Now that we’ve moved on to Dresden, the Berlin part of my fellowship has come to an end, but the city’s food is still very much on my mind. There for five full days, I only had a handful of opportunities to venture out for food of my own. Most of our lunches and dinners were planned for us, but when I could get away, I did, and discovered some great places worth sharing. Let’s begin.
If you’re ever in Berlin, you have to add Kreuzberg to your list of mandatory sights, which should include the Berlin Wall Memorial, Pergamon Museum, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. As one of Berlin’s most lively, trendy and immigrant-rich neighborhoods, Kreuzberg offers some of the city’s best cheap eats – Curry 36, specializing in the German delicacy of currywurst, happens to top the list.
You can get currywurst (boiled then fried sausage covered in curry ketchup and curry powder, often served with fries) just about anywhere in Berlin, but Curry 36 with its cheap prices, quick service and dozens of different varieties, is listed on just about every Berlin food guide there is, and now this one too.
Varieties of currywurst include: with onions, with mayo and without intestines.
On the same block as Curry 36 is Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap, another Kreuzberg institution. The line was long, but worth it.
Kreuzberg is home to Berlin’s large Turkish-immigrant population, and Doner kebabs, more commonly known in the U.S. by their greek name “gyros,” now play prominently in Berlin’s food culture, and Mustafa’s is the authority.
The shack is small and inconspicuous, but don’t worry, it’s impossible to miss given the permanent long line. It’s nearly as hard to settle on just one of the three serving vessels.
You can choose from pita, bun or wrap. I went with wrap because that seemed easiest to eat and share, but I do regret not trying their pita bread. It looked soft and toasty just the way I like it.
I ordered my Doner Kebab with everything, which includes meat, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, hot sauce, eggplant, potatoes and feta. Delicious and under 5 euros.
My tip to you is to make one big meal out of Mustafa’s and Curry 36. The two Berlin street-food icons are so close that you might as well kill two birds with one big fat stone. I justified it all by telling myself that the currywurst alone wouldn’t give me the nutritional value that I needed. As seriously as I take gluttony, I’m also very serious about eating my vegetables.
Next up on the food guide is Stadtklause in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, near the Anhalter Bahnhof and Potsdamer Platz S-Bahn stations. On our final night in Berlin, my fellow fellows and I were in the mood for something quaintly German and a couple of people suggested we check out the cute restaurant right near our hotel.
It’s a small, distinctly German restaurant where the food is simple, traditional, cheap, and the beverages come in an eclectic assortment of glasses.
I ordered the pork Schnitzel (thin boneless meat, breaded then fried) served with tasty pan-fried potatoes & bacon, pickles, sour cabbage, and a big hunk of lemon. I highly recommend it. All for less than 10 euros, including a bottle of water and tip, the hole-in-the-wall served up the perfect Berlin food sendoff.
More peculiar than perfect was this big plate of “little sandwiches” unlike any sandwiches I’ve ever seen. What you’re seeing there are chopped up pieces of untoasted bread, some topped with brie or salami, others with raw ground beef tartare-style or lard with fried onions. I’m still not sure what to make of it. Like I said, I recommend the schnitzel.
Similar confusion resulted from my trip to McDonald’s. As I’ve shared before, I make a point of stopping in for regional McDelicacies whenever I travel. It’s a practice people have a hard time understanding, but just like The Economist has its Big Mac Index, I like comparing what the Golden Arches have to offer in different parts of the world.
Unfortunately, bratwurst isn’t on the German Mickey D’s menu as I had hoped. Instead, fully understanding Germany’s obsession with currywurst, they recently introduced Curry Beef and Curry Chicken sandwiches. Not good. Such disappointment was exactly what I expected, so I covered my bases and ordered nuggets and a cheeseburger as well.
And to end things on a good note, I want to share an innovative German dessert known as Spaghetti Eis.
As you can probably tell from the picture, Spaghetti Eis is a plate of ice cream made to look like spaghetti. The ice cream is passed through a pasta press, placed on top of a bed of whipped cream that’s when covered with strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings made to look like parmesan. Just as you’d expect, it tastes delicious, but above all else it’s really fun to eat and unique to Germany. Get it just about anywhere that serves dessert.
This officially closes the Berlin chapter of the trip, although I do hope to reopen it someday. Berlin doesn’t rank that highly on my list of favorite cities, but the unique delicacies are certainly worth a second visit.