Monday, March 28, 2011

Top 10 Best Hangouts in Berlin

After the Fall of the Wall things started rapidly developing for Berlin, artists flocked to the city in massive waves and the word gentrification was to be heard out of every window. Nowadays the capital of Germany can still boast a diverse crowd of people living there, a lot of street art, museums that will suit every taste and most importantly, it seems, bars and clubs that still deliver.

Bars in Berlin have characteristically low prices for alcohol, even in areas like Kreuzkölln and Friedrichshain you can find a 0.5l bottle of beer starting at 1.5EUR. Cocktails are available throughout the city starting at 3.8EUR during happy hour (4EUR is the most common price), however this is not to say that if you look hard enough, you won’t find offers for 10EUR and more. Despite the general notion that Berlin is a very affordable metropolitan capital, it can be expensive if you really, really want it to be.

Kreuzberg, Kreuzkölln and Prenzlauer Berg are traditionally considered to be Berlin’s best locations for nightlife, morning paper and numerous food stalls. Most of the hangouts listed below are located in these districts.

Kaffee Burger
Kaffee Burger is a good place to start your time in Berlin. It is currently considered a bit too mainstream by people who previously hung out here and it is not unusual that it is full of tourists and travelers alike and there most definitely will be a queue. However, don’t let this spook you as Kaffee Burger is a synonym to having fun. You might consider visiting the bi-weekly Russendisko party by book author Wladimir Kaminer. Frankly, it is equally Russian as it is Ukrainian and Balkan Beats-oriented, but be prepared for some fun nevertheless. One floor for smokers and one (packed from ceiling to the ground) floor for non-smokers.

Address: Torstraße 60

Berlin’s finest gay club. The German capital has been famous for its respect and admiration for the LGBT community for a while now and still most clubs only organize gay or lesbian nights once or several times per week, however Schwuz is a pure-water gay club that always has your head spinning and your body dancing to its tunes. Three dance floors and relaxed and yet energized atmosphere will make sure you won’t feel like leaving the dancefloor (of which there are three here) for a while.

Address: Mehringdamm 61

Now, before you head over to Schwuz, by unspoken rules of Berlin, you have to go to a pre-party or meet up friends for a round or three of drinks, otherwise a party won’t be the right type of party, if you catch my drift. Turandot, located in Bergmannstraße, is surrounded by dozens of other cafes and bars and yet it obviously stands out. To start with, it’s a Kneipe in the true German sense of this word and not a posh bar that has a better interior than beer/wine/coffee. It’s packed even on a weekday night, the staff has a good sense of humor and the joint has a library where you can leave a book you just finished reading (bought it for 2EUR at a used books store, didn’t you?) and take a new one.

Address: Bergmannstraße 93

An atmospheric café in Kreuzkölln that serves delicious breakfast and perhaps the best cappuccino in the area. Also offering a variety of soups every afternoon and delicious sandwiches to go with them. If you can still walk and breathe after your Saturday night party, roll out of bed straight into Rita for a slow yummy Sunday brunch.

Address: Pannierstraße 12

Fuchs und Elster
Fuchs and Elster (named after a German cartoon) is an arguably interesting place to visit. This might be your night stop after Rita as the two are located with a 5-minute’s walk from one another. Old armchairs, old tables, old wooden floor create a neat look that is popular with local hipsters. It might be look small from the outside and yet there is a hidden basement downstairs where all the magic happens, from live band performances to dance parties. The downside of this place is the bad service, if you don’t mind the glares and the generally rude demeanor of the female bartender, this is the place to be.

Address: Weserstraße 207

Sahara is a “Sudanese” fast food restaurant some 50m away from Fuchs and Elster (see, everything is close in Berlin!). It positions itself as a café serving food specialties from Sudan and yet they offer falafel and other Arab and Turkish foods. However, the good thing about it is that almost anything on the menu can be cooked vegan. Try their soups and vegan sandwich-type offerings. The walls feature amazing photographs from Africa.

Address: Weserstraße

Café BilderBuch
BilderBuch is a spacious (two large halls) café in the beautiful Akazienstraße in Schöneberg. Always full no matter what day and time, BB has the interior of a stylish and yet home-like luxurious private library or perhaps a dining hall from some time around mid XXth century. One of the halls has an old piano standing in one of the corners and there are free performance on almost all Fridays or Saturdays. The menu comes in the form of a regularly updated newspaper that somehow helps your appetite kick in. Good for a leisurely afternoon with a friend as well as for a dinner of a group of friends on any night of the week. Particularly recommended are the mixed beer snacks (veggies, delicious cheeses, olives and homemade bread).

Address: Akazienstraße 28

An einem Sonntag im August
And finally we are in Prenzlauer Berg. Just off the Kiez’s busiest U-Bahn Station (Eberswalder Str.) you’ll find this deliciously Berlin-like café with comfortable chairs and even swings outside for people watching when the weather allows and inside worn down low couches that somehow make it extra convenient to surf the internet from the laptop in your lap. Old wooden bar, a great view on Kastanienallee and, most importantly, quiet music that will not interfere with your conversations about how you bought this great vintage bike for 30EUR at Mauerpark last weekend, what the best store for BIO goods is and where to spend Friday night this week.

Address: Kastanienallee 103

Mein Haus am See
Have you ever been to a café with amphitheater type of seating? If not, Mein Haus am See is your choice of location. A spacious and airy place suitable for big companies (e.g. Couchsurfing meetings) that is remarkably good both for people watching and striking conversations with strangers. If you agree with their mottos (Coffee to wake the dead / Internet access available: get drunk and download loads of crap), do pay MHAS a visit.

Address: Brunnenstrasse 197-198

Café Vux
At least every second < 35 y.o. person in Berlin is vegetarian and more and more people go vegan every year. Whether you are vegan by taste and food preference or ideologically so, Café Vux should be your choice for coffee and cake. The delightful taste of strictly vegan cakes and soya milk coffee will remain with you for a long time. Who knew healthy food can also be quite so delicious? And right between Karl-Marx-Straße and Sonnenallee, perhaps Berlin’s two streets with the highest döner kebab density, too! Completely white interior will relax your eyes and clear your mind as a bonus.

Address: Richardstraße 38

Originally written for Got Saga


Maria said...

Passing this on to my partner.

True story said...

Hi Maria,

thank you for stopping by. I do hope Bing will enjoy her time in Berlin - I'm sure she will!

ianandebe said...

Just stopped at "An einem Sonntag im August" and was similarly impressed. I will have to check the rest on your list and your awesome blog.

True story said...

Great to hear that!! I hope you'll like other places listed as well.

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