You’ve probably heard, Berlin is one of the coolest cities in the world. You probably know about its fascinating history and museums, as well as the ever-changing art, music, theater, film, drug, food and sex scenes that add to the invigorating experience that is Berlin. If you don’t know, you can look all over this site and on the web, but in this post, I’ll be detailing something a bit more localized.
What I’d like to share is my favorite corner of Berlin, the best of the best in my opinion. It’s not techno-club central or even a very visually appealing part of town, but as you’ll see, it’s got its perks, from the bar that serves the strongest beers, to what I believe to be the location of the best burger in the city. Here’s the game plan for a great time in a sweet part of Berlin.
Hermannplatz: Starting point for your night in Neukölln (Photo: Roy Busch Photography)
Start the night out by grabbing a few cheap, half-liter beers from the REWE or Edeka (Grab a 33 cent “Sterni” for extra Berliner cred) and take the U-Bahn down to Hermannplatz. It’s located in Neukölln, which is the borough home to a majority of the Turkish community as well as plenty of hipsters and young folk who enjoy the cheap rent and chill spots. The first of these spots will help balance out that beer you drank on an empty stomach.
Cafe Futuro: Look for the pink neon light and follow the smell of basil.
What appears to be an ordinary Italian restaurant is actually an amazing Italian restaurant, purely because of a special service they offer on certain nights: aperitivo. That means you pay the price of one beer (not a lot in Berlin), and you get a plate which you can fill endlessly from the buffet of delicious, authentic Italian dishes. No strings attached, just buy a beer and enjoy the pasta. Amazing. What a great idea. I don’t think I need to say anything else about Café Futuro.
So by now, you either feel like you’ve won the lottery or you’re congratulating yourself on making such a healthy AND economical decision. You say, “What the hell, why not reward myself with a very strong, tasty beer?” You earned it. Now it’s time to head down to “historical Sonnenallee” and try your damnedest to find the bar whose name calls to mind evergreens and warm feelings: O Tannenbaum.
O Tannenbaum: “It’s pretty cool, I mean, I just come here for the rare Belgian beers and alternative, intellectual ambiance, but I don’t really care, ya know, it’s whatever…”
Like a lot of über-hip spots in Berlin, this small, dimly-lit pub is not incredibly easy to find. With no sign bearing its name or street number, it’s easy to pass up, especially in the Winter when everyone will be inside. But maybe they’ll turn on the light shaped like a Christmas tree, and you’ll be in luck. Go in there. It’s a little bit smokey and could be a bit crowded, but if you want to taste some fancy beers, this is the spot. They mainly specialize in Belgian beers (which often range from 7 to 10% alcohol ABV), which will either loosen you up to talk to interesting strangers, or get you feeling like you need to move on cause you’re starting to make a fool of yourself, making a few too many puns using the word “hops.” You need a feeling of acceptance from some like-minded misfits who don’t care if you appreciate a beer’s “subtle floral notes and bright finish.” Finish your Gulden Draak, and let’s get out of here.
Sternburg: Punks’ beer of choice which isn’t known for its taste, but compared to other nations’ low end beers, it ain’t that bad. (Photo: Bacon’s Beerography)
Back around the corner is this sweet punk bar that just reeks of Berlin. By the kind of crowd that hangs out there and the music playing, you might feel a bit intimidated, but if you can read German, you’ll notice a disclaimer on the wall that might set you at ease. It explains that if anyone in this bar is racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced in any way, it is everyone’s responsibility to kick them out! This should be written in every bar! In addition to that bad-ass call to acceptance, the bar has 1,50€ Sternis and fun 1€ shots of mixed liquors, so you should stick around, take in the dark decor, and enjoy drinks at a price lower than just about any Western big city.
Alright, so you’re feeling pretty good by now, and you would be ready to dance the night away in one of Berlin’s crazy clubs, staying out well into the afternoon hours of the following day. But you did that two days ago. Take it easy, you’ll wear yourself out! What, you’re hungry again? Okay, okay, I don’t blame you, that smell is getting to me too, oh what’s this here right next to the bar…
Berlin Burger International
Look at that burger. Can you believe that burger?? It’s got goat cheese on it! I think they got braised onions or something on that thing! It looks like it’s got an entire salad on top! You want this.
At some split second during the meal, you think, “I totally could have split this with someone. What have I gotten myself into? What am I doing to myself?” and then that feeling subsides, replaced only with the feeling of pure burger bliss. You know you made the right decision.
BBI has huge burgers of every variety, and it’s kind of the perfect “morning-after-the-party” place to go. You can even choose to eat healthily with the veggie burger, and if you don’t, the ingredients still seem to reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. So dang good.
So that concludes our night out around a few of my favorite places in Berlin. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a little Mittagsschlaf. Maybe we can have a picnic at Tempelhof field later. Bis dann, tschüss!