Berlin's best restaurants: 101 places to eat right now - The Berliner (2024)

Berlin's best restaurants: 101 places to eat right now - The Berliner (1)

The 101 restaurants on this list run the gamut from hushed Michelin temples to clamorous street stands, their prices ranging from €5 and under to €225 and up.

They’re overhyped and under the radar, run by local legends and fresh new faces. They serve seasonal vegetables grown in Brandenburg and fat-marbled beef flown in from Japan. They’re Turkish, Vietnamese, French, Mexican and sometimes even German. Put together, they create a culinary portrait of a city that’s traditional yet dynamic, sophisticated yet down-and-dirty, internationalised yet unmistakably itself.

This is not meant to be a definitive list, but rather a snapshot of a dining scene that’s constantly in flux.

The one thing we can tell you for certain? All of these places have been personally visited and vetted by our team – and all will guarantee you a meal that’s delicious, memorable and 100 percent Berlin.

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

893 Ryotei

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“Kantstraßenmafia” don Duc Ngo brings us a gangster-glam wonderland of sushi, sashimi and Nikkei fusion with a social club vibe and an illustrious guest list.

  • 893 Ryotei, Kantstr. 135, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€€€

Il Calice

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The selection of fine, hand-crafted, natural wines, the careful contemporary updates to authentic dishes, the precision of finding and showing off the perfect raw ingredients, the lovingly tended ambience of the place itself – there are few restaurants in the city that embody all these qualities so harmoniously as Il Calice. That’s thanks in large part to host Antonio Bragato, who has perhaps never been so ambitious in his reworkings of classic Italian cuisine.

Even more dreamy than the pasta are antipasti creations like wafer-thin slices of lardo di Colonnata resting on Parmesan chunks, so intense you’d think an entire pig had been condensed into one bite. The front of the place has been redesigned as a wine bar, the better for you to sample Bragato’s wealth of open vintages. In summer, though, the best place to sit is outside on Walter-Benjamin-Platz, a Lambrusco in your hand and a “Superdegustazione” platter on your table.

  • Il Calice, Walter-Benjamin-Platz 4, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€€

Aroma

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Ever wanted to eat dim sum at 3am with the great and the good of Berlin’s restauranteurs? Well, this is the place for you. The legendary Cantonese spot is just a stone’s throw from Zoologisher Garten in Charlottenburg. It’s famed for its extensive menu, late hours and popularity among other restaurant crews as the perfect spot for a post-shift feast. With over 100 homemade, original Cantonese dishes on their menu, Aroma was even lauded by star chef Kolja Kleeberg.

  • Aroma, Kantstr. 35, Charlottenburg, details
  • €€

Die mit den Kirschen

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Its name means “the one with the cherries” – and at this Charlottenburg-based Ukrainian restaurant those cherries come in many forms. There are the delicious Vareniki dumplings which come filled with cherry filling, lamb with cherry sauce, blinis topped with cherry jam and, of course, an unmissable cherry schnapps offered to the guests.

  • Die mit den Kirschen, Wielandstr. 38, Charlottenburg, details
  • €€€

Madame Ngo

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It’s funny how the Berlin press met the 2015 opening of Madame Ngo with reproachful incredulity. French and Vietnamese food in one place? That’s “culinary confusion”, scoffed one local paper, obviously forgetful of the deep cultural influence exerted by colonial France over Indochina.

Maybe that’s why this Duc Ngo effort, the prolific restaurateur’s first deep-dive into his own food heritage, soon jettisoned its more overtly French aspects and retrained its focus on pho. The decision was for the best if you ask us. Made with beef, chicken or vegan broth simmered for hours in 100-litre pots, Madame Ngo’s version of the traditional rice noodle soup is the best in Berlin.

Choose pho bo tai to get thinly sliced raw beef thrown in last-minute and cooked in the soup – a rare joy, literally. Then the nem! The deep-fried spring rolls come piping hot and served the proper way, with a side of whole lettuce leaves, lots of fresh herbs and sweet-sour fish sauce for wrapping and dipping. Prices are higher than at your average Vietnamese joint, but so is the quality. For a real indulgence, try the hefty, paté-smothered version of that original French-Viet fusion sandwich, the bahn mi.

  • Madame Ngo, Kantstr. 30, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€

Paris Bar

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If you were an artist, actor, director or musician in 1980s West Berlin, you came to Paris Bar. And even today, you still do. Lined with artworks by former patrons (most notably the late Martin Kippenberger) and photos of guests like David Bowie and Yves Saint-Laurent, Michel Würthle’s neon-lit façade is known for many things, but its food isn’t one of them. With that said, stick to the French classics – steak frites, boudin sausage and what’s widely reputed to be the best sole meunière in town – and what’s on your plate will be nearly as captivating as your storied surroundings. The artist crowd may have thinned in recent years, but a few eccentric regulars have stuck it out, and there’s always the chance you’ll glimpse a familiar face.

  • Paris Bar, Kantstr. 152, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€€

Prism

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We’re used to chefs putting an Asian spin on European fine dining. When was the last time you went to a fancy restaurant that didn’t use miso, kimchi or XO sauce? Middle Eastern influences, though, are another story. Which made it all the more refreshing when chef Gal Ben Moshe, who landed in Berlin after apprenticing with the likes of Alinea’s Grant Achatz, introduced a modern, creative tasting menu inspired by the flavours of his native Israel and the Arab greengrocers of Sonnenallee. The results speak for themselves: tahini instead of foie gras, Armenian cucumber instead of French truffles… or perhaps all of the above, with a slice of house-cured camel pastrami to boot. Central to the experience is Prism’s charcoal grill, which lends smoky notes to dry-aged lamb and tender octopus.

Ben Moshe’s molecular gastronomy training comes to the fore every now and then – as in the quail stock, heated right at the table in a syphon designed to suction every iota of aroma from the bones – but it doesn’t interfere with the pure, uncomplicated pleasure of dining here. Since 2019, Michelin inspectors have felt the same way.

  • Prism, Fritschestr. 48, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€€€€

Pum

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Homestyle Korean the way it’s meant to be eaten: with a whole galaxy of side dishes, including at least three types of kimchi. The raw crab is not to be missed.

  • Pum, Knobelsdorffstr. 27, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €€

Rogacki

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This venerated deli is all about the fish – fresh or cooked, smoked or pickled, sautéed or deep-fried, taken home or eaten standing up amid tourists, construction workers and West Berlin regulars.

  • Rogacki, Wilmersdorfer Str. 145/46, Charlottenburg, details.
  • €-€€€

Rüya Gemüse Kebap

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In less than the time it’d take you to queue at the famous Mustafa’s, you could take the Bahn to Charlottenburg and order Berlin’s actual number-one chicken döner – a mountain of spit-roasted meat, vegetables and feta on sturdy pide bread.

  • Rüya Gemüse Kebap, Otto-Suhr-Allee 19, Charlottenburg, details.

Sampiyon Kokoreç

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What is Kokoreç? Take a skewer of lamb intestines and set it horizontally over a charcoal grill, then serve it in bread with peppers, onions and spices. After years of confusion over its legality, this classic Turkish street snack has finally become available in Berlin. The flagship European branch of a Turkey-wide chain, Charlottenburg’s Sampiyon wasn’t the first to bring this dish to Berlin, but it’s hands-down the best. The kebab is great, too and there’s also the rare treat of some juicy beef Tatuni. Meat in bread has never been better.

  • Sampiyon Kokoreç, Uhlandstr. 171 / 172, Charlottenburg, details
  • €€

Friedrichshain

Fleischerei Domke

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If you’re on the hunt for a traditional, cheap, no-nonsense experience, head out to Fleischerei Domke on Warshauer Straße. This is an old-school butcher’s whose vibe has remained charmingly consistent down the years. Order a plate of porky Eisbein with sauerkraut and potatoes, Schnitzel with red cabbage, or just a beer and a Weiner, and tuck in. Simple, no-frills food – and all the better for it.

