If you have to rate the importance of food on your trips from 1 to 10, which number would you pick? I would pick 11, and I bet my co-editor, Kate, would do the same! What can be better than a great meal after a day of sightseeing or trekking?
It’s common knowledge that touristic places are overpriced and food quality there is not the best. So, logically, the best choice is to avoid them and dine where the locals dine. This is especially true in Berlin – German capital has gotten much more touristic and pricey in the last couple of years. But how to find a spot where you can eat like a local?
80days&counting has sent its editor Olya to explore Berlin and to discover the best dining places for locals. Berlin is an extremely international city where a lot of cultures come together, so the outcome was unexpected – Olya came back with a bunch of suggestions, and all of them are offering non-German cuisine.
Are you ready to explore the local-est places to dine in Berlin? Let’s go!
Umami: Indochinese Сharm
First stop – Indochina! Mainland Southeast Asia or the Indochinese Peninsula is the continental portion of Southeast Asia, it includes the countries of Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Umami, a beautifully lit restaurant in Kreuzberg, offers a mix of cuisines of this Indochinese region. Vietnamese cuisine prevails, but you can definitely also find dishes from Thailand and Malaysia on the menu.
What’s best to order there? We would suggest starting with spring rolls, a traditional Vietnamese dish. These are two versions – fried ones, and the rice paper ones. Both are extremely good!
In Umami locals go crazy for pho soup – even in the summer heat, everyone has it on their tables. We have followed the example of locals and grabbed a bowl of soup too. Definitely another dish to try at this ethnic restaurant!
Where to find it?
- Bergmannstraße 97, 10961 Berlin
- Knaackstr. 16, 10405 Berlin
Babel: Refreshing and Filling
Imagine that you have a really good lunch at Umami, and then walked from Treptower park to Mauer park. You definitely need two things now – food and refreshment that brings your energy back! How about combining these two and cheering yourself up with some Lebanese food?
If you have just nodded after reading the previous sentence, we invite you to go to Babel – an authentic Lebanese restaurant. Babel has been around for more than 10 years and is super popular among locals. We hardly found a free place in it around dinner, and the restaurant has two big halls and a terrace!
If you are traveling in a group, we recommend you to pick up several dishes and then share – everything on the menu is worth trying! My top list includes the following positions:
- Fried halloumi cheese;
- Hummus (seriously, one of the best in the city!);
- Shawarma and salad;
- Baba Ghanoush.
The last one is a real must have – it is eggplant dip sauce from the region, and it is made in heaven. A mixture of mashed cooked eggplant with tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings makes it a really fine dish with distinguished flavor.
Where to find it? Kastanienallee 33, 10435 Berlin
Thai Kitchen Bang Rak: a Home-like Lunch
Next day and the next lunch! Originally we came to Mehringdamm district to try the legendary Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap… and once we came out of U-Bahn, we saw a huge line that promised a minimum one hour of waiting.
Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap is awesome, but we were not ready to wait for one hour, and we have decided to walk till we bump into some other place that serves food. After only 10 minutes of walk, we saw it – a tiny Thai bistro. While we were skeptically looking at the photos of the food in the window, a German guy walked in. At the threshold, he turned around and cheerfully said in the finest Berlin German – “Es schmeckt sehr gut!” (It tastes really good).
Feedback from a local? We are convinced! Now I can confirm that the guy was right – the food is really good. The place is very small and tidy and is ran by a nice lady who cooks everything herself.
My suggestion is to take the absolute classic of Thai cuisine – pad thai, a stir-fried rice noodle dish. Thai Kitchen Bang Rak (this is the name of the place) serves its different versions – with veggies, with meat or with shrimps. The price varies accordingly, but even the most expensive version with shrimps costs 7.50 euros.
Where to find? Großbeerenstraße 26, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Djimalaya: Grab More Hummus!
We conclude our eat-like-local tour in Berlin with Israeli dishes in Djimalaya – a cozy place just a few steps away from Rosenthaler Platz U-Bahn stop in the northern part of Berlin.
There can be no doubts about what to eat in Djimalaya – the full name of the place is Djimalaya Hummus & Grill, and hummus and grilled meat are the top positions on its menu. We found strongly advise to grab amazing grilled chicken or beef kebab and classic hummus with pita bread. If you are into veggie dishes, then grilled eggplant and spinach falafel will definitely make you happy!
Once in Djimalaya, don’t forget to try Israeli wine. The wine list is not excessively long, but features a good selection of red and white wines and even rosé!
Where to find: Invalidenstraße 159, 10115 Berlin