Drop me anywhere in Bavaria and I’m immediately on the hunt for the best brezel and schnitzel – you know, what we think of as traditional German fare. But Berlin’s food scene is bubbling up with the some of the coolest culinary trends east of the Eiffel Tower and Berliner’s are top notch when it comes to food on-the-go. Berlin is a contender for the best kebab in the world, and with good reason, since it was Turkish immigrant Kadir Nurman who set up a little stall in West Berlin in 1972 that is recognized as the inventor of the döner kebab. Certainly there is more to Berlin than döner and currywurst, so I sought out an expert to guide me to the hidden gems of this gastro-destination. Bastian, owner of the start-up Berlin Food Tour, led me to 10 of Berlin Mitte’s best foodie finds.
I met Bastian in Berlin Mitte, known as the true center and heart of the German capital, on a sunny day perfect for traversing the streets for a food tour. We met at VOM FASS, a tiny little shop I’d probably have passed right by otherwise. Literally meaning “from the cask”, VOM FASS offers a variety of oils, vinegars, and spirits and liqueurs direct from the cask. I started my food tour with a Venetian-stye bellini of Prosecco and a peach liqueur and a bite of orange-eggnog cake, one the franchise owner’s own family recipe.
Before too long, we were spontaneously popping into one of the many bakeries for a Pfannkuchen, a traditional Northern Germany pastry filled with marmalade or jam similar to a doughnut.
I licked the cherry marmalade from my lips as Bastian pointed out some of Berlin’s top street artists like El Bocho who is famous for his character Little Lucy. A cute character at first glance, she’s deceptively devilish and her hobby is killing her cat in creative ways like microwaving it or roasting it as a kebab. Poor cat!
As I said, the döner was invented in Berlin and today there are over 1000 döner vendors tempting passersby. Bastian lead me to the one he says is the best. I do lover a good döner kebab and the extremely thin sliced meat was the tastiest I’ve ever had.
A series of bakeries followed, each one known for their various specialties. For a minute at Butter Lindner, known for their homemade butter, I thought I was about to enter a scene from Bride Wars when Kate Hudson sits around eating different kinds of butter from around the world. But we sampled delicious chocolate brownies made with the butter in Lindner’s own kitchen.
One of my favorite stops was Barcomi’s. I’m a sucker for cheesecake – it’s one of my very favorite desserts – and it’s rare to find a good cheesecake in Europe. Imagine my excitement when Bastian told me about Cynthia Barcomi, born and bred American who makes New York style cheesecake at her Barcomi’s shops across Berlin. Guess where I’m headed the next time I’m back in Berlin?
The biscuit cake with berries at Factory Girl gave Barcomi’s cheesecake a serious run for its money. Plus I was just in love with the fun mix or urban and rustic country decor that somehow just worked but would seem crazy anywhere else. Grab a window table because Berlin is not only an excellent foodie destination, but also one of the best for people watching.
We wove our way through the streets of Berlin Mitte, stopping to sample handmade chocolates, gourmet salami and cheese, and coffee while looking at the amazing street art and popping into the hidden courtyards I’d have likely never noticed or thought to investigate. Bastian was a wealth of knowledge on everything from food to art, entertaining us with his stories.
Of course no Berlin food tour would be complete without trying currywurst. According to Bastian, the average Berliner eats it about once every two weeks and Bastian lead us to the best currywurst stand in Berlin. The line snaked down the street from Curry 61, though moved pretty quickly. The ketchup-curry sauce is homemade and you can really tell the difference. It was indeed the best currywurst I’ve had in Berlin. You can even order the sauce from their website if you’re really into currywurst!
There are 10 stops total on the Berlin Mitte Berlin Food Tour, so come with an empty stomach! The portions were generous and we even had a few treats to take home to our apartment for snacking on later.
Know Before You Go
- Berlin Food Tour has a number of tours including a beer and currywurst, coffee and cake, Absinthe tasting, and of course the Berlin Mitte tour we experienced. Check out the website for the perfect Berlin Food Tour for you.
- The Berlin Mitte tour is o Fridays and Saturdays at 11am and lasts around 3 hours. It is €34.90 per adult and €18.90 for kids 12 and under.
We were guests of Berlin Food Tour in order to bring this story to you. As always, opinions are entirely our own.