But that is not all Berlin has. The city's international flavor comes out in its cuisine, and it has Michelin star restaurants to match its fast-food empires. This is a city where it is a joy to eat whatever your tummy (or your wallet) desires.
With these practicalities out of the way, let's tantalize the taste buds with the 15 best Berlin restaurants.
Opened in 1892 (hence the name) in sophisticated Charlottenburg, this is the oldest kneipe (traditional bar) in Berlin with the attached restaurant featuring classic details like the original wood-paneling. Not much has changed since its opening — which is a good thing.
Unpretentious yet elegant, authentic Berlin cuisine from blutwurst (blood sausage) to eisbein (boiled pork knuckle) is served in full portions, or in little plates to share like German tapas. The clientele includes people who know good food like the late Anthony Bourdain who highlighted the restaurant on his Berlin episode of "No Reservations".
Also explore the Bourdain-approved delikatessen next door, Rogacki, which offers the finest of everything from cheese to seafood with a superb stand-up lunch counter.
It's impossible to talk about food in Berlin without talking about döner kebab. This quintessential street food is a Turkish-German creation that can be found everywhere in Europe at this point. Often consumed as a late-night guilty (or drunken) pleasure, a good döner is so much more than that.
Döner satisfaction is often tied to how fast you can get it, but there is one Berlin-based döner chain worth traveling for. Imren Grill has been around for over 20 years and now has 6 locations throughout the city, meaning you don't have to travel far.
What sets this kebab stand apart from the thousands of others in the city is the quality of the meat. Unlike most of the impressive hunks of meat slowly rotating in the window, Imren lovingly layers their meat together by hand, making sure each piece is of high-quality and individually marinated. Upon ordering, a generous section is sawed off by knife, tossed into fladenbrot with fresh veggies and herbs, then topped with your choice of house-made knoblauch (garlic), kräuter (herbs) and/or scharf (hot) sauce. This is a hearty meal that costs less than 4 euros — a thing of inexpensive beauty.
The trendy and cool Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain is just steps away from the iconic Oberbaumbrucke and East Side Gallery, facing Warschauer's busy U-Bahn station. Basically, it's in the center of everything.
The hotel's on-site restaurant offers a constantly rotating menu of organic, regional, and seasonal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The modern space is usually packed for its fantastic lunch-time deals on elevated everyday German food, or more inventive international dinner fare.
The legendary Kaufhaus des Westens or "KaDeWe" is the legendary shopping center in Berlin. Founded in 1907, it is a symbol of luxurious West Berlin. This glittering temple of purchasing power is filled with floors of fragrance, fashion, and food.
If you are here to eat, make your way to the upper levels immediately. The top floor has a pay-by-item buffet with a killer view, but just before the buffet is the fanciest of food courts. Top restaurants from around the city have opened a counter here and visitors can choose between 30 different food bars offering everything from German classics to raw oysters, paired beautifully with sekt and finishing with fine French patisserie. Browse around to satisfy your every want.
Berlin has many Asian restaurants, but few impress. Whether it is because of the Germans' disinterest in anything approaching spicy or the restaurants' attempt to offer everything from pho to sushi in one storefront is unclear, but this is changing.
The city is increasingly multikulti (multicultural) and the citizenry is clamoring for authenticity. Popular weekly food markets like Thai Park suggest this, as well as new stand-out Asian restaurants opening regularly.
Khwan is a great example of this trend. Started as a pop-up at Markthalle IX, this Thai BBQ spot has found a home in eclectic RAW-Gelände. When you enter, you'll pass the wood-fired grill where everything you eat is touched by smoke. Its enticing menu items can be offered by the small plate, or you can splurge with a 2 or 4-person feast that has a little bit of everything from mackerel to sweet Thai sticky rice to pork belly and apple curry.
Tim Raue is the fine dining king of Berlin. Featured in the recent Netflix series, "Chef's Table," this Kreuzberg native and his 2-Michelin star restaurant serve extraordinary Asian-inspired cuisine.
The scene at Tim Raue is deceptively casual, but the refined plates reveal the care that is put into every morsel. Meals usually start with small plates, but you should go all in for the signature 6-course menu.
