Currywurst is a must-eat meal in Berlin, but it’s only the start of the city’s tastiest grub. (Photo: Getty Images)
Many of Berlin’s best new restaurants skew international, but the city’s home-grown delicacies still fuel most of the population: low-budget, tasty, snacks-as-meals that cost only a few Euros but keep you going for hours.
They’re also easy to incorporate into a day of sightseeing, since trying one, two or a few of them doesn’t have to eat into your wallet or your schedule.
When you’re out and about in Berlin and feel ein bisschen Hunger coming on, give these favorites a try.
If you’re thinking, “Isn’t this just a hot dog?” you’re wrong. Berliners know their currywurst the way New Yorkers know their bagels, and the sausages to hold out for are the ones that aren’t just slathered in a generous helping of ketchup and doused with curry powder, but in fact sport a curry flavor that goes far beyond skin deep.
Where to get it: Konnepke’s Imbiss, Prenzlauer Berg
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Browsing vintage finds at the Mauerpark flea market around the corner.
Take a lightly toasted flatbread pocket and stuff it with succulent meat sliced from a spit, salads, pickled veggies and a tantalizing array of sauces (garlic and chili sauce are musts) to get a meal-on-the-go that checks practically every box on the nutrition pyramid.
It might even be mom-approved if it didn’t have so much grease in it. It tastes best after midnight and a few drinks or rounds on the dance floor.
Where to get it: Imren Grill, Kreuzberg
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Strolling the picturesque Landwehrkanal during the day or coming off a bar crawl on nearby Weserstrasse at night.
These fluffy blobs of goodness fall somewhere in between meatball and dumpling. A traditional Prussian delicacy, they’re classically made from a mixture of veal and calf’s liver, though recent versions also use ground beef and pork. Just make ’em gigantic and douse ’em with a creamy, savory sauce and a sprinkling of capers. This is working-man’s food, and a plate of these will either give you energy for the rest of the day or send you straight to sleep.
Where to get it: Marjellchen, Charlottenburg
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Wandering the stylish boutiques and home-design stores around Savignyplatz.
You may flee in horror when you hear what this is, but Berliners have been devouring it for decades. If you spot what looks like an open-faced sandwich topped with steak tartare, you’ve actually found this far more elusive animal: half a roll, or what Berliners call a Brötchen, topped with raw ground pork and sliced onion.
It’ll hit the umami spot, it’ll make you feel like a superhero, and you’ll live through it … promise.
Where to get it: Arminiushalle, Moabit
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Strolling the Spree River.
Kartoffeln mit Quark
This dish may seem a bit simple, but done right, potatoes with quark (a creamy, white, strained cheese with the consistency of Greek yogurt) are scrumptious. You’re more likely to eat these at home in Germany than to find them at a restaurant, but either way they’re endlessly customizable.
Germans like to add chopped herbs, olive oil and omega-3-rich flaxseed oil and plenty of salts and spices. It’s healthy comfort food for the laziest eaters.
Where to get it: Zur weissen Kastanie, Charlottenburg
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Magnificent Charlottenburg Palace and its surrounding park.
Sure, hummus is not the first thing you think of when you think of Berlin, but it’s a favorite in thriving international ‘hoods. Neukölln’s busy boulevard Sonnenallee is the spot for lovers of musabaha (hummus topped with whole chickpeas), foul (fava-bean paste with garlic, lemon and spices) and fatteh (crispy pita chips in a yogurt sauce).
Area eateries showcase the best of Middle Eastern cuisine, helmed by Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian chefs.
Where to get it: Azzam, Neukölln
Where you’ll be when hunger strikes: Exploring the old houses and cobblestone streets of Rixdorf, a historic Bohemian village nearby.