Welcome to Berlin, Germany — or as today’s city guide writer, Elizabeth Rushe likes to call it, “Tír na nÓg,” translating to “land of the young” in Irish folklore. Berlin has long been attracting a creative community of people with an ambitious, entrepreneurial spirit. “The joke is that everyone is a graphic designer or a DJ — or most likely, both,” Elizabeth shares.
In recent years, Berlin has seen a huge boom in food, with street fare finally hitting the city, “and, thanks to many Australian and New Zealand third-wave coffee specialists opening up cafés and roasteries, the standard of coffee is now extremely high as well,” she continues. All of this in combination with the various start-ups, supermarkets with zero-waste policies, community-focused classes taught by refugees, and food recycling programs where waste is turned into delicious restaurant-quality food, Berlin is not just a beautiful place to live, but a progressive and energetic one, too. Today, Elizabeth is taking us on a virtual, daylong trip around her city where she shares with us her favorite places to grab breakfast, shop, and hit the town. –Sabrina
Photography by Elizabeth Rushe
Good morning! Berlin doesn’t like to get up too early, but we’ve got a lot to see, do, eat and drink so let’s hit Eastside Gallery, decorated with murals by over 100 artists.
Staying in the same neighborhood, head over to Ora at Oranienplatz for a glorious cinnamon bun and coffee. It’s a stunning café housed in an old pharmacy with many of its well-kept original features.
Your next stop, Modulor, is less than a 10-minute walk away. It’s time for some paper therapy! Prepare yourself for 3,000 square meters of stationery — every kind of paper-related art supply, journal, writing implement or souvenir you might need in a lifetime: from feather quills to calligraphy pens and beyond. Beloved by all, from paper fans to architects and makers alike.
Now that you’ve satisfied your washi tape needs, jump on the U1 and U2, and head to the C/O Gallery at its new location nearby the Zoo U Bahn station. C/O Berlin is now housed in a building formerly know as the “Amerika Haus,” which was built in 1956 but has roots that date back to the 1940s when reading rooms with American literature were set up around Germany to make a diverse range of books available to the German population once again (after much reading material was destroyed, particularly written by American authors, in World War II). The C/O gallery is a non-profit exhibition space for photography, which has been renovated to create a stunning exhibition space — currently the breathtaking retrospective by Anton Corbijn is on display.
After absorbing all that beautiful art, let’s go for some lunch — okay, and maybe also some shopping! Hallesches Haus is our next port of call, a one-minute walk from the Hallesches Tor U Bahn stop. Here you’ll find a general store with well-stocked shelves of home goods, art, design and textiles, in addition to their coffee shop and restaurant. The team undertook a grand renovation of the historic former post office building, “Postamt 61,” to open up a restaurant, café and event space in addition to the general store. This is a spot that will tick many boxes: eat, shop, peruse, relax.
If you prefer a more vintage vibe, Rag and Bone Man in Neukölln is a veritable treasure trove, as well as a beautiful example of collaboration and community, combining the vintage store with a café, florist Wildflowers Berlin and in-house macrame studio, California Dreaming — all under one roof. The girls work together to create this very special place, which thrives on keeping it local — ask for the Schatzkarte, a treasure map to their surrounding neighborhood with tips for eating, drinking and shopping, devised by Rag and Bone Man co-owner Maggie Coker.
Zola is a recently opened Neopolitan pizza joint, in a back courtyard along the Paul Linke Ufer — with a wood-fire oven for a truly authentic crisp on your pizza crust (and it cooks so fast!). Zola shares the space with Concierge coffee, who roasts their beans in the back — look out for a tiramisu with the freshly roasted Concierge coffee on the menu soon!
On a Thursday from 5 pm til 10 pm, head over to Markthalle Neun for the weekly Street Food Thursday. This 100-year-old market hall was brought back to life a couple of years ago with the launch of Street Food Thursday, new daily stalls, restaurant, and farmers market. Apart from Thursdays, the market hall is open daily, with Big Stuff, who offer up a smoked barbecue menu, authentic Italian breads and pizza from in-house Sironi bakery, as well as a farmers market and the Kantine Neun restaurant.
At the weekly Thursday market you can find the hall packed with street food stalls — try a malawach from Yemen, a delicious pie from Oma Marnie’s or Egyptian koshary, among many others. Then wash it all down with a beer from HeidenPeters at the cozy beer corner — the brewery is onsite, so you can’t get more local.
Shaul and Motoko not only recreated House of Small Wonder, but their successful modern Japanese brasserie Zenkichi as well. At the same location as the cafe, except on the lower level of the building, so it all feels very adventurous: you enter through a maze of bamboo, where a nest of cozy booths is revealed. The tasting menu is excellent and the cocktails are a wonder. Definitely order the black sesame mousse for dessert…
Berlin is enjoying a craft-cocktail booze boom at the moment. If you appreciate a finely made cocktail, prop yourself up at the bar at Schwarze Traube, John Muir or Thelonious Bar to enjoy seasonal menus, locally sourced and fresh ingredients, and decent bar-keeping folks to boot.
You might want to have a snack before you reluctantly call it a night, or morning. Enjoy a currywurst mit pommes at countless imbiss takeaways across the city. Goodnight from Berlin!