Heading to Berlin? Lucky you!
Berlin is completely packed with incredible food, and it’s all quite affordable. Prices in Berlin are a fraction of what you’ll find in other major European cities such as Paris or London. From the prolific schnitzel, to currywurst or Asian cuisine, you’re definitely in for a few memorable meals. Berlin is a bright, happy and diverse city, and it shows in the food. It’s also a really large city, so it’s difficult to do more than scratch the surface if you’re only there for a few days. It’s for this reason I was glad to have my German friend Milo, who lives there and recommended many of the places on this list. Here’s your short and sweet, Milo-approved Berlin city guide of great places to grab a cheap bite in the city. Happy travels!
Street Food + Excellent Beer: What’s Not to Love?
One of the reasons Berlin is so great is because there is so much street-food served from a stall, which means you can grab four bucks worth of this and three bucks worth of that, and split it with a friend and make your way across the entire city, tasting a million and one things along they way. I’m sure Berlin in the winter has it’s charm, but a big appeal for me was the affordability during summer because you could eat so many meals ‘on the street.’ Plus you can drink on the street, just like in Paris, so stop in the craft brew shop and help yourself to a cold one to wash it all down. The craft beer in Berlin is outstanding, and even the name brands, such as Jever and Schneider-Weisse are pleasant as well. You’re bound to find everything from Pilsner to IPA, to Hefeweissen and porters and beyond. Large sized street beers cost about two bucks or less. The city overall is very inexpensive, restaurants included. And by the way: tip 10% for service in a restaurant.
Schnitzel at Felix Austria, Kreuzberg
Let’s start with a classic. Schnitzel originated in Austria, but has since traveled the globe further than most of us. It made it’s way to Milan, picking up the name milanese, and then onwards as far as Australia, South America, and even Africa and Iran, due to colonization. But truly good food never strays far from home either, which is why nearby Berlin boasts a ton of wiener schnitzel (meaning Viennese schnitzel in German), which is a tenderized, breaded, and deep-fried veal cutlet. It’s almost always served with a tangy potato salad and a big, fresh lemon wedge to squeeze over the whole lot of it. While it may not sound like much, it’s got a funny way of hitting the spot.
Here at Felix Austria, which was recommended to a local friend by a super-local friend of a friend, expect to eat a lot. Their schnitzel is served in both large and small size, but I think the terms large and extra large would be more appropriate. Upon seeing the decor, which is outdated and traditional at best, it’s easy to understand why many tourists (and new locals) skip over Felix Austria entirely. But if quality service and food at a good price is what you’re after, then certainly head here for your traditional dinner. Expect to spend about 20 bucks for schnitzel and a good beer.
Quick Tips: Split a large schnitzel, rather than ordering two smalls, it’s a big money saver. They have a really nice Pilsner there, and good coffee too. Also, if you can find the space in your stomach afterwards, head down the block to Turandot for a few no-frills beers, indoors or out.
cheap beers | google maps
Breakfast at Anna Blume, Prenzlauer Berg
Berlin is a bright, sunny and modern city, filled with productivity and optimism, so it’s no wonder that a city like this would really lend itself to a nice breakfast. I don’t know where all of these people came from, as it was completely packed on a Friday around 10:30 am, but good for them for not being at work. A favorite place among locals is Anna Blume, which is near the Kollwitzstrasse Markt (Kollwitz Street Market) in Prenzlauer Berg, my favorite neighborhood in Berlin.
Anna Blume is known for their tiered breakfasts, served two or three levels high and intended for sharing. They consist of everything a Northern breakfast would: cheese, cold cuts, fruits and jams, eggs, honey, bread, and more. I opted for the savory crepe (listed as “spicy crepe” on their translated English menu), filled with sauteed spinach and marinated goats cheese. I just lived in Paris for two years, and this is the best crepe I’ve ever had. Paired with their stellar rendition of a cappuccino, I was in breakfast paradise. Sit inside or out, but be prepared for some very curious tiny birds to be around your feet, waiting for you to drop something.
Quick Tips: No wifi. Excellent service, though a bit flighty – check your bill to make sure nothing weird happened.
Currywurst at Bergmann Curry + Curry 36, Kreuzberg
Currywurst: The best thing you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Does that even make sense? Well, it will once you try this. You can’t leave Berlin without trying this staple snack. Essentially a bratwurst sausage, steamed and then fried, covered with curry seasoning and if you so choose, some spicy seasoning as well, and then served with your choice of ketchup or mayonnaise. It sounds odd, but not bad. But it tastes oh, so amazing. At less than two bucks, it’s a dangerous and delightful temptation lurking around each and every corner in Berlin.
But not all currywurst are created equal: If you’re looking for the best, check out Curry 36 or Bergmann Curry, both in Kreuzberg neighborhood. As for the vegans in the world, tofu currywursts are easy to find around the city, but I can’t vouch for those… they sound like they might… be… the wurst.
