Back in October, I was invited to Bar Convent Berlin to give a presentation on beer cocktails. It’s a great convention, and I highly recommend going if you get the opportunity. It also gave me a chance to write a drinking guide to the city for Eater. There was no way to get to every bar I wanted, but I gave it my best shot! Thirteen of my favorites are mapped out here.
Unfortunately, a wave of fog left me stranded in Amsterdam for a day on the way there, cutting my trip a bit shorter than intended. (Being stuck in Amsterdam isn’t such a bad thing, but most of that time was spent at the airport trying to figure out when I’d be leaving. Thanks KLM!) That meant I didn’t get to do much in Berlin that didn’t involve drinks and didn’t get to any of the museums I wanted to visit. Nevertheless, there is more to life than bars, or so I’m told. Here are a few of the other places I enjoyed visiting and recommend if you’re in the city.
Yes, it’s a shoe store for atheists! Does the religious affiliation of one’s shoe store really matter? Not really, but I’d shop here regardless of the owners’ beliefs; the fact that some of their shoes come with “Ich bin atheist” etched into the soles is just a bonus. I picked up a pair of their blue “Das Petrol” boots and they’ve become one of my favorite pairs of shoes; I’m wearing them as I type this, in fact. The store is tucked into a courtyard but worth the effort of seeking out. They also ship to the US and occasionally do pop up shops here, so don’t let the lack of travel plans to Germany dissuade you shopping. Pet owners should also consider commissioning a pair of their “Walkies Forever” for when their furry friends pass on (offer valid only on the first of April).
I was also coveting the retro athletic sneakers at Zeha, which has multiple locations around the city. They were a little outside this freelance writer’s budget for one trip, but I expect I’ll be taking advantage of their online store sometime soon as well.
This cozy kitchen came highly recommended on the Berlin Food Stories weblog. It’s so good I went here twice, despite having such a short time in the city. It’s simple, well-executed German food, and it’s irresistibly good. Great meats, delicious sauces, and tremendous portions. Just go.
Le Boui Boui
I ended up here needing a bite to eat after a visit to Monterey Bar, a craft beer and rock-and-roll bar I recommend in my Eater guide. Delicious flammkuchen prepared on the spot in a tiny, charming space make the perfect post-drink snack, especially if you’ve already had your share of currywurst or doner kebab.
Dr. Kochan Schnapskultur
Any time I travel abroad, I try to find a unique spirit or two to bring back home in my suitcase. This geeky liquor store was the perfect place to shop. It’s almost all unusual spirits; I think they carried just one brand of vodka. I left with an amazing Swiss single malt called Santis Edition Dreifaltigkeit, which is aged in oak beer casks and carries a tremendous, meaty smokiness. Had I the luggage space, I could have picked a lot more of interest here.
This coffee shop is co-owned Cory Andreen, who I used to work with back in barista days in DC. I went to Portland, he went to Berlin. As much as I love Portland, I’m starting to think he made the better decision. He opened Cafe CK there a few years ago and has been elevating the local coffee scene (here’s an interview with him on the topic). He’s also become known for serving draft coffee on nitro. I’m normally a skeptic of cold coffee, but Cory’s is brewed hot and then rapidly cooled, which allows bright acidity to come through. His draft coffee stand at BCB fueled my time on the floor there, and Cafe CK was my regular stop post-convention.
This is the kind of shop that would be very hard to open in the US, given our restrictive liquor licenses. It’s an eclectic shop with art, barware, home goods, personal grooming products, and a selection of very high quality spirits, including rums from Samaroli. I especially liked this collection of porcelain inspired by nautical tattoos, though with my limited luggage space, I only took home a couple of the shot glasses (pictured above with an appropriately nautical bottle of aquavit from my home bar).
Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun
Should you happen to be in Berlin on a Thursday night, head to this market hall for a massive selection of street food vendors. It’s packed with people, global food offerings, and plenty to drink.
I didn’t actually get to experience this one. I’d planned to make this my first stop when I landed, but my flight delays led to me missing it entirely. It’s a spontaneous gathering of Thai expats who cook in the park on Sundays when the weather is good, selling to anyone who comes by. I didn’t make it on this trip, but it’s number one on my list the next time I make it to Berlin.