Berlin’s local dishes
Maria De Jesus | January 25, 2019
Germany has a very specific cuisine, and one that may seem an acquired taste. But for all their love of meat, potatoes and sauces, their dishes are certainly hearty and delicious. While you may not be surprised to find lots of sausage on this list, there may be a few surprises.
One of Europe’s most fascinating cities – Berlin – has always been more of a black-clad, industrial drinking town than a culinary capital, but times are changing and the food culture is on the rise in terms of options and quality.
Here are some examples of Berlin’s true local dishes your tummy will surely enjoy!
Currywurst is a matter of national pride for Berliners. There’s even a museum in its honour. On every street, you can be sure to find a place where this cheap, humble grilled sausage is served. The secret is in the sauce; a combination of the three key ingredients ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder. The combo dates back to 1949 when Herta Heuwer poured the ingredients she got from some British soldiers over grilled sausage.
A local lady called Herta Heuwer put together a mixture of tomato sauce, Worcester sauce and curry power back in 1949, and the famous currywurst was born. This is Berlin’s most iconic street food item. There is even a museum dedicated to it! This local classic is often served with French fries (Pommes) or bread rolls (Brötchen). Go all in and add Mayo to your fries! Ask for your Currywurst “Ohne Darm” (without the sausage skin) and you might be taken for a local! Eat your currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss(Prenzlauer Berg) or for a spicy version head to Curry & Chili (Wedding). For a more upscale and delicious version of this dish, stop by Das Meisterstück in Mitte (they have some of the best sausages in town and a great beer selection).
Senfeier is a delicious comfort food dish. Something from a grandmother’s kitchen. These “mustard eggs” are a relatively simple concotion but they taste GREAT. Basically the dish is composed of hard boiled or poached eggs served with mashed potatoes and covered with a creamy mustard sauce. The secret is in the sauce, folks! You can find it in many Berliner canteens and lunch places but none of them will ever compare to my favorites: La Soupe Populaire (Prenzlauer Berg – closed for renovations until Dec. 2017), Prater Biergarten, Chipperfield Kantine and Chipp’s.
At first glance most people ignore this dish. No wonder, its description does not do it justice. Again, the secret of great Königsberger Klopse is in the sauce (a creamy mixture of capers and lemon). Basically, this dish comes with meatballs and mashed or boiled potatoes. AND of course, the amazing sauce. My favorite version in town is BY FAR the one concocted by famed Chef Tim Raue at his La Soupe Populaire (Prenzlauer Berg – closed for renovations until Dec. 2017). Since this restaurant is currently closed for renovations, try eating the Klopse at Britzer Seeterrassen or Zuhause Delikatessen. If you decide to go for Britzer Seeterrassen, make sure to read THIS before you go, the restaurant is located in the middle of a most wonderful garden.
The Berliner Pfannkuchen or just Pfannkuchen is a traditional German pastry similar to a doughnut filled with marmelade or jam. Usually with icing or powedered sugar on top. Locals do refer to it as just “Pfannkuchen” so if you ask for a Berliner you might be left hanging. Legend has it that on New Year’s Eve, locals will put one mustard-filled doughnut in the pile and the lucky person that finds it gets good luck for the year. Get great Pfannkuchen at either Bäckerei & Konditorei W. Balzer or Bäckerei Siebert. For hipster vegan versions of the Pfannkuchen (doughnuts) try Brammibal’s.
This immensely popular dessert originated in nearby Austria and actually means ‘apple whirlpool’ in Middle High German.
A thin pastry jacket is stuffed with tart cooking apples, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and breadcrumbs. It only really comes together though with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Pickled ham hock (pork knuckles) is boiled or grilled and served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, and mustard
Legend has it that pretzels were invented by a monk in Italy who folded dough into the shape of a child crossing its arms in prayer – whatever the history, this savory bread snack is a favourite accompaniment to any German Pilsner.
With an estimated 200,000 Turks in Berlin it’s no wonder you can get some of the best doner kebab known to man – whether you want chicken, lamb, or even a vegetarian version the full-flavoured, good-value option is to head to Mustafa’s Gemeuse Kebab.
A much thinner, almost crepe-like version of American pancakes is another treat that can go either savory or sweet – it’s more commonly eaten as a dessert, light meal, or snack.
These shallow-fried potato pancakes are great to snack on walking around any of Berlin’s outdoor markets. Sweet ones are served with apple sauce or plum compote while savory options include liverwurst or smoked salmon and sour cream.
Pound out a good cut of veal really thin, coat with flour, dip in egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and fry – serve with a slice of lemon and potatoes, accept no substitutes.
Grab some at the Ampelmann Restaurant for an amazing outdoor seating area with tough to beat city and river views.
Berlin’s dining scene has evolved over the years, and today, it is a delicious melting pot of diverse food cultures from different ethnic communities that have made the city home over the decades, such as Turkish, Arabic, Vietnamese and Italian. From food halls and hipster pop-ups to gourmet street food and Michelin-starred restaurants, eating here can be an exciting experience. I paid for a food tour and got a great foodie Claudia who is a Berliner to bring me around to hunt for the best food joints in town. Be prepared to expand your waistline when you travel to Berlin.
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