Berlin restaurants abound and almost every type of cuisine is represented somewhere. The best places to eat in Berlin are scattered through all the districts, with enough choice to ensure you need never go far to find what you fancy. Handy for budget travelers are the ubiquitous Turkish kebab shops whose döners are probably Berlin’s favorite fast food—beating even sausages, which are popularly eaten here slathered in curried ketchup as Currywurst. While you’re visiting, you’ll surely want to try some traditional German cooking of the meat-and-potatoes variety, and there’s plenty of choice here, too, and many of the city’s leading restaurants dish up high-end versions of this as Neue Deutsche Küche, which resembles French nouvelle cuisine. In general, Mitte’s restaurants cater mainly to visitors so tend to be pricier and standards more ordinary, though the Nikolaiviertel, Berlin’s old quarter, is useful for inexpensive traditional German food, while Oranienburger Strasse provides a hip eating strip with plenty of variety and good people-watching. Of the central residential districts, the dining scene in Schöneberg’s gay village is good and varied, while Berlin’s bohemian yuppie district, Prenzlauer Berg, has a particularly well-balanced mix of cafés and better restaurants. The scene in Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain’s Bergmannstrasse is similar, but farther east in the vicinity of Oranienstrasse, things are much cheaper and cheerful. Wherever you are in town, it’s generally no problem finding somewhere to eat at almost any time of the day, although opening times vary a lot. Dinner is typically served around 7-10PM, though many places will be open earlier or later, too. When it comes to tipping: Check first to see if a 15% service charge has been added to the bill, in which case just round up to the nearest euro. Otherwise a 10% tip is usual.
A unique location on the roof of the Reichstag with wide-open views of eastern Berlin sells this restaurant well before the food. A reservation here means you get to use the side entrance and avoid the consistently long line at the front, making this a good spot for breakfast at the start of a day’s sightseeing. Later in the day, this restaurant, run by a Munich-based delicatessen, specializes in gourmet versions of traditional German dishes. Lunches tend to be light and simple, with meatballs, salads, steaks and sausages on the menu. Dinners are far more ambitious, with such dishes as fried duck with scalloped potatoes, asparagus and chestnuts; or quail breasts—crisped perfectly on the outside, yet soft on the inside—served with an odd but enjoyable asparagus and strawberry salad. Given the location in a prime tourist attraction, it’s mostly visitors to Berlin who grace the restaurant’s sleek and timeless interior, but in truth the food justifies a visit by anyone.
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This Michelin-starred place is where chef Michael Hoffmann crafts his daily menu according to the best ingredients he can find: All the fish served here is line caught. His treatment of French cuisine is rather avant-garde--comfit duck with celery jelly or duck liver with lavender vinaigrette—but his use of wild herbs and vegetable preparation is first class. Prices are less palatable, with mains between €26 and €42, making the set meals (three-course lunches €35; seven-course dinners €95) a good value. And with over 700 wines to choose from and a well-informed maître d', it’s impossible not to find a good accompaniment. Restaurant decor matches the food: The classical style of its onyx walls, marble floors and burgundy upholstery is given an airy, modern feel. Reservations recommended.
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Berlin’s oldest pub and restaurant is central, yet well off the tourist trail. It’s managed a brisk business through the years, thanks to a nearby courthouse. Hence legal-themed names, such as Zeugen-Aussage (“Eyewitness account”), are given to its reasonably priced traditional German dishes. The local specialty is Eisbein, a pork knuckle that needs some dissection to enjoy, and the simple Boulette, a mince and herb burger. The decor is classic old-Berlin, too, with lots of rustic touches and even an old tiled oven. Though many patrons are city visitors, they don’t detract from the authenticity of the place—which has hosted several heads of state over the years, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Jacques Chirac.
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Liveried waiters beckoning you into a courtyard off Oranienburger Strasse announce the presence of one of Europe’s best Turkish restaurants. Inside, the appearance is smart yet cozy, and with plenty of Ottoman touches in the art and onion-domed doorway arches. The lamb in particular is done to perfection on a wooden coal grill or in a stone oven, but there are plenty of veggie options and side dishes, too. Highly recommended for dessert is Kanafeh, a delicious vermicelli-like pastry with cheese.
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This unfailingly popular Vietnamese place is usually packed to the rafters with diners chowing down on delicious soups and noodle dishes (€7-10) from a tiny menu that’s supplemented by a number of daily specials on a chalkboard and all available with or without meat. You may have to wait a few minutes for a seat at peak times, but communal bench dining helps free up space quickly—at the expense of privacy, of course. Delicious teas are the ideal accompaniment to the meals and the range spans from dependable jasmine to unusual flavors like artichoke; the best cold options are the tangy fruit smoothies.
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This is a roomy bistro in an old market hall building, and its simple wooden furniture and decor helps provide a rustic feel. A younger crowd comes here to dine at long communal tables and enjoy modern versions of German standards. The weekly menu generally includes such items as Schweinebraten (braised pork) and Spätzel (Swabian noodles). The €7.50 daily special is usually a very good deal, though other items are only slightly more expensive. Remember to leave space for the phenomenal strudels and cakes.
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Known for its punk-rock attitude and enormous paper-thin pizzas, this huge restaurant with its sprawling outdoor patio is generally packed, noisy and presenting the kind of atmosphere that mentally transports you to Naples. The giant range of toppings includes all the old favorites, as well as a few unusual ones, say, horse meat (Pferdefleisch), but it’s the quality of the pizza dough that really makes the place and keeps the young crowd coming despite its famously surly service. Even though the place is huge, try to book if you want to eat between 8 and 10PM on a Friday or Saturday.
This budget Berlin restaurant is a local institution that contains the feel and patronage of a university canteen—and there’s even a student discount—but the food is good enough to appeal to just about anyone. The bistro’s menu runs just two or three daily specials—such as German stews or Italian risottos —always including something vegetarian. Prices here are rock-bottom and the service bare-bones: order and pay at the till, then wait for your number to be called out for the food to be brought to your seat.
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