Seriously: The Ten Best Places to Eat in Berlin in 2020
It’s a weird year, my friends. The pandemic has changed all of our lives, and will continue to do so, even though we’re lucky with number of cases and fatalities in Germany and Berlin. I had to postpone the publication of my Best of Berlin 2020 guide from March to June, while losing a lot of other income myself. I’m very glad, that so many of you decided to support me by buying it, especially since I’m aware your own budgets for dining out and shopping have likely decreased. The support of the local community has been essential for our small-scale businesses, who’re doing their best to push through this crisis that is far from over. When I talk to young owners, they are most concerned with doing their best to serve you while keeping their staff safe and their finances in tact.
Carefully selecting where we spend our own money is more important than ever, and I wanna give you some ideas: here’s a list of where to get the best food in Berlin – in my mind. These are the restaurants I tell my friends they need to go to, the cafés I recommend to my guests, and the eateries I will queue for, essentially my own list of top food places in Berlin. It’s subjective, for sure, so you might miss your own favourite – don’t hesitate to put it in the comments!
These are taken from my current Best Places in Berlin 2020 guide, in which you find a lot more, in fact 115 recommendations in eleven categories from all over the city – no ads or other sponsored entries. Each place has a description, addresses, url, price level, link to google maps, and markers for vegan friendly and gluten-free friendly food, and wom*n owned places. Click here to buy it for 4,90€.
And now, here’re my current food favourits in Berlin:
There are many excellent bakeries in Berlin these days – this one’s my fav because of their pastries. And because of their breads. But also, their pastries. You might consider it tough what to choose from their beautiful display, so here’s a “my first time at Albatross” cheat sheet: get the Hausbrot and the flaky pastry with apple filling. This should do all the convincing you need to come back the next day (or an hour later). By now, they also have a grocery shelves and fridges established, where you can get some of the finest products from local and likeminded people – from coffee to cheese, wine, and kimchi – or you order it via their online shop archipel.
This is the home of the picture-perfect (and delicious) pancake-stack topped with butter, granola, and cream, that you’ve probably seen on instagram a lot. It’s also the cover-star of my own pdf guide to the best breakfast and brunch in the city leading you to 42 different spots (get it here for 3,90€). Go big and get the pancakes after you enjoyed the scrambled eggs on sourdough with pickled veggies. Their approach to a lavish brunch might seem a little delicate at first, but trust me, you’ll be rolling in delight. PS, They introduced a “breakfast sandwich” (a glamourised Egg McMuffin) during lockdown for takeaway and have been praised for it ever since.
Ash Lee brought one of her favourite dishes from her home country China to Berlin: The freshly made Chongqing noodles are doused in their house-made chili-oil and fragrant spices, and toppings of your choice. It’s very spicy, yes, but 1, you can order a less spicy version and 2, you can also just eat it slowly (like I do). And get a refreshing Chungking beer specially crafted by local brewery Motel, and hope they have the milk tea ice cream ready for a refreshing desert. Don’t miss the starters!
What a treat this place is. It only caught my intention a year ago, even though it exists a lot longer, and I’m not happy about my own ignorance. Wei-en Chan’s Taiwanese food is intense, creative, delicate, and just extraordinarily delicious: the seasonal menu offers rice cakes, tapioca balls, tea eggs, and more. Everything’s made in house with sustainability in mind. Extra special mention goes to the congee breakfast they serve on weekends, as pictured on top of this article.
If you haven’t had these sweet, Arab treats, you’ve not really experienced Berlin, I will say that confidently. Just planning to go makes me excited, wether it’s for Halawet el-Jibn, or for the full Kunafa Nabulsiya experience. Tamem Al-Sakka reopened his business after having to flee the war in Syria and leave behind his family’s 40- year-old pastry shop, and, wow, are we lucky he chose Berlin. They have three shops by now, all selling the high quality sweets.
Boba tea is having a comeback and I couldn’t be more glad about it. This Taiwanese tea house has a very odd location on a dull street around the corner from Ostbahnhof, but the high quality of its beverages, with or without boba, will make you forget that. Do yourself a favour and try their whole menu: from classic oolong to assam, from fruit teas to jasmin, and much more. And they have cute, paw-shaped waffles!
You should try the very good gözleme here, but what I’m coming for are the Anatolian mantı. The tiny, pretty packages are always made fresh, stuffed with potatoes, boiled, and then topped with yoghurt and paprika butter. When they ask whether you want the garlic, you gotta say yes, of course. It adds spice and will remind you about this beautiful dish the next morning, and it’s very healthy.
Still the best ice cream parlor in the city in my mind, and one of the few food spots I will queue for. Actually, all of the places listed here are places I would queue for. Compiling this list I asked myself whether I would queue, just followed by: how long? I have waited in line for Gabrielle Jones handmade ice cream almost any time I’m there, because they are that popular and they deserve it. Easy trick: come at 12 when they open, and if you’re not in the mood for ice cream for lunch, take one of the pints. My favourite flavours are probably mango passionfruit, salted caramel, and roasted chicory root (if they have it), but tbh, I’ll take any.
This Palestinian-Israeli restaurant joint venture makes an excellent hummus, and everything else with chickpeas and beyond borders. A couple months ago they moved into their new place, and it’s a lot more fancy than the shack by the tracks they occupied before. Fancy means they have real walls, indoor tables, and a huge kitchen, so they’re able to serve more elaborate dishes (chickpea pancakes!) without forgetting their classics (you must try the falafel). During lockdown I walked all the way from Kreuzberg to Helmholtzplatz just for their food.
You might have noticed how few “fine(r) dining” places are on this list. This has to do with them costing a lot of money and thus me not hanging out at them as much. However, most of them just don’t excite me very much. This is one of the exceptions (email me / comment if you’re craving more recommendations with a higher price level): Dalad Kambhu creates very fine Thai food, often with local ingredients, and serves it as a four course, family-style menu. The flavours in her dishes have so many levels and different intensities, her treatment of vegetables and protein is incomparable, and all that while honoring traditional Thai techniques. Would eat here any day.
Shabnam Syed’s food had many fans before she opened her Pakistani restaurant last year, because she worked at street food markets and events for a long time. Her recipes are created from the memories of her family, she serves traditional cuisine in vibrant colours and with deep and warming flavours. I love coming on the weekends for brunch, but I still miss the indulgent Halwa Poori Chana – fried bread lathered with sweet, buttery halwa and topped with spicy chickpeas – that the pandemic kicked off the menu. Do order a pakora here, or two.
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