg, Prenzlauer Berg
You can queue at Berghain on a Sunday morning, or you can head to Graefekiez at 8 am sharp and line up for a decadent, salty kouign-amann, a multilayered fruit Danish or a loaf of the bread that’s become synonymous with “Berlin sourdough”.
- Graefestraße 66/67, Kreuzberg
Excellent produce, meticulous technique and a culinary vision that goes beyond “poach an egg and post it on Insta” – although the canary-yellow smoked egg yolk toast is guaranteed to earn you likes.
- Görlitzer Straße 68, Kreuzberg
Forget everything you thought you knew about German drinking food. At the eatery run by craft brewery BRLO, vegetables take centre stage in thoughtful, contemporary preparations that just happen to taste great accompanied by hoppy pale ales.
Chef Ben Pommer and his team have created an all-vegetarian menu tailor-made for sharing; a combination of large “mains”, smaller “sides” and pickled or fermented “on tops”. The cauliflower is cooked whole, rubbed with vadouvan and brushed with a beer glaze; the heirloom carrots are poached in their own juice. The celery root is smoked, just like the beef or free-range pork ribs that you can, but absolutely don’t have to, tack on to your plant-based order. The adjoining biergarten, right by the park at Gleisdreieck, is one of the best in the city.
- Schöneberger Straße 16, Kreuzberg
Juicy cheeseburgers, crispy chilli fries and the double-meat “Fleischermeister” – there’s a reason this burger stand spread from a former public toilet to seven locations across the city.
- Oberbaumstraße 8, Kreuzberg (and all over Berlin)
Everything at this little Kreuzberg nook feels right: the quirky, unpretentious atmosphere, the hearty French fare at super-reasonable prices, down to the no-nonsense yet colourful Breton who runs the place with adequate flair and promptitude – the word “bistro” means “quick”, after all.
The late Françoise Cactus of Stereo Total was a regular here, and it’s ever popular with scruffy Kreuzberg locals and the city’s Frenchies out for a taste of home, be it a good steak frites, a plate of real merguez (from a trusted Algerian butcher in Wedding), or Michel’s famous duck confit, cooked for long hours at very low heat (or try the duck parmentier if it’s on offer).
Although it’s clearly an omnivore’s paradise, there’s always a daily veggie special as well as vegetarian quiche, Flammkuchen and a memorable potato gratin dauphinois. And everyone will savour the wine, a decent selection of rosé, reds and whites served by the small, bistro-style glass or by the carafe, at very competitive prices. Our special mention goes to the apple tarte, as simple as the classic should be: apple slices on crust with a bed of compote, voted Berlin’s best by our resident critics.
- Adalbertstraße 83, Kreuzberg
As the ancient Sean Bean proverb goes, one does not simply walk into Chung King Noodles. No, to partake in Ash Lee’s Chongqing-style xiaomian requires careful preparation. One must budget time for a wait of up to an hour. One must gird oneself for dollhouse-sized stools and cacophonous acoustics. One must not plan any kind of vigorous activity – clubbing, yoga, sex, whatever else might interfere with digesting half a kilo of carbs, cabbage and capsaicin – for the rest of the evening.
And then one does it all over again, because these noodles are worth it. They’re homemade with organic flour and compulsively slurpable. They arrive in a thick slurry of broth, chilli oil and Sichuan pepper, topped with coriander, scallions, Spitzkohl and your choice of protein. Most go for free-range ground pork, but there’s also braised beef; an exemplary vegan version with soy meat, yellow peas, and finely minced shiitake mushroom; and an occasional chicken gizzard special. Starters vary but might include thinly-sliced potatoes with chilli, sweet pickles, or Sichuan sausage made according to a secret family recipe. To drink, a millennial-pink Motel microbrew, made specifically for washing down Lee’s creations.
- Reichenberger Straße 35, Kreuzberg
For as long as we can remember, the blue-tiled Doyum Grillhaus has been at the epicentre of Kottbusser Tor aka “Little Istanbul”, providing sustenance to local Turks, queer partiers who’ve missed the kitchen curfew at neighbouring Südblock, and, in the last few years, tourists. The grill is charcoal-fired, of course, and usually has a vast number of minced lamb adana kebabs resting on it, ready to be wrapped in flatbread, smothered in yoghurt sauce or served by their juicy selves with rice and salad.
Vegetarians will have to content themselves with various dips and salads (don’t miss the smoky roasted eggplant) and kunefe for dessert: stretchy cheese beneath a crispy pastry crust, drenched in sugar syrup.
- Admiralstraße 36, Kreuzberg
Would you leave one of the most prestigious restaurants in the country to open a chip shop? That’s exactly what Kajo Hiesl and Vladislav Gachyn did, departing the triple-Michelin-starred Aqua in Wolfsburg to pursue the art of the deep-fry. Their Oranienstraße fast-food stand is now almost as renowned as their ex-workplace, known citywide for double-fried potatoes that stay crisp even as they’re weighed down with toppings like kimchi, marinated beets, Peking-style duck or black truffle shavings.
Goldies was also frying chicken before it was cool, and their version is a crispy, tender treat whether smothered in honey butter or green chilli sauce, sandwiched between buns or served alone. They call it “the best bad food in town”, but there’s nothing guilty about these pleasures.
- Oranienstraße 6, Kreuzberg
McDonald’s who? The fry maestros’ burger spinoff takes its cues from the Golden Arches, but its browned, lacy-edged patty, squishy potato bun and homemade pickles are superior in every way.
