During our 5-day visit to Berlin in April, S and I wanted to sample as much of what the city had to offer as possible. In the end, we managed to visit a good mix of restaurants, cafés and markets which kept our bellies full and our tastebuds happy.
Flamingo Fresh Food Bar
The Flamingo Fresh Food Bar is a conveniently-located café and restaurant not far from Unter den Linden (a large boulevard in Berlin’s Mitte district) and the Brandenburg Gate. Because of its high rating on Trip Advisor and central location, S and I decided to stop here for a late lunch between our sightseeing visits on our first day in Berlin.
We arrived at about 2:30pm on a Wednesday and the small café was absolutely packed. The manager pointed out two free spots at the bar along the back wall so we quickly grabbed those seats and placed our order at the counter. They had a wide range of freshly-baked cakes and pastries on display, as well as pre-made sandwiches, grab-and-go salads with add-on toppings and a soup of the day. We each got a sandwich (salami and mushroom for me, serrano ham and pear for S), while I got a latte and S got an iced tea.
The sandwiches were pretty tasty and my vanilla latte hit the spot after a long, chilly day walking around Berlin. The best parts about this place are definitely its proximity to many sights and affordable price. If you’re on the go and need a quick bite to get you through a busy day of sightseeing in Berlin Mitte, Flamingo Fresh Food Bar is a relatively healthy and inexpensive option.
In preparation for our trip, I got in touch with my German friend Carolin who lives in Berlin. She and I met in New Zealand back in 2007 when we were both studying abroad at the same university. Lucky for us, she and her boyfriend were free to meet us for dinner during our time in Berlin. Carolin suggested meeting at a Vietnamese restaurant called ChénChè Teehaus.
I never would have noticed this restaurant unless I was specifically looking for it since it’s located down a narrow passageway off of Rosenthaler Straße. They had a small sign on the main street so fortunately we were able to find it.
The courtyard leading to the restaurant was lush and welcoming – I felt like we were stumbling on a hidden gem.
ChénChè has a long list of teas and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails on the menu. The majority of the menu lists appetizers and drinks; there are only a handful of main dishes to choose from.
There were three specials on offer including a noodle salad with chicken and springrolls and a mixed platter with fried fish, veggies, rice, spicy pickles, soup and beef stew. We all ordered different specials and for the most part enjoyed our meals. I did find myself wishing that there was more to choose from on the menu, though.
I thought the ambience was gorgeous with the vaulted ceilings, unique lanterns and earthy decor. I think the restaurant would be a great place to meet friends for exotic cocktails on a fun evening out. ChénChè also has a breakfast menu which I’m sure would be nice to try on a relaxed weekend morning.
I read excellent reviews of Markthalle Neun leading up to our Berlin trip. It’s one of the few remaining historical market halls from the 19th century. Since its renovation in 2011, the market has offered fair-trade and local products including fruits, vegetables, sausages, cheeses and baked goods.
Every Thursday night Markhalle Neun hosts Street Food Thursday, a collection of small street food stands offering everything delicious and trendy from the Berlin food scene. You can sample ceviche, tacos, BBQ, Korean buns and more all under one roof.
After our tour of the Reichstag, S and I made our way to Markthalle Neun in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood to get our fill of street food treats. We arrived at about 8pm and the place was absolutely buzzing. We had a hard time making our way through the crowds to scope out the different food stalls.
In the end, I decided on the ‘Super Mix’ of 8 Chinese dumplings from Dr. To’s (beef and water chestnut, pork and shrimp, tofu and shitake mushroom, and pork and chinese cabbage). I especially loved the vinegar dipping sauce and the hot chili paste the dumplings were served with.
While I happily chowed down on my dumplings, S waited in line for Bolognese and Bangalore meatballs from Berlin Beef Balls. Since a couple of the meatballs were a bit charred, they threw in an extra one for free. S preferred the Bolognese meatballs of the two.
I wasn’t quite full from the dumplings so I also went for a small portion of Swiss raclette with bread and pickles from Hopp Schwiiz. The wait in line was at least 20 minutes but it was totally worth it! Cheesy, drippy goodness smothered on bread… #sweetdreamsaremadeofcheese indeed!
Street Food Thursday runs every (you guessed it) Thursday from 5pm – 10pm. Tip: Come hungry, with cash (many stands don’t take a credit or debit card) and without too much stuff (ie. bags) since it’s really crowded inside the market.
Fassbender & Rausch
I never would have known about this mega chocolate emporium if my uncle Tom hadn’t recommended it to me. Fassbender & Rausch is the world’s largest chocolaterie and includes a chocolate shop with the longest praline counter in the world, a chocolate café serving 20 different kinds of hot chocolate and the first ever chocolate restaurant featuring savoury dishes with chocolate and cocoa flavours.
S and I were pressed for time when we visited Fassbender & Rausch so unfortunately we only made it to the main shop floor. I probably could have spent an hour or two inside but nevertheless we made the most of our 10 minutes inside chocolate paradise.
I was especially impressed with the chocolate displays of notable Berlin landmarks – the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and a section of the Berlin Wall. I can’t even imagine how much chocolate it took to make those!
We got a milk chocolate bar with beans from a plantation in Venezuela and a little nougat-filled chocolate ball with a cute wrapper featuring the Berlin bear. The chocolate bar was silky and smooth, definitely some of the best chocolate I’ve had in Germany (and that’s saying something!)
Make sure to make time for a proper visit to Fassbender & Rausch and if you go, please have a hot chocolate (Trinkschokolade) for me!
After stopping by Barcomi’s for a bite of blueberry cheesecake on our Berlin Food Tour, S and I knew we had to come back to sample more dessert. Cynthia Barcomi, the famed American entrepreneur and cookbook author, opened this particular restaurant in Berlin’s Mitte district back in 1997. Barcomi’s is renowned for its American-style baked goods like New York cheesecake, fruit cobbler and cupcakes, but it’s also a hot spot for weekend brunch and homestyle lunches.
S and I went back to Barcomi’s for dessert one evening and we were happy to find so many options to choose from even so late in the day. We decided to share a slice of cherry cheesecake and Devil’s Food Cake.
We both liked the blueberry cheesecake we had on the Berlin Food Tour, but we absolutely devoured the cherry cheesecake we ordered this time around. It was the best cheesecake I’ve ever had by far. The Devil’s Food Cake was sky-high but quite rich, so I’d have to say that I preferred the cheesecake out of the two. I would happily go to Barcomi’s every day of the week for dessert!
Berlin has a booming food scene and I feel lucky to have been able to sample so many great restaurants that the city has to offer.
Where are your favourite spots to eat in Berlin? Where should I visit next time?