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Meat the Americans

Get your barbecue, burger and beer fix at three recently opened restaurants that beef up Berlin’s US food scene.

The Bird Express
Maria Runarsdottir

We used our October American issue as an excuse to hit up three recently opened restaurants proudly repping the US of A with BBQ, burgers and beer. Whether you’re a homesick Texan expat or this election season has left you with the need to remind yourself that America has something decent to offer, you ought to know about these meaty spots.

The Pit

If you’re wondering why Dallas native Adam Ramirez charges an extra euro for barbecue sauce, it’s because he doesn’t want you to use it. This is BBQ Texas-style, where the flavour comes from the meat (high-grade wagyu beef shipped in from Nebraska; pork from Brandenburg) and the oakwood smoke, imparted overnight via a room-sized custom-built smoker stashed in Marzahn. One bite of brisket and this summer’s transition from highly hyped pop-up to Kreuzberg brick-and-mortar makes sense: it’s almost obscenely tender and juicy, with a pitch-black outer crust (“bark”) that’s addictive, if highly carcinogenic. That and the pork belly are so rich that we were begging for mercy by the end of our mixed platter (€38.50/two people), which also came with a slice of cornbread, a heap of coleslaw and a bowl of sweet-spicy beans stewed with leftover brisket ends. You’ll likely need a Stone IPA (€4.90) to cut through it all. Texans’ only authenticity quibble will be with the price – the much-beloved Wednesday short rib special runs €9 per 100g, and that’s without any sides! But good meat should be expensive, and for the sake of your own cardiovascular system, you ought to make this a once-every-six-months indulgence anyway. JS

Reichenberger Str. 120, Kreuzberg, Wed-Sun 18-22

The Bird Express

Originally conceived as a compact, take-outfriendly version of Berlin’s premier gourmet burger emporium (thus the “Express” in the name), The Bird’s newest location is actually a rather expansive sit-down bar and grill that took over Mitte hip hop club Kurvenstar in February. The menu’s expanded as well, from burgers to BBQ. Thanks to a smoker shipped over from Nashville, the dinner menu boasts American Angus brisket and pulled pork, available plain or in a sandwich (for which they use actual buns and not those English muffins that continue to ineffectually contain their burgers). Co-owners Jonathan Cook, from New York, and Michael Heiden, from Cologne, don’t pretend to be purists and offer a near-infinite array of sauces, from mustard to vinegar to salsa verde (hot, albeit one-note). We needed some to moisten up the dry-ish pulled pork, but the brisket (€16 including bread, pickles and a side of beans or coleslaw) stood on its own, as did the Iberico pork loin ribs (€14), basted in a sweet Kansas-style glaze. It can’t compete with The Pit’s wagyu, but it’s solid barbecue. The menu still includes burgers (around €12), also available in miniature “slider” form at a competitive price (€2-3.50), appealing to Mitte business lunchers who don’t want to spend the rest of the day’s pitch meetings staving off the meat sweats. Vegans, rejoice: there’s even a beetroot-bean “Lousy Hunter” version, guaranteed animal-free. JS

Kleine Präsidentenstr. 3, Mitte, daily noon-midnight 

Stone Brewing Berlin

In September, at their year-old European brew hub in far-west Mariendorf, the San Diegan makers of Arrogant Bastard Ale unveiled their giant World Bistro and Gardens. It’s a meaty venture indeed: think upscale, sanitised White Trash with a spacious indoor dining area and tastefully landscaped California-esque outdoor patio. On tap are dozens of Stone’s palettebending ales, stouts and other medicinalstrength concoctions, like the 9.5 percent alcohol, Belgian-style “Victory Brewing Golden Monkey” (€5.80/0.3L). Food-wise, it’s all gastropub gourmet with that rough-around-the-edges quality you’d expect from bearded craft brewers. Stuff like “Chai-Spiced Moroccan Beef” with couscous (€18). The “chai” was hard to identify (it’s supposedly a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, ginger and saffron), but the organic beef was undeniably tasty. Then there are the homemade beef and pork merguez-style sausages (lamb and veal don’t jibe with their “philosophy”, €14) with braised onions, fried potatoes and mustard infused with Stone Ruination IPA. Yum. For the meat-averse, there’s stir-fried German-made “local tofu” with braised pairs and a decent homemade kimchi (€12)… With beers so far away from the German mainstream, Stone’s menu, while not cheap, could play a key role in getting locals to come back for seconds. SG

Im Marienpark 23, Mariendorf, daily noon-midnight (kitchen until 22)