- Graefestraße 93, Kreuzberg
Cooking is not an art. But in the best cases, it’s an intellectually and intuitively charged craft. Nowhere in Berlin is that more true than in the kitchen of chef Sebastian Frank, whose radically biographical cuisine deserves its pair of Michelin stars. His celeriac aged in a salted dough crust is legendary. As is his nut strudel, for which he distils the bark of a walnut tree from his own garden. Both are served as part of a princely five-to-eight-course menu, paired either with (mostly) German and Austrian wines or an exceptional selection of non-alcoholic juice blends and infusions that are worth trying even if you’re not a teetotaler.
Above your table, a recently excavated mural by Pop Art luminary Jim Avignon – painted back when the canalside spot was the Bowie-beloved bar Exil – is a testament to this Austrian restaurant’s Kreuzberg bona fides.
- Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a, Kreuzberg
In Austria, Friedrich Torberg’s novel Tante Jolesch is a cult classic, just as the Wiener schnitzel at Jolesch is in Berlin. That whisper-thin breaded veal cutlet, served with vinegary potato salad, might be the most ordered dish at Kreuzberg’s longstanding Austrian destination, but the menu doesn’t stop there. The goulash with bread dumplings is outstanding, as is the Fritattensuppe, a bowl of clear beef consommé with chiffonaded egg omelette.
Meanwhile, the Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy shredded pancake), apple strudel and Marillenknödel (apricot-filled dumplings) remind you just how seriously Austria takes its flour-based treats. It’s all traditional without getting stuck in the past – the schnitzel comes in vegan portobello and gluten-free versions, after all.
- Muskauer Straße 1, Kreuzberg
Of course Berlin’s best butchers would also serve one of its best burgers. The beef is regional, dry-aged, hand-ground and simply topped with lettuce and tomato on a bun from Martkhalle IX neighbours Sironi.
- Skalitzer Straße 97 and Eisenbahnstraße 42/43, Kreuzberg
A plate of spaghetti, garnished with a shower of grated truffle and a glob of organic Beluga caviar, is both Lila’s signature dish and an albatross for chef Omar Ben-Hammou, a Peruvian with a globetrotting resume that most famously includes a stint at NYC seafood temple Le Bernadin. He and his team included it on their opening menu upon taking over the Kreuzberg courtyard vacated by Pizzeria Zola in mid-2020. Now they’re all sick of it, but it sure looks good on Instagram, those seductive coils swimming in earthy, briny gold.
The real luxury at Lila, though, lies in the sauce. And not just on the spaghetti. Every creation that exits the open kitchen involves some kind of decadently flavoured, perfectly balanced emulsion. In the form of a red jalapeño leche de tigre, it’s what makes the ceviche better than Chicha’s across the canal. As a warm brown butter-dashi combo, it complements just-cooked scallops such that slurping them from the half shell feels like getting a bear hug from Poseidon. And as a piquant blend of aji amarillo, kombu and yuzu kosho, it elevates roast cauliflower far beyond the token vegetarian cliché. If serving pimped-up pasta enables Ben-Hammou to keep turning out his unique fusion of Nikkei flavours and French classicism (including dry-aged fish specials on weekends), we’re all for it.
- Paul-Lincke-Ufer 39/40, Kreuzberg
With her mother’s comforting dishes – chickpea masala, delicious pakora and samosas, to name just a few – young Londoner Shabnam “Shabz” Syed brings a fresh, casual take on Pakistani cuisine to Kreuzberg. Her restaurant’s upbeat, colorful interior is an homage to her multicultural childhood in South London; equally fun are the snacks and sweets, like the delightfully interactive gol guppe, little hollow dough balls that you fill yourself with a selection of goodies, or her highly recommended version of a grilled cheese sandwich, made in a paratha flatbread instead of toast.
A rotating menu of main courses is available, always with a variation on vegan lentil dhal, a vegetarian option and one with meat: there’s a terrific chicken korma or a wonderfully spicy masala with okra, for example. We’re crossing our fingers for the return of weekend brunch, with tempting choices like nihari – an elaborate lamb stew – and the vegetarian halwa poori chaane with chickpeas, fried bread and sweet halva.
- Reichenberger Straße 61a, Kreuzberg
Soulful comfort food that’s cheesy, carby and just happens to be made of plants. Get the burger, completely handmade from the patty to the gooey cheese substitute.
- Falckensteinstraße 37, Kreuzberg
Ground zero for everything local-artisanal-sustainable, be it produce, fish, kimchi or British-style bacon. The Italian baked goods from Sironi, cheese from Alte Milch and burgers from Kumpel & Keule are legendary.
- Eisenbahnstraße 43/43, Kreuzberg
Looks-wise, not much has changed at the former Weltrestaurant in Markthalle IX, but then, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? After all, the panelled room with its long counter is an incredibly beautiful icon of Berlin’s culinary history (and its literary history, thanks to its role in Sven Regener’s Herr Lehmann). The restaurant is now run by a young team with Niklas Krasenbrink, who until recently was a vegetable vendor in the Markthalle, at the helm. In the kitchen: Björn Persson, former head chef at the faded Zum Mond, located just around the corner on Köpenicker Straße. He created his first signature dish during lockdown: the best fish ‘n’ chips in the capital (with hake from Fish Klub) which is now served for lunch on Saturdays.
In the evening, the menu changes with the season. The heirloom-variety Bamberg Hörnchen potatoes, oven-baked with a salt crust, go wonderfully with the wild herb-covered, hand-shaved veal tartare. The rösti with char caviar, pickled cucumbers, sour cream and dill tastes of the chef’s Swedish roots crossed with the farmland of Brandenburg. All in all, a truly warm and genuine place. We’ll raise a pint of Molle (from the market hall brewer Johannes Heidenpeter) and a chaser of Münsterlander Korn to that!
- Pücklerstraße 34, in Markthalle Neun, Kreuzberg
Across from Hasenheide since 1979, Masaniello’s huge, crisp-bottomed wood-fired pies predated the neo-Neapolitan craze – and they’ll probably outlast it, too.
