893 Ryōtei

893 Ryotei in Berlin features a theatrical open bar and kitchen and a menu of “Nikkei” cuisine, a Japanese-Peruvian hybrid.
Bar at Bandol Sur Mer, Berlin, Germany

Bandol Sur Mer

No longer the hidden spot it once was (thanks to several Brangelina visits), this French bistro is a local favorite. The often-changing menu is written on a chalkboard, the small Parisian-style tables spill onto the street (the dining room is tiny) and the atmosphere is laid-back and fun. After a meal here, you can stroll to Clärchen’s Ballhaus for some cha-cha or swing dancing, or have a nightcap at popular Weinbar Rutz.

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Dinning Area at Bieberbau, Berlin, Germany

Bieberbau

Cozy Bieberbau, in West Berlin, is housed in a beautiful space with gold-leaf-adorned stucco and a low, wood-beamed ceiling (it was once the atelier of stucco master Richard Bieber). Local foodies have warmed up to the simple but delicious fare prepared by young chef Stephan Garkisch: muscat pumpkin soup with walnuts, corn-fed chicken, red beet and kohlrabi salad and turbot served on pea risotto with mustard sauce.

Facade at Borchardt, Berlin, Germany

Borchardt

This French-German bistro has been open in some capacity since the mid-1800s. A glam crowd sips Champagne and nibbles on the restaurant’s famous Wiener schnitzel among a backdrop of marble columns and Art Nouveau mosaics that recalls the roaring twenties.

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Outdoor Lounge at Café am Neuen See, Berlin, Germany

Café am Neuen See

This restaurant and beer garden us located on a lake in the Tiergarten park near the Berlin Zoo & Aquarium. It’s a real gem with hodge-podge furnishings and art, a glass-paneled wall overlooking the lake and plenty of benches and tables al fresco. It’s great for breakfast and brunch (served pretty much all day) but also lovely on a warm evening, where you can settle in and sample local wines, beer and cocktails at ridiculously affordable rates. Unless you are staying at the nearby Das Stue, this place is best reached on a bike or by taxi (don’t attempt to walk from the nearest Zoo Station subway; it looks closer than it actually is).

Food at Café Anna Blume, Berlin, Germany

Café Anna Blume

One of the Prenzlauer Berg’s little restaurant and café gems, which also—very Berlin—has a flower shop in the back. It’s best for breakfast/brunch or coffee, though a small menu of soups, salads and quiches can also make for a light lunch. Save room for the homemade cakes (a wonderful variety) for dessert. Watching the neighborhood go by while sitting on the tree-shaded patio out front on a summer day cannot be beat. It’s open every day.

Kitchen at Café Oliv, Berlin, Germany

Café Oliv

It’s not worth seeking out if you are not staying in the neighborhood, but if you are at Lux 11 or Casa Camper, Café Oliv is a good spot for breakfast or lunch. The design is simple, the staff welcoming and the food nicely prepared and with a healthy emphasis.

Exterior View - Clärchens Ballhaus, Berlin, Germany

Clärchens Ballhaus

No Berlin trip is complete without an evening at this old-school dance hall. Clärchens Ballhaus opened in the 1910s and feels out of another era. Tiny wooden tables line a well-used parquet dance floor, the walls are clad in golden tinsel and the whole thing is presided over by a friendly wait staff who heroically continue serving cocktails and snacks as the place fills to the brim (a small metal sign asks guests to please not bring food, drink or cigarettes onto the dance floor).

It’s open every night of the week, featuring a different style of dancing, from tango and cha-cha to swing and pop. And it’s packed. Everyone from teenagers to retirees mingle here, making Clärchen’s a must-visit for dancers and anyone eager to see a slice of roaring twenties Berlin. Incidentally, Clärchen’s is on one of the prettiest streets of Berlin, close to the Hackesche Höfe, Eigen + Art Eismanufaktur. Open daily from 10 a.m. until (at least) midnight.

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Entrance at Cookies Cream, Berlin, Germany

Cookies Cream

This acclaimed vegetarian restaurant, owned by nightclub impresario Heinz Gindullis (nicknamed Cookie), is no longer a secret.

