It’s no doubt that Berlin has had a tumultuous past, a history that has impacted not only Germany but also the world. There are remnants of this past, reminders of how far Berlin has come. Sites like the Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin Wall act as scars from the nation’s tainted history. The city has, however, risen above those turbulent times, carving a niche for itself as a melting pot of cultures. This diversity in Berlin has bestowed it a culinary scene that’s equally as diverse. A stroll through the city will reveal a multitude of restaurants serving local and international delights. If you’re looking for the right traditional foods in Berlin to tuck into, then scroll down to check out our list of 10 traditional foods in Berlin.
1. Holstein schnitzel
What is today a quintessential German food, Schnitzel Holstein was born in Austria as Schnitzel Weiner. However, the Germans took this Austrian delicacy, altered a few of the ingredients, and made it what it is today, Schnitzel Holstein. It is a veal-based dish that’s common in most eateries around Berlin. This mouthwatering treat is prepared by frying veal to a crispy texture and then topping it up with an egg. Of course, you’ll also need to add in other ingredients like anchovies, parsley and, finally, some white wine. The final product is a flavorful and finger-licking meal that’s quite unforgettable. Other iterations of Schnitzel Holstein have chicken, turkey, pork, or mutton in place of veal.
Unlike Schnitzel Holstein, Maultasche traces its roots back to the German region of Swabia. This traditional German dish is mainly made by taking pasta dough and enclosing meat and spinach filling in it, flavor the filling with spices like nutmeg or parsley and then simmer before serving with a broth. This is, essentially, a dumpling. Maultasche can be likened to ravioli except that, this German take on the popular Italian pasta dish, is a little bit larger in size. If you’re in Berlin, you’ll definitely want to try this meal out. Thankfully, lots of restaurants have it on their menu.
3. Berliner doughnuts
Known locally as Pfannkuchen, this is a doughnut that isn’t actually a doughnut. Unlike what we’re accustomed to, the Berliner doughnut doesn’t have the characteristic hole in the middle. It’s simply one round and puffy pastry that has a jam filling. You bite into one and the filling erupts in your mouth, earning the Berliner its decadent reputation. The outside of this doughnut is usually powdered with some icing sugar to give it that final verve that will ensure you reach out for more.
4. Doner Kebab
If you’re looking for something traditional in Berlin, try out the Doner Kebab. This is a meat dish that originated from Turkey. Today, it is popular around the world and Berlin is one of the cities where you’ll find a scrumptious Doner Kebab. This treat goes by different names; sometimes it is known as Shawarma, other times it will be referred to as Kabab Torki. However, what’s clear is that an authentic Doner Kebab must be made using lamb meat or at least lamb has to feature alongside beef or chicken. You can have it with a side of rice or fries or in between pita bread as a sandwich.
Germans love their sausages and it’s no wonder Berlin has numerous places where you can enjoy an authentic German sausage. Bratwurst is one type that you ought to try when in this city. This type of sausage is often made from pork but there are beef and veal versions of the same. Bratwurst is so versatile that it is made differently in the different regions of Germany. In fact, there are about 40 versions of this sausage. Some are longer and juicier while others are shorter and spicier. Explore Berlin and try out the different varieties of Bratwurst before you settle on your favorite.
Pop into a restaurant in Berlin and ask for Spatzle, a dish that’s common in most European countries but is believed to have been born in Germany. Spatzle is generally egg noodles, prepared by mixing flour with eggs, salt and water. Oftentimes, to give it a bit more personality, spices like parsley and nutmeg are included among the ingredients. It is then served as an accompaniment to meat dishes and is slathered with a sauce. How about a meal of Spatzle with a Doner Kebab or Bratwurst?
Next on our list is Kunefe, a traditional Turkish dessert that you ought to try out when in Berlin. Originally from Turkey’s southeastern region, Kunefe has, over the centuries, traveled to other countries, featuring prominently in Turkish restaurants around the world. The process of making it is a complicated affair which is best left to the experts. It’s made in a particular pan with a shallow bottom, made of cast iron. Its ingredients are a dough known as kadayif, that’s finely chopped and layered on the bottom of the pan before a filling of cheese is spread on top of it. This cheese layer is then covered by another kadayif layer on top before baking. If you, like most people, don’t want to go through this intricate process, simply visit a Turkish restaurant in Berlin.
8. Potato pancakes
In English, Kartoffelpuffer is simply potato pancakes. This German delicacy is a popular treat that you’ll definitely cross paths with, when in Berlin. In fact, it’s sold as a street-food, featuring in most festivals in the country. It’s prepared by taking grated potatoes and mixing with eggs, grated onions, flour and salt. The resultant mixture is then placed on a frying pan in scoops and allowed to brown. Kartoffelpuffer goes down really well with some applesauce.
9. Knuckle of pork
This German dish is basically a boiled ham hock. It literally translates to: “ice leg”, referring to the part of the pig the ham hock comes from. Though Eisbein sounds like a pretty straightforward dish, however, a lot of flavoring is done to the ham hock before it is placed in a pot with onions, pepper and, sometimes, brown sugar. From the pot, the hock goes into the oven, to be roasted to a crisp. Eisbein is delectable with a side of baked potatoes.
It’s safe to say the Germans adore sausages and currywurst is a testament to this fact. This is a pork sausage treat in which the sausage is fried and then sliced before drizzling with curry ketchup. Thus the name currywurst. It is typically a fast food that’s accompanied by French fries. Its birth is traced back to the late 40s when a Berliner had the bright idea of mixing ketchup, curry powder and spices before drowning a pork sausage in her concoction. From there, currywurst became a part of Germany’s culture, featuring all over cities like Berlin.