Breakfast, bars & burgers in Berlin

Since starting it a good few years ago now, my blog has predominantly been about film, art exhibitions and various events because that’s mainly how I enjoy spending my spare time. However, that does actually only account for about 40% of the time I’m not a slave to the 9-5 because the rest of the time I am eating and it was this little statistic that led to me having a bit of a brainwave…

High up there on my favourite things to do is eat. Breakfast, lunch and dinner but most importantly, all of the snacks in between. From a 6-box of McNuggets on the bus to a slap up 3-courser in the latest cosmopolitan eatery, I love to eat so I thought why not document my culinary adventures too? I’m no gastro-extraordinaire (I love a ‘cheeky’ Nando’s as much as the next guy) nor am I a budding food critic, I just know that a recommendation here or there on where to grab some decent nosh can be mighty useful. I also happen to be addicted to city breaks and seeing other corners of the globe and with this always comes whole new worlds of edible opportunity. So if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably stumbled across this blog post through trying to establish the ‘best places to eat’ wherever you’re taking your rumbling tummy.

I’ve touched upon some great places to chow down in London town already including dinner at a sex shop, which you can read more about here but I guess this is my first real post of this kind and what better way to start than with beautiful Berlin? Beautiful in it’s own grungy, downtrodden, urban way but home to some unforgettable hidden gems nonetheless. Now if you don’t like burgers, go and read about my experience in a psychosis-inducing labyrinth instead because this really isn’t going to be your bag. Even as somebody who tries to stick a gluten free diet, the burger temptations of Germany’s capital were just too hard to resist!
Breakfast:
 
  • Cafe am Neuen See – Perfect for breakfast with a view, this hidden lakeside gem is definitely a little off the beaten track but worth the treasure hunt. (I wish I had written down where all of these places where exactly so I could include the info here but I was too busy stuffing my face, sorry!) With no English menu and Deutsch-speaking champagne sippers all round, we knew this place was going to be an authentic German breakfast experience. If you’re after pancakes, greasy bacon and a 1950’s jukebox then look elsewhere but this place is great for a light start to the day amidst towering trees, followed by a stroll through one of the city’s many beautiful parks.
  • Chipps (pictured) –  Berlin is a strange but fascinating city in that you only have to walk around the corner to feel like you’ve just been transported somewhere completely different. As my girlfriend said, it’s as though it is made up of borrowed cities. One minute you’re strolling along a floral canal in the Netherlands, the next you’re shopping at a Croydon fruit ‘n’ veg market when actually you’re in Berlin the whole time. It’s food scene is very much the same. While I was here I (weirdly) tried my first takeaway kebab and ate lukewarm currywurst off a paper plate but I also had a mimosa and french toast in a super-swanky eatery with a Lamborghini parked out front. Posh nosh without the snobbery, Chipps is perfect for the health-conscious superfood lovin’ lot but luxurious in equal parts.

Bars:

  • The Black Lodge – An absolute must for any Twin Peaks fan, this place does still exist I promise! After walking up and down the road that the map promised it was on, we had just about given up. I am a massive Twin Peaks/David Lynch fan so I was verging on desperate to make this bar appear out of thin air even though it looked like all hope was lost. But then…out of the corner of my eye, on a unremarkable graffitied wall, I spotted a business card sized piece of paper with just three words written on it: The Black Lodge. Not open ’til 9pm, this place is easily missed but I’m so glad we found it. Walking through streets in England at night you’re virtually attacked with semi-naked promo girls forcing feeding you free shots and foisting flyers on you and I think it was this exact lack of tacky song and dance that made this place so enchanting. Decorated authentically and screening the famous TV series in a back room, this buttoned leather, red velvet curtain, checkerboard floor clad established is an Aladdin’s cave for Twin Peaks fanatics. They do a mean Amaretto sour too!
  • Madame Claude – If you’re strolling around Berlin after dark and looking for somewhere a little out of the ordinary to sink a (cheap) drink or two then head to Madame Claude. I loved that everything in Berlin had a story behind it, a history that was unlike the next and this place was definitely no exception. Situated on a quite street in an unsuspecting black building lies a converted brothel now home to one of Berlin’s most bustling nightlife hangouts and live music venues. I say converted but it was barely so with its torn wall paper, splintered wooden stairs and narrow corridors but its slightly illegal feel allows it its charm. Known as the ‘upside-down bar’ because well, everything is upside down and there is as there is as much furniture on the ceiling as there is on the floor, you really have to see it to believe it but I’ve stolen an image off Google to show you for now. Probably the best place I have ever sipped my Baileys nightcap.
Burgers:
  • Burgermeister (pictured) – This has to be my number one. I was recommended to try this place by a friend and when she told me it was a converted public toilet, I have to admit, I was expecting a hipster style-over-substance situation but boy, was I wrong. True to her word, there it was nestled under a rail track in trendy Kreuzberg and I still suspected it might have been all novelty until I got my jobs around a cheeseburger. The chips were just bog standard fries tossed in a fryer with liquid cheese poured all over them – you can’t go wrong there really but when it comes to the Burgermeister burger, it’s an otherworldly experience. For somewhere that is essentially a glorified burger van, they delivered the best cooked burger I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring, covered in cheese and wrapped in a croissant-like bun. There are a number of options on the menu including a good ol’ chilli cheese burger and even a vegetarian option so herbivores aren’t left out. Be sure to allow time if you’re planning on visiting this place though because with its cult following, there’s often a bit of a queue.

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  • The Bird – Unfortunately for me but not so unfortunately for the staff, Burgermeister can’t be open 24 hours a day so we had to look elsewhere to get our burger fix. We headed to The Bird on another recommendation and it was definitely worth the many wrong turns and long walk through Mauerpark to get here. It wouldn’t be a burger joint if it didn’t offer sweet potato fries right? Well they come in abundance here when you order one of their many burgers. I went for chilli cheese and washed it down with a gin & (rhubarb) juice. I believe there are two of these restaurants in Berlin but whichever one you go to I can guarantee it’ll be a belly-busting experience so wear something that can accommodate a pretty hefty food baby.
  • White Trash Fast Food – Again, we went here after hearing rave reviews from friends who had visited White Trash Fast Food. If you’re looking for a gourmet dining experience that will leave your taste buds tingling for more then this isn’t the place for you but as a venue, this place is unmissable. I don’t know whether it’s because I live in England and the prospect of being tattooed, fed and taken to a gig all under the same roof would be completely unimaginable for health & safety but I loved this place. A decked beer garden, No Pain No Brain tattoo studio, gig venue, restaurant and bar all rolled into one, it’s no surprise that White Trash is so popular. As I said, the menu is pretty mediocre, serving American diner style food alongside Mexican, German, Swiss and French but worth the trip for the experience and the homemade vodka lemonade.

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