  • Fleischerei Domke, Warschauer Str. 64, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, details

Aleppo Supper Club

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At Aleppo Supper Club’s pair of locations, the drama of the Syrian conflict literally comes to the table. The mother of owner Samer Hafez fled the country with her meat grinder stuffed in a suitcase: after all, it’s an indispensable tool for making traditional kibbe, small bulgur patties filled with lamb and nuts. And that very same grinder served as the keystone for Hafez’s catering company, which has since enjoyed the honour of cooking for such luminaries as German former president Joachim Gauck.

We love to share the eggplant dip known as metabel and the incredible, incarnadine pomegranate salad with red cabbage and plenty of garlic. Sour, sweet, creamy and crisp – it’s worth every step on the journey to Friedrichshain. And it would be a shame to miss out on the mains: the rice dishes maqluba and kabsa are aromatic, nutty and electrifying.

  • Aleppo Supper Club, Wühlischstr. 21, Friedrichshain, details.
  • €€

Fine Bagels

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Hand-rolled by self-taught baker Laurel Kratochvila in the back of the , these chewy rings aren’t the best bagels in Berlin – they’re practically the only bagels in Berlin.

  • Fine Bagels, Warschauer Str. 74, Friedrichshain, details.

Niko Niko Ramen

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In an impossibly crowded ramen scene, the noodle shop on Boxhagener Straße remains our go-to favourite. It’s the pure gestalt of the place: the broth-scented steam that fogs up your glasses when you enter, the bandana-clad cooks boiling batches of homemade noodles in the wood-framed open kitchen and the long counters tailor-made for solo slurpers. In pure Japanese-ness, it’s second only to Sapporo-via-Düsseldorf import Takumi Nine, with shorter wait times and more reasonable prices.

Of the many meat and veggie soups on the menu, we’re partial to the tonkotsu gyokai, with its murky broth made from pork and dried sardines. The combo of meaty savouriness and fishy funk, finished off with thick chashu (braised pork belly) slices, wood ear mushrooms and a jammy marinated egg, gives you umami for days without overloading you on salt and fat. Almost as good is the vegan tonkotsu, which uses soy milk to mimic the cloudy unctuousness of pork bones to surprisingly convincing effect, and its sweet brased eggplant topping. Both come with the same lightly crimped noodles that stay al dente till the very bottom of the bowl.

  • Niko Niko Ramen, Boxhagener Str. 26, Friedrichshain, details.

Khao Taan

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A warm, minimalist dining space on Friedrichshain’s Altbau-lined Gryphiusstraße. Blue paint on the right, bare brick on the left, handmade crockery, and a concise natural wine selection. So far, so trendy. But what comes out of Gaan Woraphon Kitkoson’s kitchen is something more timeless: Thai cuisine, just like his grandma used to make. Not fine dining, but not street food either.

Guests usually order one seven-course meal for the entire table – you can choose your own soup and dessert, but for everything else, you and your dining companions have to agree on one of two options. Which can be tricky, with such delectable salads, curries and chilli dips to choose from. We can vouch for the mixed corn salad, the full-bodied, unapologetically spicy Massaman curry, or the steamed fish whose delicate texture belies its serious heat. Not to mention the desserts – coconutty concoctions that proudly buck European expectations.

  • Khao Taan, Gryphiusstr. 10, Friedrichshain, details.
  • €€€

Kreuzberg

Mardin + M47

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Mardin has been serving up some of Berlin’s most delicious Turkish food from its spot near Hermannplatz for a while now – but what takes this project to the next level is the side-project, M47. Anyone who has visited Istanbul has seen those street vendors selling large platters of stuffed, spiced mussels served with a squeeze of lemon. Now midye dolma have finally made it to Berlin – along with a whole menu of other real-deal Turkish street eats, refreshingly available until the wee hours.

  • Mardin + M47, Kottbusser Damm 36, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€

Annelies

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Excellent produce, meticulous technique and a culinary vision that goes beyond “poach an egg and post it on Insta” – although the canary-yellow smoked egg yolk toast is guaranteed to earn you likes.

  • Annelies, Görlitzer Str. 68, Kreuzberg, details.
  • €€

Brlo Brwhouse

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Forget everything you thought you knew about German drinking food. At the eatery run by craft brewery BRLO, vegetables take centre stage in thoughtful, contemporary preparations that just happen to taste great accompanied by hoppy pale ales.

Chef Ben Pommer and his team have created an all-vegetarian menu tailor-made for sharing; a combination of large “mains”, smaller “sides” and pickled or fermented “on tops”. The cauliflower is cooked whole, rubbed with vadouvan and brushed with a beer glaze; the heirloom carrots are poached in their own juice. The celery root is smoked, just like the beef or free-range pork ribs that you can, but absolutely don’t have to, tack on to your plant-based order. The adjoining biergarten, right by the park at Gleisdreieck, is one of the best in the city.

  • BRLO BRWHOUSE, Schöneberger Str. 16, Kreuzberg, details.
  • €€

Burgermeister

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Juicy cheeseburgers, crispy chilli fries and the double-meat “Fleischermeister” – there’s a reason this burger stand spread from a former public toilet to seven locations across the city.

  • Burgermeister, Oberbaumstr. 8, Kreuzberg (and all over Berlin), details.

Chez Michel

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Everything at this little Kreuzberg nook feels right: the quirky, unpretentious atmosphere, the hearty French fare at super-reasonable prices, down to the no-nonsense yet colourful Breton who runs the place with adequate flair and promptitude – the word “bistro” means “quick”, after all.

The late Françoise Cactus of Stereo Total was a regular here, and it’s ever popular with scruffy Kreuzberg locals and the city’s Frenchies out for a taste of home, be it a good steak frites, a plate of real merguez (from a trusted Algerian butcher in Wedding), or Michel’s famous duck confit, cooked for long hours at very low heat (or try the duck parmentier if it’s on offer).

Although it’s clearly an omnivore’s paradise, there’s always a daily veggie special as well as vegetarian quiche, Flammkuchen and a memorable potato gratin dauphinois. And everyone will savour the wine, a decent selection of rosé, reds and whites served by the small, bistro-style glass or by the carafe, at very competitive prices. Our special mention goes to the apple tarte, as simple as the classic should be: apple slices on crust with a bed of compote, voted Berlin’s best by our resident critics.

  • Chez Michel, Adalbertstr. 83, Kreuzberg, details.
  • €€

ChungKing Noodles

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As the ancient Sean Bean proverb goes, one does not simply walk into Chung King Noodles. No, to partake in Ash Lee’s Chongqing-style xiaomian requires careful preparation. One must budget time for a wait of up to an hour. One must gird oneself for dollhouse-sized stools and cacophonous acoustics. One must not plan any kind of vigorous activity – clubbing, yoga, sex, whatever else might interfere with digesting half a kilo of carbs, cabbage and capsaicin – for the rest of the evening.

And then one does it all over again, because these noodles are worth it. They’re homemade with organic flour and compulsively slurpable. They arrive in a thick slurry of broth, chilli oil and Sichuan pepper, topped with coriander, scallions, Spitzkohl and your choice of protein. Most go for free-range ground pork, but there’s also braised beef; an exemplary vegan version with soy meat, yellow peas, and finely minced shiitake mushroom; and an occasional chicken gizzard special. Starters vary but might include thinly-sliced potatoes with chilli, sweet pickles, or Sichuan sausage made according to a secret family recipe. To drink, a millennial-pink Motel microbrew, made specifically for washing down Lee’s creations.

