Our guide to some of the best German cuisine in the Hauptstadt…
Berlin’s food culture is as diverse as its population—to the point where its traditional cuisine often gets overlooked. Heading out on a mission to find German food in the capital can uncover some pleasant surprises, since the city offers abundant opportunities to test your notions of what constitutes traditional German cuisine.
Sauerkraut? Pickled herring? Wurst? Check, check, check. But you’ll also find Spätzle and Maultaschen, the delicious southern German take on pasta, tasty Klöße (dumplings), smoked trout, bolete (meatballs) and plenty of pork hocks, all backed up by a dizzying array of cakes and locally produced wines and beers. Guten appetit (and Prost!)
This atmospheric Palatinate wine bar is slightly hidden amongst a huddle of Spätkaufen (late night kiosks) and commercial stores in Charlottenburg. Despite its locale—and Berlin’s ever-evolving culinary landscape—the weinstuben has sustained its authentic and distinct flavor for over 75 years. The menu represents Palatine cuisine with items such as Saumagen (pig’s stomach), a particular favorite of the Palatine diet along with bratwurst, grieweworscht (a blood pudding sausage), and läwwerknedel (liver dumplings). Even more impressive are the 20,000 bottles of wine in the basement.
Kurfplaz-Weinstuben, Wilmersdorfer Straße 93, 10629 Berlin, 030 8836664, www.kurpfalz-weinstuben.de
Zur Letzten Instanz
Zur Letzten Instanz dates back to the sixteenth century, and as such is one of Berlin’s oldest pubs. Appositely located in the Nikoleiviertel (Berlin’s ersatz Old Town), it has done its best to retain an Old World charm, with simple wooden tables and chairs, old photographs and paintings on the wall and a menu that pays hearty tribute to Germany’s traditional cuisine.
Dining here can be a serious gustatorial endeavour with mains that cater to the German appetite for large portions, featuring house specials like “Berlin in a clay pot”, the equivalent of a meat pie stuffed either with Buletten (Berlin meatballs), pickled herrings, and heavyweight three-course options. Recommended are the braised shoulder of lamb with fried dumplings or the mouth-watering Eisbein (pork shank), which arrives dramatically impaled with a meat knife.
Zur Letzten Instanz, Waisenstraße 14-16, 10179 Berlin; 030 2425528, www.zurletzteninstanz.de
This Prenzlauer Berg hotspot is one of the best examples of traditional German cuisine in town. Despite the high caliber of its food, its wooden interior and simple furnishings lend the place a down-to-earth German pub feel. The menu is limited but changes daily and reflects locally available seasonal ingredients; consistent highlights are the marinated sheep’s cheese and the pork fillet stuffed with plums. Note that this is a highly popular place and it’s sometimes difficult to secure a table after 8pm, especially at weekends.
Oderquelle, Oderberger Straße 27, 10435 Berlin, 030 44 00 80 80, www.oderquelle.de
Prenzlauerberg’s Gugelhof pays tribute to the exquisite Franco-German region of Alsace, taking influence from the well-known gastronomical hotspot located between three major rivers (Mosul, Rhine, Saar) where ingredients are as famously diverse as they are numerous. The space has a solid, traditional feel with large wooden tables and professional service, and previous guests have famously included former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Gugelhof’s regional specialities range from Flammkuchen (known in France as Tarte Flambé, a flatbread pizza smothered in fromage blanc or crème fraîche and baked in a wood fire oven) to Alsatian cassoulet, composed of potatoes, leeks, onions, beef, lamb marinated in Alsatian white wine.
Gugelhof, Kollwitzplatz (corner Knaackstraße 37), 10435 Berlin; 030 442 9229, www.gugelhof.de
Lebensmittel in Mitte
This long-standing Mitte restaurant started out as delicatessen and vegetable/grocery shop. Over the years it has morphed into a highly popular hotspot for South German cuisine. It serves up a famously delicious Käsespätzle as well as dishes such as Bavarian pork with dumplings and Sauerkraut, Senfeier (mustard eggs), and Wiener Schnitzel. The interior is rustic and atmospheric and the wines are excellent too, as are the Franconian sausage and Allgäu cheese specialties. Lunch deals are also available.
Set inside a listed building from 1902, this gemütlich Berlin inn-style restaurant can be found on Kreuzberg’s buzzy Oranienstrasse. Named after a rascally duo from German fairy-tale lore, it’s worth dining here for the interior along, which mixes up Wilhelminian-era style furniture, wall reliefs, finely lacquered blue-green wall tiles, glass paintings, and assorted Art Nouveau details. The kitchen serves up a broad but no-nonsense selection of substantial meals such as Bollenfleisch, a stew with green beans and lamb, Eisbein, and Flammkuchen. There are also vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu and you can wash it all down with “Kreuzberger Molle”, a naturally cloudy beer especially brewed for the restaurant, or the Barre Bräu Pilsener, imported from the oldest private brewery in northern Germany.
Max & Moritz, Oranienstr. 162, Kreuzberg, 030 695 15 911, maxundmoritzberlin.de
Named after German film director Ernst Lubitsch, this restaurant blends Berlin’s flair for the arts with its insatiable craving for traditional comfort food. Directors, film and TV stars mingle with locals and the smell of fine food that wafts from the kitchen. Lubitsch’s menu tends to change according to the seasons and features beloved house classics like Königsberger meatballs, Wiener Schnitzel and spinach dumplings served with alpine cheese. Or you could always just pop in for some fresh ‘Fines de Claire’ oysters and a glass of refined wine.
Lubitsch, Bleibtreustraße 47, 10623 Berlin; 030 8823756, www.restaurant-lubitsch.de
Cafe Obermaier’s main ingredient is authenticity. Located off bustling Kottbusser Tor, the menu here offers a tasteful blend of Alpine and Bavarian regional classics, such as pork loin smothered in cranberry sauce served with fried dumplings and Wiener Schnitzel. Its atmosphere is simple and sparse lending itself more to the down-home charms of a biergarten with its bulky wooden benches and tables clad in blue and white checked tablecloths. The extensive selection of domestic brews provide a nice window into German beer culture, as well as the perfect complement to the hearty fare.
Café Obermaier, Erkelenzdamm 17, 10999 Berlin, 030 6165 6862, www.obermaier-kreuzberg.de
Zur Haxe is like visiting a German Oma’s; cuddly toys line the backs of benches and window sills while the walls are covered in quirky decorations. The bubbly staff are enthusiastically dressed in Lederhosen and Dirndls, and the menu is made up of classic comfort foods and Bavarian specialities. Be warned: the Schweinehaxen might be larger than your head.
Zur Haxe, Erich-Weinert-Straße 128, 10409 Berlin; 030 42 16 312, www.zurhaxe-berlin.de