The Taste of Berlin (with Tips!)

One could call it ‘going local’ or being a ‘locavore’, but I think of it as a declaration of love to my favourite city in the world: over the Valentine’s weekend I tried to figure out what Berlin tastes like. Of course I had tried a (vegetarian) Currywurst and I’ve had my share of Berlin’s beers, but I knew that my city offers many more culinary opportunities. That’s why last Saturday I restricted myself to food and beverages produced in Berlin. And oh man, I’m still stuffed.

A stand filled with products from Berlin at Markthalle Neun
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

9.00 AM

Since I always wake up feeling pretty hungry, I had already done a small amount of shopping the day before. As it turns out, even my local supermarket has quite a lot on offer that is produced in Berlin. Vegetables, bread, lemonades and fruit juices are what I found in the course of my (not even very extensive) research. To start off my Berlin day on a healthy note, I bought an organic smoothie from fruchtWerk in Kreuzberg. Mango, maracuja and bananas from Berlin are the best – and I was ready to start my day

A fruity smoothie, made in Kreuzberg
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

9.30 AM

Time for breakfast, Zeit für Brot! A quick look at the everlasting queue in this bakery/café in Mitte, and you’ll understand that this is easily one of Berlin’s most beloved bread outlets. Everything you eat here is organic and handmade in the workshop at the back of the building. The focus in Zeit für Brot is on this bakery and on the mouth-watering good-looking snacks and breads that come out of it. There are some tables to enjoy your Zimtschnecke (cinnamon bun) and Rosinenknoten (raisin knot), but don’t expect any other decoration. How did it taste, you might ask? A-ma-zing. I can only hope that all of Berlin tastes this good.

Zeit für Brot: Alte Schönhauser Straße 4, Mitte

Probably the best cinnamon bun in all of Berlin, at Zeit für Brot
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

10.00 AM

I’d been awake for two hours now and I hadn’t have coffee yet – because I wasn’t sure whether the coffee at Zeit für Brot was of Berliner origin. Just a few minutes away is The Barn. The Barn has its own coffee roastery in Prenzlauer Berg, where you can watch how the beans are roasted in a 1955 ‘Probat Roast machine’. You can taste the coffee right over there too, or in their first and much smaller outlet in Mitte, like I did. Again, no distracting frills: just the smell of freshly roasted coffee and some small tables. Everything is about the coffee here and my cappuccino was without a doubt one of the best I’ve had in Berlin – could that be the sweet taste of Prenzlauer Berg?

The Barn: Auguststraße 58, Mitte
Rösterei: Schönhauser Allee 8, Prenzlauer Berg

Coffee from the hands of a true barista, at The Barn
Image courtesy Daphne Damiaans

11.30 AM

Mitte is perfect for some strolling around, with many beautiful buildings, unique boutique stores and… handmade truffles. While wandering through the famous Hackesche Höfe, we stumbled upon Sawade, where apparently they have been making chocolates for the past 135 years – albeit in their factory on the western outskirts of the city. We tried a chocolate filled with crunchy nougat and one with a marzipan filling. A small taste explosion, and an assurance that lunch could be postponed for the next 5 hours.

Sawade: Rosenthaler Straße 40–41 (Hackesche Höfe), Mitte

Chocolate heaven in the Hackesche Höfe: Sawade
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

1.30 PM

Or at least for the next 2 hours, because slowly I was starting to feel hungry again. Time to take the bicycle and go to Kreuzberg for Markthalle Neun. Their Streetfood Thursday is an institution, but what you might not know is that there’s a weekly market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Almost everything that’s for sale here comes from Berlin or Brandenburg (the federal state surrounding Berlin), from the freshly baked cakes to the organic vegetables. We tried a handmade chocolate bar filled with creamy peanut butter – a Snickers in a Mars, as Mark put it – and an apple, sold by the farmer herself. Not the most impressive lunch ever, but I had to save some space for…