- Hasenheide 20, Kreuzberg
When your visiting friends ask you to take them for “Berlin food”, this is the kind of place they’re after: a two-floor, 120-year-old institution where huge plates of meat and potatoes are chased down with litres of beer. But you don’t need to be a tourist to enjoy the old-timey atmosphere, the “Kreuzberger Molle” house pilsner or the stick-to-your-ribs pub fare. Order the Bollenfleisch, a stew with lamb and green beans enhanced by dark beer, or brave the Schlachteplatte (“slaughter plate”), which lets you try traditional Eisbein (pork knuckle), Kasseler (cured pork loin) and smoked pork sausage all in one go.
- Oranienstraße 162, Kreuzberg
Elevated set menus by night, masterly bibimbap and effervescent kimchi by day, served in and among the ceramic art of the multitalented Jinok Kim.
- Lindenstraße 90, Kreuzberg
- Fish menu on Fridays
“Brutally local” was the motto of Billy Wagner and Micha Schäfer’s trailblazing restaurant when it opened on the shabby end of Friedrichstraße in early 2015. It’s since been changed to “vocally local”, but those who expect coddling at Michelin-starred establishments may agree with the earlier phrasing. Basically everything on your plate is sourced from small regional farms – that means no truffles, no lobster, nothing out of season that isn’t pickled. There are no vegan substitutions, the better to support ethical dairy practices. No photos are allowed, and Instagram yields few clues about the 10-course set menu you’ll be eating. You will, however, find multiple videos of Wagner reciting lengthy polemics against the mainstream restaurant industry.
All this would be insufferable if it weren’t for the food. Who needs truffles when you can have hay-aged free-range chicken from Lower Saxony’s celebrated Lars Odefey, the skin seared to a crisp, the meat still rose-coloured? Or a toothsome stalk of organic Brandenburg asparagus, unadulterated but for a daub of egg-yolk-yellow mayonnaise? The Nordic-style cooking (or lack thereof) might be “brutal”, but the experience is far from ascetic, especially if you trust Wagner with the wine selection. Though the team’s pandemic-era resourcefulness is no longer necessary, the rooftop pop-up and an online shop selling not only pickles and jam but fair-trade condoms and a designer shirt baked into a loaf of sourdough made for a a true Berlin original, a place that inspires and takes inspiration from our city in equal measure.
- Friedrichstraße 218, Kreuzberg
For gluten-free eaters, Aureen Aipoh’s Nordic seed loaf, banana bread and fluffy brioche are a godsend. For everyone else, they’re pretty darn great as well.
- Katzbachstraße 25, Kreuzberg
A Turkish breakfast institution where fresh-baked sesame rings accompany king-sized spreads of eggs, cheese, veggies, jam and olives.
- Adalbertstraße 97, Kreuzberg
Lee Thompson is adamant that his Graefekiez restaurant is not a British pub, and he’s right for several reasons. For one, Thompson himself is from Sydney, and his crew is a German-Antipodean blend. And though Brits come in droves for the Scotch egg, the Sunday roast and the lip-smacking sandwich with thick slices of back bacon on homemade white bread, their cravings for brown ale and Welsh rarebit go unfulfilled. This is more like the pub they wish they had back home: a cosy, noisy nook where locals congregate over good drinks and well-crafted food for extremely reasonable prices.
That bacon butty is a rare constant on an otherwise-rotating menu of small, ingredient-focused plates; past favourites have included chicken, whether fried or roasted beneath a brick; a crisp, neatly stacked salad of tart green apple and marinated kohlrabi; and a liquorice tart that’s been known to cure decades-long aversions with one bite. Wash it down not with ale, but with local pilsner and European natural wine.
- Graefestraße 71, Kreuzberg
Everyone in Berlin knows the legend of Tim Raue, the former teen ne’er-do-well who rose from the graffiti-splattered streets of Kreuzberg into the culinary stratosphere. Three restaurants in town bear his name, including the French bistro Brasserie Collette and the German Villa Kellermann. But only at his flagship on Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, crowned with dual Michelin stars and World’s 50 Best honours, can you taste the mix of European technique and Asian flavours that put Raue on the map.
That fusion may not be as novel today as when it was introduced 12 years ago, nor as bold as the bad-boy image might suggest. Despite all the wasabi, lemongrass and five-spice powder, it’s the buttery European undercurrents that dominate. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and the ultimate proof is Raue’s signature pork knuckle, his grandmother’s recipe given a Japanese twist with the addition of mustard, dashi gelee and pickled ginger. The chef is clearly in his wheelhouse with meat and fish, but recently branched out to a vegan menu including ‘chicken’ from Swiss company Planted.
If you don’t want to invest too significantly in dinner, you can still get a taste of Raue at lunch, where the four-course menu is a fraction of the price. Still pricey, but a bargain for food that, even 12 years later, belongs on any Berlin bucket list.
- Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26, Kreuzberg
Take a close look at the mundane-seeming woodsy print on the wallpaper at Ilona Scholl and Max Strohe’s restaurant, and you’ll see shells, tentacles and cuts of meat hidden in the luxuriant foliage. In many ways, it epitomises the food you’ll sample here. Don’t trust the deceptively simple, at times conservative outlook of your plate: this is complex, edgy stuff, with myriad cooking secrets hidden in each dish. Take the course listed simply as “carrot”, in which the vegetable is oven-baked in a bed of dried hay and combined with a chamomile infusion that perfectly balances its sweetness.
But the true backbone of Tulus Lotrek isn’t just the duo’s enthusiasm for culinary experimentation – it’s a warmth and generosity that extends far past opening hours. More meaningful than their Michelin star is the federal Order of Merit Scholl and Strohe received for their “Kochen für Helden” initiative, which provided warm meals to thousands of essential workers during the early months of the pandemic.
