In the article below, I focus on Alternative & Unique food in Berlin and btw, that includes a few German restaurants, for while they may not be unique to Berliners, they will add some spice and something a l’il different to your palette.
Earlier this spring, I headed to Berlin on a “neighborhood” exploration of Berlin and greater Berlin, and while I was there, ate my way across the city, from decadent and high end to street food and specialty. Be sure to read my write up on the more decadent foodie scene to Berlin as well as Specialty & Street Food in Berlin.
Alternative & Unique
White Trash Fast Food is a great place to go for a very original experience along Am Flutgraben. A mix of gypsy bohemian and nice family dining, you can get an eclectic mix of dishes, all freshly made in their kitchen. Think Berlin’s best steaks plus German-Asian-Mexican-French-Swiss-Army Fusion, with guitar.
Not quite what you’d expect after seeing the name, the ambiance is warm and their menu is diverse, from wedge salads, pulled beef sandwiches and ribs to Jamaican Jerk Chicken and a Bomb Brownie & Vanilla Ice and Cheescake O´The Day. Whoah Nelly! Their tagline comes down to a simple but honest description, “Exotisches Essen nach Hausfrauen-Art!” which translates to “Exotic food just like Mama used to make!”
Bardot Bistro is a vegetarian restaurant on the ground floor of the Almodovar Hotel in East Berlin’s Friedrichschain district, where I hung my hat for the week. They specialize in fresh organic ingredients and living or raw cuisine, which hasn’t been “heat” treated.
Their dishes are unique and often have vibrant colors in their presentation, leaving you with a nurturing feeling after you finish a dish, whether it’s their large spread vegan breakfast they have every morning or smaller plates later in the day. Below is a delicious vegan bacon and pesto starter they have on the menu – it was good enough that I asked for a second.
Tapas examples range from marinated bell peppers, hummus with sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs, red lentil and minestrone soups, spinach and pear salad, chick pea and vegan chorizo salad and baked dates stuffed with choizo and sour cream to baked feta cheese marinated with tomatoes, olives, onions, honey and herbs, and soyballs on a tomato salsa.
Mains on the menu include a raw lasagne with zucchini filled with tomato pesto and cashew mayonnaise, eggplant rolls with tomato-date jus and millet, a fried tofu and soy meat ball dish with tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers over rice and a homemade ravioli with ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, cedar nuts and baby spinach. YUM! Two thumbs up and a unique find in the heart of East Berlin.
Located on Boxhagener Strasse, you can easily access Bardot by metro, taking the Samariterstr or the Frankfurter Tor stops on the U line. SETs is an interesting cafe scene with a modern flare and there are several throughout the city, the trendier and hipper one worth noting apparently being near the ever so chic Kurfürstendamm shopping street.
From decadent sweets to fabulous coffee, they also do catering for those interested in hosting a party there or elsewhere.
Since there are several locations, check www.setsberlin.de for a neighborhood most convenient to your Berlin travel schedule. Mogg & Melzer is a small but fun lunch spot on the ground floor of the old Jewish Girls School in the Jewish district, otherwise known as the Barn District along the ever so trendy Auguststrasse.
It has an open air kitchen that faces a bustling lunch crowd and appeared to be so busy when I was there that they didn’t have time to chat about the how, what and when. Mogg & Melzer is a cute cafe with delicious food and seems to attract a lot of locals in the afternoons.
Clärchens Klassiker is a great foodie fine in the heart of Berlin’s Jewish District on Auguststraße 24. Outside, there’s a large courtyard where you can get traditional Italian and German cuisine and inside the Clärchens Ballhaus boasts a large vintage mirrored ball room which has dance classes and live music. Classes include Salsa, Tango, ChaCha, Waltz and Swing.
It apparently became known as Clärchens Ballhaus after Buhler was killed in World War II and his widow, Clara, took over the business. Until the 1940’s, there were two halls: while the crowds swayed along to the popular ballads of the time in the great ballroom on the ground floor, dignified ladies and gentlemen of the Spandauer Vordstadt would dance with aristocratic pomp in the ballroom upstairs — apparently there was also a bowling alley in the cellar at the time. Clärchens has apparently defined nightlife on Auguststraße for more than 100 years.
