Food & Drink

The Most Important Restaurants in Berlin

Barbara Woolsey Published On 09/02/2015 Published On 09/02/2015

Right now is probably the best time ever to be a foodie in Berlin (no 1896, you had your chance) -- from markets to food trucks to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, Germany’s capital is a feasting haven. But it didn’t get there overnight. Here are the restaurants that have helped to shape the city’s dining revolution...

Flickr/Alper Cugun

Lon-Men's Noodle House

Charlottenburg
Although Lon-Men opened in 1969, you didn’t need a reservation here until a couple years ago, when foodie bloggers unleashed its secret unto the masses. Since then, any conversation about local Chinese food always ends up in Lon-Men worship, whether it’s the chili wontons, steamed bun sandwiches, or succulent duck in plum sauce. The noodle shop’s lackluster décor and narrow seating now just adds to its charm.

Flickr/Juska Wendland

Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap

Kreuzberg
Eating at Mustafa’s at least once is a Berliner’s rite of passage. After all, Germany’s most hyped döner kebap stand is a subject of never-ending debate: is it really worth all the guidebook lip service, and is it especially worth waiting in a 30-minute-plus queue? The fun is all in forming your own opinion, and the only way to do that is biting into Mustafa’s chicken and grilled veggies in flatbread, coated in secret sauce.
 

Lokal

Mitte
When Das Lokal opened in 2012, it became an institution in Berlin for a couple reasons: 1) it was one of the first restaurants to source its meat and veggies entirely from Brandenburg, and 2) the capital was aching for delicious, yet affordable German food. Das Lokal is now the go-to spot for whenever a knödel, spätzle, or goulash craving arises. Its concept of small, locally sourced menus that change every few days has also been much emulated since.

Tim Raue

Tim Raue

Kreuzberg
Chef Tim Raue is about as Berlin as the TV Tower. Born and bred here, he’s worked his way up through kitchens over the years, eventually earning two Michelin stars in 2012. But it was his self-named restaurant where the chef really came into his own and brought something new and inspiring to the city -- inventive Asian-fusion dishes served in eight courses, exemplifying what a culinary journey is all about.

Flickr/Stijn Niewendijk

Mogg & Melzer

Mitte
This modern-American deli is responsible for showing Berlin the meaning of a good sandwich. When Mogg & Melzer started out, the restaurant was one of few brining and smoking meat by itself -- creating a juicy, fatty product that made its pastrami and Reuben sandwiches simply unbeatable. Even the New York Times called the creation an experience that “only a handful of delis in New York can match.”

Flickr/Teymur Madjderey

Cookies Cream

Mitte
When Cookies Cream opened a few years ago, nobody really knew how this “club restaurant” would fare. Well, Berlin’s first high-end vegetarian restaurant exceeded expectations. Even after the Cookies nightclub closed last year, the restaurant’s still fully booked for its milk-free, pasta-free, culinary goodness.

Industry Standard

Industry Standard

Neukölln
Industry Standard is proof that you can serve people bone marrow and pork tongue, and they will really dig it -- in fact, you can serve it to them in a former shisha bar in the depths of Neukölln and they will dig it even more. Industry Standard is Berlin’s first restaurant to really indulge in “nose-to-tail” cuisine and become popular through word of mouth. That’s even more impressive when you consider its location, in an area that’s still totally ungentrified.

Grill Royal

Grill Royal

Mitte
When Grill Royal opened in all its swanky glory, it became known for serving the city’s highest-grade meats. Offerings like the Temmener Queen, a 90-day dry-aged organic beef entrecote, propelled this restaurant to the top of Berlin’s fine-dining scene. Celebrities from Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, and Karl Lagerfeld have all tucked in here.

Flickr/GillyBerlin

The Bird

Prenzlauer Berg
These days, the last thing Berlin needs is another burger restaurant. But back in the day, The Bird was the burger restaurant and for many who live here, it still is. The American-style dive bar was at the forefront of the beef patty explosion, serving English muffins stacked with 250-gram Black Angus patties and a high-and-mighty amount of fixings.

Flickr/Ang

Curry 36

Kreuzberg
Living in Berlin without eating a currywurst is equal to blasphemy (unless you don’t eat pork, because then you’re excused). Coincidentally, Berlin’s most raved about currywurst stand is located on the same street as Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap -- and the line is also around 30 minutes on a good day.

Monsieur Vuong

Monsieur Vuong

Mitte
Berlin’s tradition of terrific Vietnamese cuisine goes back to immigration during Communism, and no place is more famous for soups and wantons than Monsieur Vuong. Named after the owner’s father, a photographer during the Vietnam War, the restaurant’s authentic taste is a piece of local history. The daily menu is always something fresh and creative, which explains why Monsieur Vuong’s tables are always overflowing.

Flickr/Jack Zalium

White Trash Fast Food

Kreuzberg
Whether the new Kreuzberg venue lives up to the old one in Prenzlauer Berg is debatable, but there’s no arguing that White Trash is still a Berlin institution. The restaurant pioneered hearty American dining here, as well as the concept of combining burgers and steak with live rock music. Before White Trash, having wait staff that couldn’t speak fluent German was a serious taboo -- these days, it’s quite the opposite.

