In time for the ITB Berlin travel conference this week, we share some of our favorite Berlin restaurants and dishes that fall into the category of high value. The goal isn’t just to eat well and inexpensively, but to use Berlin food exploration as a compass to get out and enjoy the city’s fabulous neighborhoods along the way.
In the first of our Berlin cheap eats installments, most of our recommendations were under €5 and located in Kreuzberg, where we happened to be living at the time. During our last visit we stayed in Neukölln, but several times a week we cycled across the city, hither and yon, lunch-seeking in the €5-€10 range. This is the result of our food quest. You’ll find some of the usual suspects and a suggestion or two a little off-path. A big thanks to all of our Berlin peeps — you know who you are — for the tips.
Let’s dig in!
Berlin eating at around €5
This Lebanese-Syrian hole-in-the-wall became a favorite eating spot of ours in Berlin. Some of the highest quality food for the money in the city. Two people can easily stuff themselves with delicious treats for under €5. Our suggestions include: Manakeesh flatbread (€1) covered in za’atar (a spice blend including thyme and sesame seeds) or cheese with a subtle fragrance of nutmeg; Musabaha (a warm whole chickpea dip) or hummus for €3.50, falafel plate (€3.50), fatteh at €4.50. Everything comes with a boat of fresh vegetables, olives, and herbs plus a bag of pita bread.
Address: Azzam, Sonnenallee 54 (Neukölln)
Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab
You’ll know you’re close when you spot the long line snaking down the street. Not your typical kebab – a spindle of chicken and roasted vegetables is carved up and served with a fabulous mélange of potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, cheese and sauce. If you’re vegetarian, you can also go for the pure veg option. We usually opted for the durum doner (with chicken) for €3.90 which more than fed the two of us.
Address: Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab, Mehringdamm 32 (Kreuzberg)
When a Chinese friend (thanks, Yuhang!) recommends a Chinese dumpling place, we take note. When we arrived at Wok Show for a late lunch, mother and daughter were stuffing and folding away. Select from about a dozen dumpling varieties. An order of 20 homemade and fabulously fresh dumplings costs €4.50-€6.50. Temporarily transported us to China and our favorite dumpling experiences there.
Address: Wok Show, Greifenhagener Straße 31 (Prenzlauer Berg)
Compliments to Henrik of Berlin food rally fame for introducing us to this eatery. This became another favorite spot for its “naan pizzas” — crispy naan crusts topped with vegetarian freshness including combinations of artichokes, guacamole, rucola, sundried tomatoes, and creamed forest mushrooms (€6 and up, big enough to feed two). For a little off-pizza variety, check out the hearty black bean quesadilla (€5).
Address: W Imbiss, Kastanienallee 49 (Mitte)
Authentic Japanese food in this tiny Charlottenberg eatery. Bowls of udon soup and gyūdon (beef bowl with rice) for around €5. Happy stomach, Heno Heno.
Address: Heno Heno, Kantstraße 65 (Charlottenberg)
This friendly family-run Turkish food stand on the corner of the park at Oranienplatz specializes in tantuni, an Anatolian-style slow-cooked spiced beef. The durum and bread (which blows the mind after they rub it in the sauce and on the grill) tantuni sandwiches are both delicious and cheap at €2-€3. Don’t go too late at night; once the homemade flatbread (durum) sells out for the day, that’s it.
Address: Toros, Oranienplatz 2 (Kreuzberg)
Dong Xuan Center
For something a little further afield, check out the Vietnamese market district in Lichtenberg and order yourself a bowl of pho, the Vietnamese soup just about everyone these days has learned to love. A standup bowl of pho bo tai (beef noodle) will run about €6. The bowl above is from the restaurant first on the left from the main artery (with outdoor seating) as you enter the complex.
Address: Herzenbergstrasse 128 (Lichtenberg)
Update October 2014: We unfortunately can no longer recommend this restaurant. Kuchen Kaiser changed its menu this year — increasing prices and decreasing options. When we ate there in October 2014 the food had deteriorated considerably. The spaetzle was nothing like its former self. A disappointing meal all around.