  • ChungKing Noodles, Reichenberger Str. 35, Kreuzberg, details.
  • €€

Doyum

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For as long as we can remember, the blue-tiled Doyum Grillhaus has been at the epicentre of Kottbusser Tor aka “Little Istanbul”, providing sustenance to local Turks, queer partiers who’ve missed the kitchen curfew at neighbouring Südblock, and, in the last few years, tourists. The grill is charcoal-fired, of course, and usually has a vast number of minced lamb adana kebabs resting on it, ready to be wrapped in flatbread, smothered in yoghurt sauce or served by their juicy selves with rice and salad.

Vegetarians will have to content themselves with various dips and salads (don’t miss the smoky roasted eggplant) and kunefe for dessert: stretchy cheese beneath a crispy pastry crust, drenched in sugar syrup.

  • Doyum, Admiralstr. 36, Kreuzberg, details.
  • €–€€

Goldies

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Would you leave one of the most prestigious restaurants in the country to open a chip shop? That’s exactly what Kajo Hiesl and Vladislav Gachyn did, departing the triple-Michelin-starred Aqua in Wolfsburg to pursue the art of the deep-fry. Their Oranienstraße fast-food stand is now almost as renowned as their ex-workplace, known citywide for double-fried potatoes that stay crisp even as they’re weighed down with toppings like kimchi, marinated beets, Peking-style duck or black truffle shavings.

Goldies was also frying chicken before it was cool, and their version is a crispy, tender treat whether smothered in honey butter or green chilli sauce, sandwiched between buns or served alone. They call it “the best bad food in town”, but there’s nothing guilty about these pleasures.

  • Goldies, Oranienstr. 6, Kreuzberg, details.

Goldies Smashburger

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McDonald’s who? The fry maestros’ burger spinoff takes its cues from the Golden Arches, but its browned, lacy-edged patty, squishy potato bun and homemade pickles are superior in every way.

  • goldies Smash Burger, Graefestr. 93, Kreuzberg, details.

Horváth

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Cooking is not an art. But in the best cases, it’s an intellectually and intuitively charged craft. Nowhere in Berlin is that more true than in the kitchen of chef Sebastian Frank, whose radically biographical cuisine deserves its pair of Michelin stars. His celeriac aged in a salted dough crust is legendary. As is his nut strudel, for which he distils the bark of a walnut tree from his own garden. Both are served as part of a princely five-to-eight-course menu, paired either with (mostly) German and Austrian wines or an exceptional selection of non-alcoholic juice blends and infusions that are worth trying even if you’re not a teetotaler.

Above your table, a recently excavated mural by Pop Art luminary Jim Avignon – painted back when the canalside spot was the Bowie-beloved bar Exil – is a testament to this Austrian restaurant’s Kreuzberg bona fides.

  • Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a, Kreuzberg
  • €€€€€

Jolesch

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In Austria, Friedrich Torberg’s novel Tante Jolesch is a cult classic, just as the Wiener schnitzel at Jolesch is in Berlin. That whisper-thin breaded veal cutlet, served with vinegary potato salad, might be the most ordered dish at Kreuzberg’s longstanding Austrian destination, but the menu doesn’t stop there. The goulash with bread dumplings is outstanding, as is the Fritattensuppe, a bowl of clear beef consommé with chiffonaded egg omelette.

Meanwhile, the Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy shredded pancake), apple strudel and Marillenknödel (apricot-filled dumplings) remind you just how seriously Austria takes its flour-based treats. It’s all traditional without getting stuck in the past – the schnitzel comes in vegan portobello and gluten-free versions, after all.

  • Muskauer Straße 1, Kreuzberg
  • €€

Ember

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Open-fire cooking has become hot in Berlin, and Ember is one of the glowing examples of the form. Led by chef Tobias Beck, the menus here take inspiration from a wide array of national cuisines from Argentina to Japan. We’d be wrong not to mention the location: a glasshouse rooftop on Wiener Straße, the ideal spot to enjoy a sunset meal.

  • Ember, Wiener Str. 10, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€€€€

Lila

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A plate of spaghetti, garnished with a shower of grated truffle and a glob of organic Beluga caviar, is both Lila’s signature dish and an albatross for chef Omar Ben-Hammou, a Peruvian with a globetrotting resume that most famously includes a stint at NYC seafood temple Le Bernadin. He and his team included it on their opening menu upon taking over the Kreuzberg courtyard vacated by Pizzeria Zola in mid-2020. Now they’re all sick of it, but it sure looks good on Instagram, those seductive coils swimming in earthy, briny gold.

The real luxury at Lila, though, lies in the sauce. And not just on the spaghetti. Every creation that exits the open kitchen involves some kind of decadently flavoured, perfectly balanced emulsion. In the form of a red jalapeño leche de tigre, it’s what makes the ceviche better than Chicha’s across the canal. As a warm brown butter-dashi combo, it complements just-cooked scallops such that slurping them from the half shell feels like getting a bear hug from Poseidon. And as a piquant blend of aji amarillo, kombu and yuzu kosho, it elevates roast cauliflower far beyond the token vegetarian cliché. If serving pimped-up pasta enables Ben-Hammou to keep turning out his unique fusion of Nikkei flavours and French classicism (including dry-aged fish specials on weekends), we’re all for it.

  • Paul-Lincke-Ufer 39/40, Kreuzberg
  • €€€

Mama Shabz

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With her mother’s comforting dishes – chickpea masala, delicious pakora and samosas, to name just a few – young Londoner Shabnam “Shabz” Syed brings a fresh, casual take on Pakistani cuisine to Kreuzberg. Her restaurant’s upbeat, colorful interior is an homage to her multicultural childhood in South London; equally fun are the snacks and sweets, like the delightfully interactive gol guppe, little hollow dough balls that you fill yourself with a selection of goodies, or her highly recommended version of a grilled cheese sandwich, made in a paratha flatbread instead of toast.

A rotating menu of main courses is available, always with a variation on vegan lentil dhal, a vegetarian option and one with meat: there’s a terrific chicken korma or a wonderfully spicy masala with okra, for example. We’re crossing our fingers for the return of weekend brunch, with tempting choices like nihari – an elaborate lamb stew – and the vegetarian halwa poori chaane with chickpeas, fried bread and sweet halva.

  • Reichenberger Straße 61a, Kreuzberg

Yafo

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One of the liveliest restaurants on this list, Israeli restaurant Yafo has brought the same energy and creativity that marked its old location in Mitte to its new Kreuzberg space (and even newer satellite off Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz). With perfectly roasted cauliflower, rich and silky hummus, octopus skewers and warm, fluffy pita bread, the exciting flavours of this place are matched by the vibe which is loud, hip and lots of fun.

  • Yafo, Ritterstr. 12, Kreuzberg, also at Schonhauser Str. 2, Mitte, details
  • €€€

Markthalle Neun

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Ground zero for everything local-artisanal-sustainable, be it produce, fish, kimchi or British-style bacon. The Italian baked goods from Sironi, cheese from Alte Milch and burgers from Kumpel & Keule are legendary.

  • Eisenbahnstraße 43/43, Kreuzberg
  • €-€€€

Frühstück 3000

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Fancy a taste of the good life before noon? Come and dabble in decadence at this luxe locale with branches in both Schöneberg and Kreuzberg. Frühstück 3000 takes classic brunch dishes and gives them a fancy twist. Caviar on your Eggs Benedict? Why not. French toast with sea buckthorn-orange sauce? Of course. There are also sustainable co*cktails made by their barman if you really want to lean into the luxury.

  • Frühstück 3000, Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 9, Kreuzberg Also at Bülowstraße 101, Schöneberg, details
  • €€€€

Masaniello

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Across from Hasenheide since 1979, Masaniello’s huge, crisp-bottomed wood-fired pies predated the neo-Neapolitan craze – and they’ll probably outlast it, too.