Maria Bonita

Maria Bonita

Kreuzberg
Berlin was a sad, sorry, and non-spicy place before Maria Bonita opened. Expats and Germans who had lived abroad had to get used to bland, heretical Mexican cuisine until this restaurant’s homemade street food changed everything. Maria Bonita’s quesadillas and burritos are still the most authentic you can get in Berlin, and its hole-in-the-wall aesthetic arguably makes the experience that much better.

Borshardt

Borchardt

Mitte
It’s impossible to flip through a Berlin guidebook without finding mention of Borchardt, the luncheon destination of the rich and powerful. Its reputation as a brasserie of politicians and celebs is long-standing, which explains why its French and German cuisine is rarely mentioned in foodie blogs. Say what you will about Borchardt’s €21 wiener schnitzel, but it’s arguably the most famous in the city.

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1. Lon-Men’s Noodle House Kantstr. 33, Berlin, 10625

This place opened in 1969 but didn't become popular or require reservations until a couple of years ago. Now, this place is the spot for Chinese food in the area. The steamed bun sandwiches and duck in plum sauce are incredible, and the narrow seating and dull decor only add more charm to the place.

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2. Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap Mehringdamm 32-34, Berlin, 10961 (Kreuzberg)

You might have to wait in line for awhile to get a kebab from this tiny street-side stand, but once you take the first bite, you'll understand why you did. Kebabs here are loaded with crispy chicken, fresh feta, and a secret ingredient that, undoubtedly, sets this place apart.

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3. Lokal Linienstr. 160, Berlin, 10115

Das Lokal was one of the first restaurants to source their produce and meat exclusively from Brandenburg, and their frequently changing menus keep customers coming back for fresh, new dishes regularly.

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4. Restaurant Tim Raue Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26, Berlin, 10969

Tim Raue is pretty much a Berlin foodie legend at this point, and rightly so: after getting out of a tough '70s street gang, Raue has gone on to be the head of restaurant with two Michelin stars. Two! What a guy. Anyway, this place near Checkpoint Charlie is a must if you're looking to impress because it does exactly that with its slightly minimalist interior and pan-Asian menu.

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5. Mogg & Melzer Auguststrasse 11-13, Berlin, 10117

A former Jewish school for girls, Mogg and Melzer is a chic, cozy deli decked in emerald tiles and blood orange colored picnic tables. A hot spot for breakfast and lunch, they serve staples like smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball soup. Stray off the reservation and try the chicken liver creme brûlée for dessert.

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6. Cookies Cream Behrenstr. 55, Berlin, 10117

Once you duck into the alley next to The Westin Grand and around the corner to the back of the building, you'll be dazzled by one of Berlin's only vegetarian elite dining experience complete with white tablecloths, chandeliers, and city views. In small yet flavorful portions, quail eggs lie in perfectly circular brioche nests, ratatouille sports pearled barley necklaces, and grilled pineapple desserts sit atop foamy coconut sorbet.

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7. Industry Standard Sonnenallee 83, Berlin, 12045 (Neukoln)

The menu at Industry Standard is a interesting mix of posh cocktails, regional produce and “whole beast” cooking, things like rabbit kidney gnocchi and pickled pork tongue on toast. Plus, on Tuesdays they serve Laksa (Malaysian street food noodles) as a pop-up from the guys behind Piri’s and Santa Maria.

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8. Grill Royal Friedrichstr. 105b, Berlin, 10117 (Berlin)

Locals always claim they can't stand this place, but that doesn't mean they don't flock to it gleefully. The Grill Royal is one of the many restaurants in Boris Radczun's empire and it's consistently packed by both tourists and Berliners, all of whom come to the art décor-esque spot for a great menu of filet mignon, salmon tartare, oysters, tons of steak, and about 750 wines & champagnes. If it's good enough for Clooney and Damon (a Berlin favorite for both), then it's good enough for you.

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9. The Bird Am Falkplatz 5, Berlin, 10437

Count on home-style, American burgers at this establishment, which was one of the first in the city to serve the Western staple. Their black angus patties and variety of toppings come on English Muffins, and the bar itself has a very New York feel to it.

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10. Curry 36 Mehringdamm 36, Berlin, 10961 (Kreuzberg)

Some people claim that Curry 36 has the best currywurst in the city, and if you want it really hot, you'll have to ask for it "scharf".

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11. Monsieur Vuong Alte Schönhauser Str. 46, Berlin, 10119

This orange-walled, banquette-filled Vietnamese restaurant is perfectly laid back and delicious with daily chalkboard specials. The restaurant's authentic taste is truly a part of Vietnamese history in Berlin.

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12. White Trash Fast Food Schönhauser Allee 6/7, Berlin, 10119 (Prenzlauerberg)

Given the name, it should be no surprise that this Prenzlauer Berg spot has a penchant for gigantic, artery-clogging burgers. But what is Bruce-Willis-was-dead-the-entire-time level shocking about White Trash Fast Food is that it also acts as -- get this -- a tattoo parlor and a club that features an endless rotation of DJs, parties, and live events.

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13. Maria Bonita Danziger Str. 33, Berlin, 10435

This joint, with its hole-in-the-wall aesthetic, is the closest you'll come to authentic Mexican food in Berlin. Traditionally prepared dishes, handmade tortillas and homemade salsas all shine at this godsend of an establishment.

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14. Borchardt Französische Str 47, Berlin, 10117 (Mitte)

This Berlin hotspot features menu options that change daily and exhibit flavors of both German and French cuisine.

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