One of Europe’s most fascinating cities – Berlin – has always been more of a black-clad, industrial drinking town than a culinary capital, but times are changing and the food culture is on the rise in terms of options and quality.
With great local innovation, the arrival of immigrant groups from around the globe, and some (necessary?) updating of classic German dishes you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Here are 12 dishes and drinks you must try in Berlin!
PS – Get your belly stuffed and use the energy to check out our list of 30 things to do in Berlin.
This immensely popular dessert originated in nearby Austria and actually means ‘apple whirlpool’ in Middle High German.
A thin pastry jacket is stuffed with tart cooking apples, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and breadcrumbs. It only really comes together though with a dollop of vanilla ice cream – yum!
Invented in 1949 by food-kiosk owner Herta Heuwer who created a sauce using traditional ketchup and curry powder given to her by British Soldiers.
This boiled then fried sausage dish was a hit with construction workers rebuilding the city after the war and is still one of Berlin’s most popular meals today.
Pickled ham hock (pork knuckles) is boiled or grilled and served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, and mustard – now we’re getting German!
Legend has it that pretzels were invented by a monk in Italy who folded dough into the shape of a child crossing its arms in prayer – whatever the history, this savory bread snack is a favourite accompaniment to any German Pilsner.
OK, so Berliners actually call these holeless, marmalade-filled doughnuts ‘pfannkuchen’ (which means ‘pancake’ everywhere else in the country) but today the options are virtually limitless.
Soft, ooey-gooey modern vegan versions of this classic can be found at Brammibal’s Donuts – Homer Simpson’s dream.
Pound out a good cut of veal really thin, coat with flour, dip in egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and fry – serve with a slice of lemon and potatoes, accept no substitutes.
Grab some at the Ampelmann Restaurant for an amazing outdoor seating area with tough to beat city and river views.
These shallow-fried potato pancakes are great to snack on walking around any of Berlin’s outdoor markets. Sweet ones are served with apple sauce or plum compote while savory options include liverwurst or smoked salmon and sour cream.
Berliner Weiße mit Schuss
This very traditional drink made with a sour, cloudy wheat beer and a schuss (shot) of red raspberry or green waldmeister syrup is the ideal Berlin summer drink – weather permitting grab one and sit in a lounger at Strandbar Mitte, Berlin’s first ‘beach bar’ 😉
There’s really no good way to translate this one… German mustard eggs? Eggs in mustard sauce? This traditional German side is usually enjoyed around Easter time and uses hard boiled eggs in a type of mustardy hollandaise sauce served with potatoes.
With an estimated 200,000 Turks in Berlin it’s no wonder you can get some of the best doner kebab known to man – whether you want chicken, lamb, or even a vegetarian version the full-flavoured, good-value option is to head to Mustafa’s Gemeuse Kebab.
A much thinner, almost crepe-like version of American pancakes is another treat that can go either savory or sweet – it’s more commonly eaten as a dessert, light meal, or snack.
A Prussian specialty made with ground veal, beef, or pork meatballs, a touch of anchovy, and a creamy white wine and lemon gravy is a hearty winter dish that’ll fill you up fast.
Any Beer in a Biergarten
Most people have their own idea of what they want in a beer so there’s no point getting into the ton of options you’ll have in Berlin – tell the barman what you like and let him pour you a dream!
Just make sure if the weather is cooperating that you’re in a beer garden like the immensely popular 600-seat Prater Garten, the city’s oldest and most beautiful.