With 450 art galleries, over 175 museums, 4,650 restaurants, 900 bars, and, at last count, 13 Michelin starred chefs, Berlin is a fast evolving city with a significant cultural bite. Yes, there’s a dynamic art scene, and, if you want to party from dawn until, er, dawn, this is the city where you can do […]
With 450 art galleries, over 175 museums, 4,650 restaurants, 900 bars, and, at last count, 13 Michelin starred chefs, Berlin is a fast evolving city with a significant cultural bite. Yes, there’s a dynamic art scene, and, if you want to party from dawn until, er, dawn, this is the city where you can do so. Less widely known, however, are the city’s vibrant, ever-evolving neighborhoods, lined with stellar coffee shops, bustling food markets and award-winning cocktail bars. Put simply, there’s too much to discover in a single weekend. But with a focus firmly on seeking out good food and drink—starting with a whiskey-paired paleo dinner and finishing with the least paleolithic, creamiest cheesecake on the planet, this wasn’t the worst initiation for a newcomer to this über creative city. ANDIE CUSICK
Boris and Rodrigo Leite-Poço opened Sauvage back in 2011 as Berlin’s (and purportedly the world’s) first Paleo restaurant. With a menu that’s free from grains, gluten, refined sugar, and dairy I questioned what was left to excite and satiate. How about grass-fed lamb with a pistachio-thyme crust in a sun-dried tomato cream for starters? At a delectable ten-course dinner hosted by Jameson, the food was complimented with whiskey pairings (grain in the glass didn’t count during this dinner). A favorite course was the sweet potato rosemary gnocchi, fried artichoke, and fresh peas with a saffron-coconut sauce and dessert left each of us demanding to know how such an indulgent chocolatey delight could possibly be free from sugar, dairy and flour?
For more information, see sauvageberlin.com
This delicious lunchtime retreat in the bustling neighbourhood of Mitte is owned by British architect David Chipperfield and attached to his Berlin office. At Kantine, the team behind another Berlin favorite, Das Lokal, offers just a few simple dishes per day. While it goes without saying that the space is impeccable in its design (a polished concrete cube), the food, too, lives up to exceptional standards. Just get there early to ensure the full lunch selection. And if it’s sunny, enjoy lunch al fresco in the quiet courtyard garden.
No website/ Chipperfield Kantine, Joachimstr.11, 10119 Berlin-Mitte
For a traditional German breakfast or lunch, for that matter, Engelberg in Prenzlauer Berg serves delicious modern twists on the classics: homemade goulash, spaetzle noodle, beef or pork German sausages, and Leberkase (similar to meatloaf) with potato salad and two types of mustard. Go on Sunday for brunch before heading over to nearby Mauerpark to scope out fleamarket finds.
For more information, see engelberg-berlin.de
Five Elephant Coffee
At least three friends living in Berlin put me onto this amazing spot. Secluded and hard to find (at least for a newcomer to the city) Five Elephant is a haven at the end of Reichenberger Straße. Roasting their own coffee on site, Kris Schackman and partner Sophie Weigensamer serve superb coffee and it’s not uncommon to find customers eating the delectable cheesecake alongside a cold brew or filter coffee for breakfast, lunch or indeed an afternoon snack.
NENI (noun for Share)
At Neni, on the tenth floor of the newly-opened 25hour Bikini Berlin Hotel, you can sit inside the greenhouse among the micro-greens, or (if it’s still daylight) by the windows where you can watch the monkeys in the zoo below. There are also expansive views across the historic and beautifully lush Tiergarten Park. Granted, this is all a distraction from the food, but the innovative menu will snap you right back: the ‘In love with Veggies I’ve never met’ options include whole poached cauliflower marinated in sumac or zucchini cous cous, while ‘What would the chickpeas say’ features beetroot hummus or spicy chickpeas with lamb. A myriad of Moroccan, Persian and Turkish-influenced options abound and sharing is encouraged. Just remember to leave room for dessert.
For more information, see 25hours-hotels.com
Turkish Food Market, Kreuzburg
For a bustling local scene, head straight to the Turkish district of Kreuzburg on a Tuesday or Friday for a half-mile of delectable and vibrant food stalls. You’ll find beautiful fresh produce and mouthwatering food stands with falafel (the best I have ever tried), Gözleme pastries with spinach, cheese or meat fillings, and a quark cheese bar with a variety of toppings. Just be sure to go hungry.
For more information, see tuerkenmarkt.de
Housed in a former Communist beauty parlor along Karl Marx Allee, Bar Babette serves cocktails in a spectacular setting. The treatment rooms are still visible upstairs and the glass façade of this Modernist building make for an inviting space to drink with friends. The bar also hosts regular art exhibitions and concerts.
For more information, see barbabette.com
This East Berlin hotel not only has a lively bar and a beer courtyard where bands perform on a regular basis, it also boasts its own alcohol and coconut water. Their herbal schnapps named Booze comes in two varieties—choose from the soft and warming Michelberger 35% with a blend of juniper, coriander, vanilla, and tonka bean, or the Michelberger 45% for a heady kick of anise, orris root, and fennel. And to aid a fuzzy head post er, Booze, definitely try their Fountain of Youth coconut water.
For more information, see michelbergerhotel.com
If you’re familiar with New York’s Milk & Honey then cocktail venue Schwarze Traube will be a welcome den of delight. Knock on the locked door and upon entry, tell the bartender what you like and dislike (there are no menus). With your preferences in mind, a drink is created using their house infused and traditional spirits. Run by Atalay Aktas, the best bartender of Germany (literally, he won the award in 2013), Schwarze Traube certainly lives up to his reputation.
For more information, see facebook.com/schwarzetraube1
Meet a Local
For a few insider tips on the best places to eat in Berlin, we met with fashion designer, Sherie Rai of Muijs. Her line of shirts are impeccably cut in crisp cotton, soft chambray, washed linen and sumptuous silk. This pared-back aesthetic won her an award for her first ‘White Wash’ collection and she continues to create considered collections each season. As a New Zealander, Rai is used to good coffee, fresh produce and lots of outdoor space—and since moving to Berlin last year she has discovered many hidden gems worth venturing to time and again. Here are her top picks:
Markthalle Neun [Kreuzberg] – A beautiful market hall open Monday through Saturday, though most people flock there for the Thursday evening market, Street Food Thursday. If you’re visiting and want to try a German dish, order a Käsespätzle and wash that down with a cold brew. They’ve recently started a Breakfast Market on Sundays as well.
Da Baffi [Wedding] – A favourite restaurant of mine, and while it’s a wee way away from where we live, it’s well worth the trek. The decor is very homely, the service friendly and the food, well, fresh tagliolini and truffles… need I say more?
District Mot – There is an ongoing battle to be named the best burger in town and I am told it currently sits with District Mot. I have tried it and I must say it was quite incredible. Check out a few of the Berlin-based blogs for their thoughts as well. My go-to blog: Cee Cee
Five Elephant cheesecake ALL THE WAY.