Truffle Porchetta at Porchetta Revolution, Kollwitzmarkt in Prenzlauer Berg
I sincerely considered writing this piece of my review in the form of a love note. But I thought a sweet, delicate declaration of admiration to a sandwich might affect my credibility and reputation for good decision making for the worse. So I will simply say, this is the best thing I’ve eaten all summer. I was in five countries, and ate anywhere from three to five meals every single day, and this was it. I can still taste that first bite of tender, juicy pork, a sharp crackle as I bit into the skin which was cooked to perfection, and then it hits: the rich and decadent aroma of good, quality truffle. This was so much more than a sandwich, it was an experience. If you take my advice only one time ever in life, make it this time. No one can visit Berlin without trying this sandwich.
You’ll first notice the smells of this sandwich wafting down the quaint side street filled with various market stalls selling everything from great coffee to quality spices, street foods like currywurst or falafel, home goods, and an inexplicable rack of shirts adorned with things like hot dogs in space, and cats wearing makeup.
Find a refurbished old-timey three-wheeled pickup, and look for the flag posted next to it titled Porchetta Revolution. Seven euros and fifty cents gets you a truffle porchetta sandwich, the only think they serve besides wine. Order the sandwich, order the wine, find a seat, and get ready for the sandwich of a lifetime. The sandwich is pork and crackling, sun dried tomatoes, arugula, and truffles. If there wasn’t a sauce on it, then this was the juiciest pork I’ve ever eaten. It may not sound like much, but the taste was incredible. As was the bread. As was the wine. Long story short, I might quit my job and move to Berlin so I can eat this every weekend.
And take it easy tiger, if you don’t like truffle, you can get it without. But that’s no fun, now is it?
Quick Tips: Get the wine. Before: Get the coffee being sold by the woman in the hipster-looking cart nearby if you need to wake up first. After: Die and go to heaven. Or order a second sandwich.
€10 for a sandwich + glass of wine. bring cash. | google maps
Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun
So, I didn’t make it to Markthalle Neun, because I arrived on Thursday around 11pm, and their Street Food Thursday closes at 10. However, my friends went and really loved it. They had some currywurst, some meat-filled sushi, and some interesting renditions of the meatball. I’ve spent a bit of time browsing the internet for information on the market, and now I’m double disappointed I didn’t get to see it. My understanding is that many of the market spaces in Berlin have been converted into commercial empires and have lost their authentic charm, much like many places in New York City. Markthalle Neun seems to be the exception. Here are two cool write-ups on it that can be more helpful than I: Still in Berlin + Visit Berlin.
Seafood, Sushi + Pho at Dudu Restaurant, Mitte
This was my favorite restaurant in Berlin. My first piece of advice is don’t go by their website, which seems bright, vague and expensive. You can find it on a main street in Mitte neighborhood, tucked behind a secluded terrace filled with long tables and benches, covered by umbrellas and a disproportionate yet pleasant number of plants. Inside, the restaurant is a bright white, but if you go at night, the lights are dimmed and the atmosphere is dark and chic.
But the food is the best part. A modernized, pan-Asian restaurant, Dudu will have something for everyone (even if chicken or beef is your thing). I ordered the seafood platter, which was a selection of sashimi (salmon, tuna, and more), both fresh and deep fried shrimp, Japanese egg omelette, and more all served over a bed of steamed rice and with a delicious salad. There was a sweetened soy glaze drizzled on top of everything, and the dish itself was as delicious as the seafood was fresh. If sashimi isn’t your thing, try the pho or the mango roll instead. Great wine, make a reservation.
Party Tip: There are too many good bars in that area to get your dance on at afterwards. And your shots on. And your club on. Proceed at your own risk. I got jagermeister on my favorite dress and all my money turned into vodka.
Explore the Turkish Market, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
The Turkish market is a hectic, vibrant, and interesting place. Here you’ll find tons of vendors each Tuesday and Thursday. Most are Turkish, but not all. Just ask the Korean street food stand selling very reasonably priced bulgogi. There’s all the European street-market prerequisites: spices, leather goods, cheese and charcuterie, fresh vegetables, an extremely fragrant herb stall, a coffee vendor who does not want her picture taken, and an unusually large amount of fabric for sale. I mean, how many people can really need to buy fabric on any given day?
But there’s also something else. Find the stall of elderly women from the Anatolian peninsula (that’s the Asian side of Turkey), bundled up in draping clothing and head scarves tied around their chins. They’ll be quickly serving up any number of meat stews and vegetable sautees in large, paella-like pans for as cheap as four bucks.
I would love to be able to describe to you the smell of the food they were making, but I’m not sure it’s within my capacity as a writer. Or a smeller. The scent of the rendering meat combined with the sharp, vinegar-like aroma of peppers, and all of the spices and juices in which they were simmering is truly unforgettable, and deliciously tempting.
A Wunderbar Meal at Butterhandlung, Friedrichshain
Delicate, classy, quaint. Butterhandlung, which essentially means butter shop, could be described as very, very pleasant. The food was incredible, the ambiance was relaxing and beautiful, and the service was top-notch. The prices were very reasonable too. So, if you want somewhere for a nice ladies’ night or a romantic dinner for two, or even a good place to go with parents, try here. The place was hopping with regulars, each earning a hug from the waitstaff upon entering. The food is a bit of an upmarket mash-up: It’s a restaurant in Germany that claims to be Italian, but which also has a Brazilian staff in the kitchen who are free to get creative with the food. Whatever it is, it’s working.
