Berlin can be tough to navigate. It’s one of the largest cities in Europe and there’s no downtown area. Instead, there are large districts made up of smaller neighborhoods that each have their own market, park, or square. Add to this how spread out Berlin is and chances are you’ll spend more time desperately searching for a good place to eat than actually eating at one.
So much of Berlin’s charm is its countless neighborhood cafés and bars known only to locals. To save you the time on eating yet another crappy currywurst or falling for a tourist trap restaurant, this guide will show you where to eat in each neighborhood.
If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, you’re going to Mitte. This neighborhood is home to all the must-see spots in the city including Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall Memorial, and Gendarmenmarkt. Restaurants here can be expensive but some of our favorites are below.
Nobelhart & Schmutzig is the fine dining restaurant that pioneered the local, sustainable food movement in Berlin. Everything served comes from within a 125-mile radius, and staff will tell you a story about the farmer who grew your asparagus or will draw you a family tree for the animal on your plate (ok, maybe not). Instead of feeling overdone, it feels special and interesting, so sip your organic wine poured from a German vineyard’s priceless last stock, and just go with it. Everyone sits around a single long table that wraps around the open kitchen, making the atmosphere more relaxed than most fine dining spots.
While Nobelhart & Schmutzig established the sustainable food movement in Berlin, Otto is the newer spot that everyone is really excited about. There are just a few dishes to try - as well as a predominantly natural wine list - but ingredients like trout, wild herbs, and leafy greens come from the nearby forest area of Brandenburg, with things like pickled veggies and mangalitsa ham made in-house. The restaurant has just 19 seats crammed close together and it’s only open Friday through Monday, so book a table in advance.
Shiori is perfect if you’ve got something to celebrate, but want to do things a little differently. Every evening, 10 guests sit around a Japanese-style bar surrounding an open kitchen during a single seating at 7:30pm. Everyone chooses their own chopsticks and ceramic sake cup, then the omakase begins. The food focuses on European ingredients cooked with Japanese techniques, like kingfish sashimi with yellow turnips or Bresse chicken in dashi and sancho pepper. The bites are small, so don’t show up starving, or afterwards, plan to go for some gelato at nearby Cuore Di Vetro before it closes at 11pm.
This Sichuan noodle spot on a quiet street near Checkpoint Charlie is the best option for lunch in downtown Mitte. Not only is it affordable, but it’s also some of the best spicy noodles and dumplings you can find. Order at the counter, take a number, and the food is brought to your table. There’s a constant wave of office workers here, but no chance to avoid it as Liu is only open until 3pm (apart from a monthly hotpot night) - but it’s worth the time in line. Plus, there’s a lot of outdoor seating if you come in the summer.
Yafo is one of the most fun dinners you can have in the city. The tables are close together, the music is loud, and the mismatched furniture makes it feel like a living room dinner party. The most important dish on the Israeli menu is the hummus, which is thick and creamy and comes swimming in olive oil or topped with roasted cauliflower or lamb - and served with amazing pita that comes from a local Israeli baker. As it gets late, the staff love to entertain and take shooters with the guests, so you may just end up dancing around the tables before the night’s over.
Charlottenburg is the center of western Berlin - while you’re here check out shopping street Ku’damm, sights like Charlottenburg Palace and Kaiser Wilhelm Churchit’s, and the area’s old-fashioned pubs and (upscale and affordable) restaurants.
This decades-old Taiwanese spot is famous for its soups, handmade noodles, and dim sum. It’s one of Berlin’s best Asian restaurants, especially if you’re on a budget, since everything on the menu is under $15. If you need a place to eat after exploring Museum Island, this is the place to go. Even when it’s busy, Lon Men’s Noodle House rarely leaves you waiting for a table. This restaurant will place you in the heart of Berlin’s Little Asia where you can kick off a food crawl by visiting Madame Ngo, Ryotei 893, and Good Friends nearby.
Vietnamese food, and pho specifically, isn’t hard to find in Berlin, which might have something to do with winter temperatures that hover around “can I buy a coat to wear over my coat?” levels. Madame Ngo’s is our favorite place for it. Their broth is made from high-quality meat and simmers in giant vats that are more tempting to climb into than a jacuzzi on a cold day. There’s also a large menu of other Vietnamese-French dishes like pork and crab spring rolls and tartare de boeuf. Madame Ngo is a good choice whether you’ve only got time for a quick bar-stool lunch or want to relax for a longer sit-down dinner.
The menu at Prism is upscale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food - think duck served with saffron, dates, and cinnamon. There’s also an over-200-bottle wine list with options from Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, all of which are available by the glass and a number of which cost less than $10. There are plenty of places in the city for special occasions but Prism is the best and offers the most value for your money whether you choose the six, seven, or eight-course meal or the Prism Social, where you can share the full eight-course menu between two people.