- Fichtestraße 24, Kreuzberg
Meaty British breakfasts, Middle Eastern-spiced porridge, masala chickpea toasties: these friendly (and very popular) gents aren’t afraid to get bold while keeping you squarely in your comfort zone.
- Bergmannstr. 1, Kreuzberg
Sweet, salty, bitter, spicy – in 2020, chef Marco Müller tasted it all. First, his 20-year-old wine bar Rutz became the first triple-Michelin-starred restaurant in Berlin. Then, the corona shutdown. And finally this new-old locale, Müller’s attempt to bring a fresh take on German pub cuisine to Kreuzberg’s historic Altes Zollhaus. In the wine garden, you can accompany your early evening tipple with wild boar ham from Schorfheide, “Leberworscht” from Pfalz or playfully Ostalgic bites like “Berlin Wurst” (delicately fried Jagdwurst, similar to bologna).
Later in the evening, there are sophisticated starters like ox (or roast carrot) tartare, hearty but fresh-tasting thanks to the addition of cucumber and trout caviar, and excitingly familiar mains like free-range chicken breast with lovage and garden carrots. All in all, it’s the kind of confident cooking that can only come from someone with nothing left to prove.
- Carl-Hertz-Ufer 30, Kreuzberg
If the Dong Xuan Center were a city – and it sometimes feels like one, that endless maze of warehouses filled with Vietnamese workers shifting clothes, groceries and a sea of other imported goods – Duc Anh, the bustling restaurant at the head of Halle 3, would be its capital. Everyone ends up at its long wooden tables, from Vietnamese Berliners to local Lichtenbergers to bands who just took the best press photo ever in that plastic flower shop one hall over. If they’re omnivorous and smart, they order the bun cha nuong than – you know, the dish Obama ate in Hanoi with Anthony Bourdain. Marinated pork belly is grilled over charcoal in a little wooden hut outside, then served over rice noodles with fresh herbs and sweet-sour-fishy nuoc cham sauce. The clear, comforting Hanoi-style pho, optionally accompanied by fried dough sticks (quay) for dipping, is the real deal too.
Go with a big group, and your options are limitless: grilled goat, giant prawns, lobster hot pot, deep-fried frogs’ legs and more in banquet-sized portions.
- Herzbergstraße 128 Halle 3, Lichtenberg
A masterful, though paté-free, take on the classic Viet baguette. Your choice is simple: between crispy pork belly, fried tofu or marinated chicken, spicy or not. Let the pickles, herbs and oven-fresh bread do the rest.
- Alte Schönhauser Straße 50, Mitte
Clärchens, the original since 1913, has a pinch of everything. A generous dash of the good old days with patina, stories and banter, as well as the fresh wind of the present, which has been blowing through the carefully renovated dining rooms of this cult Berlin venue since tip owner Yoram Roth took over in 2019. There’s also a new culinary breeze coming from Simon Dienemann’s Ballhaus kitchen. He modernizes traditional classics from Berlin, Vienna and Budapest with plenty of culinary skill and a penchant for regional products. There’s a new charred cabbage entreé for vegans and the pizza has been replaced by Flammkuchen, but the schnitzel is still there and as fabulous as ever. At Clärchen’s, they love a good ritual: each Wednesday, tango couples circle the upstairs mirrored ballroom, and every Tuesday evening, candles are lit in the historic courtyard garden.
- Auguststraße 24, Mitte
They say food is the new clubbing – for techno fiends who were frustrated by the pandemic-era Tanzverbot, for ex-DJs and promoters who’ve aged out of the ketamine demographic, and for the legendary Heinz “Cookie” Gindullis, who had the foresight to open a vegetarian restaurant in the same building as his eponymous nightspot all the way back in 2007. The club Cookies is long gone (converted into a restaurant, in fact, the good-in-its-own-right Crackers), but Cookies Cream is more happening than ever, complete with a Michelin star and celebrity clientele.
A glance at chef Stephan Hentschel’s multi-course menu reveals specials such as Parmesan dumplings in a white truffle broth served with spinach and pine nuts, as well as a range of surprising desserts such as celery ice cream with apple, walnuts and herbs or sweet chervil and strawberry sorbet with meringue and buckwheat. If you partied a little too hard back in the day, you’ll be relieved to know the non-alcoholic drink accompaniment is just as good as the wine pairing. And then of course there’s the welcoming atmosphere, which makes Cookies Cream worth the trip all on its own.
- Behrenstraße 55, Mitte
It’s vegan, seasonal, local, organic and zero-waste to boot, but there’s more to Frea than virtue – there’s fresh pasta, good wine, amazing service and coffee with house-roasted nut milk at your meal’s end.
- Torstraße 180, Mitte
It’s hard to say anything new about Grill Royal. The glitzy steakhouse’s extravagant parties and luxurious sanitary facilities are already the stuff of legends. Then there’s the art scene that sprang forth from the restaurant’s very own loins – and let’s not forget the legions of A-list patrons.
But of course, we want to talk about the food. And in that regard, thanks to chef de cuisine Roel Lintermans (formerly head chef at Les Solistes), Grill Royal is more electrifying than ever before, all without becoming a stereotype of dreary fine dining. The perfectly cooked cuts of American, Australian, Japanese and even German beef are now supplemented with local burrata, Baltic cod ceviche or roast broccoli with tahini and pomegranate. What other restaurant in Berlin can maintain nonchalance in the face of such quality, be it of the cooking or the clientele?
- Friedrichstraße 105b, Mitte
The wasabi Eggs Benedict, croissant French toast and other Japanese-accented dishes at this Williamsburg import taste as good as the greenhouse-like interior looks.