This cultural tapestry came to us in the form of grilled octopus marinated in a tomato sauce with potatoes and capers, goats cheese ravioli, truffle risotto with poached egg and wild mushrooms, a savory fish soup, and a nice salad. For starters, fresh and creative breads with three types of butter: chili chocolate (a bit of a specialty in Berlin), truffle, and passionfruit. All that, a large sparkling water, plus a 50cl carafe of their house red came t0 72 euros (split between three people). They only have German menus, but the very attractive server sat down and read through the entire thing with us. The client in me was grateful, but the restaurant worker in me thought “Dude, make an English menu.“
Sadly we did not receive any hugs upon leaving.
Coffee at Ben Rahim, Mitte
Speaking of things that smell good, that’s exactly how I found my favorite cup of coffee in Berlin. Somewhere in Mitte neighborhood, amongst the bustling streets of posh shops and people spending money on whatever it is we call ‘fashion’ these days, there’s a small side street. Down that street, around a corner, around another corner, and in a little courtyard, there’s Ben Rahim. I’ll admit it, I was completely lost when I found this place, but I simply couldn’t resist the dark, sultry scent of a well brewed coffee.
The owner, a Tunisian by birth and coffee fanatic by life, takes both coffee and ambiance very seriously. The space is warm, decorated with woven rugs and tapestries, soft lighting and cozy tables for anyone who is comfortable touching knees with their companion. The soft, comfortable nature of the space for customers is in stark contrast to the complex gadgetry behind the bar. I’ll spare you the technical lingo, but serving coffee correctly is both a science and an art, and that is clearly understood–and embraced–at Ben Rahim, making it definitely worth a try.
Sonntagsmarkt (Sunday Street Food Market), Kulturbraurei, Kollwitzplatz
Tucked into the front lot of a brewery, this ‘Sunday Market’ is perfect for a slow and lazy end to your weekend. It’s hardly crowded, and filled with long picnic style tables for people to relax and enjoy a bite to eat. If your Saturday night stuck to true Berlin fashion, then this will be all of the food you need, with none of the stress you’re trying to avoid. There are a couple dozen choices, representing a variety of countries and cuisines. We tried almost all of it. The Cuban pan con Léchon, at six euros, was really good, though it paled in comparison to that infamous truffle porchetta mentioned above. A fresh pasta carbonara was enjoyed, a big plate of Jamaican jerk chicken was… inhaled, and we all helped ourselves to an ice cream from Jones’ powder blue truck near the entrance. Try flavors like earl gray, cheesecake, peanut butter and jelly, and matcha green tea. Sonntagsmarkt is a perfect place to stop for a bite to eat before walking over to Mauerpark to catch some sunshine, some music, and some cool Berlin street culture.
On Sunday, grab some deli beers and check out Mauerpark.
Mauerpark is exactly like I imagine both Berlin and the utopian society in which I hope to one day live. We stopped at a deli on the street, grabbed a few cold ones, and headed into the expansive Mauerpark, which means wall park, and which has a wall, filled with cool graffiti. There were musicians everywhere, people hanging out, reading, playing frisbee, and sleeping in the sun. There was a DJ against the wall, dishing out some cool tunes, and a very good looking man mixing up massive batches of mojitos which actually looked really delicious. He grabbed the tray of drinks and began dance-walking around to different groups of people, offering them up for sale. He wandered over to the DJ, who gave a quick nod, and placed one on his table before giving a big smile and dance-walking away once more.
You know, this is the kind of world we should all be living in. Anyway, you’ll find another market filled with food and interesting items for sale, a drum circle, a karaoke amphitheater, Noisy Pots (my new favorite DIY kitchen electro band) and just an overall good time.
Italian Craft Brew at Birra, Prenzlauer Berg
If you’re in the area, stop in the recently opened Birra for some Italian craft brew and snack. Italians are not particularly known for their beers, and even their wines struggle to be seen in the shadow of those from La France. But to say you can’t find good Italian beer is incorrect. I really enjoyed myself here. There’s a bit of a rock and roll vibe, it was peculiar but pleasant. It’s not worth the trip across town, but if you’re staying around Prenzlauer Allee, it’s a nice addition to your visit.
Mustafa’s Gemüse Kabap, Kreuzberg
Now, one place I reallllly wanted to go, but just didn’t make it, is Mustafa’s. I hear that it’s the best donor kebab in Berlin, and I can’t say anymore because I think I might cry. So here is a Thrillist write-up to take if from here.
I hope you enjoyed this Berlin city guide, the first of many guides headed your way in the coming weeks. My goal is to continue these projects as I travel in the future as well. Please let me know what you thought. Xo. Have you been to Berlin already? Drop a comment if you’ve got another favorite worth a visit (or five)!
A special extra large thank you to the homie Milo for planning this adventure and choosing all the best places to eat! You’re the best and we miss you! And also thanks to Yelena for lending me a couple photos.