If you’re in the mood for hearty traditional German food, make your way over to Kreuzberg to this cute German eatery. Prices are more in the €7-€10 range, but portions are large and can often feed two people. Our favorites include the spaetzle covered with bergkäse and bacon, beef gulash and leberkäse. Rumor has it that they do good cakes and strudels, although we’ve never had the room to get there. Try also the Kreuzberger Molle, a pilsner style beer brewed locally. Highly addictive stuff.
Address: Kuchen Kaiser, Oranienplatz 11-13 (Kreuzberg)
For the Love of Berlin Lunch Menus
In the world of value eating (i.e., the best quality food for your money), it’s hard to beat the lunch menu. Even some high end restaurants will offer quality dishes on a lunch menu for a fraction of the cost of their dinner menu. Here are a few of our favorite Berlin lunch menus for around €5.
This social enterprise supports people with disabilities and offers up creative and fun two-course lunches for €5 like chicken, mushrooms, peas, cherry tomato and mint over rice with a starter of tandoori-coconut soup. Menus change every week. It’s a bit out of the way in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood, but worth a cycle or metro ride over. Special thanks to Nicole at Visit Berlin for this tip, as we’d never have found this place without it.
Address: Blisse 14, Blissestraße 14 (Wilmersdorf)
An over-the-top cute Italian restaurant decked out in the theme of mama’s laundry. Open kitchen. The daily menu revolves around the whim of the chef and what happens to be fresh. For lunch, the single-course menu runs from €4.50 with a two-course meal setting you back €8. Go early as it fills up quickly. If you want to splurge for a nice dinner, consider Lavenderia Vecchia’s 8-course €39 evening menu.
Address: Lavanderia Vecchia, Flughafenstr. 46 (back courtyard), Neukölln
Vino e Libri
Bring a book, get a book, and enjoy with a glass of wine. We first went here in the evening as part of our Berlin food rally, but noticed the inexpensive lunch menu and decided to return. The lunch menu changes regularly and starts at €5.50 for dishes like the spaghetti with mussels pictured above. Otherwise, the standard menu starts at €10 for pastas (e.g., homemade pumpkin ravioli) and heads up and over €20 for meat and seafood mains.
Address: Vino e Libri, Torstrasse 89, Mitte
Chen Che Teehaus
If you are looking for real Vietnamese food in Berlin, this ought to be one of your first stops. The décor is also fun and beautifully thought out. Lunch menus run €6.50-€8, with taster menus running a bit more. Chen Che also features an extensive tea selection for aficionados.
Address: Chen Che Teehaus, Rosenthaler Str. 13, Mitte
Pizza in Berlin
Papà Pane di Sorrento
If you like Napoli style pizza, this place has your number. Particularly when cherry tomatoes are in season, the sauce is spot on. You’ll speak more Italian here than German. Lunch specials run around €6 with specialty pizzas (our favorite is the Papà Pane — thin crust, chunks of buffalo mozzarella, pomodorini, and big basil leaves) for €7-€9. House wine is decently priced at €4 a half liter.
Address: Papà Pane, Ackerstraße 23 (Mitte)
For thin crust traditional Italian and Tyrolian style pizza with bergkäse (German mountain cheese) and speck, head to Gasthaus Figl. Fun atmosphere, pleasant outdoor garden. A short but decent selection of beers on tap. Go early or make a reservation, as Figl fills up quickly.
Address: Gasthaus Figl, Urbanstrasse 47 (Kreuzberg)
Breakfast and Brunch
After Kotti at Kottbusser Tor stopped serving breakfast, it was time to find somewhere new. A.Horn is it, our breakfast and brunch favorite near the canal. Bagels are pretty good, as is the coffee. But it’s the mixed plate flush with tasty jams, fruit, cheese and meat that takes the prize. And they serve a decent weissbier — this and the outdoor setting offer the perfect excuse to drink beer for breakfast.
Address: A.Horn, Carl-Herz-Ufer 9 (Kreuzberg)
Our question to you, dear Berlin food mavens: What did we miss?
We’ve taken all our Berlin tips — sites, neighborhoods and cheap eats — and put them into one nifty pdf guide! Click on the image to buy and download!