- Auguststraße 11-13, Mitte
The fish-topped rice bowls are the MVP at this mini-chain, but the nigiri and maki are just as fresh, cheap and delicious. The eternal answer to the question “What do I eat near Friedrichstraße?”
- Mittelstr. 24, Mitte (also Steglitz, Wilmersdorf)
A jaw-dropping setting, a Buddhist-inspired menu co-designed with actual Zen monks and a mind-blowing tea pairing add up to our city’s most ambitious vegan restaurant yet.
- Ackerstraße 144, Mitte
It’s the little things that make the difference at this underlooked gem – like a single piece of shiso leaf which, as sandwiched between ultra-fresh perch and perfectly seasoned sushi rice, catapults a piece of nigiri to entirely new heights.
- Weydingerstraße 22, Mitte
A cute Japanese grocery with an eat-in counter serving traditional sushi (order the chirashi bowl) along with noodles, gyoza, teriyaki and more.
- Novalisstraße 2, Mitte
Heirloom grains, heavy hydration and a long overnight rise add up to deeply flavoured sourdough – in loaves, elaborate pastries or a stunningly simple cheese and butter sandwich on a poppyseed roll.
- Sophienstraße 21, Mitte
Israeli or Palestinian, Lebanese or Syrian – everyone comes to this spot in the middle of Neukölln’s “Arab Street” for big bowls of creamy hummus, chunky musabaha, or combo platters that are nominally ‘for two’ but feed an army.
- Sonnenallee 54, Neukölln
Natural wine and small plates may have become a food scene cliché, but when the concept’s done well – with expertly sourced ingredients, a lack of pretension and a clear love of the craft – it can be damn near magical. And right now, no one does it better than Barra in Schillerkiez. Though it’s been hyped to high heaven (thank a Michelin Bib Gourmand and a post-corona crowd that discovered the place during its takeout chicken sandwich phase), the wine bar run by chefs Daniel Remers and Neil Paterson and sommelier Kerry Westhead has stayed down to earth while producing consistently sensational food.
Oysters are always on offer, and a fine way to start before moving on to citrusy fish crudo, a poached farm-fresh egg with charred wild broccoli, a seared filet from a cow who lived a long, happy life in Austria, or the kitchen team’s signature salad, a crunchy, zingy mix of celery, apple and Young Buck blue cheese. The pan-European selection of natural wines, like the menu, is always changing – a good excuse for you to keep coming back for more.
- Okerstraße 2, Neukölln
The DIY Berlin of yore is alive at this sidewalk eatery serving affordable Israeli small plates, house-baked pita bread, Lebanese wine and DJ sets to the Neukölln precariat crowd.
- Weisestraße 58, Neukölln
Wild Food. Wild Wine. Wild Times. That’s the Instagram tagline of this young restaurant and wine bar, opened by former St. Bart sommelier Viktor Hausladen in summer 2021. But it doesn’t quite do justice to the amount of great happiness, albeit in small portions, hidden behind Ezsra’s floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The direction is “new Berlin cuisine”. But instead of the austere Nordic plates usually associated with the phrase, we get the flavours of the eastern Mediterranean: Brandenburg ingredients prepared with a Neukölln twist. Think “halloumi” from the local Jersey cowherds of Urstrom Käse, grilled and marinated in honey and elderflower, or wild boar Köfte in brioche. The wine accompaniment is as excellent as you’d expect, and the ice cream – made with leftover sourdough from Albatross Bakery, toasted till almost black – is unforgettable. To cap the night off, a glass of gentian schnapps from Schliersee, Hausladen’s other hometown.
- Schönstedtstraße 14, Neukölln
The sourdough crust is great, the artisanal toppings (Brandenburg burrata, locally crafted salsiccia or a summery courgette-feta-lemon mix) are better, and the buffalo milk soft serve is simply the best.
- Hobrechtstraße 57, Neukölln
You can spot an Imren by its spit: huge, layered, capped with lamb fat. Take that tender sliced beef and combine it with fresh vegetables, homemade sauces and just-toasted bread, and you have döner magic.
- Karl-Marx-Straße 75, Neukölln (also Wedding, Kreuzberg, Schöneberg)
Is there anything that symbolises the blissful insouciance of the pre-Covid era better than Ethiopian food? Imagine gathering with a big group of friends to communally rip apart a huge platter of injera, using the deliciously sour, spongy flatbread as a vehicle for the delectable stews and sauces served atop it, without any discussion of hand sanitiser or who’s recently had contact with whom. It happened at Lalibela, and it’ll happen again.
Ethiopian cuisine was big in Berlin before 2017, but with his friendly Schillerkiez restaurant, Lalibela owner Alemayehu Selassie transformed it from an ‘exotic’ dining excursion to an everyday option. It’s at its best in summer, when the sprawling sidewalk patio fills with groups of Neuköllners still sun-drunk from a day out on Tempelhofer Feld. Most share the vegan combo, a steal at €10 per person with braised collard greens, stewed chickpeas and the lentil-berebere dish mesir wat. Carnivores go for the traditional doro wat, chicken and a hard-boiled egg simmered in a spicy, buttery sauce. Throw in a bottle or two of Bedele beer, and you have a meal that’s worth the risk.
- Herrfurthstraße 32, Neukölln
- Ohlauerstr 27, Kreuzberg
- Soldiner Str. 41, Wedding
It’s the sauce. Rivers and rivers of thick, irresistible Sudanese peanut sauce, flowing over falafel, halloumi, roasted vegetables and/or tofu in pita bread. As appropriate for an easy lunch as it is for sloppy late-night salvation.
- Herrfurthstr. 5, Neukölln and all over town
Aussie warmth meets Gallic bon vivant spirit: think croques monsieur, Eggs Benny with house-cured salmon and the best Bloody Mary in town.
