Dinner is served!

On and around Strausberger Platz there is a culinary scene that ranges from locales known only to insiders to absolute hot spots: both surprising and diverse.

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image courtesy of Osawa /photocase.de

Two tables can be seen on the small terrace. Surrounding them: greenery. A place of tranquility. Just a minute, have we taken a wrong turn somewhere? Not at all! The other side of Strausberger Platz is just the same. As a constant stream of traffic flows along the main road, guests occupy the tables at Lotos Café– in another world entirely. The café may belong to a Buddhist organization, but this doesn’t mean that you have to wrap up in an orange-colored Pali in order to unwind here. Instead, what you will find here is one of Berlin’s most sensational vegetarian kitchens – unpretentious, down to earth and using only the freshest local, exclusively organic produce. How about tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms, or roasted pumpkin in rosemary cream sauce, for example? There are no evangelical vegetarians waiting to pounce on guests, simply a kitchen team that wants nothing more than to cook delicious food. Of course, there are tables inside, too. It might not exactly be a temple of design, but it is friendly.

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image courtesy of jala / photocase.de

A mano has established itself with more fanfare. The location at Strausberger Platz 2 is an ambitious one, previously not so well exploited. The previous restaurateur, a molecular chef, was only successful at driving diners away. The restaurant’s neighbors were initially downhearted, but their spirits were cheered when a Mano, an Italian restaurant offering first-rate cuisine, moved in three years ago. White linen, red cloth (!) napkins, perfectly laid tables – in the warm summer months al fresco dining in the shade of the large oak trees on the expansive terrace – a narrow red carpet and fresh flowers. The ambience, especially in the evenings when lanterns illuminate the path, the loving decoration and the pretty much perfect menu! From business lunches to meals of multiple courses: sempre italiano. Vesuvio, almost directly opposite, is the more casual variant; down to earth, rustic and adored by locals who fancy nothing more than a tasty, quick pizza in the evening.

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image courtesy of cydonna – photocase.de

Of course, there are also disappointments. If we are being honest, the 100 plus items on HuaTing’s menu can be more than a little scary. Convenience food rouses suspicions, as does glutamate. There are, thankfully, alternatives. Devotees of Asian cuisine will be very happy at the nearby Curcuma restaurant.

The second disappointment: the food at Haus Berlin at Strausberger Platz 1 leaves much to be desired. A refreshing beer on the terrace, with its view of the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, is however a different matter entirely.

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image courtesy of jala / photocase.de

Maybe it’s just that your humble author sets the bar too high… but, on the other side of the square there is an organic store, which makes really tasty (by Berlin standards) bread rolls that can be eaten in a cozy alcove and washed down with a good cup of coffee. Incidentally, coffee is a bit of a blind spot around here. So, if there is a restaurateur reading this: we, the residents of Strausberger Platz, would love a nice café on our doorstep. Being totally honest, this really is a first world, luxury complaint. Especially as it is a mere five-minute walk to Volkspark Friedrichshain where Café Schönbrunn, a first-class restaurant and one of Berlin’s culinary highlights, is as much of a visitor magnet as the extensive greenery of the park. Centrally situated, Schönbrunn offers Austrian cuisine, a sizeable beer garden and a tempting, if rather limited, menu. The café’s charm is impossible to deny, with its 1950s garden furniture and bright red cushions offering a hearty, charming welcome. And this is something that applies to all of the restaurants and cafés around Strausberger Platz: every single guest is made to feel completely welcome.

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