In the face of the forced closure of literally every single sit-down restaurant in Berlin, and the ensuing mass layoffs of cooks, servers, dishwashers and bartenders (many of whom were dubiously employed and now have no recourse to a safety net), buying vouchers, takeout or delivery to “#supportyourlocal” during the coronavirus outbreak is a bit like bringing a box of Band-Aids to the Carrie prom scene. But until the government comes through with the necessary payouts and rent suspension that will, Merkel willing, ensure we’ll have somewhere to eat besides McDonald’s when all this is over, some of those brave restaurateurs that have dared to keep their burners on are truly deserving of your socially distanced patronage. So if you normally eat out a few times a week, you may as well do your part by snarfing down portable versions of some of Exberliner’s favourite meals over episodes of Tiger King. Here are your best bets per neighbourhood:
Everything’s coming up Barra: Schillerkiez’s buzziest restaurant won a Bib Gourmand earlier this year, and now its takeaway fried chicken on an Albatross brioche bun (€10) is the most-Instagrammed sandwich of the 2020 quarantine. It’s not the owners’ fault that their COVID-only offering has been drawing food lovers from every corner of the city, exposing them to public transit germs and each other (albeit in a well-spaced-out queue). But the police patrols may not see it that way, so get this one while you still can – and stock up on the ricotta gnudi to cook at home (€7 for two portions) for the full experience. Line up before 12:30pm Tuesday through Saturday to stand a chance.
At the beginning of March aka approximately 1 kajillion years ago, I told print readers to check out the justly hyped Reichenberger Straße restaurants Chung King Noodles and Mama Shabz. Good news: if you live in the area, you still can. At Chung King, pick up Ash Lee’s famed homemade organic noodles and mouth-scorching meat or vegan toppings for DIY assemblage (€22-25/two portions) from Tuesday to Saturday between 1-4pm. At Mama Shabz, Shabnam Syed is carrying on with a weekly menu of Pakistani stews, curries and lentil daals (€7.50-9.50), snacks like chickpea chaat and filling vegetable pakoras (€5-6) and bulk “curry packs” (€20-25/four portions), for afternoon pickup Wednesday-Saturday (12:30-3:30pm) or lunch and dinnertime delivery within a 3km radius of the shop (order here).
If you’re so overwhelmed you can’t make toast, Tinman is here for you. The British-Australian duo’s overtopped sourdough sandwiches, from classic avocado toast to melty grilled cheese, make for great corona comfort food, and you can pre-order them for pickup (and, soon, delivery) to avoid crowds. Not fancy enough for you? Shiori, formerly of ceremonious omakase-only dinners that cost €80 a head, is serving Scheunenviertel dwellers elaborate chirashizushi boxes (rice, sashimi and veggies) for the relative bargain of €50/two portions. Finally, we’re not entirely sure YamYam’ s claim that kimchi kills the coronavirus is scientifically accurate, but with takeaway specials like bulgogi, dumplings, gimbap and bibimbab on offer for rock-bottom prices (€6-9, daily 12-8pm) you should definitely give it a shot.
You can’t get those teetering mountains of Japanese-style shaved ice at Tenzan Lab anymore, but you can get wholesome veggie bento boxes to take away (yuzu curry, rice and salad €8.50 or €9.20 with a boiled egg), plus all manner of homemade mochi desserts (€ 5.50) or à la minute taiyaki (fish-shaped waffles, € 3.50). Before they get on Lieferando, they’re open this weekend on Friday and Sunday (11-5pm) for pickup of takeaway orders placed one day in advance. More indelicate eaters should look to Mexican stalwart Maria Bonita, which is delivering mammoth meat or vegetarian DIY packages, including corn and flour tortillas, tacos, chips and guac, and all the fixings (€30-35/2 portions), within Prenzlauer Berg, Weißensee, Pankow, Wedding and Mitte (order via email, Facebook message or Instagram message. Their regular menu is also available to go daily from 11:30am-9:30pm.
Sure, you could make pizza at home (assuming you’re lucky enough to find flour). But do you have the patience to rest the dough for three days, or a stockpile of vegetarian and vegan toppings like buffalo mozzarella, smoked carrot and almond cream? Nah – so pre-order a pie (€7.50-10) for pick-up at EXB fave Sotto posthaste, and try the fresh bread and desserts while you’re at it (Tues-Sun, 4-10pm. Speaking of pies, the Scots at Hirsch & Hase are making moreish-looking steak-and-ale ( € 10) and lentil-sweet potato creations ( € 8) to be picked up on weekends (Fri-Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-6pm) and baked at home, along with a boxed rendition of their usual killer Sunday roast (€16).
Ramen x Ramen isn’t Berlin’s best ramen – it isn’t even the best ramen in Boxhagener Kiez. But for now, it’s the only ramen. And they’ve got an inventive solution to the soggy-noodle problem that comes with all delivery soups: they’re delivering a four-piece “set” of uncooked noodles, meat or vegan broth, cooked toppings and fresh vegetables, to be boiled/heated separately and combined in the biggest bowl you have lying around (€8.50-10). Pre-order soup for delivery one day in advance by e-mail or Instagram message, or pick it up at the restaurant daily between 12-9pm.
With their years of catering experience, the sisters behind Rocket & Basil were made for this crisis. And sure enough, within days of their in-house operations being shut down they had a full menu of colorful salads (€7.50), comforting Persian dishes (like slow-cooked chicken in a tangy barberry and saffron sauce, €15) and baked goods (tahini brownies to pistachio-rosewater cake, €3-4.50) and more ready for pick-up at the café or delivery for €5 all across Berlin (Monday-Saturday; order before 11:30 to get your food the same day).
If you’re starting to get sick of canned food, know that Latvian-owned sushi bar The Catch is offering its fresher-than-fresh tuna, salmon, eel and king crab as rolls (€6-18), sashimi (€9-18) or nigiri (€3-6) for takeaway or delivery within 3km of the restaurant. Over in Wilmersdorf, Siliya Rothert of Thai Art – no stranger to serving food in to-go containers – will be cooking up fortifying bowls of boat noodles and tom yum soup (€7.50-10) for takeout only, beginning April 6.
Want that street food market feeling from the comfort of your couch? The team-up of American-Korean fusioneer Fräulein Kimchi (luscious corn taco kits with a choice of meat or soy bulgogi, grilled corn-jalapeño and avocado-tomatillo salsas, kochujang sauce, Mexican rice and beans, €22-24/two portions) and Southern comfort purveyors Humble Pie (Nashville-style hot chicken or cauliflower, €9.50) can make it happen. They’ve just started biweekly deliveries all over Berlin (€50 minimum in City West, €20 minimum everywhere else); order here to get in on the next round. Coffee, croissants, cheese, CBD oil – Apocalypse Delivery, a collective of local suppliers from Albatross to Alte Milch, knows what Berliners in quarantine want, and they’ll bring it to us via bike if we live in Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg and are smart enough to order in advance. Meanwhile, the soli-minded Stay Home Club Berlin delivers local beer, soda, water, organic fruit and veggies, and even toilet paper (currently not available) everywhere in the city, with €5 per order going to the United We Stream initiative.
A more exhaustive list – not counting the many, many restaurants that don’t have a social media presence – can be found here.
Is your favourite restaurant closed? You might be able to support them with a voucher — check here.
Wondering about the safety of delivery/takeout food during COVID-19? Read this.