- Rykestraße 13, Prenzlauer Berg
Chef de cuisine Steven Zeidler always has the culinary zeitgeist at his fingertips, but he never allows trends to compromise his restaurant’s Francophile Southern German DNA. When the second course, a congenial combination of potatoes and egg yolks served with lardo and veal sweetbreads, arrives on the table, it is clear that the restaurant spares no expense when it comes to the quality of its meals, all while maintaining exceptionally fair prices for its guests (five to six courses from €74). A can’t-miss recommendation for newcomers to the fine dining scene – and anyone who’s interested in enjoying an excellent meal.
- Senefelderstraße 30, Prenzlauer Berg
A dazzling subterranean location sets the scene for the modern Korean cooking and wine selection talents of chef Sooyeun Choi – try the exquisite tartare marinated with pear, honey, and sesame oil.
- Fehrbelliner Straße 4, Prenzlauer Berg
The place to take visitors for a lavish Georgian meal: generous platters of spreads and salads; piping hot cheesy khachapuri; garlicky bean stew or roast chicken. And wine, of course.
- Knaackstraße 43, Prenzlauer Berg
It’s an irresistible hook: An Israeli marketer and a Palestinian chef meet in Berlin, bond over their shared culinary traditions and go into business together, eventually employing Syrian refugees as well. But Jalil Dabit and Oz Ben David’s Prenzlauer Berg restaurant has more to offer diners than a feel-good story. The hummus is fantastic, whether served on its own, in a sabich with eggplant, hard-boiled egg, mango sauce and spicy salsa, or as “hummshuka” with tomato-pepper sauce and a poached egg. Other dishes on the all-vegetarian menu include fresh salads, classic falafel and malabi (coconut pudding). With the 2019 move to Helmholtzplatz came the addition of a wine and beer list and a kid-friendly outdoor area.
- Schliemannstraße 15, Prenzlauer Berg
The most significant restaurant closure of the past few years actually happened before corona: that of Tauro, the monstrous Spanish-themed bar and grill taking up most of Prenzlauer Berg’s historic Pfefferberg complex. The moment it shut down, former supper club hosts Oliver Mansaray and Daniel Scheppan swooped in and turned the upper floors into Kink, a jaw-dropping urban-industrial hotspot with an undulating neon tube installation by artist Kerim Seiler as its centrepiece.
The food and drinks turned out to be equally ambitious – and, more importantly, fun. How awesome was it, after months of quarantine comfort cuisine, to come here and be confronted with chef Ivano Pirolo’s tamarillo-habanero-olive octopus, or roast squab with cacao nibs, baharat and a puree of its own guts, paired with equally wacky cocktails or wine from a Slavoj Zizek-quoting sommelier? Almost as awesome as biting into a perfect hazelnut choux pastry at Frank , the sister café opened a year later in the same building (sadly no longer doing patisserie), which also serves reasonably priced lunch specials among a jungle of houseplants. The idyllic outdoor courtyard shared by the two is an oasis of calm on weekday mornings and buzzes with energy on weekend nights.
- Schönhauser Allee 176, Prenzlauer Berg
For finger-lickin’ good KFC – crispy, saucy, optionally blazing hot, chased with copious amounts of Hite and soju – follow the crowds to this vibe-y gastropub.
- Hagenauer Straße 9, Prenzlauer Berg
If currywurst, then Konnopke’s. The East Berlin legend’s menu has barely changed since 1960 (with the notable exception of a vegan sausage); connoisseurs know to get the dish ohne Darm.
- Schönhauser Allee 44b, under the U2 line, Prenzlauer Berg
Josita Hartanto has been serving playful, sophisticated dishes based on seasonal vegetables (with guest appearances from jackfruit, seitan or pistachios) for a decade running.
- Kollwitzstraße 54, Prenzlauer Berg
For an overview of the gastro-zeitgeist – Korean corndogs? Birria ramen? – head to this trendy food court to see what all of Berlin’s foodies are fussing over.
- Schönhauser Allee 176, Prenzlauer Berg
In our post-Noma era, any restaurant that’s ever made a pickle has suddenly started calling itself a “culinary laboratory”. If there’s one Berlin kitchen that deserves the title, though, it’s that of Otto Vadim Ursus. An actual Noma alum, he spends his days alternating between his little Prenzlauer Berg wine bar and his family dacha near Chorin, where he sources, forages, ferments and preserves only the best of local ingredients. He burst onto the scene with a dish straight out of Midsommar: a whole smoked brook trout, showered in homemade fish sauce, buried in wild herbs and edible flowers.
During coronavirus lockdown, his creatively topped pizzas and reverent German lunch dishes were spoken about in hushed tones. Now it’s back to jagged linseed crackers and koji butter, wild boar ‘nduja and fermented potato rösti, cured egg yolks and sourdough miso, all accompanied by natural wine (and one very good craft beer).
- Oderberger Straße 56, Prenzlauer Berg
Bar, restaurant, or café? Either way, it’s the perfect place to take in historical ambience, complete with dark wood panelling, sofas and plush 1920s-style chairs, while enjoying Russian-Jewish classics such as borscht, pelmeni or beef Stroganoff. The Sunday brunch is truly extraordinary.
- Knaackstraße 22–24, Prenzlauer Berg
One of the all-around best Japanese spots in Berlin – not just for the vast selection of sushi and sashimi, but the vegetable appetisers and the shockingly affordable lunch specials.
- Lychener Straße 50, Prenzlauer Berg
Talented, popular, beautiful and hard to hate: Is Sathutu the Zendaya of casual fine dining spots? It certainly fits into the zeitgeist as snugly as it does into Rykestraße’s ever-more-crowded restaurant row. Say it with us now: Small plates. Natural wine. Burrata, fried chicken and fish crudo, all given a glamorous sprinkling of Indo-Pacific spice.