If you want somewhere equally impressive, newcomer Nobelhart & Schmutzig lives up to the hype.
Cookies Cream is the coolest vegetarian restaurant in Berlin, hidden near Potsdamer Platz. With an almost club-like atmosphere, this Michelin star restaurant attracts international guests like George Clooney and the dishes are just as stylish.
Ingredients come from nearby Brandenburg and the ever-changing menu focuses on serving these products at their finest. You can order a la carte, or the menu is structured in three or four-course prix fixe options that are often paired with natural wines.
Like in many cities, ramen has exploded in popularity in Berlin in recent years. Suddenly there were ramen places everywhere
But one of the originals is still the best. Cocolo Ramen has just 5 ramens and a few starters on its menu, confident in its perfection. There is the original location in Mitte, as well as a newer shop in Kreuzberg. The original place is unapologetically tiny with mostly bar seating which peeks into the open kitchen. There are no reservations so it is an egalitarian system of first come, first serve.
Germany's many metzgerei (butcher shops) are some of the best spots to grab a delicious, meaty lunch.
Kumpel & Keule is the a grand example of this humble tradition. Filled with high-quality ingredients prepared with fresh herbs and spices on-site, it is located in popular food hall Markthalle IX. If you think all wurst (sausage) is the same, Kumpel & Keule will prove you wrong. Order a freshly grilled sausage, burger or steak and then fill up your shopping basket to enjoy more at home later.
Best Mexican Food: La Lucha
That has changed with trailblazers like Santa Maria in Prenzlauer Berg and new restaurants upping the game. La Lucha is inspired by traditional, regional cuisine yet takes a thoroughly modern approach.
There are burritos with unusual fillings like bone marrow; battered chrysanthemum blooms and palm hearts round out their many vegetarian options. And of course there are pitchers of margaritas and flights of mezcal plus knowledgeable, friendly staff in a colorful, fun-filled interior. It is a guaranteed good time where every visit can turn into a fiesta.
Thousands of miles from the coast, Berlin can be a poor place to find fresh fish. Luckily, Der Fischladen solves that problem.
This side of the operation has a small shop with enticing seafood options. But there is no reason to go home to satisfy your taste of the sea. The finest fish and chips in the city is served right here, along with other tasty combinations like fried scallops, salmon pasta, and tuna burgers. There are just a few casually rustic seats inside, or you can visit next door for more up-scale dining.
Once only a single location, demand for Risa has led to more opening throughout the city. Risas have a clean, fast-food vibe with bright interiors and inexpensive meal deals. Chicken sandwiches, fries, and salads are sold, but you should really go for the fried chicken. Everything is prepared halal and comes out fast and tasty.
If you're still hungering for chicken, enjoy a traditional roast chicken from Hühnerhaus 36 in Kreuzberg. There is the original stand on the corner of Görlitzer Park, or go to the sit-down restaurant across the street.
Pizza places abound in Berlin but cardboard crusts and lackluster toppings can leave you disappointed. This is definitely not the case at Salami Social Club.
The dough is treated with garlic butter and pesto, then topped with a range of delectable fresh ingredients. One slice is a quarter of a pizza!
If there is a wait at Salami Social Club or they've sold out, look for the XXL chain located nearby. With windows that sell directly to the street there is rarely a wait. Remember to ask for fresh Parmesan, rucola (arugula), or spicy red pepper oil.
Berlin is full of instagrammable moments and finding where to eat can depend as much on how the restaurant looks as what the food tastes like. House of Small Wonders satisfies on both fronts.
Its first location opened an ocean away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A few years later, the owners thought Berlin had a similar vibe and opened this location, first with breakfast and lunch and now providing dinner and cocktails since February 2019. The staircase by the entrance has been in the background of many an Instagram photo, as has the warm Japanese-influenced wooden interior and delicate, little plates.
Calling itself a "fine dining journey," CODA redinfes what is dessert. Located in Neukölln, their modern cuisine is based on imaginative pastry techniques with no added sugar.
While this is a dessert restaurant, you are welcome to make this your main location for dinner with their seven course menu. Don't miss the inventive drink pairings or chef René's signature dessert, a chocolate mousse with pickled plum ice cream and even coal dust.