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Dinner and a shot: Where to eat after getting vaxxed

Jane rounds up six food-finding missions near Berlin’s official vaccination centres, from least to most difficult.

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Grab yourself a post-Impfung canalside snack at Freischwimmer, across the water from the Arena Berlin vaccination centre. Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image

Guys, I’m jealous. I keep hearing about all these incentives they’re offering in the US to get Covid-19 vaccination numbers up, like free beer, donuts or even cash. Meanwhile in Germany, we have to settle for pathetic rewards like “not dying” and “being able to do karaoke without worrying I’ll indirectly infect someone’s grandma”.

But that doesn’t mean getting the jab can’t be fun. For those of you who land an appointment at one of the six official Impfzentren, it could be an excuse for a day trip – or at least an outdoor meal in a new-to-you part of town. The beer might be on your dime, but the knowledge that your body’s forming potentially life-saving spike proteins as you drink will make it that much tastier.

Arena Berlin: You lucky thing, you. Not only did you get jabbed with the coveted Biontech, you’re at the most centrally located Impfzentrum, and your post-vax dining and drinking options are myriad. The next-door biergarten at Festsaal Kreuzberg might not be open yet, but Freischwimmer across the river is open as of this week, and if it’s a Friday afternoon you can have a couple of cold ones at Birgit & Bier (which conveniently has its own Covid testing station). Or, if you feel like stretching your legs, mosey down to Karl-Kunger-Kiez for a burger and fries at the all-vegan Neue Republik Reger, which boasts the widest meatless patty selection in town – from a homemade black bean version to pulled seitan and beyond.

Tempelhof Hangar 4: If you’re here, you’re probably over 60, so why not go for an early-bird German supper? Cross Columbiadamm and head into Bergmannkiez, where Peter Schlemihl – purveyor of potato salad, Buletten and extremely moreish Käsespätzle – just reopened its terrace. If it’s a Friday, head due north through a Kleingarten and a few cemeteries and wind up at Two Trick Pony, the British-leaning café that has now swapped out its Kiez-beloved sausage rolls for more elaborate, but equally delicious, sit-down brunch dishes. (Definitely make a reservation.) Then again, you can always stay on the Feld itself, where stalwart Luftgarten is selling the same grilled meats and tap Schultheiß as ever. Prost, Opi!

Erika-Hess-Eisstadion: You got the American vax, so celebrate with that most American of desserts: cupcakes. At Tigertörtchen across the street, they’re fancifully flavoured (from the expected brownie and black forest to faux Spaghetti-Eis and, uh, currywurst?) and itty-bitty enough to order by the half-dozen. A few even come with a mini-syringe of booze for infusing, if you want to keep the Spritz theme going. If you’re not in a dessert mood, you can always explore Chaussestraße’s brand-new Neapolitan pizza strip, starting at the swanky Pizzeria and continuing south to the ultra-Italian takeout spot Nea Pizza 1889 (featured in this month’s print issue – don’t miss the pastries!) and, closer to the Naturkundenmuseum, a soon-to-be-opened satellite branch of W (they of the former Zola pizzaiolo and hemp crusts).

Velodrom: They’re doing Pfizer here, not Sputnik, but that shouldn’t stop you from going across the street to Russian grocery wonderland Stolitschniy. Hang out in the parking lot for some grilled pork skewers from Sergey the shashlik guy, or pack yourself a Russian-style picnic: vodka or kvas, black bread, a slab of butter, smoked sprats, salmon caviar if you’re feeling fancy. Speaking of barbecued pork, when at Landsberger Allee, I seldom resist the opportunity to hop on the M8 and check in on the Dong Xuan Center. Restaurant Duc Anh has a big patio where you can down a bowl of the house special bun cha thit nuong – or pho if the side effects are already kicking in.

Messe Berlin: You’re in Charlottenburg, but not the fun part of Charlottenburg – nah, this is the greyish wasteland you may remember from bleary-eyed Flixbus trips or carpooling pickups. But it’s only about 20 minutes on foot to the western end of Kantstraße, where all sorts of goodies await. If you don’t have the energy to make it to Udagawa, Lon Men or one of Duc Ngo’s joints, there’s always Co Do Hue at the very edge of the street’s Asian restaurant row. Skip the mediocre sushi menu and go straight for the rare-in-Berlin central Vietnamese specialties like banh it ram (shrimp-filled sticky rice dumplings served atop crispy fried rice crackers, eaten in one bite) or hen xao (glass noodles stir-fried with tiny baby clams). 

Tegel Airport: Full disclosure: This is where I got my own first shot, and I came up totally empty. A currywurst stand with meat and vegan options has been known to set up near Terminal C, but there was nothing at the airport itself when I visited, not even a street stand catering to the hundreds of people queuing for their Biontech, and the situation around the most obvious layover points – Jungfernheide, Jakob-Kaiser-Platz and Kurt-Schumacher-Platz – is equally dire. And so I took the coward’s way out and used my proximity to the U6 as an excuse to grab a burek at the much-discussed new Bosnian bakery Sarajevo on Triftstraße, a shameful half-hour bus and train ride away. It was pretty great (worthy of its own review, even!), but surely there must be a hidden gem lurking among the döner stands and Currybuden of mid-Reinickendorf? Maybe I’ll find out when it’s time for jab no. 2…

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