“German-Sri Lankan fusion” sounds like a gimmick, but it also describes the personal background of owner/hostess Lisa Baladurage. And, it works. “Short eats” like the burrata batura, a pizza-like creation with pickled aubergine, onions and fresh herbs atop buttery fried flatbread, are as delicious as they are Instagrammable.
Best of all is the Colombo fried chicken, coated in a turmeric-tinged spice blend and topped with fried curry leaves. Give it a squeeze of grilled lime, dunk it in the accompanying preserved lemon and mustard seed chutney, and rue that you ordered it to share. When it’s available, weekend brunch goes more traditional with egg hoppers, an island breakfast favourite consisting of crispy, egg-topped rice flour pancakes served with coconut sambal and lentil dhal.
- Rykestraße 15, Prenzlauer Berg
What’s that saying about how insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? So it was for years with Mexican food in Berlin, with restaurant after restaurant promising ‘real’ tacos and burritos only to produce dry, bland results.
That tortilla-shaped void explains the frenzy surrounding Taqueria El Oso. A collaboration between German BBQ aficionado Michael Heiden, taquero Pablo Vázquez Häring and tortilla maker Jesús Garcia Hernandez, it specialises in al pastor: a döner-like taco style, developed during a wave of Lebanese immigration to Mexico in the 1930s, in which layers of achiote-marinated pork are sliced off a pineapple-topped rotating spit.
Their first few pop-ups attracted such massive crowds that you’d be forgiven for assuming, like a viral Mexican TV report did, that these were the first-ever tacos in Berlin. In reality, they weren’t even the first tacos al pastor, but El Oso’s particular synthesis of smoky meat, sweet pineapple, and serious salsa – with six options ranging from mild to incendiary – is something special indeed. They’ve now upgraded from a döner spit to a giant Mexican trompo and set up shop in back of Heiden’s food court Markthalle Pfefferberg, where they also serve specials like suadero (brisket), birria (the notoriously hip consommé-dipped braised beef tacos) and meaty or vegan chorizo sausage, all with a healthy helping of coriander, lime and diced onion. Unless you come right in between the lunch and dinner rushes, you’ll have to wait a while. But for tacos that actually deliver on their promises, it’ll be worth it.
- Schönhauser Allee 176C, Prenzlauer Berg
The fact that this is the only restaurant in Berlin where you can pair jiaozi with German craft beer is just one of the many wonderful things about Da Jia Le, the not-so-hidden temple of northern Chinese cuisine in Schöneberg. Order a family-style meal and you’ll discover it all: the attentive service, the expertly cooked and beautifully presented Dongbei dishes, the bracing jolts of garlic and vinegar. Everyone raves about the steamed fish and fried pork, but the truth is that you can (and should) make a terrific meal out of the vegetable dishes alone. Spicy shredded potatoes, smoked tofu with coriander, sauteed bok choy and shiitake in a glossy sauce, a superb eggplant hot pot… and let’s not forget the summery smashed cucumbers, or the five-colour salad with a tangle of slippery, chewy glass noodles in the middle.
- Goebenstraße 23, Schöneberg
You don’t come here for refined cuisine or chic ambience – you come with 10 BFFs (or Korean family members) to house down massive amounts of table-grilled bulgogi and ketchup-smothered fried chicken.
- Goebenstraße 16, Schöneberg
The sixth floor of the EU’s biggest department store is packed with every conceivable delicacy: truffles to caviar, marzipan to US breakfast cereal. Feast your eyes, then hit the oyster bar.
- Tauentzienstraße 21-24, Charlottenburg
- Mon–Thu, Sat 10-20, Fri 10-21
Of the kajillion Neapolitan pizzerias that opened in the past decade, this one’s our favourite – for the blistered crust, the top-notch Italian toppings and the relaxed vibe (skip the cramped Prenzlauer Berg branch).
- Hauptstr. 85, Schöneberg
Moabit’s historic market hall houses an astounding number of superb eateries: pizzeria Mangiare, fish grill Lesendro, cevicheria Naninka… the list goes on.
- Arminiusstraße 2-4, Moabit
There are two Einsteins you should know about, both essential in their own way. One is the Stammhaus in Tiergarten, a stunning Viennese-style coffeehouse housed in a neoclassical villa. If your goal is impressing out-of-town visitors, recreating the strudel scene in Inglourious Basterds (which was filmed here) or simply having a great cup of coffee in an Old World atmosphere, this is the place you should go. If the food is your priority, on the other hand, head to Einstein Unter den Linden. Located on the outskirts of the government quarter, it’s a hub for politicians, lobbyists and media luminaries who come here for Kaffee und Kuchen or sophisticated adaptations of Austrian fare, including beef and horseradish Tafelspitz, cheese Spätzle, and the heart and lung ragout known as Salonbeuschel, to name a few of the most beloved alpine classics. Our favourite dish to date: the free-range duck from Bokelholm in Schleswig-Holstein, fried whole and served in two courses. The strudel isn’t half-bad, either.
- Kurfürstenstraße 58, Tiergarten
- Unter den Linden 42, Mitte
“Yeast out, time in”: for sourdough maestro Frank Domberger, the key to tangy rye bread, soft cinnamon rolls and perfect pretzels is as simple – and as complex – as that.
