If you’re coming to Berlin, you’re coming to a fantastic place where you can try all sorts of new foods and dishes that you might not be able to get back home.
I’m not talking about sauerkraut and sausages, although I have included a few German specialities on this list. German food is actually pretty hard to come by in Berlin. There are plenty of German restaurants, of course, but you’re more likely to stumble upon Turkish, Vietnamese, or vegan restaurants when you’re out and about.
This isn’t the case everywhere in Germany: Berlin is never the best example of Germany, and that definitely applies to food. If you’re visiting several places in Germany, I would probably recommend saving the German specialities for somewhere else. There are some great German restaurants here, but what Berlin is particularly great for is its international cuisine.
If there’s one food that Berlin, and really the whole of Germany, excels at it’s the döner kebab. You’ve probably had a kebab before, usually after a late night of drinking, and you’ve probably listed it as one of your many regrets of the evening.
Kebabs in Germany are unlike kebabs anywhere else (except maybe Turkey, of course). Here the döner is so good, you can actually eat them sober.
Look out for kebab stands advertising gemüse kebabs, the most famous being Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap on Mehringdamm. Gemüse is the German for vegetables, and these kebabs not only include döner meat and fresh salad but roasted vegetables as well.
Other Turkish Dishes
Because Berlin has such a large Turkish community, it’s one of the best places to try Turkish food outside of Turkey. A few things to look out for include Gözleme, Pide, Menemen, Mantı, İmam Bayıldı, and lentil soup.
You’ll find Vietnamese restaurants all over Berlin, in much the same way as Chinese restaurants are common in other parts of Europe like the UK and Ireland. And, like Chinese restaurants everywhere else, some are better than others.
You’ll find Vietnamese restaurants in every kiez in Berlin, but probably the best and most authentic place to go for Vietnamese food is at the Dong Xuan Center in Lichtenberg.
The Dong Xuan Center is a collection of shops and wholesalers that sell to the Vietnamese community in Berlin. You can find everything here from cheap clothing and homewares to Asian ingredients, medicines, and teas.
There are a couple of restaurants here and, if you want to “eat where the locals eat”, this is definitely the place to do that.
As well as Vietnamese restaurants, you’ll find plenty of Thai restaurants in Berlin as well, but the most fun way to eat Thai food in Berlin is at Thai Park in Preußen Park.
Thai Park is an unofficial street food event that takes place on the weekend during the summer. Here, local Thai residents set up little stalls and sell Thai dishes to hungry Berlin residents. You’ll find everything here from mango salads and Pad thai to more exotic dishes like deep fried insects.
As mentioned, the events is unorganised – at least by the local Berlin council. It apparently got started after some Thai Berlin residents started having picnics in the park and the other locals offered to buy some of their food.
It’s not the best Thai food I’ve ever had, but the whole experience is the most fun way to try Thai food in Berlin.
Berlin has one of the largest Turkish populations of any city in the world and, because of this, it’s has some incredible Baklava houses.
You can actually buy Baklava throughout the city: you’ll see it in the Turkish supermarkets and restaurants, but there’s nothing quite like going into one of the specialist shops.
The majority of these are concentrated Neukölln, the part of Berlin with the largest Turkish population, particularly along Sonnenallee but also Karl-Marx-Straße and Hermannstraße.
You probably won’t know what to buy, or even what you’re buying, so the best thing to do is just point and say how many pieces you want.
You can buy ice cream in pretty much every major city, but ice cream parlours in Berlin are in a league of their own. Many of the parlours are very experimental, and it can be a great place to try unusual flavours like beetroot (Eismanufaktur Berlin), white chocolate and Parmesan (Eismanufaktur Berlin), and yam and coconut cream (Die Eismacher).
There are also several places that specialise in gelato, and some like Aldemir Eis and California Pops that make natural fresh-fruit paletas with fruits like mango and blueberries.
If you’re looking for a more German and less Berlin take on ice cream, look out for Spaghettieis, a bowl of ice cream that’s made to look like spaghetti bolognese. It’s quite a unique dish that you’re unlikely to find outside of Germany.
If you want to try something that’s typically German, one of the best street food options is the Currywurst. This was actually invented in Berlin, or at least that’s how the story goes: in 1949 Herta Heuwer mixed ketchup and curry powder which she’d obtained from British soldiers, poured it over a grilled sausage, and voilá.
Curry 36 is generally regarded as the best place for Currywurst, although there are plenty of smaller joints like Bergmann Curry that have their fans as well. If you really like it, be sure to check out the Currywurst Museum.
You don’t have to walk far in Berlin before you stumble across somewhere selling falafel, whether that’s an Arabic restaurant, Sudanese restaurant, falafel stand or restaurant, or a vegan restaurant. You’ll also find it in some Turkish restaurants, although the falafel in Arabic restaurants tends to be better.
Tip: The Sudanese restaurants serve falafel (tamiya) with peanut sauce.
These days, you can find good burgers in most cities so you may decide to skip this one. If you’re a burger fiend, however, there are a couple of places that you should add to your bucket list.
For novelty’s sake, the best burger has to be Burgermeister. This food stall is actually located in an old outdoor toilet in the heart of Kreuzberg. Burgermeister has a new venue, in Kottbusser Tor, but it’s not quite as much fun as its main venue.
In terms of actual taste, however, this is the kind of question that starts intense debates.
Places to look out for include Zsa Zsa Burger, Windburger, Berlin Burger International, The Bird, Bobsek Burger, Rebell Room, Burgers Burgers, and Tommis Burger, to name just a few.
Berlin is probably Europe’s most vegan-friendly city, so you won’t have any problem finding vegan options here. There are hundreds that solely offer vegan food, and you’d have to look hard to find a normal restaurant that doesn’t have vegan options. If you’re vegan, or just love vegan food, you’ll love Berlin.
Be sure to try the vegan variations like the vöner kebab (vegan döner) at Voner on Boxhagener Straße, vegan currywurst at Curry36, or a vegan burger from any number of burger joints including some, like Glück to Go and Yellow Sunshine Burger, that specialise solely in vegan burgers.
If you’re looking for something more upmarket, check out some of Berlin’s vegan fine-dining restaurant like Cookies Cream, Lucky Leek, and Kopps.
What foods did you try in Berlin? What is this list missing? Share your thoughts and reviews by leaving a comment below.