However, it's not all street food. There are also the meat and potato plates that require a sit-down with gabel (fork) and messer (knife). These northern foods are a bit different than the stereotypical Bavarian versions of German food people usually picture, but they deliver on taste and authenticity. Whether you eat a modernized interpretation at a Michelin star restaurant or in a traditional Berlin setting, these are the foods you have to try in Berlin.
You can eat pretzels anywhere in Germany. Read up on the food you have to try in Berlin and eat your way through the city from eisbein to döner to pfannkuchen.
Döner kebab, the street food you can find just about everywhere, started in Berlin. This crossover between Turkish immigrants and German palates is a meal symbolic of the multicultural nature of Berlin.
If you have never had one before, you will be drawn in by the massive cones of meat in the window. Upon ordering, the spit is moved closer to the heat and shaved off in salty strips. The meat is then placed in a hearty triangle of Turkish bread with a generous helping of salat (salad) and soße (sauce).
If you aren't in the mood for döner or want to experiment with the wide variety of Turkish food, try köfte, börek, or lahmacun, or a little bit of everything with a Turkish teller (Turkish plate).
Where to Eat Döner Kebab in Berlin
Everyone has their favorite döner stand, usually the most convenient location between your favorite bar and home.
If you want the best, however, the Berlin-based institution of Imren Grill is worth seeking out. Imren's meat is hand-laid and accompanied by house-made sauces.
An East German version of meatballs, Königsberger Klopse are named after the Prussian capital of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). The dish outlived its namesake as the city was destroyed by Allied bombings and taken by the Russians.
Any reference to Königsberg was forbidden under DDR rule and it was renamed kochklöpse by the party, although the people preferred the name revanchistenklöpse (revisionist meatballs).
It regained its original name after the fall of the DDR and is still popular today. The meatballs come covered in a creamy sauce with capers and lemon, served with boiled potatoes.
Where to Eat Königsberger Klopse in Berlin
Though the origin story floats somewhere between Hamburg and Berlin and this sausage dish can be enjoyed anywhere in the country, currywurst is truly unmissable in the hauptstadt (capital).
Bratwurst is sliced and served atop pommes (french fries), doused in curry ketchup topped with a sprinkle of curry powder. It is almost always delivered with a dainty plastic fork and you can order it mit oder ohne (with or without) skin.
Where to Eat Currywurst in Berlin
Around 800 million currywurst are sold in Germany each year. The best place to order it in Berlin is the classic Konnopke's Imbiss under the U2 in Prenzlauer Berg. They have been serving this exclusively since 1930.
The northern version is eisbein, pickled ham hock. Just as impressive on a plate, it is cured and boiled so rather than crackling skin it is ridiculously juicy. Eisbein is paired with sauerkraut and erbspüree (pureed peas) and — of course — potatoes.
Where to Eat Eisbein in Berlin
Blutwurst (blood sausage) has an unappetizing reputation, but it is a definitive and delicious Berlin food.
The East German version of Tote Oma (dead grandma) is served loose and hot, usually alongside sauerkraut and potatoes. In the Spreewald just outside of Berlin, the version is called grützwurst which is mixed with linseed oil and comes with Sorbian sauerkraut.
Where to Eat Blutwurst in Berlin
To try typical Berlin blutwurst, Wilhelm Hoeck 1892 in sophisticated Charlottenburg provides the right environment. Approved by old-school locals and knowledgeable foodies like the late Anthony Bourdain, it is sure to change the mind of skeptical eaters.
Confusingly, this doughnut is known as a berliner outside of the city and was the subject of the well-known gaffe by JFK. But in Berlin, it is strictly a Berliner pfannkuchen.
Deep-fried and coated in sugar, it is typically filled with sweet jam. Eaten throughout the year, it is part of a Silvester (New Year’s Eve) tradition where one doughnut in the bunch will be filled with senf (mustard) and is a sign of good luck.
Where to Eat Pfannkuche in Berlin
Visitors can find a Berliner pfannkuchen at any bäckerei (bakery), but try a classic like Bäckerei Siebert in Prenzlauer Berg. And it wouldn't be Berlin without a hipster vegan version available at trendy Brammibal’s.
Ketwurst is a product of divided Berlin from the 1970s. An East Berlin favorite and product of the DDR, its name comes from combining ketchup and wurst (sausage).
This perfect food-on-the-go consists of a juicy bockwurst plunked into a fluffy hot dog role and covered in ketchup.
Where to Eat Ketwurst in Berlin
Once available everywhere in the city, there are only a few places you can find it today. Try the original location, Alain Snack, on Schönhauser Allee.
Berliner Weisse is the ideal summer drink. Composed of a light, white beer, it is flavored with a pump of red himbeer (raspberry) or green waldmeister (woodruff) syrup. It is colorful and low in alcohol and perfect for those early visits to the biergarten.
Where to Drink Berliner Weiße in Berlin
Prater Biergarten is the city's oldest and one of the most popular. Simple bench seating under leafy chestnut trees make for an idyllic environment for a sunny afternoon.
Few things look more appetizing than a row of roasting chicken. Hungry visitors can buy a halbes (half) or a whole, paired with fries and a salad with pickled vegetables. The best versions are naturally moist, but come with an additional sauce like knoblauch (garlic).
Where to Eat Hähnchen in Berlin
We're back to sausage with a Berlin foodie must-do.
When you think of German sausage, you're probably thinking of a bratwurst. Traditionally made from pork, people have been eating it straight off the grill since 1313.
Where to Get a Bratwurst in Berlin
Bratwurst is the most popular sausage throughout Germany, but few things are more Berlin than buying one in the city's busiest square. Everyone eventually has to go through Alexanderplatz and you will see grillwalkers intermixed with the thousands of people.
These vendors wear their bright orange grills at hip level, slinging 1.80 euros worth of bratwurst on a roll (brötchen) with your choice of mustard and/or ketchup. Start with a bite of pure sausage — hanging out both ends — and work your way to the delectable center.
If you're feeling adventurous, you might want to try Leberwurst.