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Food at Cordobar, Berlin, Germany - Courtesy Jens Oellermann

Cordobar

Just around the corner from Berlin’s iconic Clarchens Ballhaus lies this gem of a restaurant in the charming Mitte neighborhood. An oenophile’s paradise, Cordobar wields an impressive tome dedicated to all things wine, with a special emphasis on German and Austrian varietals. But this is no place for just an after-dinner drink; with a small but creative food menu, Cordobar elevates traditional dishes with flair and creativity, offering a tapas-style menu with Germanic fusion cuisine. Should one opt to start with the “bread & butter,” a freshly-baked loaf and beetroot-infused whipped butter will arrive at the table, served on delicate pastel colored pottery. These simple but thoughtful touches imbue each dish, from the daring (black pudding pizza) to the oddly comforting (fried chicken with wasabi sauce), and are what make Cordobar so special. For a romantic summer meal, request a table in the inner courtyard; with just a handful of tables, the ambiance cannot be beat.

Crackers

Located just a few blocks from the Adlon, Regent and Hotel de Rome, Crackers is a hot-spot restaurant located in the heart of Mitte. Housed in the building that was home to Cookies Club, one of the oldest dance halls in Berlin, Crackers redesigned the cavernous space while retaining elements from the club including a large back bar and a schedule of DJs who play several evenings a week. Go early for a more relaxed atmosphere with excellent contemporary German fare.

Bar at CSA Bar, Berlin, Germany

CSA Bar

For those staying at the Soho House, this nearby bar is a great spot for a final drink of the night. (Though be forewarned that what would count as last call in New York is usually the beginning of the evening in Berlin.)

Food at Curry 36, Berlin, Germany

Curry 36

Sold at street stands throughout the city, currywurst is to Berlin as the hot dog is to New York City. The classic dish consists of a steamed and then fried German pork sausage, served with a curry sauce (made with tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and curry powder) and French fries. Foodies should sample the regional specialty at Curry 36, a standing room–only spot that is popular with locals and tourists. A great finish to a snack here is an ice cream at Vanille & Marille nearby.

Bar at Eismanufaktur, Berlin, Germany

Eismanufaktur

Ask any Berliner what their favorite ice cream place is and you end up in a heated discussion. Suffice it to say, there are many, and many of them are good. But a clear favorite is Eismanufaktur, where flavors change daily (if they have strawberry-mint or cherry while you’re there, taste them…they are both amazing). There are several branches, including one at Café Anna Blume, but this one is centrally located if you’re touring near the Hackesche Höfe.

Dinning Area at Facil, Berlin, Germany

Facil

There are fewer than fifteen tables in the sleek, all-glass Facil restaurant, situated in the fifth-floor courtyard of the Mandala hotel. Chef Michael Kempf has won many accolades—and a Michelin star in 2003—for his light, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. A meal might include fillet of bison with chanterelles and apricot or foie gras with truffles, pine nuts and apple-coriander confit. If it’s on the dessert menu, make sure to order the melon-and-buttermilk tart.

Dinning Area at Grill Royal, Berlin, Germany

Grill Royal

There’s not a ton of upscale river-side dining in Berlin, but Grill Royal has a wonderful al fresco terrace with Spree river views. It’s a good place for those craving meat; the steaks are renowned and pricey for Berlin standards. It’s all a perfectly orchestrated balance between classic comfort fare and a bit of glitz and star factor, which has led to comparisons with one of Keith McNally’s New York City hot spots, like Minetta Tavern or Balthazar.

 

Exterior View - Gugelhof, Berlin, Germany

Gugelhof

For a meal with Bill Clinton in 2000, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder brought him to the lively and casual Gugelhof, a wood-paneled Alsatian restaurant in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood that specializes in Flammkuchen (a thin-crusted pizza usually topped with crème fraîche, ham and onions) and choucroute (a plate of sausage and other meats on a bed of sauerkraut).

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Hamburger Bahnhof Café

The café inside this former train station turned contemporary art museum, the Hamburger Bahnhof, is one of the city’s insider secrets and a great spot for lunch. It’s overseen by chef Sarah Wiener. Closed Monday.

Hasir

Feast on Turkish fare at Hasir Restaurant, a Berlin institution located in a traditionally Turkish neighborhood in Kreuzberg. Indagare Review
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Horváth

The West Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg is a culinary Mecca with talented chefs running small, intimate restaurants. One of the best is Horváth, in a restored 19th-century building. The menu reflects influences from Berlin to Bangkok. A Thai salad is topped with pike-and-perch quenelles on lemongrass sticks, and foie gras and smoked eel are layered between sheets of pasta. Ask for a table in the front room.

