Whether you already have some preconceptions about Berlin or not, one certainty is that to really enjoy and understand the city, you just have to live it. Given all the history that surrounds Berlin, the period following the fall of the Berlin wall has in many ways been characterised by never ending reinvention, innovation and creativity, all reflected through the physical city itself, within cultural shifts in society and through the outlook of Berliners themselves. Although these processes are very dynamic, evident in all the changes we noticed in the city since our last visit in 2011, on our recent visit we were taken aback by how still and quiet Berlin can feel when walking around various areas. This is especially noticeable when many people have likened the vibe in the city to our familiar area of Shoreditch in London.
However as we found out during our weekend in Berlin, the city is bursting with life and energy all over. It’s just a case of looking in the right areas and keeping an open mind. Although we didn’t have enough time to really indulge in all the art and history that the city has on offer, the beauty about the city is that you are always surrounded by it anyway, be it through cold war reminders or the myriad amounts of street art that cover numerous buildings. This meant that we could enjoy doing what we like most without feeling guilty about completely missing out. Of course this is finding great spots to eat, drink, meet new people and catch up with friends. For us this is where Berlin really wakes up.
Eating in Berlin
Finding somewhere good to eat in Berlin really isn’t difficult and what’s more is the diversity of authentic cuisine available at more than affordable prices. From the handful of places we ate at, here are our recommendations:
Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt (Charlottenstraße 55, 10117 Berlin) – You can’t go to Germany and miss out on a good hearty Bavarian meal. In Berlin, Augustiner is the spot to go to for all the classics including an amazing Wiener Schitzel, various Bavarian sausages and Pretzels. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same without some German beer to go with it all and Augustiner’s own beers are really some of the best you’ll find in Berlin.
Madami – Mom’s Vietnamese Kitchen ( Dircksenstr.37, 10178 Berlin) – It may come as a surprise that Berlin has a number of really good quality Vietnamese restaurants. From a number of highly rated restaurants, we decided to try out Madami and we weren’t disappointed. Plenty to choose from on the menu and with choices that range from summer rolls to barbequed skewers, the difficulty is trying not to over order! Our pick of the bunch was the duck served in their special coconut and peanut sauce…so good! To top it all off, really friendly service adds to the experience.
Krause (Schönhauser Allee, 177 10119 Berlin) – Berlin has plenty of coffee shops though Krause stood out for us for its really chilled out vibe, food menu which includes a delicious roast chicken strudel and of course great quality coffee. Perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch/lunch.
Mustafas Gemuse Kebap (Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin) – Although we always heard that Doner Kebabs in Berlin were something else, Mustafas completely redefined the meaning of Doner kebab for us. Served in a baguette and generously filled with donner meat, grilled vegetables, cottage cheese and some home made sauces, their Kebap is so much more than post clubbing food. Definitely our pick of the bunch in terms of things to eat in Berlin and our only regret was that we only got to try it once!
Bird (Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin) – A New York style bar and steakhouse, Bird is plenty of fun if you’re with a large group. Their burgers are amongst the most tasty and juicy we’ve ever tasted, their buffalo wings are amazing and they also serve great steak. For the spice lovers, you have to try their Napalm wings, just pure fire!
Tauro (Schönhauser Allee 176, 10119 Berlin) – An excellent Iberican restaurant for all meals, their Sunday brunch really is something you need to try. For 25 Euros, you have access to their large buffet which offers such a great selection of meats, fish, pastries, salads, and deserts, you’ll definitely need a siesta afterwards! By far one of Berlin’s best brunch spots.
Something a little different
Tempelhofer Park (Former Berlin Tempelhof Airport) – In terms of sight seeing, there is plenty to keep you busy in Berlin. However somewhere to definitely add to the list which isn’t always on city guides is Berlin Tempelhof Airport. Once Berlin’s only airport, this is now a public park with vast flat open space and is where you’ll find Berliners taking to outdoor activates including rollerblading, toy airplane flying, sports and pretty much anything else you can think of. A great place to get some fresh air, hang with friends and also see the sun set over the city.