Last Updated on July 11, 2022 by Audrey Scott
Our list of favorite Berlin cheap eats under €5 is easy on your budget and includes high-quality, flavorful and hearty meals. These include Middle Eastern, Turkish, German, Italian and Asian dishes from a variety of different neighborhoods. So as you explore where to eat in Berlin, you get a sense of the city's diversity in addition to getting to know the local food scene.
During our time in Berlin we've lived in Kreuzberg and in Neukölln neighborhoods, smack in middle of what our visiting friends deemed “little Turkey.” Food was fresh, accessible, brimming with flavor and typically served by folks who took pride in their cuisine, interest in us as human beings, and great pleasure in serving up an experience.
Update July 2022: This article was first published in October 2010 and updated in August 2020 and July 2022 with updates to restaurants, dishes and prices (yes, inflation has had an impact recently), as well as recommended Berlin city tours and places to stay to explore the city even more.
Table of Contents
Our Favorite 10 Cheap Eats in Berlin
1. Azzam Restaurant: Delicious Middle Eastern Food
We discovered this simple self-service Labanese-style (although owned by a Palestinian) restaurant by riding our bikes past it repeatedly and noticing it was always full of people, no matter what time of day. We thought: there must be good reason for those crowds. There was.
Azzam quickly became a favorite eating spot of ours in Berlin, one that we love taking friends to and sharing a bunch of different dishes together so we can all enjoy different tastes. Everyone always comes away with some variation of: “that food was delicious, and I can’t believe how inexpensive it was.” No doubt some of the highest quality food for the money in the city. Two people can easily stuff themselves with delicious treats for under €5.
What to eat: The falafel and halloumi cheese plate (now €6.50) is a classic that everyone loves (we think Azzam has some of the best falafel in the city). Musabaha (an addictive warm whole chickpea dip) or hummus bowl for around €5. Manakeesh flatbread covered in za’atar (a spice blend including thyme and sesame seeds) or cheese with a subtle fragrance of nutmeg. Fatteh is the ultimate comfort food at around €6.50. Everything comes with a boat of fresh vegetables, olives, and herbs plus a bag of pita bread.
Azzam can get busy around meal times so consider visiting during an off-time or if you come during prime hours just enjoy the buzz of the place and a cup of tea for free from their samovar.
2. Mustafa's: Gemüse (Vegetable) Kebab
You’ll know you’re close when you spot the long line snaking down the street on Mehringdamm. This is not your typical Berlin kebab. Instead of meat, a spindle of chicken and roasted vegetables is carved up and served with a fabulous mélange of potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, a feta-type cheese and sauce. If you’re vegetarian, you can also go for the pure veg option. We usually opted for the durum (flat bread) döner with chicken for around €5 which is hearty enough feeds the two of us.
Mustafa is a food stand, meaning that it doesn’t have any seating of its own so you’ll need to grab your kebab and eat it on the street. Given the popularity of Mustafa’s it’s worth planning your visit during off-hours to avoid the long line.
Address: Mustafa's Gemüse Kebab, Mehringdamm 32 (Kreuzberg)
3. Han West: Get Your Dumpling and Bao Fix
We're spoiled as Han West's Neukölln location is just around the corner from us so it's our go-to place when we're craving dumplings or baos. You can get a filling bao (steamed bun) stuffed with tofu, shiitake mushroom or pork belly for €4.50. Vegetarian, vegan or meat-filled dumplings are around €6 for eight with a choice of sauce. And if you're really hungry order a box that includes dumplings, bao and fries or salad (€10.50). Pick up a craft beer from Neulich brewery next door (Neukölln location) and it's a perfect combination.
What to eat: Tofu or pork belly bao (€4.50), halloumi lemongrass or Thai chicken and herb dumplings (€6.00).
