Berliners are going to be spending a lot of time hiding from the cold this week – excluding an army of bike couriers risking hypothermia to deliver pizza, burgers and curries to the lockdown hygge crowd. Before you put more money in delivery giants Wolt or Lieferando, we humbly suggest you try the indie and homegrown Khora instead.
The collectively organised hometown courier union had a heck of a 2020, gaining more business, adding more restaurants to its excellent roster and changing its name. (The original, Kolyma2, referenced a Coen Brothers film but also accidentally a Stalin-era gulag.)
With that plucky DIY spirit come disadvantages: a well-curated but Kreuzberg/Neukölln-biased partner list, short delivery radii, sometimes-long waits and delivery surcharges of up to €5. The €20 or more minimum order means singletons will have to splurge – then again, there’s nothing wrong with having enough for lunch the next day. And the knowledge that the fees are going directly towards the bike couriers themselves, not a Dutch or Finnish CEO who’s been comfortably watching Netflix this whole time, will make your food taste that much better.
Disclaimers out of the way, here are five good bets.
Chef, ceramic artist and fermentation wizard Jinok Kim is doing only lunch during lockdown, and a minimalist one at that: one hearty soup, one vegetarian rice dish and one dessert per week. This week it’s jigae with pork and what I still maintain is Berlin’s best kimchi (no offence to anyone’s quarantine experiment); rice balls with spicy tofu and sweet potato noodles; and black sesame cheesecake. The minimum order is €30, or two mains and two desserts.
The vegan-friendly Mexican newcomer makes a mean quesadilla, especially the veggie version with beetroot, green beans and hibiscus. The tacos might have a hard time surviving the bike journey, but you can always order the rich mole (with either chicken or carrots and potatoes), half a kilo of the fabulous thick homemade tortillas, and a few German-spicy salsas on the side. All dishes are under €10, and the lunch combos run a bargain €8.50 – €11.60.
You literally can’t get any more Neukölln than Risa chicken stuffed inside a Geist im Glas waffle. The sweet-savory-spicy combo is the latest addition to what was already a very respectable brunch menu from the cocktail stalwarts. Who among us hasn’t Instagrammed those thick buttermilk pancakes smeared with dulce de leche? €15 gets you a mixed plate including both of the above, plus half an order of cheese waffles or huevos rancheros. There are cocktails too, of course, by the glass, bottle or pitcher. Aside from the obvious Bloody Mary, the “Landlocked and Lonely Aviation”, a mezcal-spiked version of the violet-flavoured classic, looks especially tempting.
Delivery fries are always a tricky proposition, but the double-fried ones cooked up by the Michelin alums at Goldies manage to stay crispier than most. Get them topped with black truffle shavings and vegan truffle mayo, braised duck, kimchi, or more; or opt for the craggy fried chicken, slathered in honey butter or green chilis. If you eat beef, don’t miss the Friday-only smashburger, one or two thin patties smooshed against the grill for a double dose of Maillard reaction. With dishes at €6-13.50 and a minimum order of €30, order this one for your entire family or WG – any leftovers won’t hold up for the next day.
Before the current chicken sandwich craze enveloped Berlin, there was Piri’s. Their namesake burger, comprising breaded chicken, cheese, lettuce, homemade aioli and spicy sauce on a hefty sesame seed bun, bounced around the city for years before winding up at Friedrichshain’s Santa Cantina and Prenzlauer Berg’s Manifest Taproom. It now sits on a delivery menu alongside other messy-delicious creations like hot wings, loaded fries, a tofu burger and a deep-fried cheese-smothered monstrosity called “The Pirama”. Two regular sandwiches and a side will handily get you to the €20 minimum.