neukolln city baths
As far as cities go Berlin has got it sorted. Easy access and transport, great pedestrian and cycling routes, a bustling multicultural vibe, music, art, performance and delicious, good quality food from all over the globe. If you are planning to visit it, it comes highly recommended.
Before I tuck into your ten-course food adventure some non-food related destinations are worth a mention. Ballhaus Berlin one of Berlin’s many ballrooms (near the Museum of Natural History Ubahn stop) hosts the fantastic Omniversal Orkestra every Monday – don’t miss it if you are there. For a relaxing day I recommend a midday or evening visit to the Neukölln City baths for a swim and sauna in a beautifully opulent setting – the baths are open till 10pm. Next to it is an art space/café called Prachtwerk which showcases great art work on its vast walls, and offers good coffee and food, as well as events such as an open stage night. And finally, make time for bars which Berlin does in one of the best ways a city can – I recommend tracing down independent small bars such as Art + Weisse bar but also the ZigZag Jazz bar which offers amazing music from well known artist from around the world for a free entry.
Most of the places mentioned below are in the Kreuzberg-Neukölln areas where I would return to stay without hesitation because of their relaxed city vibe. The link through the bold text (name of the place) take you to a google map so that you can trace them easily. Enjoy your trip!
- Café Blume, Fontanestrasse 32, 12045, closest U-Bahn stop Boddinstrasse, http://cafe-blume-berlin.de/
Next to the Volks Hassenheide park, in fact next to one of its entrances, is Café Blume. Simple and unpretentious, with great sunshine on a springtime afternoon bathing its outdoor sitting area, this café offers delicious cakes as well as a satisfactory selection of food. I had the best vegan banana and peanut ‘cheesecake’ there. Then have a stroll to watch the beautiful Berlin sky sunset colours amongst the leafy trees in Hasseinheide park. Bliss… Recommended for families as it has a large indoor playing area.
- Zitröne, Diffenbach Strasse 56 (corner of Diffenbach and Grafestrasse), 10967, U-Bahn Stop SchonleinStrasse, http://www.zitrone-restaurant.de
Spacious, comfortable and elegant, Zitröne café offered us a relaxing space to eat, read and chat without a rush. With ample seating it is a good option for busy brunch days, although I can only imagine it being even more popular than the Thursday lunchtime when we came across it. The menu offerings are great and range from well-thought breakfast choices, to hearty omelettes, daily lunch and dinner specials and attractive pasta dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian Bauernomelette, a German specialty with potatoes, filled with vegetables and served with soft cheese, salad and warm baguette. Dan also enjoyed a German sausage and mash dish, with a thin sausage, creamy mash and sauerkraut. I definitely recommend the comfortable environment Zitrone has to offer, set in an old German building restored tastefully whilst retaining a fuss-free, classic elegance.
- Floor’s Cafe, Schonleinstrasse very close to the U-Bahn Stop SchonleinStrasse, https://www.facebook.com/floorsberlin
I have not been drinking coffee for a long while now but at Floor’s I broke my rule. They simply make a wicked and creamy cappuccino, which was a delight to sip. This small cafe is buzzing with calm and welcoming energy. We enjoyed delicious smoked salmon scrambled eggs served with nice bread. We also tasted another wonderful breakfast platter with a selection of cheeses and cured hams – a breakfast which seems to be quite the norm in Berlin on most menus. Their croissants where generously filled with chocolate spread and freshly baked. Aim for a spot by the window to watch the world go by on Schonleinstrasse, a passage to many destinations.
- The Sudanese Café, corner or Reuterstrasse (56) and Weserstrasse, U-Bahn Stop Hermanplatz
There are a lot of Sudanese places to eat at in Berlin, possible evidence of its growing Sudanese population perhaps? This eatery is simple with tasty and filling offerings, which are great value for money. Try one of the affordable kofte or chicken or veggie platters which come with falafel, grilled halloumi, salad and Arabic bread all drizzled with a delicious peanut butter and tahini sauce. Even cheaper are their falafel and haloumi sandwiches. We are so pleased Yoli took us there.
- Chay Village Vietnamese Vegatarian and Vegan Café, Niederbarnimstraße 10, 10249, closest U-Bahn Stop Samariterstrase (U1), but also in Kreuzberg Eisenacher Straße 40, 10781
This is another place that was recommended to us by our friend Gareth. We sought out the place in Friedrichstein because we wanted to walk around a different neighbourhood. Niederbarnimstraße where you can find Chay Village is full of eateries inspired by Asia (Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese) and there is a nice atmosphere there too. The food is absolutely wonderful. You feel it is healing and nurturing you with every bite you take. I tasted the Dau Phu Nam dish (No.30 on the menu) and its lemongrass and coconut notes were so well-balanced I did not want my dish to finish. The food is mostly vegan and it will change the mind of even the most hardcore carnivore. Just try it please. I really wish that we had a place like this in Cardiff. Authentic Vietnamese food that offers healthy eating that dazzles your taste buds!
- Berlin Food Markets
Mauerpark Sunday Market, Bernauer Straße 63, 10435, U-Bahn Station Eberwor. Strasse (U2)
The largest flea market in Berlin with the feel of a small festival is open every Sunday from 9am to 6pm. There are numerous food stalls and excellent choice which extends to delicious vegan offerings such as the mustard flavour vegan quiche we had from a South American food stall. There are also stalls offering Japanese, Uruguayan, British, Greek and so many other foods. And the flea market stalls are worth a visit too if you are in a shopping mood. Shop to the soundtrack of great music from the various buskers and performers.