Address: Han West, Selchowerstr. 20, Neukölln + Görlitzerstr. 69, Kreuzberg + Burgsdorfstr. 9, Wedding
4. Gel Gör Inegöl Köfteci: Köfte Sandwiches & Turkish Food
Köfte usually means herbed minced lamb meatballs, but Gel Gör does it with a twist by using veal instead. And the result is astronomically good. They charcoal grill the meat just tender; the aroma and taste are both unforgettable. Next up, the bread: perfectly fresh, soft, then (blow my mind) dabbed and toasted on the charcoal grill. The whole thing is topped with salad greens, red onions, arugula (rucola) and mint.
Sauces are also standout: spicy red pepper sauce, garlic yogurt, and a yellow herb sauce. Go for all three. Have them top the whole thing with a dash of sumac and some red pepper flakes (for spice lovers) and your taste buds will go insane.
I'm told the proper way to down a Gel Gör köfte baguette is to drink it with ayran (drinkable Turkish yogurt). However, Gel Gör offers a formidable beer selection featuring prices only a few dimes over prices at a bottle shop.
What to eat: Köfte baguette (€5.00-€7.00). Meatatarians take the plunge with the köfte plate.
Address: Gel Gör Inegöl Köfteci, Kottbusser Damm 80 (Neukölln). Open 24 hours.
5. Tadim Lahmacun: Turkish Pizzas and Other Specialties
Lahmacun (Turkish pizza) at its best. A friend who visited likened lahmacun to the Turkish version of a burrito. But it's much more than that. Lahmacun is a rolled, thin flatbread dough topped with an herbed ground meat and baked until crispy. Ask the guys to top it with salad (tomato, flat parsley, onion, lettuce), some hot or yogurt sauce and a bit of sumac, a squeeze of lemon; they roll it up a la burrito. You can also try it with döner meat inside, but we are fans of the lahmacun alone.
Call us purists. Turkish pizza purists.
What to eat: Lahmacun (Turkish pizza) with salad (2.50€) or salad and sauce (3.00€).
Address: Tadim Lahmacun, Adalbertstrasse 98, Kreuzberg.
6. Thai Park: Where to Find Authentic Thai Food in Berlin
Thai Park takes over Preußenpark in Schöneberg every Friday to Sunday with food stalls serving Thai street food and everything you might be missing from your last trip to Thailand. It feels a bit like being transported to Bangkok for the afternoon as all of the vendors are Thai so you are surrounded by the smells, flavors and sounds of Thailand.
Take your time to walk through the different street food stalls and choose your favorite dishes (usually €3 – €6) — Pad Thai, a Thai curry, pad kra pao gai, papaya or seafood salad, spring or summer roles, soup, dumplings or mango and sticky rice. Then, enjoy eating some of the best and most authentic Thai food in Berlin in the park in fresh air on a picnic blanket. Doesn't get much better than this for food and atmosphere.
What to eat: It's hard to go wrong here, but our favorite dishes include chicken larb, seafood salad, pad kra pao gai (chicken with Thai basil and chili), and pad see ew (wide rice noodles).
Address: Thai Park (Friday – Sunday, April to October), Preußenpark near Fehrbelliner Platz (also an U-Bahn station), Schöneberg
7. Pazzi X Pizza: Authentic Italian Pizza
Finding cheap pizza by the slice in Berlin is easy. However, finding really good, high quality pizza by the slice in Berlin is rare. That's where Pazzi X Pizza just a few blocks away form Tempelhofer Feld in Neukölln comes in. Its authentic Italian thin crust pizzas (the owners are from southern Italy) with high quality Italian toppings will please the pickiest of pizza snobs (I count myself as part of that group). The standard piece (bigger than a regular pizza slice) costs €2.50-€3.00, depending upon the toppings. One is usually enough, but if you're really hungry then get two.
What to eat: Some of our favorite pizzas include cime di rapa (Italian greens) with salsiccia (Italian sausage with fennel), cherry tomatoes with ricotta cheese and rucola, roasted eggplant, and prosciutto with ricotta . The classic margarita (tomato sauce with mozzarella) is always a good bet.
