I met Mike Savage back in late 2013 at his first job here in Berlin. I remember talking to him about weird bands, beer and about all the cool places he was discovering around Berlin. A few months later he moved on to another job but we kept in touch and, right now, he is the friend that Fotostrasse calls whenever we are going to do some Urban Exploration!
When we started thinking about the concept behind Going Local, he was the first person that came to our heads. He knows Berlin better than most berliners and this is why you have to read what he consider his favorite places around the city!
Chez Dang is my favourite restaurant in Berlin. The reason for this is simple – the food. Minimalist, cozy and unpretentious. I must have been there 20 or 30 times. The food is Vietnamese with a slight Cambodian/Laotian twist. The place is fantastic for vegetarians as pretty much everything on the menu can come with tofu rather than meat. The prices are cheap, the service fantastic and English menus are available for non German speakers – always pay attention to the daily specials too!
What’s also great about Chez Dang is once you finish your meal you can take a short stroll to Wowsville, a bar come music store or the rustic, but romantic cocktail bar Cafe Kreuzberg, for a digestif. Which you go on to depends on whom you are with.
On your first impression your bound to think this place isn’t aesthetically pleasing. However once you see through the rustic furnishings you are destined for a real Berlin experience. It’s hard to find “Deutsch Küche” in Berlin that isn’t swamped with tourists eating Austrian food and drinking Bavarian beer at inflated prices. Tiergartenquelle may be dark and a little scruffy but the food and beer is “typisch Deutsch”. Relaxed, friendly and easy to get to (it’s directly under the S-Bahn station) the Tiergartenquelle is one of my favourite places when I need a Spätzle fix! The food there is fantastic and it’s one of the few places I know that serves local Berlin craft beer Lemke!
In summer I always recommend a stroll through the Tiergarten followed by a few lazy hours in the Tiergartenquelle biergarten. This place gets busy… so make a reservation!
Rudolph-Wilde Park / Volkspark Wilmersdorf
This place (which is really two separate parks) is often over look for Berlin’s other parks but I find the Rudolph-Wilde Park / Volkspark Wilmersdorf has a lot to offer. Starting at the Rathaus Schöneburg where Kennedy made his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech you enter the Rudolph-Wilde Park / Volkspark Wilmersdorf and instantly witness the golden Hirsch fountain. In the center of the water feature stands an 8.80 meter high column rises that a golden deer – it always impresses me. Facing west you see the Rathaus Schöneburg U-bahnhof although it looks more like a stately home and is integrated into the Carl-Zuckmayer-Brücke, make sure to have a look.
Pop over the bridge to the other side and you see the duck pond, the first numerous water features. From here you can just walk and enjoy the park’s amenities. Quiet but popular, it is a great place to relax, picnic and there are numerous places to play table tennis and other games and sports. There’s even a place to play mini-golf! To be me it feels more European that Berlin’s other parks, especially when you see people playing Pétanque. If thirsty or a little hungry pop by the Platzhirsch biergarten, it’s a great place to enjoy the evening sun.
Rote Beete – Café Bar
Hidden away behind Schöneberg’s bustling Goltzstraße and a short stroll from Winterfeldtplatz/Nollendorfplatz is a great little bar. Snug, homey and situated at the bottom of Gleditschstraße is Rote Beete. This comfortable speak-easy is a great place to spend an evening. It feels like you are drinking in Schöneberg’s best kept secret. Weekends often have live music from local musicians and attract a good mix of young and old patrons. Non-smokers beware! Patrons are allowed to “spark up” inside.
Ernst-Thälmann Denkmal on Greifswalder Straße
I’m a sucker for all things Soviet and Cold War. I’m a bit of an obsessive when it comes to the DDR and this is one place I always love showing off to visitors. It may not have the grandiose of Treptower Park but the Ernst-Thälmann Denkmal on Greifswalder Straße is a magnificent and overbearing reminder of a different, but not too distant world. The 14-meter high and 15-meter wide monument to the former Chairman of the German Communist Party is strangely attractive. I find myself able to stare at it in wonder time and time again. It’s a shame few tourists ever get to see it.
If you have time it’s also worth taking a stroll to the Bezirksamt Pankow on Fröbelstraße. Today these buildings are used as offices but from the latter stages of WW2 the buildings were used by Soviet Secret Services to interrogate those accused of Nazi collaboration or who opposed to the Soviet regime.
Haus 3 was used by the Stasi as a detention entre and now is daubed with an art installation by Karla Sachse, questions such as ‘How Long Was A Day Without Light’? cover the external walls. Graffiti left by the Red Army, ‘ДА ЗДРАВСТВУЕТ 1е МАЙ!’ (Long live the first of May!) can be seen (behind glass) behind Haus 3.
Möve im Felsenkeller
I love this place! Staying in Schöneberg and being a short stroll from Rote Beete is Möve im Felsenkeller. As soon as you walk in you feel at ease. The decor is strange, slightly nautical, with wood paneling dating from the 1920s. The width of the place just reaches over 4 meters. The back room is especially cozy, just make sure you remember it’s there. Great German food, a fantastic beer range (6 beers on tap at all times), funny and welcoming staff and a brilliant atmosphere, this place should not be missed. Get there early, it is very popular and you will be lucky to find somewhere to sit after 8pm!
A strange fact about this place is that after a rent increase the owners nearly closed the place and were going to sell the interior to a buyer in New York. After considerable complaints, public outcries and press coverage the bar stayed!
Gull in Felsenkelle
Eetcafé Linda Carrell
I know it is a sin not to drink German beer, but sometimes I have to make an exception. That expecition is Eetcafé Linda Carrell. Taking inspiration from Belgium and the Netherlands this beer café-bar is a great place to spend an evening. Arty and retro decor with a real wood burner in the corner makes this an ideal place to spend a winter’s evening.
The staff are helpful and friendly (and a little cool), the food is tasty and fresh and extensive menu of Dutch and Belgium beers is impressive! I know people who claim this to be the best café-bar in Prenzlauer Berg but I won’t get drawn into that. It gets busy at times especially as it is so small. One slight warning, sometimes the smell of the fantastic cheese fondue can hit you when entering!
Eetcafé Linda Carrell
Ixthys is far from a secret in Berlin. If you can see past (or just ignore) the hand written Bible quotes that cover the walls and fill the menus you should be in for a treat. The small kitchen churns out tasty Bibimbap, Bulgogi and other traditional Korean dishes!
The place is tiny, has no toilet and alcohol is only served after a certain time (if at all). There will be a queue, little room to maneuver and you may have to share a table with strangers, but the food with more than compensate for any inconvenience this brings.
Ixthys Koren Restaurant
I like Eselsbrücke. It’s a nice bar. Candle lit, cozy and laid back. There is a good selection of beers, a great range of whisky and other drinks. However expect your clothes to smell of smoke the next day and one of the guys who works there is a bit grumpy… so you get the authentic Berlin kneipe experience!
Going Local is a series of interviews that we are doing with people that live and enjoy the city they live. You can read more interviews filled with tips here. And if you want to be featured here, this link will tell you how. We're always looking for more locals to share their favorite spots!