  • Hasenheide 20, Kreuzberg

Bantabaa

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Peanut stew or yassa chicken slow-cooked in a mustardy onion sauce, served on a plate of rice and vegetables with a generous side of spicy chili – this spot showcases some truly great West African cooking. Bantaabaa started out in 2015 as a cultural centre for African refugees, and it has since become a firm favourite, offering flavours and packing spice-levels that can be hard to find in the city.

  • Bantaabaa, Wrangelstr. 82, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€

NaNum

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Elevated set menus by night, masterly bibimbap and effervescent kimchi by day, served in and among the ceramic art of the multitalented Jinok Kim.

  • Lindenstraße 90, Kreuzberg
  • Fish menu on Fridays
  • €€–€€€

Nobelhart & Schmutzig

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“Brutally local” was the motto of Billy Wagner and Micha Schäfer’s trailblazing restaurant when it opened on the shabby end of Friedrichstraße in early 2015. It’s since been changed to “vocally local”, but those who expect coddling at Michelin-starred establishments may agree with the earlier phrasing. Basically everything on your plate is sourced from small regional farms – that means no truffles, no lobster, nothing out of season that isn’t pickled. There are no vegan substitutions, the better to support ethical dairy practices. No photos are allowed, and Instagram yields few clues about the 10-course set menu you’ll be eating. You will, however, find multiple videos of Wagner reciting lengthy polemics against the mainstream restaurant industry.

All this would be insufferable if it weren’t for the food. Who needs truffles when you can have hay-aged free-range chicken from Lower Saxony’s celebrated Lars Odefey, the skin seared to a crisp, the meat still rose-coloured? Or a toothsome stalk of organic Brandenburg asparagus, unadulterated but for a daub of egg-yolk-yellow mayonnaise? The Nordic-style cooking (or lack thereof) might be “brutal”, but the experience is far from ascetic, especially if you trust Wagner with the wine selection. Though the team’s pandemic-era resourcefulness is no longer necessary, the rooftop pop-up and an online shop selling not only pickles and jam but fair-trade condoms and a designer shirt baked into a loaf of sourdough made for a a true Berlin original, a place that inspires and takes inspiration from our city in equal measure.

  • Friedrichstraße 218, Kreuzberg
  • €€€€€

Ora

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Located in the unique setting of a former 19th-century pharmacy, the food is just as special as the backdrop at this casual fine dining spot in Kreuzberg. With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients from Michelberger farm, the hotelier-run restaurant has connections with several other small suppliers (get the Norwegian shellfish when it’s on offer). Also boasting an extensive wine list, you’ll definitely leave this Apotheke feeling better than when you came.

  • Ora, Oranienplatz 14, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€€

Simitdchi

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A Turkish breakfast institution where fresh-baked sesame rings accompany king-sized spreads of eggs, cheese, veggies, jam and olives.

  • Adalbertstraße 97, Kreuzberg

St. Bart

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Lee Thompson is adamant that his Graefekiez restaurant is not a British pub, and he’s right for several reasons. For one, Thompson himself is from Sydney, and his crew is a German-Antipodean blend. And though Brits come in droves for the Scotch egg, the Sunday roast and the lip-smacking sandwich with thick slices of back bacon on homemade white bread, their cravings for brown ale and Welsh rarebit go unfulfilled. This is more like the pub they wish they had back home: a cosy, noisy nook where locals congregate over good drinks and well-crafted food for extremely reasonable prices.

That bacon butty is a rare constant on an otherwise-rotating menu of small, ingredient-focused plates; past favourites have included chicken, whether fried or roasted beneath a brick; a crisp, neatly stacked salad of tart green apple and marinated kohlrabi; and a liquorice tart that’s been known to cure decades-long aversions with one bite. Wash it down not with ale, but with local pilsner and European natural wine.

  • Graefestraße 71, Kreuzberg
  • €€–€€€

Tim Raue

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Everyone in Berlin knows the legend of Tim Raue, the former teen ne’er-do-well who rose from the graffiti-splattered streets of Kreuzberg into the culinary stratosphere. Three restaurants in town bear his name, including the French bistro Brasserie Collette and the German Villa Kellermann. But only at his flagship on Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, crowned with dual Michelin stars and World’s 50 Best honours, can you taste the mix of European technique and Asian flavours that put Raue on the map.

That fusion may not be as novel today as when it was introduced 12 years ago, nor as bold as the bad-boy image might suggest. Despite all the wasabi, lemongrass and five-spice powder, it’s the buttery European undercurrents that dominate. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and the ultimate proof is Raue’s signature pork knuckle, his grandmother’s recipe given a Japanese twist with the addition of mustard, dashi gelee and pickled ginger. The chef is clearly in his wheelhouse with meat and fish, but recently branched out to a vegan menu including ‘chicken’ from Swiss company Planted.

If you don’t want to invest too significantly in dinner, you can still get a taste of Raue at lunch, where the four-course menu is a fraction of the price. Still pricey, but a bargain for food that, even 12 years later, belongs on any Berlin bucket list.

  • Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26, Kreuzberg
  • €€€€€

Tulus Lotrek

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Take a close look at the mundane-seeming woodsy print on the wallpaper at Ilona Scholl and Max Strohe’s restaurant, and you’ll see shells, tentacles and cuts of meat hidden in the luxuriant foliage. In many ways, it epitomises the food you’ll sample here. Don’t trust the deceptively simple, at times conservative outlook of your plate: this is complex, edgy stuff, with myriad cooking secrets hidden in each dish. Take the course listed simply as “carrot”, in which the vegetable is oven-baked in a bed of dried hay and combined with a chamomile infusion that perfectly balances its sweetness.

But the true backbone of Tulus Lotrek isn’t just the duo’s enthusiasm for culinary experimentation – it’s a warmth and generosity that extends far past opening hours. More meaningful than their Michelin star is the federal Order of Merit Scholl and Strohe received for their “Kochen für Helden” initiative, which provided warm meals to thousands of essential workers during the early months of the pandemic.

  • Fichtestraße 24, Kreuzberg
  • €€€€€

Two Trick Pony

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Meaty British breakfasts, Middle Eastern-spiced porridge, masala chickpea toasties: these friendly (and very popular) gents aren’t afraid to get bold while keeping you squarely in your comfort zone.

  • Bergmannstr. 1, Kreuzberg
  • €€

Cicala Caffetteria Italiana

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Some places are best for long drawn out meals with friends, others lend themselves better to a quick, delicious snack. There might be no better way to start your day than to rock up to this busy little Caffetteria and grab a strong espresso alongside some perfectly made Sicilian pasticcini: the flaky ricotta cornetto, the pistachio filled Sfogliatelle, the unforgettable cannoli. This is the Southern Italian breakfast of dreams.

  • Cicala Caffetteria Italiana, Kottbusser Damm 1, Kreuzberg & Schönhauser Allee 185, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€€

Ma-Makan

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Malaysian food is a rare treat in Berlin, and since Ma-Makan opened in the cosy setting of Kreuzberg’s Lausitzer Platz, it has been a popular destination for Berliners looking for the taste of kaya toast, roti jala, laksa and nasi lemak. The place isn’t big and it can get busy around lunchtime, but worth it to get a satisfying plate bursting with the flavours of an underserved cuisine.

  • Ma-Makan, Lausitzer Pl. 12, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€

Lichtenberg

Duc Anh

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If the Dong Xuan Center were a city – and it sometimes feels like one, that endless maze of warehouses filled with Vietnamese workers shifting clothes, groceries and a sea of other imported goods – Duc Anh, the bustling restaurant at the head of Halle 3, would be its capital. Everyone ends up at its long wooden tables, from Vietnamese Berliners to local Lichtenbergers to bands who just took the best press photo ever in that plastic flower shop one hall over. If they’re omnivorous and smart, they order the bun cha nuong than – you know, the dish Obama ate in Hanoi with Anthony Bourdain. Marinated pork belly is grilled over charcoal in a little wooden hut outside, then served over rice noodles with fresh herbs and sweet-sour-fishy nuoc cham sauce. The clear, comforting Hanoi-style pho, optionally accompanied by fried dough sticks (quay) for dipping, is the real deal too.

