James Clay’s Scottish Account Manager, Joe Dick, takes us on a quick tour of the most nourishing detours in the city.
If there’s a better city to stumble happily from place to place, absorbing food and drink like a wobbly sponge than Berlin, I’ve not been there. Fortunately, not only have I recently been to the great German capital, but I’ve remembered enough about it to share a few personal recommendations: where to drink, where to eat, and even where to deposit those empty bottles for maximum social responsibility. So, here goes…
Location: Pretty much everywhere
If you find yourself waking up in Berlin, the chances are fairly high that you may feel a little tender from the night before. In this case you urgently need to find yourself a Katerfrühstück (quite literally a hangover breakfast). On the way, if you’re in need of a bit of refreshment then you should make sure to swing by one of the many Späti’s dotted around the city. These are genuine one-stop shops; charming beacons of social equality, serving anybody, any time, day or night. They’re pokey little convenience stores that serve as a veritable Ali’s Cave of snacks, beverages, and other late night accessories. To bring yourself even closer to recovery nab a Schofferhofer Grapefruit, or a Fritz Kola. And to be like a true Berliner don’t forget to place your empty bottle under a bin to allow the homeless and poor of the city to collect and cash in the deposit return on the glass.
House of Small Wonders
Location: Johannisstraße 20, 10117 Berlin, Germany
A glorious representation of Berlin as the true multicultural capital of the Free World, House of Small Wonders is a little slice of Brooklyn infused with a Japanese twist. Operating in Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 2010, House of Small Wonders brought its mastery of brunch to Berlin soil in 2014. The interior is decked out like an urban greenhouse, completely filled with plants, with plenty of natural light flowing in through the windows and roof. The menu offers a delightfully simple all day brunch with only a handful of options, the pick of the bunch being the Japanese take on eggs Benedict, with a wasabi hollandaise. Just spicy enough to wake you up, balanced against a magnificently fresh Mediterranean salad.
Location: Schönhauser Allee 8, 10119 Berlin
Berlin is synonymous with ‘Café Culture’, and independent roasters The Barn have been as the heart of that. In the Schönhauser Allee site you can get as close to the process as possible, with the roastery visible in the back. The Barn achieved infamy through a strict policy of only allowing laptops at one small standing table, banning prams (due to the fumes from the roaster being harmful to children) and only allowing each coffee varietal to be presented in the style thought best suited to it (no sugar or soy-milk here). Despite these slightly intimidating policies, The Barn offers a pretty exceptional coffee experience.
Location: U1 Schlesisches Tor, Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin
Burgermeister is a now iconic little eatery situated in the ultra cool Kreuzberg neighbourhood. It’s built in an old public toilet underneath the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station, on a traffic island in the middle of an extremely busy crossroads. Street food doesn’t get any more street than this. Expect to queue for at least 20 minutes during peak times, but be rewarded with one of the best burgers in Europe. The true test for any burger joint is how its plain hamburger stacks up, and this paired with a Fritz Mischmasche comes in at €6. Take a perch on one of the railings and watch Berlin pulse around you.
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens Berlin
Location: Im Marienpark 23, 12107 Berlin
People often throw around the term ‘cathedral of beer’ when referring to one of the world’s many incredible beer destinations, but Stone Berlin is perhaps more accurately described as the Beer Vatican. You’ll be rewarded for your brief jaunt on the S-Bahn by a 3,000 square meter bar filled with 75 lines of draught beer from Stone Berlin, Stone San Diego, and their many international friends. Despite being built inside an enormous former gas works, the taproom manages to still feel cosy and intimate, and is backed up by an enormous outdoor terrace. With an enormous food menu built to precisely match the beers brewed on site, it is impossible to conceive of a better place to experience Stone beers. Take a tour to check out one of Europe’s most advanced brewhouses, and get a peek at their 10 hectolitre pilot plant that would leave any start-up brewery furious in envy. If you need further reason to visit there are a range of rare and aged beers available in bottle to takeaway (and an ace gift shop too).
Bear Pit Karaoke
Location: Czeminskystr 7 10829 Berlin
Embrace a true sense of Berliner escapism with a visit to Bear Pit Karaoke in Mauerpark. Found in the stone amphitheatre, and powered by a unqiue battery-powered sound system designed specifically for the acoustics of the amphitheatre. If you need something to wet your whistle and give you a bit of encouragement, grab a Berliner Pilsner from one of the many vendors wandering the park with crates. And if you don’t feel like cracking out a tune, sit back and watch as Berlin legend Joe Hatchiban fires out criticism and/or encouragement to the willing performers.
Location: Flughafenstraße 49, 12053 Berlin
Hidden away in Neukolln you’ll find one of Europe’s finest modern beer bars, hiding in plain sight with only a neon depiction of a trumpet to let you know it’s there. The décor is recognisably ‘craft’ with minimalist bare white walls and a decent amount of exposed brickwork. Twenty-two keg lines showcase many of the huge names in the European and American craft scene, with Left Hand, Evil Twin, The Kernel, and Magic Rock all frequently available. Muted Horn is also one of the few bars within Europe deemed lucky enough to receive bottles from the hallowed and ever elusive lambic blender Bokkereyder. There’s also a menu of English and German board games, and an infinite supply of complimentary pretzel sticks to sustain you long into the night.
Location: Neukölln Arcaden, Karl-Marx-Straße 66, auf dem obersten Parkdeck, 12043 Berlin
One of the best things about travelling the world for beer is coming across experiences and bar concepts that could never be replicated at home for one reason or another. Klunkerkranich originally started out as an urban gardening and beekeeping project that approached the owners of the multi-storey car park to use their almost permanently empty top deck. Eventually the project developed and a bar was added. Take the lift to the top floor inside the Neukölln Arcade and follow the music to the roof deck. Grab a Schneider Weisse Tap 7, sit amongst the wooden flower beds and look out across one of the most unspoiled views of Berlin until at least 2am every night.