- Essener Straße 11, Moabit
This lovingly assembled homage to author Joseph Roth, whose likeness and literature may be found lining the wood-panelled walls, feels like it’s been around for a century. In fact, the German pub on Potsdamer Straße is barely 20 years old, and as favoured by the gallery crowd as it is by beer-swilling Urberliner. There are always two hot lunch specials (one meaty, one vegetarian) for €5.95 apiece, meaning it gets pretty packed in here around midday. The dinner menu, meanwhile, has come into its own over the last few years with classic dishes like beef roulade and homemade Spätzle. Open-faced sourdough sandwiches, topped with cheese, lard or liverwurst, are available all day, and best savoured along with a smooth tap beer or two.
- Potsdamer Straße 75, Tiergarten
Coarsely ground beef from Schleswig-Holstein, homemade pickles and onion marmalade and cheddar from cheesemonger Fritz Blomeyer: the burgers crafted by Austrian-British chef James Doppler are the pride of Moabit.
- Arminiusstraße 2-4, Tiergarten
Rocket & Basil received a mountain of press coverage when it opened in 2019, but much of it buried the lede. A café from the millennial sister-bloggers behind the hot Australian breakfast pop-up Das Brunch? Meh. Persian food that got one Iranian visitor so verklempt she felt compelled to march into the kitchen and give chef Xenia von Oswald a hug? Now we’re listening.
At their airy, mint-green space off Potsdamer Straße, Xenia and her sister Sophie take inspiration from all sides of their German-Iranian-Australian background. The porridge, salads, sandwiches, cakes and sausage rolls are all great, but not as memorable as the loving recreations and interpretations of traditional Persian stews, packed with herbs and spices and served over tahdig (saffron rice with a crunchy crust). Is there Das Brunch? There’s a brunch, a Persian-Aussie whirlwind of mascarpone pancakes, herby kuku sabzi omelettes and Aleppo-spiced Bloody Marys which you’d do well to reserve instead of simply rolling out of next-door Kumpelnest 3000 on a weekend at 10am.
- Lützowstraße 22, Tiergarten
The emerald-painted exterior, exposed bricks and arty lighting might seem ominously bourgeois, but you won’t spend much more at this friendly Italian spot than anywhere else in Alt-Treptow’s gentrification-besieged Karl-Kunger-Kiez, and the food will be better. Way better.
Chef Giulia Terni, formerly of Caligari in Neukölln, does classic trattoria cuisine with a Berlin twist, throwing in international touches (a Parmesan-coated Scotch egg here, some quinoa there) and vegan options. But there are no twists involved in her lasagna, a cult favourite since the restaurant opened for takeaway in winter 2020. Browned on top and gooey in the middle, filled with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes or wild mushrooms and a positively decadent amount of cheese, this is next-level comfort food, made even better with a glass of house Montepulciano and a creative starter like just-cooked-through scallops with pea puree, lime and pickled onions. If you’re a local, you’re probably already a regular. For everyone else, it’s more than worth the Treptow field trip.
- Bouchéstraße 15, Treptow
Even among the increasingly mindful, ingredient-focused restaurants of this city, Dylan Watson-Brawn’s eight-seat temple is exceptional. Here, preparation matters less than the products themselves. And so the 30-odd courses in your rapid-fire omakase-style meal might include a single perfect carrot, or a piece of toffee made from the fat of a Mangalitza pig, or a just-singed slice of Müritz fish. The techniques are Japanese, the ingredients German (except for a handful of trusted small producers from further afield), the chef Canadian, the experience totally Berlin.
As a teenager, Watson-Brawn interned in the kitchen of Tokyo’s triple-Michelin-starred Ryugin. By the time he was 24, he’d moved here and parlayed a much-buzzed-about supper club into a restaurant in Wedding; two years later, he had a star of his own. Now, though he still hasn’t hit 30, the chef has left the wunderkind label behind and entered his imperial phase. The evenings in his open kitchen have something calm and monastic about them, and you always leave with the feeling you’ve learned something. Does that justify the cost and the hype, especially among the global food jet set? We think so. But if the tuition is too steep for you, there’s always Ernst’s casual little brother Julius across the street.
- Gerichtstraße 54, Wedding
This Bosnian newcomer specialises in börek: flaky layers of paper-thin dough filled with meat, spinach and/or mellow feta. If you’re still hungry, order the fat-grilled cevapcici with pillowy homemade flatbread.
- Triftstraße 8, Wedding
Renowned among Wedding residents and vegans alike for its crisp cold-fermented crust and creative plant-based toppings like smoked carrots or spinach with almond cream. (Cheese is allowed, too.)
- Neue Hochstraße 25, Wedding
There are intimate restaurants. And then there are those where you feel like you’ve been pulled through a portal directly into someone’s brain, John Malkovich-style. In the case of UUU, it’s two people’s brains: chef Yuhang Wu and host Jonas Borcher’s. She’s from western China but has spent the past decade cooking at restaurants like Tim Raue, Coda and Wolfsburg’s tony Aqua. He’s a German Sinophile who worked at the Goethe institute in Beijing. Together, they serve a 10-course set meal to just nine guests a night in a fabulously tiled former Kneipe in Wedding. On the menu are Chinese-influenced dishes made with seasonal, regional ingredients, paired not with wine but with tea and homemade kombucha.
They don’t call it “fine dining”, but the quality of the ingredients and the level of craft on display speak for themselves. Take the spaghetti beans, grown by a farmer specifically for the restaurant, pickled, minced, fried and combined with taro puree, Chinese chive oil and fennel fronds in a dish that seems to recognise your objections to it and respond to them flavour by layered flavour. Or a simmering pot of homemade soymilk, coagulated before your eyes into soft, creamy tofu curds that are scooped out and served with chilli-scallion oil, a mound of perfect rice, and a shot of their own whey. And even if the words “kombucha pairing” normally set your teeth on edge, here, in this micro-universe Wu and Borchers have created, exploring the floral notes in a glass of two-week-fermented raw pu-erh will suddenly make sense.
- Sprengelstraße 15, Wedding