Go with a big group, and your options are limitless: grilled goat, giant prawns, lobster hot pot, deep-fried frogs’ legs and more in banquet-sized portions.

  • Herzbergstraße 128 Halle 3, Lichtenberg
  • €–€€€

Mitte

Trio

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Outside of a few standout examples, German food hasn’t always fared too well in Berlin. With Trio, however, this has emphatically changed. This trendy-traditional Gäststatte from the owners of Prenzlauer Berg’s Otto has been packed ever since it opened, and it is not difficult to understand why. A cool location; simple, delicious, regional food; fairly priced: this really is worth your time. Just remember to book ahead, or plan to squeeze in at the bar.

  • Trio, Linienstr. 13, Mitte, details
  • €€€

Clärchens Ballhaus

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Clärchens, the original since 1913, has a pinch of everything. A generous dash of the good old days with patina, stories and banter, as well as the fresh wind of the present, which has been blowing through the carefully renovated dining rooms of this cult Berlin venue since tip owner Yoram Roth took over in 2019. There’s also a new culinary breeze coming from Simon Dienemann’s Ballhaus kitchen. He modernizes traditional classics from Berlin, Vienna and Budapest with plenty of culinary skill and a penchant for regional products. There’s a new charred cabbage entreé for vegans and the pizza has been replaced by Flammkuchen, but the schnitzel is still there and as fabulous as ever. At Clärchen’s, they love a good ritual: each Wednesday, tango couples circle the upstairs mirrored ballroom, and every Tuesday evening, candles are lit in the historic courtyard garden.

  • Auguststraße 24, Mitte
  • €€€

Cookies Cream

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They say food is the new clubbing – for techno fiends who were frustrated by the pandemic-era Tanzverbot, for ex-DJs and promoters who’ve aged out of the ketamine demographic, and for the legendary Heinz “Cookie” Gindullis, who had the foresight to open a vegetarian restaurant in the same building as his eponymous nightspot all the way back in 2007. The club Cookies is long gone (converted into a restaurant, in fact, the good-in-its-own-right Crackers), but Cookies Cream is more happening than ever, complete with a Michelin star and celebrity clientele.

A glance at chef Stephan Hentschel’s multi-course menu reveals specials such as Parmesan dumplings in a white truffle broth served with spinach and pine nuts, as well as a range of surprising desserts such as celery ice cream with apple, walnuts and herbs or sweet chervil and strawberry sorbet with meringue and buckwheat. If you partied a little too hard back in the day, you’ll be relieved to know the non-alcoholic drink accompaniment is just as good as the wine pairing. And then of course there’s the welcoming atmosphere, which makes Cookies Cream worth the trip all on its own.

  • Behrenstraße 55, Mitte
  • €€€€

Frea

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It’s vegan, seasonal, local, organic and zero-waste to boot, but there’s more to Frea than virtue – there’s fresh pasta, good wine, amazing service and coffee with house-roasted nut milk at your meal’s end.

  • Torstraße 180, Mitte
  • €€€

Grill Royal

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It’s hard to say anything new about Grill Royal. The glitzy steakhouse’s extravagant parties and luxurious sanitary facilities are already the stuff of legends. Then there’s the art scene that sprang forth from the restaurant’s very own loins – and let’s not forget the legions of A-list patrons.

But of course, we want to talk about the food. And in that regard, thanks to chef de cuisine Roel Lintermans (formerly head chef at Les Solistes), Grill Royal is more electrifying than ever before, all without becoming a stereotype of dreary fine dining. The perfectly cooked cuts of American, Australian, Japanese and even German beef are now supplemented with local burrata, Baltic cod ceviche or roast broccoli with tahini and pomegranate. What other restaurant in Berlin can maintain nonchalance in the face of such quality, be it of the cooking or the clientele?

  • Friedrichstraße 105b, Mitte
  • €€€€

House Of Small Wonder

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The wasabi Eggs Benedict, croissant French toast and other Japanese-accented dishes at this Williamsburg import taste as good as the greenhouse-like interior looks.

  • Auguststraße 11-13, Mitte
  • €€

Ishin

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The fish-topped rice bowls are the MVP at this mini-chain, but the nigiri and maki are just as fresh, cheap and delicious. The eternal answer to the question “What do I eat near Friedrichstraße?”

  • Mittelstr. 24, Mitte (also Steglitz, Wilmersdorf)
  • €€

Oukan

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A jaw-dropping setting, a Buddhist-inspired menu co-designed with actual Zen monks and a mind-blowing tea pairing add up to our city’s most ambitious vegan restaurant yet.

  • Ackerstraße 144, Mitte
  • €€€€

San

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It’s the little things that make the difference at this underlooked gem – like a single piece of shiso leaf which, as sandwiched between ultra-fresh perch and perfectly seasoned sushi rice, catapults a piece of nigiri to entirely new heights.

  • Weydingerstraße 22, Mitte
  • €€€

Ergün’s Fischbude

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This charming Turkish tavern underneath the S-Bahn tracks near Tiergarten is something of an open secret among Berlin foodies. Eat deliciously grilled Dorade served with a wedge of lemon and incredibly flavourful salads topped with herbs and pomegranate seeds while in a charming little restaurant chaotically decorated with post-it notes written by satisfied customers. Wash it all down with some raki or an efes beer and it’s hard not to have a good time.

  • Ergün’s Fischbude, Lüneburger Str. 382, Mitte, details
  • €€

Sofi

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Heirloom grains, heavy hydration and a long overnight rise add up to deeply flavoured sourdough – in loaves, elaborate pastries or a stunningly simple cheese and butter sandwich on a poppyseed roll.

  • Sophienstraße 21, Mitte

Coccodrillo

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Loud, gaudy, bright and quite a bit of fun. This restaurant so beloved of Berlin influencers might not be the most demure, but amid all the baubles and spectacle, there is some decent food on offer. You might as well order the truffle pasta (you’ll be smelling it all night, anyway) and the pizzas and mains stand up, too. Really, though, this is a place you come to be dazzled by the glitzy, tasteless pleasures of late capitalism.

  • Coccodrillo, Veteranenstr. 9, Mitte, details
  • €€€€

Canal

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Calling all sweet tooths! Head to any of three elegant locations of Canal to find some of the most delicious, irresistible desserts this city has to offer. The gelato is outstanding, but the pièce de résistance at Canal has got to be the éclair – filled with light, airy mousse or pistachio cream, decorated with chocolate, flowers or fruit – it’s a work of edible art. The croissants, pain au chocolats and brioche rolls are amazing, too. All of it. Just order all of it.

  • Canal, Rosenthaler Str. 40, Mitte, details
  • €€€€

Saravanaa Bhavan

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The killer dosas have arrived. It’s not often that you get this much excitement about a chain restaurant with over 100 locations across five continents, but Saravanaa Bhavan and its menu of South-Indian vegetarian food has led it to becoming a really beloved franchise. Order dosas, sambar, idli or have a go at the pages of Indian-Chinese fusion, so rarely found outside of the subcontinent.

  • Saravanaa Bhavan, Potsdamer Platz 5, Mitte, details
  • €€

Neukölln

Azzam

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Israeli or Palestinian, Lebanese or Syrian – everyone comes to this spot in the middle of Neukölln’s “Arab Street” for big bowls of creamy hummus, chunky musabaha, or combo platters that are nominally ‘for two’ but feed an army.