The outside of Ryotei looks like a deserted shopfront with tinted glass windows and graffiti. Before you wonder why we sent you here, open the door that looks like it should be locked and you’ll find a sleek, high-end sushi bar. The open kitchen in the middle means most of your attention will be on the chefs as they grill beef and slice sashimi, so dinner here is almost always an event, especially since the bill can add up quickly. Bring someone you’d like to impress and don’t be surprised when people start whispering - odds are a celebrity or soccer player just showed up.
Rogacki is a deli/time capsule with the same seats and set-up from its opening day back in 1928. Come here to order cheese, charcuterie, salads, and warm traditional German dishes (read: meat and potatoes) from the different counters. On weekdays, follow the lead of regulars who go for breakfast or a late afternoon bite to avoid the lunch rush. Just don’t leave without trying the famous house-smoked fish or eel.
There are a lot of ways to impress someone. Personal betterment usually wins with your parents and a surprise vacation goes a long way with the kids, but if you’re in Berlin, one of the best ways to impress another adult is by taking them to Cell. The menu is full of high-end ingredients in dishes that have included monkfish topped with caviar in a beurre blanc sauce and foie gras with masala and apricot, and there’s a 400-bottle wine list with both German and French options. The space is covered in art and full of chairs and dishware that we wish we could stuff in our suitcase. If you’re looking to splurge (or if you’re the late Lagerfeld’s millionaire cat), then don’t skip Cell. Your wallet will not thank you later, but your stomach will.
When people think of Berlin, they usually picture Kreuzberg. If you’re going out in the city, odds are you’ll probably end up bar-hopping here and you might need somewhere to eat before or after.
La Lucha is the best spot to start your night out in Kreuzberg if you’ve got a group in tow. The Mexican spot delivers loud Latin music, a colorful interior, and strong drinks. The dishes, like tacos and quesadillas, are good for sharing and we love the big stone bowl with house-made corn chips and fresh guacamole. Once you’ve had a few margaritas, micheladas, and mezcal flights, there are plenty of bars nearby whether you want to dance (SO36, Filmkunstbar) or drink cocktails (Truffle Pig, Geist im Glas, Das Hotel, Bürkner Eck, Fahimi Bar).
If you want a quicker, heavier meal before drinking your way across Kreuzberg, there’s nowhere better than Goldies. This spot serves French fries topped with things like roasted aubergines and roast beef, plus there are a bunch of homemade aiolis to choose from. The fried chicken with green chili brown butter is amazing - and we love a place where fried chicken is considered a side to fried potatoes.
Of the many Turkish grill houses you’ll find in the city, Adana Grillhaus is the one all Berliners know about. We love the adana beyti (ground beef on a skewer wrapped in lavash bread), lamb chops and ribs, or - for eating on the go - a kebab in pita bread. Adana Grillhaus is open until 2am daily, making this a perfect place to pregame/recover after hitting one of Kreuzberg’s many bars, such as speakeasy Schwarze Traube, burlesque bar Prinzipal, punk pub Trinkteufel, and club SO36. The original location on Manteuffelstrasse is darker and cozier, while the one across the corner on Skalitzer Strasse is newer and popular with tourists.
Close to lots of bars and nightclubs around Skalitzer Strasse, Burgermeister is our other favorite late-night spot in the area (open 3am daily and 4am Fri-Sat). Located conveniently under the Schlesisches Tor train station, this tiny burger stand is found in the station’s former public bathroom. While a train station bathroom restaurant would send us running for a hazmat suit in New York, Burgermeister has been meeting Germany’s strict health code standards for many years. The simple burgers are really good, especially in an area with generally cheap, forgettable food. There’s only outdoor seating here (visit in winter at your own risk), but two more locations at the Kottbusser Tor and Zoologischer Garten stations are indoors and tend to be less busy.
If visiting Berlin in the winter, you could crank the heat up in your hotel room, make a blanket fort, and vow to never leave the warmth but a better idea is to head to ChungKing noodles for a bowl of spicy noodles. Between the strong flavors of ginger and garlic, free-range meat, handmade noodles, and copious amounts of chili oil, the food here is unlike what you’ll find anywhere else in Berlin. And even if you’re here in June, these noodles are worth a little temple sweat. The bar seats at the front are nice for watching the open kitchen, but the tables at the back are much comfier and more spacious (so yes, they’re worth the wait).
Markthalle Neun is a beautiful 19th-century market hall where local vendors sell vegetables, cheeses, charcuterie, and more. A visit to the Markthalle is perfect for an afternoon when you’re not pressed for time or if you’re here on a rainy day. Grab a bottle of wine from Weinhandlung Suff, a burger from the Kumpel & Keule butchery, fresh pasta at Mani in Pasta, and cake from Frau Zeller (she’s only there Fridays and Saturdays), then stake out a table and behold the beauty of your spread. At the weekly Street Food Thursday event, stands focus on more international foods like Nepalese momos, Mexican tacos, and Vietnamese banh mi. It’ll be packed with tourists, but it’s still worth checking out.
