Hello! It’s been a while – how’s it going?
In case you’re wondering why we’ve been MIA, it’s mostly because I (P) was on a work trip for the first half of this month. This time, it was in Berlin!
It was my first time in Europe (I know, I know I’m so late) and man, I finally understand why people love Europe so much because it really is a whole other world out there. Life in Berlin seems to go by slower in the best way possible, the food is amazing, and the people (contrary to my assumption) were incredibly friendly! The best part, we got to be there for almost two weeks, so we got to do our share of exploring after work and got to know the city bit by bit.
If you are planning a visit to that side of the world anytime soon, I highly highly recommend squeezing in Berlin as your destination. It is the ultimate laid back yet lively city, and I LOVE IT. Here are some (many) of my favorite spots in Berlin!
Starting with the basic, currywurst (which we since learned is pronounced as curryVurst). This was one of the “I have to try this in Berlin” food and this place did not disappoint. Located right in the center of Hackescher, a really vibrant place for shopping and sightseeing, it’s a convenient grab and go food to enjoy as you walk around the nearby streets. We got the basic combo with the sausage and fries, with their special sauce, curry powder, and mayo on top and it was so so good. Compared to another place we tried, the fries here are fresh and crispy and go super well with the sauce. Curry 61 was one of the few places we keep returning back to and we even bought a jar of the sauce back to HK as a souvenir (lol).
This place was highly anticipated and hyped for me because I have been told by a few people that they have the (second) best burger in the world, and while I’m not sure I’d say its the absolute best because America, it was pretty damn good. We went around 8 pm and there was still a line for ordering, but it took a surprisingly short time to reach to the front and get our food. Unlike some other places, this is not meant to be a sit-down restaurant, but they do serve quality burgers and beers, oh and a bomb chili fries. Perfect for when you want a break from all the traditional German food.
Okay. Let’s talk about Portofino. I had the BEST pizza of my life here and man, I still think about it sometimes. We got the Pizza Spinaci E Gorgozola and it blew me away, even with the blue cheese. The dough itself is thin and crispy yet chewy and the cheese melts perfectly on top. We also got a couple of pasta dishes there, but the pizza is what really sold me. Also, I can’t wrap my head around how fast they make the food there. Everything came out in under 10 mins and they taste really fresh. Amazing!
Cuero di Vetro
Thanks to Rachel’s recommendation (hi), we trekked over to this place directly after work and got ourselves some gelato. And it was great. They change their flavors all the time, but I highly recommend the vanilla bean flavor if you happen to catch that. It was a trek worth doing.
Shakespeare and Sons
Another favorite of ours was this bagel and bookstore shop, Shakespeare and Sons. We went back 3 times on our trip and wish we could do more, so that should tell you how much we love it. Their bagels are AMAZING (like really, really good), with both sweet and savory options available. My favorite order was Meskha 2 with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and a side salad. They have many options for customization including the cream cheese and 10? Bagel options and I tried the Rosemary and Egg one – both so yum. Their brownie is also incredibly delicious, so give that a try too.
It’s also one of those places that are perfect for remote working since they do have (limited) wifi and lots of seats. Their book selection is also pretty kick-ass, so it’s super easy to spend a whole day here.
When you do visit this place, consider making a stop at this underground art area nearby. It apparently has no official name, but use Badehaus Szimpla as a map reference and you’ll find it. This place is filled with cool graffiti and shops and at night a super cool drinking scene with many bars and clubs opening. We only got to stop by during the daytime, and it was still a really cool place!
House of Small Wonder
All brunch bow down because I’ve found the ultimate brunch spot, House of Small Wonder. The moment you walk in, you know you’re in for experience because it is so gorgeous. This place has a dreamy backyard garden Alice in Wonderland type of feel, and I absolutely love it. They do this 22 Euro deal set with four dishes and two drinks per person and it allows you to try a bunch of dishes without getting overwhelmed by large portions. The food itself is a combination of Western brunch with Japanese touch and it was well worth the money IMO.
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do on a Thursday night, check out Markthalle Neun, a famous weekly night market full of glorious dishes from all over the world. I even found an Indonesian food stall there! I went there sorta on a whim without a plan, so I just ended up wandering around and eating what looks good. This market is likely to be really packed, but its a super fun place to try out a bunch of things you’ve never seen or had before. Oh, and if you are looking for a next stop after the market, check out Die Apotheken Bar around the corner. It’s awesome!