The Turkish Market, Maybachufer street 1099 by the Landwehr Canal, closest U-Bahn stop Schönlein Strasse (U8)
This market is open 11am-8pm on Fridays and Tuesdays and it anything but just Turkish. There is a great range of food to eat and shop on offer as well as various shopping stalls with jewellery, clothes and antiques. On a sunny day it is heaving. Grab your food of choice and head to the riverside. It is also a great place to shop for a nice picnic or stay at home dinner with a selection of cheeses, wurzte and salumi and a nice bottle of Riesling wine.
A more conventional, covered market hall with a fantastic selection of produce and much organic choice (which seems to be the norm in Berlin!). There is a great selection of eateries in periphery of the market stalls too (inside the building). It all seems good and interesting but I would discourage you from the Breton Gallette stall for the rudeness and unwillingness to replace one ingredient with another. The finished item was not that great either so I would recommend you spend your euros somewhere else.
Part of the hip street food market worldwide phenomenon this market will not disappoint you if you like that kind of thing as it throws a street food Thursday event with different food stall holders every week. It reminded my very much of a smaller version of the Papiroen Island market in Kopenhagen but it was too packed on the Thursday that we visited. The food offerings are very interesting and will cater for everyone’s taste but I personally preferred the smaller markets where I have more space to stand or even sit down. Apart from Thursdays the market canteen is also open for breakfast and lunch every day, with longer opening hours on Saturday and Sunday. Worth a visit.
- The Three Sisters restaurant at Künstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997, U-Bahn Stop Kottbuser TOR, Gorlitzer Bahnhoff (U1), http://3schwestern-berlin.de/ and for a visit to the art centre see http://www.kunstraumkreuzberg.de/
Inside this old nunnery, currently an exhibition/ artist studio/creative space, hides a wonderful restaurant with the best atmosphere of all the places we visited this time, called the Three Sisters (3 Schwestern). The lighting, the music, the temperature of this large old building are all faultless. The positive experience starts as soon as you walk in. The service was professional and immaculate. The menu offered us well-executed, authentic German cuisine with a modern twist in generous and tasty portions. I recommend going there with friends so you can share different dishes from the menu as we did. My favourite starters were the Homemade Leberkaes, a pork and sesame loaf and the Alpine onion tart, and the Hazelnut cheese tart. From the mains I was particularly impressed by the Pork Roast of organic “Havelland Apple Pig” with Bavarian Style Coleslaw and Bread Dumplings, which I could not finish due to its size (!) and the Beef main with capers and lemon butter. As we could not stomach much more we all shared the most wonderful Strudel we tried in Berlin with homemade real vanilla cream. This was our most expensive meal in Berlin at around 40 EUROS a person including a delightful bottle of Riesling. But I would return there tomorrow if I could and I think there is something everyone would enjoy on this menu. It did German cuisine very proud. The restaurant is very close to the Street Food market so you can go there if there is no place for you to stand or sit at the Street Food event. And it is at the end of Marianenstrasse which is full with interesting cafes and bars to also stop at. In the summer it hosts an open air cinema.
Right across one of the entrances of Viktoria Park (on the top of which you have a wonderful view of Berlin to take in), and close to Meirheineke Markthalle, we found PiuTrentaNove. It was a sunny afternoon and we felt a bit peckish after another long walk. In true Italian fashion we parked ourselves in the sun facing the park, and ordered apperitivos and one of the most authentic, tasty pizza margeritas I have eaten outside southern Italy. The perfect crustiness of its thin rim, firm and perfect thickness of its main body topped with a generous but not heavy serving of melted mozzarella made it just perfect for me. There I made one of my favourite memories in Berlin, in the sun, with a perfect drink (in the way that only Italians know how to do it) and the perfect pizza. It was only when we peaked inside that we realised this is one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Berlin and its pizza has been voted the best for many years. So if you are planning to eat there I would recommend you book a table.
- La Femme Breakfast & Lunch, Kottbusser Damm 77, 10967, U-Bahn Stop, Kottbusser Damm, http://www.lafemmebreakfast.de
The place is always packed with Turkish people enjoying one of the most impressive breakfast and lunch menus I have seen. There are over ten Turkish scrambled eggs options to choose from, savoury pastry pies, crumbly shortbread biscuits with nuts and warming Turkish tea. We savoured the delectable Menemen eggs with sucuk (a spicy Turkish sausage) and Simit (or Koulouri as we call in in the north of Greece, a sesame bread ring). I strongly recommend you make time for this. It will keep you going for at least your dinner and with many locations of this mini chain across Berlin you have no excuse to miss it. And you will join one of the strongest communities in Berlin, the Turkish, in one of its favourite pastimes.
- The Turkish bakeries on Kottbusser Damm and all around Neukolln
When we arrived the first thing that caught my eye was the availability of Koulouri (Simit), a sesame bread ring that is sold in the streets of Thessaloniki. Every other shop on KarlMarx Strasse and Kottbusse Damm seemed to be a Turkish bakery that offered Koulouri and savoury pastries. Then I noticed the abundance of Touloumpakia, mini deep-fried doughnuts with a crunchy exterior and a spongy interior dipped in thick syrup, another specialty sold in Thessaloniki. Testament to the hybridity of some of the Greek/Turkish cuisine one of the bakeries I stocked up on supplies for my return is called Senguloglu with a mystery Greek mobile phone number of the card. Delicious offerings that you should definitely not miss out on as there is so much good quality from those bakeries on offer. Save time to make your purchases before you have to go back to the airport. The savoury pies were so great to eat on the way back to Bristol and Cardiff.