A meal at Horvath will likely be one of the most expensive of your trip, but if you’re looking for a high-end, unique meal, you can’t do better than this historic, wood-paneled, and light-filled spot. The menu is a modern take on traditional Austrian regional dishes, like venison schnitzel covered in coffee-herb sauce, and a traditional pate made from mushroom, not liver. The non-alcoholic drinks are particularly special - with blends of vegetables, oils, and tea reductions that we’d even recommend ordering in addition to the wine pairings.
Neukölln is Kreuzberg’s cool little brother that’s growing up fast. Once a dangerous, no-go neighborhood in the ’90s, it’s now thriving with bars, cafés, and vintage shops like Chrome Store, Sing Blackbird, and Juno Juno.
There are a few Peruvian restaurants in Berlin, but Chicha is the one we keep going back to. Their brick-and-mortar spot is much livelier than the other, slightly stiff-feeling options around, and with its location between Neukölln and Kreuzberg, it’s great for staying flexible to hop into bars/clubs in either neighborhood. There’s graffiti everywhere (even the bathrooms) and a frequently-changing menu with mainstays like ceviche, pulpo with Andean potato chips, and yuca fries dipped in a creamy, cheesy huancaina sauce. They also serve Berlin’s best pisco drinks, like the traditional pisco sour, but we like the rum-and-coconut water colada served in a coconut.
Barra is feel-good food in a warm, brick and wood-covered space. The reasonably-priced, seasonal menu is simple with comforting dishes like gnocchi with pistachio and pecorino, mussels in fennel, and peach gazpacho with burrata. There’s a small but well-thought-out wine menu of low-intervention wines too. Seats are limited - especially on Sunday and Monday nights when Barra is one of the few great restaurants open - so we recommend booking ahead when you’re looking for the restaurant version of sheets straight from the dryer.
Coda, Germany’s first and only all-desserts restaurant, is unlike any other place we’ve ever been to. The seven-course dinner is made up of only “desserts,” though don’t expect anything recognizable. It’s all imaginative dishes, like a version of a Turkish dessert using chicken skin, almonds, and dates, or a grilled peach with paprika sauce. Coda has just two seatings (of about two hours each) per night, so booking ahead is a must. It’s great for vegetarians, or really anyone who’s willing to sit down to a full meal of dishes they’ve never seen before. Come hungry.
This cocktail bar in Neukölln does Berlin’s best boozy brunch on the weekends inside its dark, wood-covered space. Huevos rancheros, dulce de leche pancakes, and waffles with shredded fried chicken are a welcome departure from the basic German bread-and-cheese breakfast served at many other restaurants in Berlin. Breakfast cocktails include Asian and Spanish-inspired Bloody Marys, house-mulled wine, and lemonade. Geist doesn’t take brunch reservations, so get there early (they open at 10am) to avoid the usual 30 minute+ wait.
In an old laundromat, hidden off the street in a courtyard is this romantic, candlelight-heavy Italian restaurant. There is a pricey dinner menu, but we prefer Lavanderia for lunch if you already happen to be staying in or hanging around Neukölln. The menu changes everyday, with homemade pasta, risotto, soups, and other dishes for around $12. They usually post their menu on their website every week, so have a look beforehand.
P’berg is a nice respite from the other nightlife-heavy neighborhoods. Make the walk up from Mitte on a Sunday to check out the flea market at Mauerpark and then stay for lunch.
Standard was Berlin’s first really good Italian pizza place and we still consider it one of the best. The pizzas are Neapolitan-style and have been certified authentic by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, Naples’ official pizza authority (yes, this is a real thing and also our dream job). The crust is thick and fluffy, the tomatoes and mozzarella are from Italy, and the toppings are simple and traditional. There’s a big wine menu too and you never have to wait long for a table.
Schöneberg is a neighborhood that often gets skipped over, but there’s awesome stuff here to explore. The Winterfeldtplatz market, galleries, and old-school cafés that are found in Berlin’s traditional LGBTQ+ quarter are getting more attention thanks to new restaurants opening up.
Bonvivant is a vegetarian restaurant with great cocktails where everything is seasonal and sourced from local organic farmers. We love how the drinks and dishes work well together as pairings but are also enjoyable on their own. The Blue 81, with gin, grapefruit, cava, and spirulina, is one of our favorites. The comfortable interior has a bright tropical feel that’s not kitschy and the best seats are at the bar for a view of the cocktail-making.
Kin Dee is Berlin’s best Thai restaurant and while each plate looks like a little art project, the $60 four-course menu (which includes 8-10 dishes to share) still manages to feel comfortable and casual. The menu is made up of German ingredients in Thai preparations like curries and stir-fries - signature dishes like the octopus krapao (with holy basil, garlic, and chili) and green beef curry are two of our favorite things on the menu.
Berlin has a couple of Persian lunch spots, but this one is our favorite. The interiors are bright and perfect for a coffee and computer day, an afternoon snack, or a quick lunch. Rocket + Basil is just a 15-minute bus ride from attractions like Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror - an area lacking many good food options. The daily dishes are always made of local German ingredients, like slow-cooked chicken with jeweled rice and turkey meatballs in saffron tomato sauce. We also love the baked goods, especially their cardamom buns.