  • Sonnenallee 54, Neukölln

Barra

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Natural wine and small plates may have become a food scene cliché, but when the concept’s done well – with expertly sourced ingredients, a lack of pretension and a clear love of the craft – it can be damn near magical. And right now, no one does it better than Barra in Schillerkiez. Though it’s been hyped to high heaven (thank a Michelin Bib Gourmand and a post-corona crowd that discovered the place during its takeout chicken sandwich phase), the wine bar run by chefs Daniel Remers and Neil Paterson and sommelier Kerry Westhead has stayed down to earth while producing consistently sensational food.

Oysters are always on offer, and a fine way to start before moving on to citrusy fish crudo, a poached farm-fresh egg with charred wild broccoli, a seared filet from a cow who lived a long, happy life in Austria, or the kitchen team’s signature salad, a crunchy, zingy mix of celery, apple and Young Buck blue cheese. The pan-European selection of natural wines, like the menu, is always changing – a good excuse for you to keep coming back for more.

  • Okerstraße 2, Neukölln
  • €€€

Café Pilz

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The DIY Berlin of yore is alive at this sidewalk eatery serving affordable Israeli small plates, house-baked pita bread, Lebanese wine and DJ sets to the Neukölln precariat crowd.

  • Weisestraße 58, Neukölln
  • €€

Jemenitisches Restaurant

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Size matters at this Yemenite standby. For a ludicrously reasonable price, you can choose from heaps of steaming rice and meat, fresh tabouleh and traditional dips. Their speciality is lamb, but there’s a substantial range of dishes both meaty and vegetarian. Popular with families and set in a bright and busy environment, Jemenitisches Restaurant has branches in Neukölln and Moabit.

  • Jemenitisches Restaurant, Karl-Marx-Str. 172, Neukölln, Also at Huttenstr. 7, Mitte details
  • €€

Gazzo Pizza

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The sourdough crust is great, the artisanal toppings (Brandenburg burrata, locally crafted salsiccia or a summery courgette-feta-lemon mix) are better, and the buffalo milk soft serve is simply the best.

  • Hobrechtstraße 57, Neukölln
  • €€

Lonely Hearts Cafe

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This Twin Peaks-inspired diner in Neukölln combines the kitschest of American and British culture. With a menu that includes classic full English breakfasts (both meaty and vegan) and maple-syrup-soaked pancake stacks, come and be warmed by the cosy comfort of this brunch spot. Even a trip to the bathroom is a unique experience, with a candlelit shrine and door-sized collage solely dedicated to the country icon Dolly Parton.

  • Lonely Hearts Cafe, Mahlower Str. 32, Neukölln, details
  • €€€

Lalibela

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Is there anything that symbolises the blissful insouciance of the pre-Covid era better than Ethiopian food? Imagine gathering with a big group of friends to communally rip apart a huge platter of injera, using the deliciously sour, spongy flatbread as a vehicle for the delectable stews and sauces served atop it, without any discussion of hand sanitiser or who’s recently had contact with whom. It happened at Lalibela, and it’ll happen again.

Ethiopian cuisine was big in Berlin before 2017, but with his friendly Schillerkiez restaurant, Lalibela owner Alemayehu Selassie transformed it from an ‘exotic’ dining excursion to an everyday option. It’s at its best in summer, when the sprawling sidewalk patio fills with groups of Neuköllners still sun-drunk from a day out on Tempelhofer Feld. Most share the vegan combo, a steal at €10 per person with braised collard greens, stewed chickpeas and the lentil-berebere dish mesir wat. Carnivores go for the traditional doro wat, chicken and a hard-boiled egg simmered in a spicy, buttery sauce. Throw in a bottle or two of Bedele beer, and you have a meal that’s worth the risk.

  • Herrfurthstraße 32, Neukölln
  • Ohlauerstr 27, Kreuzberg
  • Soldiner Str. 41, Wedding
  • €€

Sahara

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It’s the sauce. Rivers and rivers of thick, irresistible Sudanese peanut sauce, flowing over falafel, halloumi, roasted vegetables and/or tofu in pita bread. As appropriate for an easy lunch as it is for sloppy late-night salvation.

  • Herrfurthstr. 5, Neukölln and all over town

Prenzlauer Berg

Estelle

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Charming, delicious and somehow still underrated, Estelle shows creativity and quality across its menu combining small plates and incredible creations from its pizza oven. Estelle isn’t just kid-friendly, it’s friendly, warm, memorable and delicious for everyone. Known for great weekday lunches and brunches on the weekend, don’t overlook their natural wine list, either.

  • Estelle, Kopenhagener Str. 12A, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€€

Bricole

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Chef de cuisine Steven Zeidler always has the culinary zeitgeist at his fingertips, but he never allows trends to compromise his restaurant’s Francophile Southern German DNA. When the second course, a congenial combination of potatoes and egg yolks served with lardo and veal sweetbreads, arrives on the table, it is clear that the restaurant spares no expense when it comes to the quality of its meals, all while maintaining exceptionally fair prices for its guests (five to six courses from €74). A can’t-miss recommendation for newcomers to the fine dining scene – and anyone who’s interested in enjoying an excellent meal.

  • Senefelderstraße 30, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€€€

Wen Cheng

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It’s hard to put an exact date on when Berlin’s obsession with spicy, chewy hand-pulled noodles started, but if we had to guess it would be at some period during the first pandemic lockdown. And when the city was released from that forced isolation, everyone flocked to Wen Cheng. It can still be hard to get a spot at this any of the *three* locations, but for a bowl of these deliciously satisfying biang-biang noodles, it is certainly waiting in line.

  • Wen Cheng, Schönhauser Allee 10, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€

Der blaue Fuchs

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The place to take visitors for a lavish Georgian meal: generous platters of spreads and salads; piping hot cheesy khachapuri; garlicky bean stew or roast chicken. And wine, of course.

  • Knaackstraße 43, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€

Kanaan

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It’s an irresistible hook: An Israeli marketer and a Palestinian chef meet in Berlin, bond over their shared culinary traditions and go into business together, eventually employing Syrian refugees as well. But Jalil Dabit and Oz Ben David’s Prenzlauer Berg restaurant has more to offer diners than a feel-good story. The hummus is fantastic, whether served on its own, in a sabich with eggplant, hard-boiled egg, mango sauce and spicy salsa, or as “hummshuka” with tomato-pepper sauce and a poached egg. Other dishes on the all-vegetarian menu include fresh salads, classic falafel and malabi (coconut pudding). With the 2019 move to Helmholtzplatz came the addition of a wine and beer list and a kid-friendly outdoor area.

  • Schliemannstraße 15, Prenzlauer Berg

Tossakan + Maiyarap

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No sushi. No pho. No Ente Kross. Chef Don Santanaviboon isn’t shy about his mission to bring real Thai flavours to Berlin, and he’s done just that at a pair of justly hyped spots. Maiyarap is the newer of the two, a stylish little nook in Kreuzberg focused on deliciously spicy bowls of soup. Tossakan, up in Prenzlauer Berg, simply delivers classic Thai dishes executed really, really well. Our tongues are still tingling from that papaya salad.

  • Tossakan, Schliemannstr. 16, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€€€
  • Maiyarap, Oranienstr. 200, Kreuzberg, details
  • €€€

Kokio

For finger-lickin’ good KFC – crispy, saucy, optionally blazing hot, chased with copious amounts of Hite and soju – follow the crowds to this vibe-y gastropub.

  • Hagenauer Straße 9, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€

Konnopke‘s Imbiss

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If currywurst, then Konnopke’s. The East Berlin legend’s menu has barely changed since 1960 (with the notable exception of a vegan sausage); connoisseurs know to get the dish ohne Darm.

