For me, food is one of the crucial components of any good vacation. And Berlin is no exception to this rule! There’s so much to choose from, especially when it comes to street food. For someone like me who lived in Berlin for 3 weeks as a student, budget is a primary concern.
Contrary to what you may think, the German capital is one the most budget-friendly cities to visit in Europe. And if you’re as non-fussy about your food as I am, Berlin will not disappoint!
Now, the obvious first choice here is CurryWurst. It is basically cut-up sausage with a spicy sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. And comes with a side of fries or “Pommes” which you are expected to drench in MAYONNAISE!! I meaaannnn…..you really can’t go wrong here can you? Yes, this isn’t fine dining or out-of-the-box innovative food, but I can assure you that Currywurst lives in the heart of all Berliners! Also, paired with a cold pint of beer, this sets you back only about 5-6 Euros!
A close second if you want to start with traditional German food would be a Wiener Schnitzel. A schnitzel is actually a traditional Viennese delicacy and is a flattened slice of meat (usually veal or beef) which is coated with breadcrumbs and then fried. It is served with a lemon wedge and french fries, and sometimes with some cranberry preserve as I observed in a few places and makes for a massive and filling meal. Also light on the pocket, it costs about €5-10 per serving and will ensure you don’t eat for the next 4-5 hours!
Berlin has a lot of middle-eastern immigrants and hence the presence of the many Turkish restaurants all over the city and the Kebap carts. One of my absolute favorite street foods to dig into is Doner kebaps. Its basically a pita pocket stuffed with fresh veggies, a choice of sauces and in case of meat versions, rotisserie beef. All this for just €5! There’s a whole basket of Middle-eastern street food options to try and they’re all delicious. (Side Tip: These kebaps are the ideal food to grab after you’ve had a few beers or after a big night of partying!)
Now, BREAD!!! This is literally why I look forward to go to this country. I have never seen a place more obsessed with bread, and I’m not complaining! Bakeries open at 6.30 am on an average to serve out the freshest most gorgeous bread ever made! Bread is a staple in German cuisine and no meal is complete without the perfect kind of bread to go with it. The bread in Germany is so good it can be enjoyed as is or by slathering it with beautiful, silky unsalted butter and the most amazing jams and preserves to be produced on the planet! One of the best kinds I ever tried was a poppy-seed covered sweetbread. It may look a little un-inviting but I liked it so much that I had to go get another!
Surprisingly. Berlin is full of Italian restaurants and they’re all really good! Pizza is slowly beginning to out-do Currywurst as the “Lieblingsessen” or favorite food of Berlin. There are a number of carts you can find all over the city serving up pizzas to go and at unbelievable rates. A 8-9″ pizza can cost as low as €4! And it is enough for a meal for one! If you prefer not to eat your Italian food off a cart there are a variety of cute little family-owned restaurants where you can grab an excellent meal with a nice glass of Italian wine for about €15 per head on an average.
“Kaffee-Kuchen” (Coffee and Cake) is a typical German tradition. The portions are generous and prices low. Steinecke is a Brotmeisterei (Breadbakers) chain in Berlin and can be spotted as frequently as a Starbucks in USA. A slice of cheesecake that would be enough for dinner costs just €3! Streets are lined with bakeries everywhere you go, making it an easy snacking option. There is an array of pastries to choose from like custard-filled Danish to chocolate croissants to blueberry strudel kuchen. Some cafes like Einstein offer a treats like an “Irish coffee”, that has a shot of vodka in it as opposed to the traditional shot of whisky. And it goes perfectly with cake or strudel!
Weekends bring a number of Farmers’ Markets to Berlin. They can be found in about 6-7 areas of the city and are hugely popular. Markets like these bring about delicious treats like crepe carts and homemade gelato and ice-cream stands! Everything is usually homemade and fresh so I would definitely put this on the agenda for the weekend.
Outdoor cafes and restaurants are quintessentially European. Summers are the perfect time to sit out and enjoy some good food and chilled beer. Although this doesn’t always classify as budget food, I love to eat this way at least a couple of times. It’s a great way to relax on a sunny day and treat yourself to some good food. One of the best meals I had was a sun-dried tomato and vegetable risotto topped with a filet of grilled salmon! These meals will not cost more than €20-22 per head with a drink included so please go for it 🙂 Another personal favorite was a popular local Berliner food called a “Tarte Flambe”. It’s basically a flat-bread pizza with simple toppings. The first one I tried was one my friend ordered which came topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and chives. Very simple, fresh and absolutely delicious!
I’m someone who loves to snack on little pick-ins constantly when I travel. And I’m not too picky about what I eat. So my favorites are picking up some fruit from the fruit stands in Germany, especially because the fruits just LOOK so beautiful and inviting. I love snacking on a box of fresh berries (my favorite!) or even the sour cherries. There are pretzel vendors all over the place too for all you pretzel lovers. I once got some delicious natural frozen yogurt with fresh raspberry compote (only €2!) off a small little cart outside a store.