The demise of Tauro – the monstrous Spanish-themed bar and grill that took up 1700sqm of real estate in Prenzlauer Berg’s beautiful but long-neglected Pfefferberg complex – has been the gift that keeps on giving. On what used to be the upper floor and mezzanine, we now have Kink, the urban-industrial casual fine dining concept where the food and drinks are as sexy as the décor and clientele. Next to it is sibling café Frank, purveyor of daily lunch specials, complicated juice blends and out-of-this-world French patisserie. Both sprawl out into Tauro’s former patio, a leafy, idyllic outdoor area that’s as perfect for savouring Saturday night cocktails as it is for lingering over Sunday morning coffee.
Now, on the street-level space underneath the two, we’ve got Markthalle Pfefferberg, a labyrinthine food court – “market” is perhaps an exaggeration – co-spearheaded by Michael Heiden (ex-The Bird BBQ) and Heribert Willmerdinger (of fashion label The Dudes). Rumours of this foodie wet dream have been circulating since the beginning of this year, and it’s been opening in stages since mid-June, with July 1 seeing the official debut.
So what to expect? Beneath the arches in front, there’s regional organic meat from butcher Maurice Wengatz, natural wine from sourcers Valla Vino, a cheese counter from in-demand dairymonger Fritz Blomeyer, premium cake and ice cream bars from baker Sprinkles, and a Mexican grocery from cookbook author Ivette Pérez. Behind them, a smattering of The Dudes’ wares are flashily displayed across from a long bar, Hero Dot, managed by Truong Si Dong Phuong (District Mot et al) and Michael Blair (Fifty Cocktail Heroes).
A nearby window is reserved for a rotating cast of guest restaurants invited by delivery company Wolt, beginning with Phuong’s own Si An; further back, there’s an outpost from maximalist pizzeria Salami Social Club and a space devoted to pop-ups from up-and-comers (like Nam, the ramen-obsessed home chef who spent lockdown peddling noodle soup over Instagram).
The crown jewel, though, is Taqueria El Oso, a taco stand brought to us by tortilla maker Cintli, food truck Sabor a Mi, and Heiden himself. A series of packed preview events, culminating in a viral feature on Mexican TV, have hyped this place up to ridiculous levels. How ridiculous? On our visit, a Mexican guy who had travelled all the way from Hanover stopped in to see if the stand had opened yet (it hadn’t).
Believe the buzz: we tried out the spicy-sweet al pastor (layers of marinated pork sliced, döner-like, off a rotating spit and topped with pineapple), suadero (beef brisket) and a vegan variant with black beans and grilled mushrooms, and found them all delicious. Also especially intriguing is Heiden’s weekends-only passion project Filthy Pleasures, inspired by both his meat-smoking experience at The Bird and the Tejano BBQ tradition of Texas. Breakfast tacos with smoked brisket, eggs and Sonora-style beef fat flour tortillas? Sign us up!
With Kink and Frank claiming the upstairs patio, outdoor seating at the Martkhalle is limited, and there’s precious little indoor space for eating and drinking in between all the stands and what’s sure to be a massive taco queue. And we really ought to point out how depressingly few women are involved in all three projects (take note, cis men: this is what happens when you populate a team by “just asking my friends”). But, whether as a summer hangout or an indicator of Berlin’s post-pandemic revival, the entire Pfefferberg is full of promise right now. Don’t forget, anything is an upgrade from Tauro.
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