Domke Nino Fleischerei
Another spot near Shakespeare and Sons (I swear this area is poppin) is this small meat shop down the street. From the outside, it looks like they’re just selling raw meat (lol) but they actually do cooked traditional German dishes too and they’re delicious! We tried the gulasch and schnitzel, both come with side potatoes and radish thingies and they were delicious. My favorite part about Berlin is that lots of places including this one have seats on the street. So while you eat, you can also people watch the streets. It’s super interesting! Anyway, they also have these meatballs that look really good too, so that’s definitely on my list if I ever come back.
There’s so much food in Berlin that it’s impossible to write about them all. But a few more places I’d recommend Fischfabrik for seafood/fish and chips, La Premiatta Ditta Weinbar for pasta, Pila for traditional food w/ cool decor, and Cocolo for that ramen craving.
Oh man, another reason why I love Berlin so much is the super cool bar scene. From speakeasies to clubs, they’re all so unique and well themed! Few favorites include:
A classic, touristy rooftop bar but hey, it’s famous for a reason. It’s located on a parking lot structure and it has the coolest weirdest decor that makes you feel like you’re in some sort of futuristic yet retro movie and I dig it. Their drinks are also super well made, we tried their Margaritas and G&T and both were really good. Note that there’s a 10 Euro entry fee, but for the view, especially at sunset, it’s worth it.
Bar Becketts Kopf / Fairytale
Both speakeasies, both really cool places. Becketts is interesting because it has this mysterious dark vibe, with dreamy music and dark lighting to set the mood. The bartender asked us what we like, and they make whatever they think we like. Which is great. I got a fruity tequila-based drink, while my friend had this mysterious mix served in a small teacup – which was super strong. We like it though!
Similarly, Fairytale also has this mysterious vibe, but more playful. Their menu is a childhood storybook, and you’ll be greeted with a character at the door, too. Both bars are great for casual drinking night or to start the night, before heading to your next stop.
Another gem found was Sisyphos, a festival-like place in Berlin. This place runs day and night and has multiple rooms and outdoor place for you to hang out in between the dances. I think this is now my favorite place ever, and I highly suggest you stop by if you’re looking for a good time. They’ve got everything right here. From the techno music to live performances to photobooth and karaoke to bonfire and pizza. Really what else would you need with all that around? We loved our time there and definitely will be coming back.
Oh and FYI, they will ask you lots of questions at the entrance so be prepared to answer them and be friendly. Best if you can name the performance/DJ of the night and make sure to not overdress – people really dress down while going out in Berlin. They also make you put stickers to cover your phone cameras, so no photos are allowed inside. The good thing is that you get pleasantly surprised once you get in, so don’t let that scare you!
While in Berlin, I had my first e-scooter experience with Lime, and it was so much fun! All you got to do is download the app (and connect your credit card), find one on the map, scan and ride away! They consider Lime as a bike so make sure you stay on the right side of the street and not go on the sidewalk unless you want to get yelled at like I did (sigh). It’s a fun way to explore the city and I wish it exists in HK too (although it probably won’t work with the streets here). Go try it out!
Beer, and more beer
While you are there, make sure to try out the beers there too. Germany is supposed to be the home of beers, and we made sure to get some. My favorite one was actually this one liter one from a networking event we went to because LOOK HOW BIG THAT IS. I had to use to hand to hold it (sigh what is arm strength). It was great though and I may or may not have higher tolerance now hehe.
When in Berlin, make sure to take photos at the many old-looking photobooths around town. They have them everywhere from outdoor parks to clubs (Sisyphos had one!) and it was fun to play with! It’s the kind that has no screen, so you gotta plan ahead! Here’s one of the many we took hehe
Got some time before your flight and need to check out from your hotel? Don’t waste it at the airport! Leave your luggage at the luggage locker and pick it up just before your flight. We left ours at Berlin Central Station which is the hub, and it was only a few euros for the whole day. From there, you can take the bus from across the street directly to the airport so it’s super convenient.
ALRIGHT, that was another long one to write. Can you tell how much I loved my trip? Because it is now a week later and I am still not over it haha.
In case you want to check out all these places, here’s my custom map with all the places above. I’m sure I only scratched the surface of what Berlin has to offer on this trip, so I definitely want to come back soon!
Think I missed out on anything? Let me know!