2015 is nearly over, but given how good it's been to Berlin's already great eating & drinking scene, you'd be forgiven for wishing it wasn't. And thanks to the sheer variety of cool stuff that's opened, we thought we'd award our end-of-year honors on an appropriately broad range of categories. Here, then, is Berlin's best of the year:
Best new cocktail bar
Jigger, Beaker & GlassAddress and Info
With cocktail havens like Butcher's Bar and The Antlered Bunny closing in 2015 (RIP), there was nearly a void in Berlin mixology -- until that is, Jigger, Beaker & Glass. Opened in May, this Prohibition-style speakeasy does all the classics, but it’s best known for experimental infusions. Because seriously, how could you order just an old fashioned when there’s a BBQ version with bacon bourbon, chipotle bitters, and torched cheddar garnish?
Best new beer bar
The PierAddress and Info
Coney Island brings forth images of trashy beach and back tattoos, but this new craft beer pub inspired by it is anything but (because, after all, it’s still in Mitte). The Pier throws back to an American landmark in the days of yore, with homey outdoor seating and wooden accents. There are 15 craft beers on tap, and modern takes on boardwalk eats like a three-cheese grilled sandwich with chili mayo and the much-talked about Dorito pie.
Best new café for working
The Store KitchenAddress and Info
When The Store Kitchen opened, people wondered if this was going to be overambitious and a yuppie haunt like its upstairs neighbor Soho House. But this café has genuinely worked its way into Berliners’ steely hearts with a bright, spacious interior and comfy setting for conquering laptop work. Healthy all-day meals, a cold-pressed juice bar, a spa, barber, and a store selling plants, books, and other whatnot are all on deck.
Best new fine dining restaurant
Nobelhart & SchmutzigAddress and Info
Barely less than a year old, and Nobelheart & Schmutzig’s already nabbed a Michelin star for its luxurious, ten-course tasting menus. Despite this, the owners are still humble as pie, explaining every gastronomical quirk and whim to guests and joking around about their philosophy of “brutally local” food. All in all, Nobelheart & Schmutzig has lived up to the hype.
Best new café for hanging out
BuchholzAddress and Info
You could say Buchholz, the new sister restaurant to Lokal and Kantine, was bound for success. The café has taken a now proven formula -- regional, seasonal food in cozy surroundings -- and managed to elevate it. Everything at Buchholz from the tables to ceramics and cutlery has been carefully curated and designed for its countryside interior and outdoor garden (where many veggies and herbs on the menu are grown, by the way). Order a mint tea and you’ll see the waitress pluck it fresh in front of you. In a city famous for impersonal service, you can’t deny that’s pretty special.
Best new Turkish restaurant
Fes Turkish BBQAddress and Info
Fes breaks the stereotype of Turkish restaurants in Berlin with its modern, Instagram-friendly interior and DIY approach to grilling. The taste is still authentic though, and being able to watch your chicken, lamb or beef sizzle on a tabletop is an experience that most of us have only tried at Korean BBQs ‘til now. Fes is the relaxed kind of place you can bring anyone -- your parents, a date, or someone that just needs to loosen up by getting into some meat and raki.
Best new burger spot
Burgermeister at Kottbusser TorAddress and Info
Burgermeister is a Kreuzberg institution that’s saved a lot of us from hangovers and bad decisions over the years. Now the restaurant has just opened a second location directly outside of Kottbusser Tor two U-Bahn stops down. And while it may not be charmingly housed in an old public toilet like the original, there’s no denying that Kotti didn’t need another kebab shop.
Best new brunch
Geist im GlasAddress and Info
For years, this cozy Neukölln bar has been slaying experimental cocktails but now there’s also an epic, hangover-defying brunch on weekend. The winter menu has just come out with fluffy pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and other hearty American plates. Daylight tipples include the Bloody Mamacita and Machida (Mexican and Asian takes on a traditional mary) and seasonal warmer-uppers like spiced apple rum and mescal-spiked hot chocolate.
Best new street food
Spice Spice Baby (address and info)
Berlin summer is just a fond memory now, and it’s hard not to get nostalgic thinking about Spice Spice Baby’s game-changer jerk chicken. Debuting at events like Bite Club and Neue Heimat Sundays, this Jamaican food stand was a constant epicenter of action with its smoky grill and line-ups. All the chicken is marinated overnight in its fiery jerk sauce, slow-cooked over thyme-strewn coals and served inside burgers or alongside coconut rice and tropical sides. We’re salivating for next summer just thinking about it.
Best street food turned brick-and-mortar: TIE, between Chicha & Fräulein Kimchi
Chicha (address and info)
This Peruvian street food has been rocking Markthalle Neun and popups for a while now, but in October the foodie gods blessed Berlin with a restaurant on Friedelstraße. Now it’s possible to eat ceviche five nights a week! We’re not joking; their tiger’s milk marinade might as well be another South American export -- it’s just that addicting. Everything’s light, fresh, and tasty, and the pisco sours pack a good punch.
Fräulein Kimchi (address and info)
Another graduate from street food events, it’s no wonder Fräulein Kimchi’s Prenzlauer Berg restaurant has become a big hit. As the name suggests, the homemade kimchi is a centerpiece on ramen burgers, käsespätzle, and other dishes inspired by German, Korean, and Californian cuisine.
Best new Asian restaurant
ZenkichiAddress and Info
Zenkichi is Japanese fine dining done beautifully, with enough a la carte, premium sake, and beer to keep an evening lingering for hours. The owners have taken the concept of izakaya -- a laidback restaurant and bar where salarymen go to decompress after work -- and gone with an upmarket approach, creating secluded dining booths and an intimate atmosphere. Try the eight-course tasting menu for the best selection of Omakase the kitchen has to offer.
