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).

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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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.)

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.

Food at Neni, Berlin, Germany

Neni

The rooftop restaurant of the super trendy 25hours Hotel in West Berlin has become one of the coolest restaurants in the city with tables booking up weeks in advance. People come for the greenhouse-on-a-roof design; the views (of the city and into the Berlin zoo); the delicious Middle Eastern food (don’t miss the hummus trio); and the people watching. The Monkey Bar next door has a great DJ in the evenings, but lunch is the time to go for maximum views and a bit of shopping at the Bikini Mall down below.

Exterior View : Paris Bar, Berlin, Germany - Photo Courtesy : Peter Kuley

Paris Bar

One of the city’s heyday bistros, the Paris Bar remains popular with an art crowd thanks to its location in Charlottenburg that is close to many of the city’s most-upscale galleries. It’s mobbed during periods when there are art happenings or the film festival, and though the food is fine (standard French fare), you come as much for the scene and history as for the steak-frites.

Interiors at Sage,  Berlin, Germany

Sage

If the weather is nice and you crave some down-time from touring in a truly local spot, head to Sage, a restaurant, bar and man-made beach lounge right by the Spree River. It’s housed in a former factory (of course) in a part of town that really only comes to life late at night. It’s a fun spot for cocktails and people watching if you’re out and about exploring eastern Kreuzberg or the more gritty Friedichshain district across the river.

Interiors at Schneeweiss, Berlin, Germany

Schneeweiss

The all-white Schneeweiss, located in the up-and-coming Friedrichshain neighborhood, is a trendy option for new German cuisine.

Food at Tausend Cantina, Berlin, Germany

Tausend Cantina

Spend twenty-four hours in Berlin and the phrase "this is so Berlin," will become part of your lexicon. Tausend Cantina would qualify as an über-cool, speakeasy-style bar and restaurant, and its cuisine of Japanese/Spanish fusion helps with the cool-factor. Dishes, be they tapas, sushi or a morph of the two are as delicious as they are inventive.

Diners enter the space by knocking on an unmarked door under a bridge and are led into a very dark and very cool space. The bar is in a spacecraft-type long and narrow room (outfitted in all black, of course). Through the club-like area is the open-plan kitchen and dining area. Tables are set close together encouraging intimate conversation with your dining companion and neighbors. And the hipster wait staff adds to the panache.

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The Barn

If you’re craving an American-style lunch spot (and have already eaten at Barcomi’s), head to the Barn, on a fun corner of Mitte’s Auguststrasse. A deli, restaurant and café, the Barn focuses on organic, healthy snacks and dishes. Its location also makes it a good place for hanging out and people watching. It’s a good place to map out a walking tour of this nice neighborhood, which includes the Great Synagogue, shopping streets like August-, Mulack- and Neue Schönhauser Strassen, as well as a host of galleries like Eigen + Art. Best of all, it’s open every day of the week.

 

Ambience - The Grand, Berlin, Germany

The Grand

This former school house has been turned into a cool club, lounge and restaurant. Chandeliers, ancestral portraits and stuffed hunting trophies adorn the rooms with paint peeling walls to create a shabby chic atmosphere that feels very current. The private dining rooms upstairs are fun to reserve for larger groups.

Bar at Volt, Berlin, Germany

Volt

Opened in 2010, Volt quickly became the darling of the Berlin foodie scene. Located in Kreuzberg, the restaurant is headed by young chef Matthias Gleiss who masterfully transforms German cuisine with a light, creative touch. The dining room is contemporary and cool; the seasonal menu also offers some stellar vegetarian options. The three-course menu is a bargain.

Food at Zenkichi , Berlin, Germany

Zenkichi

If you find yourself craving delicious Japanese small plates, head to Zenkichi in Mitte. Motoko Watanabe and Shaul Margulies, the husband-and-wife duo behind the hip Brooklyn Japanese restaurant of the same name, have brought their brand of Japanese brasserie to Berlin. Guests enter the immaculately-designed subterranean space via a dim, maze-like passageway. Meals begin with fresh sashimi and dessert should not be skipped—among the options, the frozen black sesame mousse is a favorite. For a more informal option, you can head upstairs to Zenkichi’s sister cafe, House of Small Wonder.

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