It's been a monumental year for Berlin’s restaurant scene. Multiple venues explored uncharted territory and broke ground with new and interesting concepts. Gluttonous pop-ups and feasting events sprawled throughout the city. All-nighters were held with shared plates and bottomless booze (followed by hangover brunches... and more booze).
Chances are you've had one or more of the above experiences at one of Berlin’s intrepid new restaurants that opened in the past year. And if you haven't, fear not. Below we've listed them out for you. In no particular order, here are Berlin's best restaurants that opened in 2016.
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Opened in August, Berlin’s first dessert bar is dazzling diners with its tasting menus supported by experimental, highly stylized cocktails. You can also order a la carte, and just because final courses are the only option here don’t expect a sugar bomb spread. Head patissier René Frank -- formerly of the three Michelin-starred Restaurant la vie in Osnabrück -- employs natural sweetness from fruits and veggies, fused with unusual ingredients such as fermented tofu and black garlic.
Einsunternull opened fairly quietly, but quickly grew to critical hype. And even made the Michelin guidebook, earning its first star this month. Following in Berlin’s trend of highly seasonal and regional restaurants, this Mitte eatery upped the ante by going even more experimental -- strange seasonings from ramson to anise, and unheard of plates such as three-day cooked beetroot flavored with elderberry and rose. Understandably it’s a pricier menu, with the evening six-course starting at €77.
A visit to this Italian fine dining restaurant (one of Berlin’s best) never disappoints, thanks to its upscale comfort food and a cozy, stylish interior. Settle into a plush red leather seat, and choose from a generous wine menu and a list of satiating pastas, pizzas, and salads. The classic calamari, roast pumpkin and goat cheese salad, and the lobster spaghetti (featuring a perfect kick of chili) are all, quite simply, amazing.
Despite doing very little marketing, this café was raved about amongst food blogs this summer for its ice creams, with ingredients and flavors that ranged from vegan and sugar-free to gorgonzola and buckwheat. Scoops will be available through winter too, and Oak & Ice also started offering weekend brunches cooked by Little Joy (think healthy but indulgent, from super power porridge to roasted cumin cauliflower). Watch Facebook for regular supper clubs and vegan pop-ups from well-known Polish chef Julia Bosski.
Lode & Stijn, a pair of young Dutch chefs, have created a contemporary bistro as multicultural as Berlin itself. The menu is made up of fresh, seasonal delights influenced from the various European kitchens the duo have separately worked in. Pavlova cake, beer tartar, and of course the signature Dutch bitterballen are a few options from the bar snacks and four- and six-course tasting menus. It’s also one of Kreuzberg’s more contemporarily designed restaurants, with an open kitchen, shiny wood decor, and not a decrepit flea market table in sight.
Soup is finally having a starring moment at The Panda Noodle, a new pan-Asian ramen joint located centrally in Kreuzberg at Lausitzer Platz. Build-your-own bowls start with noodles and can be gussied up with a variety of toppings and sauces from miso to kimchi, tofu avocado pickle salad, sesame sauce, and more (most of which, is vegan-friendly). With plastic lights and anime/Asian pop posters everywhere, it’s the perfect kitschy kudos to authentic street food hawker stands.
Gone are Berlin’s days of jellies from mediocre bakeries. Brammibal’s opened its brick and mortar artisan donut shop in May, after traipsing the street food market circuit. Donuts are vegan and gluten-free, and come in funky flavors such as matcha, salted caramel hazelnut, and banana peanut butter. Watch Facebook for updates on what’s coming fresh out of the oven, and the odd all-call for half-priced “leftovers”.
Opened last month by a founder from hummus haven Yafo, Mrs. Robinson’s marries a sit down gourmet experience with two of Berlin’s most current foodie trends -- bao buns and sharing plates. This Asian-inspired restaurant goes one better than the craze however, with a simple but indulgent list of multiple baos (deep-fried soft shell crab and buttermilk fried chicken) and rotating specials such as soft oxtail gyozas and edamame ice cream.
Panama’s menu -- fresh regional food with Latin flare, as the name suggests -- is solid, but why you’ll really go is for a tropical escape that's provided by its interior. Opened in summer, Panama ranks as one of Berlin’s most beautiful restaurants with an “urban garden” vibe that’s certain to stay popular as temperatures dip. Spread over two floors of a former factory building, its design is rich and carefully thought through, from a multitude of lush exotic plants to colonial-style wicker furniture and yellow splashes.
Big Sur is the new incarnation of Gorilla Barbeque’s popular food truck. But there’s so much more at this restaurant-cum-bar than the fully-loaded burgers spotlit at local food events. Big Sur’s rustic, California-inspired menu includes buttermilk chicken, epicurean salads, and a weekend brunch menu of poached eggs and more to assuage any hangover. Starting January, Big Sur will be open late six days a week.