Best new Asian fusion restaurant
PacificoAddress and Info
Trying to understand Pacifico’s fusion menu is sometimes tough. It’s Korean, yet the bao is served like a taco, and then the kimchi burger comes on a brioche bun. So what’s best is to just be zen and go with your server’s recommendations -- it’s all fresh and tasty anyway.
Best new Indian restaurant
ChutnifyAddress and Info
Before Chutnify, Berlin was a desert of bland curries and iceberg salads from Indian restaurants listed on Lieferando. So that’s why we had to include this South Indian eatery, even though it technically opened at the tail end of 2014 (thus putting it out of consideration for our awards that year) because it’s changed the game considerably. Chutnify boasts authentic dosas, richly flavored curries, and an interior that is totally homey. For Kreuzbergers, the restaurant also regularly has a stand at Markthalle Neun’s Streetfood Thursdays and the Breakfast Market.
Best new vegan restaurant
The BowlAddress and Info
Berlin’s first clean eating restaurant is everything that health nuts hoped it would be and more. There’s a full array of bowls available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from overnight oats and smoothie bowls to vessels heaped in rice and a colorful veggies for supper. Desserts include raw cakes even a chocolate chia pudding with fresh berries that’ll leave you feeling frisky all day.
1. Jigger, Beaker & GlassGärtnerstr. 15, Berlin
2. The PierInvalidenstr. 30, Berlin
3. The Store Kitchen1 Torstraße, Berlin
4. Nobelhart & SchmutzigFriedrichstraße 218, Berlin
5. BuchholzJoachimstr. 20, Berlin
6. Fes - Turkish BBQHasenheide 58, Berlin
7. BurgermeisterOberbaumstr. 8, Berlin
8. Geist im GlasLenaustr. 27, Berlin
9. Chicha BerlinFriedelstrasse 34, Berlin
10. Fräulein KimchiKollwitzstr. 46, Berlin
11. Zenkichi — Modern Japanese BrasserieJohannisstraße 20, Berlin
12. PacificoOranienstr. 147, Berlin
13. ChutnifySredzkistr. 43, Berlin
14. The BowlWarschauer Str. 33, Berlin
This spot fills the void in Berlin mixology with its experimental infusions in a Prohibition-style speakeasy setting.
This Coney Island-inspired craft beer pub has homey outdoor seating and wooden accents. There are 15 craft beers on tap, all suitable to wash down the Dorito pie.
The Store Kitchen is one of the best cafés in the city for slaying laptop work -- with plenty of comfy seats, a juice bar, a barber, and, upstairs, the Soho House. And as if the bright and airy interior weren't already inviting you to spend your whole day there, the decadent lunch and dinner menu packed with savory orders will have you calling this place your own kitchen in no time.
With a menu that changes nightly and presented in 10 courses, served with silverware made of metal from leftover Soviet wares, Nobelhart & Schmutzig presents a dining experience. The gourmet meal is served communally on “Mama’s kitchen table” and you can rest assured every dish will be fresh, local, and delicious.
This sister restaurant to Lokal and Kantine serves local, seasonal food in a beautifully designed space that mimics a countryside interior and outdoor garden, where some of the ingredients are grown.
Exposed brick, copper pipes, and a tabletop BBQ pit make this trendy Turkish kebab shop a Berlin favorite. Compared to some of the other barbecue restaurants in the city, this one is the best to bring a date to thanks to it's beautiful interior. Take your pick from chicken, lamb, or beef, and a delectable mix of mezze platters.
Flipping patties in an ornate, 100-year-old structure that used to be a public toilet (yes, you read that right) directly underneath the U1 tracks, Burgermeister wins points just for its setting. Sure, at first you may question its sanity (and whether it's sanitary), but its moist and juicy standards will quickly put all your bathroom jokes to rest. What’s more, it stays open really late (until 4am Fridays and Saturdays), so its chili cheeseburger and cheese fries can serve as either a tasty primer before a night out in Kreuzberg or a much-needed pick-me-up before heading back home.
This Neukölln bar is softly lit and provides a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy libations, and it also hosts a supper club on Sundays featuring international fare.
Both traditional and street food are served at this Peruvian restaurant, which operates under Japanese influences with light, fresh, small plates. Pisco sours pack a serious punch and pair very well with ceviche. Clean wooden tables are lined neatly in brightly colored space with loud wall murals.
American and Korean "S(e)oul" food -- with influences from Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago -- come together at this unique eatery that specializes in street food. As the name suggests, the homemade kimchi is a centerpiece on ramen burgers, käsespätzle, and other dishes from this food truck turned brick and mortar restaurant.
Japanese fine dining is done beautifully in this establishment, with intimate dining booths that encourage people to get comfortable and stay for hours. Try the eight course tasting menu.
West Coast meets Korean with burgers on a fluffy brioche) bao (served like tacos) and bowls. Other menu items include barbacoa, sweet pulled beef, crispy duck, and poke.
There seems to be a so-called “Indian restaurant” on every corner in Berlin, but not like Chutnify. It has earned the grateful adoration of the locals by serving South Indian street food to a population hungry for the real thing. The appetizers could satiate a ravenous crowd on their own, but the crisp, plate-sized dosa is a thing of beauty -- especially when filled with succulent marinated pork, tandoori chicken, or, in the best of the bunch, a mixture of ground lamb and peas.
Heralded as Berlin's first clean-eating restaurant, this vegan/organic/gluten-free eatery supplies an otherwise carnivorous city with healthy, raw bowls loaded with a variety of fixings (think curry, avocado, and red beet carpaccio).