Address: Pazzi X Pizza, Herrfurthstr. 8 (Neukölln)
8. Maroush: Lebanese Food
Tasty, accessible Lebanese food. Excellent falafel sandwiches stuffed with freshly fried falafel balls, salad and a surprisingly hefty dose of tahini (sesame sauce). Chicken shawarma sandwiches are chock-full of chicken and feature a tuck of French fries. Sounds odd, but the combo works oh so well. The final touch on both sandwiches: the stuffed pita is “sealed” in a sandwich press.
Open late and usually packed.
What to eat: Chicken shawarma or falafel sandwich (€5)
Address: Maroush, Adalbertstrasse 98, Kreuzberg.
There is always a large selection of different red sauce or white pizza options, all with high quality Italian toppings. This changes all the time so you'll always find something new. You can either eat there with tables inside and outside. Or, take your slices with you to eat as a picnic at Tempelhofer Feld.
9a. Tekbir Döner: Best Döner Kebab, Part 1
Like all good things, by word of mouth, friend of a friend. A tip from an Indian guy in Kreuzberg who had himself been tipped off by a Turkish neighbor. This is how all great döner scavenger hunts begin.
Although the meat on the spindle may look sketchy: rougher, darker than other döner huts, don't fear. Tekbir's meat spindle is stacked with cut veal instead of processed or pressed lamb döner meat. As a result, the texture is very much real meat, like cut steak in a steak-and-cheese. And the taste is the stuff of beautiful, sweet mystery. Maybe some allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg. In any case, it's elegant. The yogurt sauce is tart, as if it's straight ayran, rather than sweetened yogurt or mayonnaise you might find lurking elsewhere.
The whole package is rolled in a Turkish style lavash-like flatbread called a durum.
Best of all, Tekbir is the real deal, real neighborhood, and everyone working and eating there is extraordinarily friendly. They served us free Turkish tea during each visit. It doesn't get much better than that.
What to eat: Durum döner, 4.50€.
Address: Tekbir Döner, Skalitzer Straße 23, Kreuzberg
9b. Doyum Grillhaus Döner: Best Döner Kebab, Part 2
It's always a good sign when a Turkish restaurant is packed with Turkish people round-the-clock. We ordered a simple durum döner where the meat (lamb) is spot on, piled plentifully and topped with lots of fresh salad. Great sauce with a roasted chili taste. The adana kebab (pictured above) looked pretty nice, too. Next time.
Although we opted for a quick kebab to go, this is a proper Turkish restaurant with a delicious looking menu and full seated area.
What to eat: Durum döner (4.50€).
Address: Doyum Grillhaus, Admiralstraße 37-38, Kreuzberg
10. Requisite Berlin Currywurst
Do I think currywurst is the highest quality food going in Berlin? Um, no. But I know it's in the hearts and on the minds of just about everyone visiting. So, here's my take.
The “best currywurst” argument is a storm in a teacup, but if sausage served with a dusting of curry powder and ketchup sounds like your thing, then it's time for currywurst. In truth and fairness, my best memories of currywurst date back to the early 2000s and in particular, a rain-soaked R.E.M. concert in 2004. But those days — and eating currywurst at every stop from Zoologischer Garten to Nollendorfplatz — are long since over.
These days, the “best currywurst” battle rages between two places: Curry 36 and Konnopke Imbiss. Although I favor Curry 36's marginal generosity with their curry powder and their fries (with a dusting of red pepper powder), I appreciate the less firm sausage link from Konnopke Imbiss.
But like I said above: storm in a teacup.
What to eat: At Curry 36: two currywurst and French fries (4.50€). At Konnopke Imbiss: currywurst and French fries (5.00€).
Address: Curry 36, Mehringdamm 36, Kreuzberg. (If you are a group and want to smorgasbord it, get a gemüse kebab from Mustafa's listed above). Konnopke Imbiss, Schönhauser Allee 44A, Prenzlauer Berg.