Food at Hugos, Berlin, Germany

Hugos

Expect masterful food, a stylish crowd and a panoramic view at Hugos, on the fourteenth floor of the InterContinental hotel. Highlighting only the finest ingredients, the inventive dishes—lobster with peach basil sorbet and venison with melted foie gras, apple chutney and porcini mushrooms—are served in an ultramodern dining room. Thomas Kammeier is one of the dozen or so chefs in Berlin who have been awarded a Michelin star. A wonderful cheese trolley provides the perfect finishing touch.

Exterior View - Käfer,  Berlin, Germany

Käfer

Ask your concierge to make a reservation at the rooftop Käfer restaurant, at the foot of Sir Norman Foster’s Reichstag Cupola as this is a good way to speed up entry into the German parliament building. You arrive through a side entrance on Scheidemann Strasse. You don’t avoid waiting in line completely (groups have to gather before the staff leads you to an elevator that sweeps you to the top), but it helps to have a reservation and your name already in the system. It’s best for breakfast or brunch when the sunny views are most beautiful. Open daily.

Indagare Tip: Consider Käfer for breakfast or lunch on your first day in Berlin; climbing the dome after your meal and taking in the views drives home how geographically vast Berlin is.

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Exterior View - Kantine Kohlmann,  Berlin, Germany

Kantine Kohlmann

Opened in 2014, Kantine Kohlmann is an edgy restaurant in Kreuzberg that draws a young, hip crowd. While the lively atmosphere may be more of a draw than the actual cuisine, Kantine does tapas-style German plates well. Order a number of smaller dishes so you can sample a range without getting stuffed on heavy German fare. Walk around after dinner and pop into one of the many nearby bars for a taste of the local nightlife.

Indagare Tip: If you happen to be in the area on a Thursday evening, save room for dessert or an after dinner drink and pop into Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun. Housed in a large, open space with farmers market­–esque stalls, the food court is teeming with vendors selling delicious bites from around the world. Visitors may be overwhelmed by the vast number of options, but fear not: the unifying element of the varied food stands is that they all offer excellent light bites.

Katz Orange

Set in a castle-like former brewery with a lovely vine-filled courtyard, Katz Orange is not a typical restaurant. The eclectic venue puts equal emphasis on cuisine, art and atmosphere, which encourages socialization. With tables spread throughout various rooms featuring exposed brick, wood paneling, mason jars filled with wild flowers and rustic, western-meets-alpine adornments, Katz Orange serves as a lovely dinner spot for families and couples.

As many Berlin hotspots do, the restaurant incorporates contemporary art. A small gallery houses temporary exhibitions from food-centric artists. The ambiance is diverse and as well suited for a romantic evening as a fun night out with friends or dinner with kids. The service is friendly and relaxed and the food combines organic farm-to-table cuisine with a large selection of locally sourced, slow-cooked meats. Downstairs is a lively bar where the bartender whips up specialty cocktails and a Ray Charles look-alike DJ plays hit tunes.

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Dinning Area at Lavanderia Vecchia, Berlin, Germany

Lavanderia Vecchia

Berlin loves repurposing­, whether it’s turning a former bomb shelter into an art space or a power plant into a nightclub. One of the most innovative transformations is the wildly popular Italian restaurant that has popped up in an old laundromat. Linens are still hanging on clotheslines, but, of course, displaying the history of the space is part of the point. If you can snag one of the tables at dinner (reservations are a must), you will be served excellent Italian cuisine prepared in an open kitchen and served to all of the tables at once. Antipasti may include burrata and mozzarella, vitello tonnato, calamari and bean salads, which are followed by risotto and a meat dish. The menu changes depending on what is in season and the chef feels like preparing, but the family-style meals are consistently delicious.

Lebensmittel in Mitte

This cozy, date-night–ready restaurant offers solid southern German comfort food served in a dining room lined with long wooden benches and appointed with antlers and other rustic wall hangings. But don’t be fooled by the décor: the cuisine is a touch more sophisticated than its provincial surroundings. The dish to order is the sizable schnitzel, which can be washed down with a nice selection of German and Austrian wines. If you’re planning a picnic in Tempelhof or Tiergarten, you can pick up local cheeses, rustic breads and sausages like landjäger at the deli counter.

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Lutter & Wegner

Elegant and formal, Lutter & Wegner is styled like a grand 19th-century café and makes a mean Wiener schnitzel. There are several locations, but you should visit the original at the Gendarmenmarkt in Mitte.

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