  • Schönhauser Allee 44b, under the U2 line, Prenzlauer Berg

Plove

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This gem takes its name from the rice dish popular across Central Asia, where traders from China, India, Persia and the Ottoman Empire all left their mark and imbued the cuisine with spices and flavour. Owner Anvar serves up hearty Halal plov and handmade dumplings in his cosy Prenzlauer Berg set-up, having started out selling at street markets as a newly arrived student from Kyrgyzstan.

  • Plove, Schivelbeiner Str. 8, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€

Markthalle Pfefferberg

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For an overview of the gastro-zeitgeist – Korean corndogs? Birria ramen? – head to this trendy food court to see what all of Berlin’s foodies are fussing over.

  • Schönhauser Allee 176, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €-€€€

Otto

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In our post-Noma era, any restaurant that’s ever made a pickle has suddenly started calling itself a “culinary laboratory”. If there’s one Berlin kitchen that deserves the title, though, it’s that of Otto Vadim Ursus. An actual Noma alum, he spends his days alternating between his little Prenzlauer Berg wine bar and his family dacha near Chorin, where he sources, forages, ferments and preserves only the best of local ingredients. He burst onto the scene with a dish straight out of Midsommar: a whole smoked brook trout, showered in homemade fish sauce, buried in wild herbs and edible flowers.

During coronavirus lockdown, his creatively topped pizzas and reverent German lunch dishes were spoken about in hushed tones. Now it’s back to jagged linseed crackers and koji butter, wild boar ‘nduja and fermented potato rösti, cured egg yolks and sourdough miso, all accompanied by natural wine (and one very good craft beer).

  • Oderberger Straße 56, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€€

November Brasserie

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Sometimes a restaurant has that one essential showstopper dish. At November Brasserie, this comes in the form of a whole sea bream, sliced into delicate sashimi curls and served in its own hollowed-out carcass. The whole menu has a Japanese inflection – think panko crusted schnitzel and a great katsu chicken sando, alongside the same top-quality raw fish that’s served at the owners’ Charlottenburg sushi bar The Catch. With a solid natural wine offering, this elegant hipster spot is right at home in Prenzlauer Berg.

  • November Brasserie, Husemannstr. 15, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€€€

Sasaya

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One of the all-around best Japanese spots in Berlin – not just for the vast selection of sushi and sashimi, but the vegetable appetisers and the shockingly affordable lunch specials.

  • Lychener Straße 50, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€

Sathutu

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Talented, popular, beautiful and hard to hate: Is Sathutu the Zendaya of casual fine dining spots? It certainly fits into the zeitgeist as snugly as it does into Rykestraße’s ever-more-crowded restaurant row. Say it with us now: Small plates. Natural wine. Burrata, fried chicken and fish crudo, all given a glamorous sprinkling of Indo-Pacific spice.

“German-Sri Lankan fusion” sounds like a gimmick, but it also describes the personal background of owner/hostess Lisa Baladurage. And, it works. “Short eats” like the burrata batura, a pizza-like creation with pickled aubergine, onions and fresh herbs atop buttery fried flatbread, are as delicious as they are Instagrammable.

Best of all is the Colombo fried chicken, coated in a turmeric-tinged spice blend and topped with fried curry leaves. Give it a squeeze of grilled lime, dunk it in the accompanying preserved lemon and mustard seed chutney, and rue that you ordered it to share. When it’s available, weekend brunch goes more traditional with egg hoppers, an island breakfast favourite consisting of crispy, egg-topped rice flour pancakes served with coconut sambal and lentil dhal.

  • Rykestraße 15, Prenzlauer Berg
  • €€€

Taquería el Oso

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What’s that saying about how insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? So it was for years with Mexican food in Berlin, with restaurant after restaurant promising ‘real’ tacos and burritos only to produce dry, bland results.

That tortilla-shaped void explains the frenzy surrounding Taqueria El Oso. A collaboration between German BBQ aficionado Michael Heiden, taquero Pablo Vázquez Häring and tortilla maker Jesús Garcia Hernandez, it specialises in al pastor: a döner-like taco style, developed during a wave of Lebanese immigration to Mexico in the 1930s, in which layers of achiote-marinated pork are sliced off a pineapple-topped rotating spit.

Their first few pop-ups attracted such massive crowds that you’d be forgiven for assuming, like a viral Mexican TV report did, that these were the first-ever tacos in Berlin. In reality, they weren’t even the first tacos al pastor, but El Oso’s particular synthesis of smoky meat, sweet pineapple, and serious salsa – with six options ranging from mild to incendiary – is something special indeed. They’ve now upgraded from a döner spit to a giant Mexican trompo and set up shop in back of Heiden’s food court Markthalle Pfefferberg, where they also serve specials like suadero (brisket), birria (the notoriously hip consommé-dipped braised beef tacos) and meaty or vegan chorizo sausage, all with a healthy helping of coriander, lime and diced onion. Unless you come right in between the lunch and dinner rushes, you’ll have to wait a while. But for tacos that actually deliver on their promises, it’ll be worth it.

  • Schönhauser Allee 176C, Prenzlauer Berg

Bar Normal

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Even before they changed their chef and introduced a new, Mexican-inflected menu, Bar Normal was one of our favourite wine bars for its laid back atmosphere and delicious sharing plates. Now, things have gone up a notch. The Mexican influence isn’t that obvious, but items like corn knödel, black mole and mescal add an extra layer to what is otherwise simple and excellent modern European cuisine.

  • Bar Normal, Oderberger Str. 7, Prenzlauer Berg, details
  • €€€

Schöneberg

Da Jia Le

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The fact that this is the only restaurant in Berlin where you can pair jiaozi with German craft beer is just one of the many wonderful things about Da Jia Le, the not-so-hidden temple of northern Chinese cuisine in Schöneberg. Order a family-style meal and you’ll discover it all: the attentive service, the expertly cooked and beautifully presented Dongbei dishes, the bracing jolts of garlic and vinegar. Everyone raves about the steamed fish and fried pork, but the truth is that you can (and should) make a terrific meal out of the vegetable dishes alone. Spicy shredded potatoes, smoked tofu with coriander, sauteed bok choy and shiitake in a glossy sauce, a superb eggplant hot pot… and let’s not forget the summery smashed cucumbers, or the five-colour salad with a tangle of slippery, chewy glass noodles in the middle.

  • Goebenstraße 23, Schöneberg
  • €€

Hodori

You don’t come here for refined cuisine or chic ambience – you come with 10 BFFs (or Korean family members) to house down massive amounts of table-grilled bulgogi and ketchup-smothered fried chicken.

  • Goebenstraße 16, Schöneberg
  • €€

KaDeWe

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The sixth floor of the EU’s biggest department store is packed with every conceivable delicacy: truffles to caviar, marzipan to US breakfast cereal. Feast your eyes, then hit the oyster bar.

  • Tauentzienstraße 21-24, Charlottenburg
  • Mon–Thu, Sat 10-20, Fri 10-21
  • €-€€€€

Malafemmena

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Of the kajillion Neapolitan pizzerias that opened in the past decade, this one’s our favourite – for the blistered crust, the top-notch Italian toppings and the relaxed vibe (skip the cramped Prenzlauer Berg branch).

  • Hauptstr. 85, Schöneberg
  • €€

Taverne Platia

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Tucked away in the courtyard of an old post-office space, this spacious Greek restaurant is great for large, shared platters, grilled meat and seafood, hot and cold meze. The prices are a little higher than your average Taverna, but the quality is obvious. While good at any time of year, this place really comes to life in the summer, when kids run around outside drawing with chalk on the floor and the whole Hof becomes like a Greek square, or Platia.

  • Taverne Platia, Haupstr. 27, Schöneberg, details
  • €€€€

Tianfuzius

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There are some outstanding examples of Chinese food in Berlin, but this is the first place which matches the quality of those shining lights with an exclusively vegetarian menu. Spicy noodle salads with pickled vegetables, potato and cauliflower hotpot, smoked tofu with celery – the authentic flavour shown across the whole array of dishes here is really outstanding.