Markthalle Neun: Eisenbahnstraße 42-43, Kreuzberg

Buying organic food and vegetables from the local farmer at Markthalle Neun
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

2.30 PM

Currywurst! Just a few minutes from Markthalle Neun is Yellow Sunshine, a fully vegetarian/vegan and organic fast-food restaurant in Kreuzberg. Yes, you read that right. They don’t only have Currywurst on the menu, but also a vegan chicken-cheeseburger and a vegan schnitzel. But I had my restriction: Berlin, Berlin, Berlin – so I went for the Currywurst. Truth be told: the French fries slightly overshadowed the Currywurst, which would probably have been rather tasteless if it hadn’t been for the sauce. My advice: go to Yellow Sunshine when you’re with a group of (part-time) vegetarians/vegans, but have your (vegan or meaty) Currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss in Prenzlauer Berg or Hain & Friedrichs in Friedrichshain.

Yellow Sunshine: Wiener Straße 19, Kreuzberg
Konnopke’s Imbiss: Schönhauser Allee 44b, Prenzlauer Berg (underneath the train tracks)
Hain & Friedrichs: Simon-Dach-Straße 37, Friedrichshain

What would Berlin be without the vegan Currywurst?
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

4.00 PM

Beer ‘o clock! If there’s anything easy on a full Berlin day, it’s beer. Even in an ordinary supermarket you’ll have your pick of beers brewed in Berlin, whether it’s Berliner Pilsener, Berliner Kindl or Schultheiss. But I wanted something more artisanal today, so we went to Hops & Barley in Friedrichshain. The beer is actually brewed in-house here and comes in basic types as Pilsner, Weizen and dark, but also in weekly changing specialty beers. We ordered a Pale Ale and a cider, also made in Friedrichshain, and watched a football match on the big screen. Good to know: don’t accidently make a toast right at the moment when a goal is scored against the local team Hertha – Berliners don’t appreciate that, as we learned the hard way.

Hops & Barley: Wühlischstraße 22/23, Friedrichshain

In-house brewed beer and soccer on the big screen at Hops & Barley
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

7.00 PM

A little tipsy but all the more happy and in love with Berlin we went to our final stop, a 25 minute bike ride away in Prenzlauer Berg. Here you’ll find Zum Schusterjungen, an authentic ‘Eckkneipe’ that has hardly changed in the past 100 years and still serves the traditional ‘Altberliner Küche’. The Eisbein (pickled ham hock), Blutwurst (blood sausages), Kapernklopse (meatballs in a white sauce) and Kohlroulade (cabbage rolls) are what Berliners call ‘deftig’: ‘substantial’ – or simply enough to keep you going for the next few weeks.

Not altogether tempted by the liver, blood and limbs on the menu, Mark chose the Bouletten (something between meatballs and hamburgers). The vegetarian menu was longer than you might expect from a traditional restaurant and consisted of dishes with potatoes, potatoes, eggs and eggs. And some spinach, in case someone is in a very healthy mood. I picked the ‘Senfeier’: three boiled eggs in a mustard sauce with mashed potatoes. My plan was to go for dessert too, since it was really about time that I tried Rote Grütze (cooked fruits with sugar and cream), but after finishing my Senfeier and my 0.5 litre beer – a special Schusterjungen brew – I was happy that I still found the energy to breathe.

Zum Schusterjungen: Danziger Straße 9, Prenzlauer Berg

Pretty heavy: a meal like the Berliners also had in 1916 at Zum Schusterjungen
Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans

11.00 PM

My belly and I were so happy to be in bed. I don’t think I have been this stuffed for years, not even at Christmas. Admitted: I suppose eating Berlin could be healthier than what I did today (and I had a smoothie and an apple!), but then I would have missed all this deliciousness. I suppose I need a week to recover from this, but I wouldn’t mind doing it all over next weekend. One thing is for sure: I have taken my love affair with Berlin to a next level.