Honorable Mention: Türkenmarkt at Maybachufer
It's no wonder that food in Berlin is so good, fresh and tasty. The produce coursing through all its markets is impressive. For a glimpse and taste, check out the Turkish outdoor market (Türkenmarkt) along Maybachufer and the canal in Kreuzberg. It's open Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 12:00-6:30.
Just about everything is sold here, even open-air haircuts. In the food department: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, olives, nuts, cheese and an array of Turkish breads. And for a walk-away comfort food snack, try the gözleme from Chez Su (right side, on the way towards Neukölln) for around €2.
Berlin Day Tours and Other Things to Do
Having lived in Berlin for almost ten years with dozens of visitors during that time, we’ve done quite a few city tours that explore Berlin by foot, bike and water (boat/kayak) that we’ve enjoyed. Each perspective and tour focus — whether it’s street art, history, alternative culture, or the local food scene — provides a little more understanding of this complex, complicated and ever-changing city we love.
If you have limited time in Berlin and want to sure you have a secured spot in a tour, we can recommend using our partners, Get Your Guide and Viator, for booking Berlin tours. They offer many different types of Berlin tours and day trips with no booking fees and free cancellation up to 24 hours before.
Here are a few tours and experiences we recommend if you visit Berlin. (Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links where the price stays the same to you, but we earn a small commission if you book something.)
- Half-Day Berlin Walking Tour: One of the ways we often orient ourselves when we arrive in a new city is by taking a walking tour. This provides us a background on the history and culture of the place, an overview of the main historical sights, and ideas on where we want to continue our exploration. We find that the walking tour guides often have great food and restaurant recommendations, too. If a half-day sounds a bit long, here's a shorter Berlin walking tour that focuses on the historical sites and World War II history around Brandenburg Gate. If you are curious about Berlin's Cold War history, consider this East Berlin walking tour (3 hours) that focuses on what it was like living in a divided city that includes visit to the East Side Gallery and Berlin Wall.
- Alternative Berlin and Street Walking Tour (4 hours): This walking tour that explores Berlin's alternative side with a focus on street art and counterculture history has been a favorite with our visiting family and friends. We've done a similar Berlin street art walking tour (3 hours) with this same company that we really liked. The guide is usually a street artist so you get an inside perspective. It makes you really appreciate the different layers and meaning behind the street art you'll see as you explore Berlin.
- Explore Berlin by boat: Many people don't realize that Berlin is a city on water with more bridges than Venice, Italy. The Spree River run through the city with many canals going into the different neighborhoods (built and used originally to transport goods throughout the city). So, one of the best ways to see and experience Berlin is on a boat, whether it's a quick one-hour boat ride through the main sites in the center or a longer half-day boat trip that goes from the center of town and the famous Museum Island to Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg with its many bridges.
- Explore Berlin by bicycle: Given the vast size of Berlin and the city's bike lane infrastructure, a bike tour is a fun way to see a lot of different places and travel like a Berliner…by bike. We really enjoyed and learned a lot on this Berlin Wall Bike Tour (3.5 hours) that takes you through different places along the Berlin Wall and also tells the story of how and why it was built, what life was like in a divided city (usually the tour guides are from Berlin and can share their own experience), how people tried to escape, and the unexpected story of how the wall fell on 9 November, 1989. Another fun area to explore on bike are the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Fredrichshain with their street art, alternative culture, East Side Gallery, Spree River and more.
- Explore Berlin by kayak: The calm of Berlin's canals and Spree River make the city a great place to kayak through to see some of the main sites and neighborhoods. We've rented kayaks several times over the years (and also own a small inflatable boat) and can recommend kayaking along the Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg and also into the former East Berlin. Another fun water option is this 1.5-hour stand-up paddle board tour that goes along the Spree River towards Treptower Park and Insel der Jugund.
- Food tours in Berlin: As you might have guessed from this article, Berlin has a diverse and international food scene. So, a neighborhood food tour is a way to sample different dishes and also learn the history and culture of that kiez (Berlin-speak for neighborhood). One of our favorite neighborhoods to eat in is Kreuzberg with its great Turkish restaurants and multi-cultural feel. Alternatively, take a food tour in Mitte to see how this former East Berlin neighborhood has transformed over the years.