  • Tianfuzius, Regensburger Str. 1, Schöneberg, details
  • €€€

Tiergarten

Arminius Markthalle

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Moabit’s historic market hall houses an astounding number of superb eateries: pizzeria Mangiare, fish grill Lesendro, cevicheria Naninka… the list goes on.

  • Arminiusstraße 2-4, Moabit
  • €-€€€

Café Einstein

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There are two Einsteins you should know about, both essential in their own way. One is the Stammhaus in Tiergarten, a stunning Viennese-style coffeehouse housed in a neoclassical villa. If your goal is impressing out-of-town visitors, recreating the strudel scene in Inglourious Basterds (which was filmed here) or simply having a great cup of coffee in an Old World atmosphere, this is the place you should go. If the food is your priority, on the other hand, head to Einstein Unter den Linden. Located on the outskirts of the government quarter, it’s a hub for politicians, lobbyists and media luminaries who come here for Kaffee und Kuchen or sophisticated adaptations of Austrian fare, including beef and horseradish Tafelspitz, cheese Spätzle, and the heart and lung ragout known as Salonbeuschel, to name a few of the most beloved alpine classics. Our favourite dish to date: the free-range duck from Bokelholm in Schleswig-Holstein, fried whole and served in two courses. The strudel isn’t half-bad, either.

  • Kurfürstenstraße 58, Tiergarten
  • Unter den Linden 42, Mitte
  • €€–€€€

Domberger Brot-Werk

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“Yeast out, time in”: for sourdough maestro Frank Domberger, the key to tangy rye bread, soft cinnamon rolls and perfect pretzels is as simple – and as complex – as that.

  • Essener Straße 11, Moabit

Joseph-Roth-Diele

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This lovingly assembled homage to author Joseph Roth, whose likeness and literature may be found lining the wood-panelled walls, feels like it’s been around for a century. In fact, the German pub on Potsdamer Straße is barely 20 years old, and as favoured by the gallery crowd as it is by beer-swilling Urberliner. There are always two hot lunch specials (one meaty, one vegetarian) for €5.95 apiece, meaning it gets pretty packed in here around midday. The dinner menu, meanwhile, has come into its own over the last few years with classic dishes like beef roulade and homemade Spätzle. Open-faced sourdough sandwiches, topped with cheese, lard or liverwurst, are available all day, and best savoured along with a smooth tap beer or two.

  • Potsdamer Straße 75, Tiergarten

Rocket & Basil

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Rocket & Basil received a mountain of press coverage when it opened in 2019, but much of it buried the lede. A café from the millennial sister-bloggers behind the hot Australian breakfast pop-up Das Brunch? Meh. Persian food that got one Iranian visitor so verklempt she felt compelled to march into the kitchen and give chef Xenia von Oswald a hug? Now we’re listening.

At their airy, mint-green space off Potsdamer Straße, Xenia and her sister Sophie take inspiration from all sides of their German-Iranian-Australian background. The porridge, salads, sandwiches, cakes and sausage rolls are all great, but not as memorable as the loving recreations and interpretations of traditional Persian stews, packed with herbs and spices and served over tahdig (saffron rice with a crunchy crust). Is there Das Brunch? There’s a brunch, a Persian-Aussie whirlwind of mascarpone pancakes, herby kuku sabzi omelettes and Aleppo-spiced Bloody Marys which you’d do well to reserve instead of simply rolling out of next-door Kumpelnest 3000 on a weekend at 10am.

  • Lützowstraße 22, Tiergarten
  • €€

Treptow

Neue Republik Reger

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Changing the world, one stomach at a time. It’s not just that this lefty-owned spot focuses on organic, regional, 100 percent vegan fast food, they also organise awesome events like drag shows, gigs and workshops. Grab a burger, order a beer and settle in. How many other burger joints do you know that have written their own manifesto for a better, more just world?

  • Neue Republik Reger, Bouchéstr. 79A, Alt-Treptow, details
  • €€

Eierhäuschen

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Out in Plänterwald, just across the Spree from Funkhaus, this spot could be simultaneously one of the oldest locations on our list and one of the newest. Eierhäuschen (meaning “little egg house”) was a popular excursion spot in the 19th century. Today, it’s up there with Trio in the pantheon of actually good German restaurants – bratwurst aficionados swoon over its locavore biergarten fare in summer, and as of December 2023, indoor diners can sit down to traditional classics prepared with a level of care and quality rarely found in this city.

  • Eierhäuschen, Kiehnwerderallee 2, Plänterwald, Alt-Treptow, details
  • €€

Wedding

Ernst

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Even among the increasingly mindful, ingredient-focused restaurants of this city, Dylan Watson-Brawn’s eight-seat temple is exceptional. Here, preparation matters less than the products themselves. And so the 30-odd courses in your rapid-fire omakase-style meal might include a single perfect carrot, or a piece of toffee made from the fat of a Mangalitza pig, or a just-singed slice of Müritz fish. The techniques are Japanese, the ingredients German (except for a handful of trusted small producers from further afield), the chef Canadian, the experience totally Berlin.

As a teenager, Watson-Brawn interned in the kitchen of Tokyo’s triple-Michelin-starred Ryugin. By the time he was 24, he’d moved here and parlayed a much-buzzed-about supper club into a restaurant in Wedding; two years later, he had a star of his own. Now, though he still hasn’t hit 30, the chef has left the wunderkind label behind and entered his imperial phase. The evenings in his open kitchen have something calm and monastic about them, and you always leave with the feeling you’ve learned something. Does that justify the cost and the hype, especially among the global food jet set? We think so. But if the tuition is too steep for you, there’s always Ernst’s casual little brother Julius across the street.

  • Gerichtstraße 54, Wedding
  • €€€€€

Sarajevo

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This Bosnian newcomer specialises in börek: flaky layers of paper-thin dough filled with meat, spinach and/or mellow feta. If you’re still hungry, order the fat-grilled cevapcici with pillowy homemade flatbread.

  • Triftstraße 8, Wedding

Sotto

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Renowned among Wedding residents and vegans alike for its crisp cold-fermented crust and creative plant-based toppings like smoked carrots or spinach with almond cream. (Cheese is allowed, too.)

  • Neue Hochstraße 25, Wedding
  • €–€€

UUU

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There are intimate restaurants. And then there are those where you feel like you’ve been pulled through a portal directly into someone’s brain, John Malkovich-style. In the case of UUU, it’s two people’s brains: chef Yuhang Wu and host Jonas Borcher’s. She’s from western China but has spent the past decade cooking at restaurants like Tim Raue, Coda and Wolfsburg’s tony Aqua. He’s a German Sinophile who worked at the Goethe institute in Beijing. Together, they serve a 10-course set meal to just nine guests a night in a fabulously tiled former Kneipe in Wedding. On the menu are Chinese-influenced dishes made with seasonal, regional ingredients, paired not with wine but with tea and homemade kombucha.

They don’t call it “fine dining”, but the quality of the ingredients and the level of craft on display speak for themselves. Take the spaghetti beans, grown by a farmer specifically for the restaurant, pickled, minced, fried and combined with taro puree, Chinese chive oil and fennel fronds in a dish that seems to recognise your objections to it and respond to them flavour by layered flavour. Or a simmering pot of homemade soymilk, coagulated before your eyes into soft, creamy tofu curds that are scooped out and served with chilli-scallion oil, a mound of perfect rice, and a shot of their own whey. And even if the words “kombucha pairing” normally set your teeth on edge, here, in this micro-universe Wu and Borchers have created, exploring the floral notes in a glass of two-week-fermented raw pu-erh will suddenly make sense.

  • Sprengelstraße 15, Wedding
  • €€€€€
Berlin's best restaurants: 101 places to eat right now - The Berliner (2024)
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