Some restaurants get all the love, with the food media and so-called “foodies” lavishing all the accolades on them, while other excellent dining destinations sit beneath the radar, perhaps not grabbing the attention they deserve. This guide aims to rectify that, at least a little. These seven restaurants are underrated yet formidable places to eat. Of course, “underrated” is a subjective idea: the restaurants here might be beloved in their kiez yet not widely known within the broader Berlin scene. But one thing unites them all: they’re good, and you should know about them.
You might have to overcome the faux-Hausmann aesthetics of the Neubau housing expensive Wessi families, but Le Belfort is absolutely worth checking out. A French café-slash-deli, it offers stacked brunch plates with baked eggs (oeuf cocotte) and all manner of delectable French goods, including cheese, charcuterie, and tartines. It’s also a great weekday lunch spot, with pan-French options from cheesy Savoyard tartiflette (a baked Reblochon-potato-bacon dish) to Burgundy-style escargots, and a tidy wine list with great value.
- Kollwitzstr. 28, Prenzlauer Berg, Tue-Fri 8:30-17:30, Sat-Sun 9-17:30
Tragically left off many “best Chinese food in Berlin” guides is this go-to in northern Prenzlauer Berg, with a focus on northern Chinese cuisine, particularly dishes from Beijing and Nanjing (although a moderate number of well-executed southern dishes, like mapo tofu, also find their way onto the menu).
If you can, try to plan ahead, since some house specialties like the goose hot pot; otherwise, go for specialties like squirrel fish (a sweet and sour mandarin fish dish), Nanjing-style salted duck or umami Beijing-style noodles with pork.
- Gleimstr. 24, Prenzlauer Berg, Wed-Sun 16-22 online
Alt-Berliner Wirtshaus Henne
While hardly unknown, Die Henne (as it’s better known) is inexplicably left off many guides to “classic” Berlin restaurants. That may be because its staple menu item is a fried half-chicken, which doesn’t gel with standard ideas of what constitutes “traditional” German food.
If you’ve ever questioned the quality of German cuisine, this will convert you.
In fact, that half chicken is basically the only menu item (aside from coleslaw, potato salad, and a few sausages): it’s phenomenally crispy on the outside and juicy inside, and perfectly seasoned. If you’ve ever questioned the quality of German cuisine, this will convert you. The wood-panelled kneipe vibe of this century-old restaurant is the cherry on top.
- Leuschnerdamm 25, Kreuzberg, Tue-Sun 17-22 online
The name of this sharp little restaurant near Bundesplatz refers to a staple dish of Nepal, dal bhat, a hearty stewed rice and lentil dish stacked with onion, garlic, ginger and plenty of spices (not far removed from the dal you’ll find in India). That’s one great bet from the menu here, otherwise, consider meaty lamb filled momo (dumplings), on their own or fried with garlic and veggies, or a lamb shank stew: hearty options for the colder months in Berlin.
- Mainzer Str. 8, Wilmersdorf, Wed-Fri 12-21, Sat-Sun 17-21 online
Skip the flashy newcomers that have cropped up as Bergmannkiez gentrifies and dive into some schnitzel or goulash at this traditional Austrian restaurant.
…the kind of place that does few things, and does them well
The menu is fairly tight: the kind of place that does few things, and does them well: beyond that schnitzel and goulash, there aren’t many mains except for spätzle and knödel for the vegetarians; do save room for some strudel or kaiserschmarrn (a deconstructed Austrian pancake) for dessert. With candles and red-checked tablecloths, expect a convivial atmosphere, great for a casual night with friends.
- Bergmannstr. 26, Kreuzberg, Mon-Sun 12-24 online
Right by Charlottenburg station, Seri Melayu is one of very, very few places in town to sample Malaysian fare. All the classics from that southeast Asian country are on the menu here, including nasi lemak (coconut rice with spicy sambal, egg, and chicken), saucy rendang (a deeply-flavoured beef curry), and roti canai (flaky roti bread with curry). Bring some friends and share in the restaurant’s cozy living room-like space – and enjoy the friendly service, a rarity in this city. Take note: Seri Melayu doesn’t serve alcohol.
- Stuttgarter Platz 6, Charlottenburg, Wed-Mon 17-22
While hardly off the radar of savvy Berlin diners, sleek bistro Estelle arguably doesn’t get the credit it deserves for the supreme quality and creativity on display here. Chef and co-owner Jared Bassoff’s menu has some of the best pizza in town, with a fluffier sourdough base instead of the Neapolitan approach at other much-hyped spots.
…you’d be wrong to pigeonhole Estelle as a pizza place
But you’d be wrong to pigeonhole Estelle as a pizza place, considering the other offerings on its Mediterranean-leaning menu, like a filling pork shoulder and polenta main, and lentils with burrata and tomato. The out-of-the-box weekend brunch menu is also worthy of your attention.
- Kopenhagener Str. 12A, Prenzlauer Berg, Wed-Fri 12-15 and 18-22:30, Sat 11-22:30, Sun 11-21 online