- Other unusual Berlin tours: One of the things that visitors to Berlin sometimes miss are the great courtyards or backyards in traditional buildings and complexes. Many of these date back to the early 20th century when Berlin was an industrial city and so factories were located at the back of courtyards and workers lived in the front. Many of these beautiful (often) brick courtyard complexes have survived, but you need to know where to look for them. That's where this Berlin Courtyard Walking Tour in Mitte can help. Another unusual tour in Berlin we really enjoyed was this underground bunker and subway experience.
Where to Stay in Berlin
There is certainly no shortage of accommodation options in Berlin, whether a hotel, hostel or your own apartment rental. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to choose where to stay based on the diversity of Berlin's neighborhoods and size, plus your interests and budget.
One of the things that gives Berlin its unique feel is that each neighborhood is a bit different, so we recommend friends and family to stay in neighborhood back streets if they can. They provide a more local feel with more non-touristy cafes, restaurants, bars and shops.
- Weinmeister Hotel in Mitte: Located in the heart of Mitte near Hackescher Markt and not far from Alexanderplatz, this design hotel is in a great location and has a beautiful rooftop terrace for meals and drinks. Several friends and work colleagues have stayed here and recommend it. Note: this is an adult-only hotel.
- Hüttenpalast in Neukölln: Located in a fun and hip area between Kreuzberg and Neukölln, Hüttenpalast offers both retro-style caravans and cabins, as well as hotel rooms, and a relaxing garden. Friends have enjoyed staying here.
- Nena Apartments in Bergmannkiez, Kreuzberg: If you want your own apartment and kitchen to self-cater, these apartments on a quiet street in the cute Bergmannkiez part of Kreuzberg are a good option. There are also Nena Apartments in Neukölln (Hermannplatz) and in the Moritzplatz area of Kreuzberg.
- Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain: Located close to the East Side Gallery (2km of the Berlin Wall that is now an outdoor mural gallery) and Spree River, the Michelberger Hotel has a great lobby and restaurant on the ground floor and unique design rooms of all sizes and prices. Several friends who have stayed here recommend it for the rooms and the location.
- Circus Hostel in Berlin: If you are looking for a hostel or budget accommodation option, several friends have recommended Circus Hostel with both dorm and single/double room options. It's located very close to Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte with lots of local restaurants, cafes and bars in walking distance. The owners have recently opened up Circus Hotel nearby if you aren't into the hostel vibe.
Gluten Free Eating in Berlin (and Germany)
If you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance there's good and bad news about gluten free eating in Berlin (and Germany in general). On the positive side, awareness about gluten free needs is rising in Berlin so quite a few restaurants offer gluten free alternatives. On the negative side, a lot of food in Berlin, especially street food, includes bread. It's important to always be careful and ask questions.
To help you navigate food in Berlin and Germany so that you can eat local, but also gluten free and with confidence, check out this German Gluten Free Restaurant Card and Gluten Free Guide to Germany created by our friend, Jodi. The restaurant card explains in detail, using local food names and language, your needs as a strictly gluten free eater, including common problems regarding cross contamination, so that you get the meal you want and need. (Bonus: You can use it when you travel in any German speaking country like Austria or Switzerland.)
Jodi has celiac disease herself so she understands first-hand the importance of being able to communicate gluten free needs in detail and educate waiters and restaurants on what this means in practice. She created her series of Gluten Free Restaurant Cards in different languages to help celiac and gluten-free travelers eat local with confidence, and without communication problems or getting sick.
Note: These gluten free restaurant cards are not part of an affiliate plan or a way for us to make money. We are extremely fortunate that we can eat everything, but we've seen the challenges of others who are celiac or have food intolerances where every meal can potentially make them sick. These detailed gluten free cards were created to help prevent that from happening and make eating out fun and enjoyable when traveling.