My Top Berlin eats: where Doner Kebabs and Currywursts are an art form
I turned up in Berlin not expecting very much at all. For some reason, I had this naive preconception in my head of the German capital being some dull, over-gentrified city. Monotonous… with an almost sterile efficiency and precision about it. I had written off our chances of finding any decent food even before touching down on German soil.
To my surprise and delight though, what I found in Berlin was a truly cosmopolitan metropolis steeped in some serious history. There’s a continuous buzz and raw energy that resonates through the city’s clubs, bars, cafes and art scene which can easily rival that of bigger megacities like London, Tokyo and New York city. We had the added bonus of being there during Berlin’s annual festival of lights, where every evening the city’s key landmarks undergo a spectacular transformation into a kaleidoscope of technicolor projections and illuminations.
And although Berlin isn’t quite your San Sebastian where it comes to haute Michelin starred cuisine, there’s more to Berlin food-wise than just schnitzels and wursts . A diverse array of fascinating eats awaits you on every street corner… everything from Turkish Grill joints to Vietnamese Restaurants to Taiwanese Bubble tea bars. Here’s 3 of the best street eats we stumbled upon.
1) Grill und Schlemmerbuffet (Brunnenstrasse 2, Rosenthaler Platz, Berlin)
Word has it that before the Doner Kebab gained world-wide fame, it was invented in Berlin by Turkish immigrants. Home to more than a quarter million ethnic Turks (that makes it the largest settlement of Turkish people outside of Turkey itself), don’t be surprised to find some of the best Turkish food on the planet in the German capital. Of the countless Turkish Doner Kebab shops throughout the city, this 24 / 7 joint was touted by both our hotel and Lonely Planet to be the city’s best. And boy is the Doner Kebab here an art form…
Toasty warm turkish flat bread (crisp on the outside, still fluffly on the inside)… crunchy lettuce… juicy tomatoes… spicy-but-not-too-raw red onion… tender, melt-in the mouth Veal Kebab meat… and lashings of their home-made garlic sauce and sweet, harissa-style chilli sauce. It’s quite simply the happiest €2.90 I’ve ever spent in the eurozone. The ultimate austerity food.
2) CoCo : Vietnamese Bahn Mi deli (Rosenthalerstr. 2, 10119 Berlin)
This ultra-chic, modern, all-day Vietnamese deli takes the much-loved Bahn Mi to new heights. Their french-style baguette was generously buttered up and toasted to crisp perfection… the lemon-grass pork, spiked with spicy fish sauce was juicy and full-on in flavour. But what really made the dish for me was the sheer quality of the condiments. The spring onions and coriander had that fresh, just-picked feel whilst the pickled carrots and white radishes were crunchy and zingy without being overly acidic. Dee-licious.
Bahn Mi Classic @ CoCo Vietnamese Deli
3) Curry ’36 (Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin)
What would a review of Berlin street food be without a tribute to the king of all Berlin’s street snacks. Behold the infamous Currywurst. And if the round-the-clock queues at this Kreuzberg district favourite are anything to go by, they don’t come more famous than at Curry 36.
The idea of ketchup spiked with curry powder initially struck me as cringe-worthy, but when the sausages are this plump, and the fries so incredibly crisp on the outside and fluffly on the inside, it’s hard not to develop a soft-spot for this local favourite. By far, the best of the wursts we sampled on our trip.
Oh Berlin, how you have exceeded all expectations. What a city.