We opted for classic German cuisine for our outdoor lunch where we sat at a four person table smack in the middle of the courtyard. From Wiener Schnitzel Escalope with potato and cucumber salad and Roast Beef with onions, peas, beans and bacon to Crispy-Skin fried Pikeperch served with bacon, shrimp, stewed cucumbers and red rice and Kasespatzle (pasta) served with cheese, roasted onion and apple compote.
They also had an extensive pizza menu, which only ranged from 4 to 11 Euros a plate; I noticed a lot of bacon, salami and paprika on the “selection” list.
You can also get water buffalo meatballs with potato salad, Wiener sausages, baked camembert with a gooseberry chutney, and a healthier lighter Rocket Salad which I ordered with tomatoes and Parmesan.
Also worth noting is the Gnocchi of Beetroot with wild garlic, pine nuts and pecorino, the Braised ox cheeks in Madeira Glace with beets, mashed potatoes and chives, and the Asparagus cream soup served with Salmon Tartar (yum!). Below is a Bulette, aka traditional German meatball.
Below, a traditional Schnitzel plate our neighbors ordered along with a side.
Given that it was early May, white asparagus season was kicking into gear, so we had to try a plate of it, which naturally came with a creamy hollandaise sauce on the side and classic German potatoes. Well worth the stop for lunch or dinner and if you opt for an evening meal, stay for a l’il dancing afterwards. After all, how often can you go ballroom dancing in an old German ballroom that has been around for over a century?
While German food may not be unique, it is if you don’t have German cuisine on every corner at home, which is often the case. In Friedrichshain, Speisehaus Spielmann is a traditional German restaurant with outdoor wooden tables where you can have beer with your meal under awnings in case it rains, which was the case when we were there.
Below two classic dishes we ordered: a healthy baked cod with fennel, which seems to be very popular in Berlin and Germany in general, and given that it was the start of white asparagus season, we ordered a mixed vegetable and potato dish, with white asparagus as the main star.
Be sure to check out my Ultimate History & Culture Guide to Berlin, which is an extensive list of recommendations that cross boundaries — from art, culture and history, to design, fashion, shopping and tours, you’ll learn a lot about the known and the not so known Berlin. Note: I used hashtag #BLNHoods for my trip to Berlin so be sure to check out my Instagram and Twitter feeds for some great photographs and observations.
- We Blog the World on INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/weblogtheworld
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Berlin has a number of Michelin Star Restaurants to choose from as well. Have a look:
- Facil: www.facil.de/en/, S+U Potsdamer Platz (2 michelin stars)
- Fischers Fritz: www.fischersfritzberlin.com, U Französische Straße (2 michelin stars)
- Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer: lorenzadlon-esszimmer.de/en/, S Brandenburger Tor (2 michelin stars)
- Reinstoff: www.reinstoff.eu/english/, U Naturkundemuseum or S Nordbahnhof (2 michelin stars)
- Tim Raue: tim-raue.com/en/, U Kochstraße (2 michelin stars)
- 5 – Cinco by Paco Pérez: www.5-cinco.com, S+U Zoologischer Garten (1 michelin star)
- First Floor: www.firstfloorberlin.de/en/, S+U Zoologischer Garten (1 michelin star)
- Frühsammers Restaurant: fruehsammers-restaurant.jimdo.com, S Hohenzollerndamm (1 michelin star)
- Horváth: www.restaurant-horvath.de, U Kottbusser Tor (1 michelin star)
- Hugos: www.hugos-restaurant.de; S+U Zoologischer Garten (1 michelin star)
- Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire: www.waldorfastoriaberlin.com/deu/Restaurants-Lounges/Les-Solistes, S+U Zoologischer Garten (1 michelin star)
- Pauly Saal: www.paulysaal.com, S Oranienburger Straße (1 michelin star)
- Skykitchen: www.skykitchen.berlin, S Landsberger Allee (1 michelin star)
- VAU: www.vau-berlin.de/en/, U Französische Straße (1 michelin star)
- Weinbar Rutz: www.weinbar-rutz.de, U Naturkundemuseum (1 michelin star)