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1. CODAFriedelstr. 47, Berlin
2. einsunternullHannoversche Straße 1, Berlin
3. Cecconi'sTorstr. 1, Berlin
4. Oak & IceSchönhauser Allee 52, Berlin
5. Lode & StijnLausitzer Straße 25, Berlin
6. Louis PrettyRitterstr. 2, Berlin
7. The Panda NoodleLausitzer Platz 12, Berlin
8. Brammibal's Donuts8 Maybachufer, Berlin
9. Mrs Robinson'sPappelallee 29, Berlin
10. Panama91 Potsdamer Straße, Berlin
11. Big Sur11 Graefestr., Berlin
CODA is a dessert bar -- the first of its kind in Berlin -- with experimental tasting menus complemented by highly innovative craft cocktails. The upscale Neukolln patisserie also offers a la carte options, as well. And don’t be fooled: just because it’s dessert-only doesn’t mean you’ll be faced with overbearing, cloying sweetness. Dishes are composed of savory ingredients alongside sweet, like pecan ice cream with eggplant chips, cider vinegar jelly, and licorice salt.
Slightly hidden and partially underground, einsunternull (which translates to ‘one below zero’) is a sleek, Michelin-starred restaurant in Mitte that is founded on the rediscovery of nature through food. The various, multiple course tasting menus feature experimental contemporary German cuisine, and are accented by the regional ingredients that are the inspiration behind both the menu and the restaurant itself. Complement your prix fixe meal — at lunch and dinner — with interesting, unique wine pairings, or non-alcoholic pairings, to complete your dining experience.
Inside the ground floor of the Soho House building lies Cecconi's, a modern-day answer to the classic Italian restaurant. Its chandeliers, white table cloths and bright leather seating host all the beloved dishes of Northern Italy including wood-fired pizzas, hand-made pasta and risotto and mains like chicken paillard. Brush up on your wine lingo before you go; the bottle list might be intimidatingly long for perpetual beer-drinkers.
This Prenzlauer Berg ice cream shop has something for everyone, with all-natural ice cream, a kid-friendly atmosphere and gluten-free ice cream sandwiches. You can stick with classic ice cream flavors, but Oak & Ice also features outrageous offerings, such as buckwheat or foie gras. The menu also features seasonal flavors sourced from ingredients provided by local suppliers, but naturally, the more exotic flavors come from all over the globe. In addition to ice cream, you can also order cold-pressed juices, smoothie bowls or fresh-brewed coffee.
The brainchild of two Dutch chefs who have been doing popular pop-up dinners around Berlin, San Francisco and Amsterdam, this contemporary spot offers up multicultural and seasonal food like the Czech beef dish Svíčková and decadent pavlova cake (essentially, a giant merengue topped with cream and fruit) for dessert. It's right by the canal, so feel free to walk off the meal afterwards.
From Oscar Melzer, formerly of the acclaimed Mogg & Melzer, Louis Pretty is a New York-stye deli that’s rooted in Jewish tradition, but re-interpreted for a modern taste. Beyond the heaping piles of pastrami on its signature Reuben -- served on rye with mustard, cole slaw, and a pickle -- you’ll find a (non kosher) pulled pork sandwich, vegetarian sandwich options, as well as matzoh ball soup. Louis Pretty is a vibrant space with burnt orange walls, blush pink seating, turquoise tables, and a sleek steel countertop surrounding the open kitchen. And to complete the look: a framed and autographed photo of the cast of Seinfeld.
The Panda Noodle, located in Kreuzberg’s Lausitzer Platz, is a counter service ramen joint with an authentic atmosphere. It’s stacked with anime and Asian pop posters and plastic lights that lend a street food stand feel to the space. You can build your own ramen bowl — from broth and noodle to toppings and sauce — from a wide variety of options, or opt for the basic “Ramen Pandastyle” signature bowl. Ask about their homemade kimchi and pickle program.
This vegan donut shop used to be a food truck, but now the brick-and-mortor location in Kreuzberg makes it even easier to indulge in these donuts dripping with vibrant icing and toppings. Although a bit drier than regular, gluten-heavy donuts, they make up for it in artisanal flavors, such as pistachio and matcha. The donuts are also free of any artificial products, so you can chow down on these desserts while feeling a bit less guilty than normal.
Mrs Robinson’s is an upscale restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg serving Asian-inspired dishes with an emphasis on bao buns. It offers a variety of baos, including deep-fried soft shell crab, buttermilk-fried chicken, and crispy dorade fish buns. The small plates are meant to be shared, and the rotating menu is home to both savory and sweet specials, like slow-cooked oxtail gyoza and edamame ice cream. Enjoy their house-made tonics with your choice of spirit.
From the owner of Katz Orange – a local pioneer in slow food – comes Panama, a restaurant serving food with a German and Latino twist. You'll find plenty of raw, fresh food heavy on grains and vegetables. It’s also undoubtedly one of the most beautifully-designed restaurants in town, with a tropical interior full of wicker and lots of lush foliage. The space has two stories, both featuring work from contemporary artists.
Named for a city in California, Big Sur is serving up American-style gastropub fare in Kreuzberg, with a focus on Californian cuisine. From the team behind Gorilla Barbecue, Big Sur is known for its burger -- a grilled Irish beef patty with cheddar, balsamic-caramelized onions, pickles, and truffle mayo -- and highlights the vegetable-forward nature of California cuisine through a kale salad with shaved vegetables and grains, lentil and cornmeal fritters, and a chickpea and tomato toast with a poached egg. Enjoy your Pacific-coast cuisine with craft cocktails, wine, or beer.