Poor but sexy – said the city’s mayor in a speech a few years back when describing Berlin. I don’t know about poor any more, but sexy, vibrant and overgrown. Its like a controlled chaos: bombed down buildings, street art and untended vegetation mixed with clean, modern and orderly. The same goes for the food scene: national street food delicacies like currywurst and Döner kebab from run down kiosks, mixed with sleek bistros, wine bars and even Michelin restaurants. Its like the Bangkok of Europe – where you can, during the same day, eat from a cheap looking food cart , and then continue to a restaurant with white table cloths and fancy pants service. We only had a few days in the city, but here comes a few tips for food, coffee and wine
If you visit Berlin, you have to have a currywurst – you just have to! Its a spiced sausage, topped with ketchup, mayo and curry powder, with french fries on the side. I don’t know what it is about that combination, but currywurst is delicious. I recommend Curry 36, which is a chain of kiosks with good produce. We tasted the sausage from Curry 36 for the first time in Bangkok, at Michelin-starred Sühring. The German twins who own the restaurant are so fond of the Curry 36 sausages, that they have taken to importing small amounts to be used in their tasting menu. Currywurst is often sold at kiosks. There is no seating, but high tables, where you can enjoy your meal. Even a good currywurst is easy on the wallet, so it’s a great quick lunch when you are out and about.
Another must try in Berlin is Döner kebab. Berlin has a large Turkish population, thus the kebabs in town are mouthwatering. One of the best places in town to have a kebab is the Kreuzberg, also known as little Turkey. The most famous kebab place is Mustafas Gemüse Kebab, and another recommendation is Tadim, right next to the Kreuzberg station.
Berlin is a mecca for specialty coffee. There are dozens of cafes where baristas know more than just how to press the brew button. One of the most known Berlin roasters is the Barn. Their original location is a small hole in the wall in Mitte, but we visited their bigger cafe at the Kranzler in Kurfürsterdamm which is much more spacious (that’s handy when you are traveling with a kid). Another great coffee tip is the Visit Coffee Roasters in Kreuzberg. The cafe is in an inner yard, out of sight and shielded from the noises of the street. The space is light and modern, and there is a nice terrace where its good to hang out when its warm. Their Tanzanian single origin coffee was killer.
Even though the cuisine in Berlin fits great together with craft beer, there is a wine scene that you should not miss. On our first evening, we stumbled upon a classic wine bar in Prezlauerberg: Weinschenke Weinstein. It is one of these places with a long classic list. All wines by the glass could also be ordered in smaller size, which is always appreciated. We sat on the terrace, when it just started to thunder. It was warm, so we just crept against the wall with our glasses and enjoyed the show.
Last but not least, a tip on one of the best German wine lists in town – Cordobar. Its a German-Austrian bar and restaurant, with small and medium-sized dishes and a wine list to just die for. The best stuff in unfortunately by the bottle, but luckily the owners have not totally cheaped out with the by-the-glass-list. There are some fantastic Riesling kabinets, spätburgunders and Kracher dessert wine (which I love). The food was also fantastic.
Our visit to Berlin was a bit too short – I could have stayed double the time. But it is great that we have such a great, beating city just one hours flight away.