Traveling is a lot beyond exploring destinations, visiting monuments and taking pictures of all that attracts the eye. There is a lot more to travel. They call traveling experience because it truly is beyond what meets the eye. Travelling is about culture, about the influences that shape the likes and tastes of people. Travelling is also about the taste that the locals relish and the tourists find exotic, it reveals a lot more about the place and its history than anything else because the food is essentially the common factor that binds one and all.
To dive deeper into the taste and flavor of Berlin, we opted to sample some of the local favorite dishes in the city.
The food culture in Berlin is largely influenced by numerous factors that are primarily a result of the socio-political conditions that have been a part if the city’s conditioning over the recent years.
While exploring the culinary side of Berlin, I focused on the fast food habits that were increasingly embraced by the locals over the years.
The local food in Berlin, right from the fast food to the heavier main courses is influenced by the German and Austrian history. The more recent additions include Turkish delicacies that have become hugely popular and inclusive in the list of local favorites with the rising number of Turkish immigrants in the city.
Schawarma & Fritzkola
In the jaded lanes of East Berlin, we walked up to Haroun. It was just another regular quick eats restaurant that proudly mentioned its flagship dishes- Falafel, Haloumi and Schawarma.
We opted for the Falafel and Chicken Schwarma. I believe the food becomes tastier when you watch the process of making it. A little before noon, all ingredients that were visible from a
transparent glass display seemed fresh and juicy. Then to watch the Schwarma being stocked up with a range of well-roasted chicken, greens, sauces and the middle eastern salads had us hungry for what was about to be served.
Unlike most Schawarmas that I had tried, this one was a little dry with the ingredients but still felt juicy.
We paired it with Berlin’s local substitute for Coke, the Fritzkola which was even better than coke! (This coming from a Coca Cola loyalist)
Walking through some old bunkers in East Berlin, we picked some honey fried nuts and dry fruits from a local Turkish seller.
Margot, our guide told us that these tasty nuts were an increasingly popular snack amongst the locals who would substitute packed chips with honey glazed or salted nuts. The variety to pick from was incredibly diverse (& confusing)
We then headed to another local Turkish store that specialized in Baklavas. Baklava is a Turkish pastry with pistachio fillings, a lot like the Austrian Apple Strudel which took after the influence of this Ottoman dish. The Baklava (typically a Turkish dessert) is as authentic as they can be in Turkey due to the major Turkish population.
The largest immigrant groups in Berlin are Turkish. Due to which, you can easily spot a variety of shops selling nuts, traditional Turkish delicacies and other savories of high quality.
Talking of traditional German cuisine, Germans, especially Berliners swear by the Currywurst. The Currywurst is a grilled sausage made of pork, topped with a deadly combination of Tomato Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and Curry Powder that added to the taste.
Currywurst is easily available all across Berlin and can be best enjoyed by the street side stalls. These stalls also serve a simpler sausage version- the grilled pork sausage accompanied with a bun and some ketchup and mustard sauce.
Berliners love the Currywurst so much that they also have a dedicated Currywurst museum in the city!
A popular main course in a Berlin is the Schnitzel Bun. The Schnitzel Bun is inspired by Austria’s Weiner Schnitzel and is mainly made of pork meat or chicken breast. It is a slice of meat covered with flour, egg and bread crumbs, deep fried till it turns golden.
Schnitzel bun or Schnitzel with mashed potatoes is a commonly enjoyed meal by Berliners.
The best part of being in Germany is definitely the beer. The Germans produce a wide range of beer across regions so much to the extent that you won’t have to repeat a brand with your meals.
Ranging in ingredients and alcohol contents, you can safely pick any local German brewed beer from the supermarket or ask for one at the eatery.
The easiest way to spot a beer is to relate it with German names of kings, dynasties, and places.
(Just kidding! Safest bet is to ask the shop owner/ locals around you)
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Another specialty in Berlin, which only lasts through the winters is the Mulled Wine or the Glüh Wine as they call it.
In the chilly winters of Berlin, especially during the Christmas markets, red wine is sweetened and heated and served to the locals.
Most Germans absolutely swear by this winter specialty. You can find the Mulled Wine served across street side stalls, Christmas Markets, malls, and even restaurants during the season.
While the sweetness may vary and be a deciding factor in your liking for the beverage, it is an absolute must try while in the city!
The best part of local cuisine and the evolving favorites are the reflections of the evolving taste of the locals. It is easy to fall in love with a destination purely for its food. In Berlin, the cause of finding the best food is most often rewarded with the colorful sightings of street art across the city. This street art is the most common form of expression of socio-political views of young Berliners.
Thus, giving you the true flavors of Berlin for you to experience first-hand.
Berlin comes with a range of delicacies that will absolutely please you. Most importantly, Berlin offers a range of options for vegans and vegetarians! The trick is to find the right places to eat.
Areas like East Berlin are the best to explore the local flavors of Berlin. If you’re a food enthusiast, you must totally opt for the Secret Food Tours, just like we did to explore the hottest places in town to eat along with a walking tour of the city!
Secret Food Tours | Berlin
To get a quick overview of Berlin’s food culture, we signed up for the Secret Food Tour in Berlin. Our guide for the tour was Margot, who showed us around an exquisitely underrated side of Berlin: the culinary culture.
Margot who had moved from the US to Germany a couple of years ago understood both sides of the story. This definitely helped us understand the local tastes better as a tourist from someone who had lived the experience.
Margot also gave us a tour of some of the coolest underground spots. These were favorites amongst locals with lots of interesting street art to catch up on!
We enjoyed our first experience of culinary Berlin! You must give it a shot too, and tell us all about your favorites!