It’s easy to think of Germany as the land of meat and carbs. Certainly, when I think about German food, bratwurst, schnitzel and pretzel all spring to mind. But Berlin is a different Germany, and it shines a whole new light on what German cuisine can offer.
Berlin is the multicultural heart of the country, and as you make your way through the different neighbourhoods, you can see how different cultures from across the globe have influenced the local food culture. It’s also Germany’s creative capital, and where there are creatives, there’s always good food (and coffee).
To be clear, your classic German fare can still be found in abundance in Berlin; it is the home of currywurst after all (that’s a Bratwurst sausage smothered in curry ketchup – 70 million are eaten in Berlin each year!). But on my recent visit, I was excited to try another side of Berlin’s culinary scene – a creative, veggie-friendly and multicultural side.
I wasn’t disappointed. The food was varied, intriguing, and more often than not, delicious. It was eye-opening to discover there can be much more to food in Germany than schnitzel and spätzle. (For the record, I love schnitzel and spätzle, and would happily plan a whole trip around either.)
Here are the restaurants we visited in Berlin (plus a bar thrown in for good measure), which I highly recommend you consider when in Berlin.
As our waiter told us, “Coda will certainly be one of the more unique restaurants you experience in Berlin”.
He wasn’t wrong. Coda is a dessert bar with a difference. It’s all about fine-dining ‘dessert-cuisine’, and each dish is matched with a cocktail specifically crafted to bring out its flavours.
You won’t find processed sugar or artificial flavours here. The dishes are all made from unusual combinations of fresh, seasonal ingredients that naturally bring out sweet, savoury or citrus flavours (such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheeses and herbs). The result is some remarkably creative and (mostly) delicious concoctions.
The group consensus was that the pineapple, cashew and coriander course matched with a cocktail of Thai pandan leaf, rowanberry, lime and sake was the winner. A close second was the cocoa, plum and tonka bean infused with smoke, and matched with a red wine and single malt whiskey cocktail. However, we were more divided on the savoury course – sheep milk yoghurt, brioche, grape and rocket (arugula). You can’t please everyone I suppose!
You have two options when dining at Coda – a six-course dinner menu (that’s right, a whole meal of desserts and cocktails!), or after 10:00pm there’s a smaller menu with a choice of between one and four courses.
Good for: a unique experience; vegetarians; dessert lovers
Coda, Friedelstrasse 47, 12047, Neukölln
Given Berlin’s diverse migrant population, I was keen to try some multicultural fare while in Berlin. We chose Kin Dee, which was without doubt some of the best Thai I’ve had on this side of the world.
Kin Dee’s chef is Dalad Kambhu, a self-trained cook who takes the traditional flavours of her homeland and gives them a contemporary twist using locally-sourced ingredients.
Each dish was packed with flavour – and some with a fair bit of heat. It’s hard to pick a favourite – they were all so good – but the Massaman lamb shank and the sweet green beef curry were probably the standouts. So much so that one of my dining companions was compelled to lick the curry bowl afterwards. So classy.
The seasonally changing menu is €48 per person and is made up of 8-10 sharing dishes, with a few different options to suit preferences. If you go, make sure you try the kaffir lime infused gin and tonic. And I learnt that dry German Riesling is an excellent accompaniment to Thai food!
Good for: a flavour explosion; casual fine-dining; sampling some of Berlin’s multicultural cuisine that isn’t a kebab
Kin Dee, Lützowstrasse 81, 10785, Schöneberg
At BRLO Brwhouse, you can not only taste the impressive range of BRLO craft beers, but also eat at their very trendy restaurant.
What stands out about this restaurant is that the focus – after beer of course – is on vegetables. It was surprising to find a brewery restaurant – in Germany of all places – that doesn’t revolve around meat. But as their menu says, vegetables are the star!
Expect plates such as burrata with grilled asparagus, smoked paprika crème, malt and fresh herbs; cauliflower with vadouvan rub, pale ale glaze, parmesan and nut butter crumb; and wild broccoli with smoked broccoli cream, fermented radish and feta.
Carnivores shouldn’t fret though; there’s a small but mouth-watering range of meat available as an add-on, like dry aged pork belly (with some of the best pork crackling I’ve had) and beef neck that had been smoked for 12 hours.
Brwhouse has been constructed from 38 shipping containers, meaning it can be dismantled and reassembled anywhere. Which is a good thing, as they only have the space for a few years! There’s also an impressive beer garden that we didn’t get to enjoy on a rather cold Berlin evening, but it looked like it would be a fantastic spot on a sunny day.
One word of caution though – despite the cool concept and tasty food and beer, at the end of the day, it is a brewery. So it did get busy and when it did, all German efficiency seemed to go out the window and the service became a little, shall we say, haphazard. Don’t let that turn you off though – just be forewarned!
Good for: beer lovers; vegetarians; a boozy yet delicious start to a big night out
BRLO Brwhouse, Schöneberger Strasse 16, 10963
Hallmann & Klee
If you know me, you know that I like good coffee and a good brunch. I wasn’t really expecting to find either in Berlin though. After my German ex-flatmate moved back to Germany, she told me that one of the things that was most difficult about leaving London was how hard it had become to find a decent coffee and brunch.
Well, after a rather heavy Saturday night out, I was ecstatic to find both at Hallmann & Klee.
It’s a fairly simple menu – your traditional German breakfast of cured meats and cheeses sits alongside more typical brunch fare such as scrambled eggs and salmon, pancakes and of course, a side of avocado. But the quality was excellent, the coffee skilfully made, and the sleek but cosy interior something that could be straight out of New York or London (or Melbourne).
I’m not generally one to start the day with a plate of cold meat and cheese, but the traditional breakfast, “Das Grosse Brett” (the big board!), was delish and is a good one to share. Which of course means you’re also allowed to have the pancakes! These were deliciously decadent, which may have had something to do with the baked oats and blueberry toppings, and most certainly a lot to do with the lashings of cream the pancakes swam in.
Good for: brunch lovers; great coffee; recovering after a big night out
Hallmann & Klee, Böhmische Strasse 13, 12055, Neukölln
Ok, so this one has nothing to do with food, but it was recommended to me so I’m paying it forward.
Klunkerkranich is an expansive rooftop bar atop of the Neukӧlin Arcaden shopping centre. For those in London, think Frank’s Cafe in Peckham.
It’s very bohemian, with an eclectic mix of wacky art, vintage ornaments, urban gardens and even a sandpit thrown in for good measure. The drinks are reasonable and DJs keep tunes pumping as the sun descends. But the real drawcard here is the uninterrupted views over Berlin that stretch as far as the iconic TV tower.
Judging by how busy it was on a bright but crisp March day, it’s the place to be when the sun comes out. A queue had formed by the time we left, so get there by 5:00pm if you want to get straight in.
To find Klunkerkranich, enter the Neukolin Arcaden shopping centre and take the elevator to the car park on the fifth floor. Once there, walk up the ramp to the roof. Yes, it’s a bit complicated, but we all know the coolest places are those that are hardest to find!
Good for: sweeping views of Berlin; sunset watching; hipsters
Klunkerkranich, Karl-Marx-Strasse 66, 12043, Neukölln