Locals pretend to dislike this intimate 20-seat bistro because Brad Pitt has been spotted here (it’s very Berlin to be anticelebrity), but more likely they’re annoyed that reservations need to be made several days in advance. The market-driven, French-inspired menu is written on oversized chalkboards and changes frequently.
We loved: Fish cassoulet.
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Michael Kempf, the youngest Michelin-starred chef in Berlin, has cooked under some of Germany’s best chefs, including three-star legend Dieter Mueller. At Facil, housed within the glass inner courtyard of the Mandala Hotel, Kempf has now carved out his own distinct style of cooking, with slightly Asian-influenced dishes accented with Indian and Arabian spices.
We loved: Citrus-marinated slices of raw langoustine with an aspic of Amalfi lemons and tandoori sour cream.
The designer hotel bar trend never really took off in Berlin—until this chic bar and lounge opened in 2008. Locals like it for the extensive cocktail list with more than 60 drinks, the generous quantities of free snacks and the live music. The roof terrace opens during the summer for watching the sun set behind the grand Bebelplatz.
We loved: Plum-and-basil daiquiri; “La Bomba,” prepared with muddled strawberries, grapefruit, basil and crème de cacao.
Provocative chef Tim Raue opened this modern Chinese spot in the Hotel Adlon. His Asian-ish dishes are ridiculously light (he uses no white sugar or white flour) and showcase the region’s best produce.
We loved: Catalan sea cucumber with a mushroom cream and a nut butter foam.
The best, largest and oldest beer garden in Berlin is the Prater, which opened in 1837. Open from April through September, it continues to draw a lively crowd to its enormous open-air courtyard and rustic indoor restaurant, with juicy sausages and other hearty traditional German dishes.
We loved: Königsberger Klopse (meatballs) with caper sauce; cumin-infused lentil soup.
Berlin’s most successful nightlife impresario, known only by the name Cookie, has in his own quirky way made vegetarian dishes cool with this hidden spot, marked only by a jumble of light bulbs dangling from an awning. Chic locals love the delicious and affordable 28 euro chef’s menus—a collaboration between Stephan Hentsch and Michael Kempf, the Michelin-starred chef from Facil.
We loved: Pumpkin-lime soup with chutney, roasted cashews and curry; parmesan dumplings with Amalfi-lemon sauce.
Berlin restaurants offer a fair number of well-priced, quality chef’s menus. One of the best is at this German-influenced bistro, where the talented Thomas Kurt offers an unbeatable five-course chef’s menu for just 47 euros.
We loved: Duck foie gras terrine laced with spiced chocolate; Arctic cod confit with creamy sauerkraut and chive puree.
This five-table spot from eccentric Canadian expat Gordon Wojcickowski (the “W” in W Imbiss) has a near-cultlike following for its South Asian-inspired pizzas made with freshly baked naan and its superaffordable prices—the menu tops out at 8.50 euros.
We loved: The Italian Job, freshly baked naan with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and an olive tapenade; tandoori-cooked monkfish with chipotle-garlic mashed potatoes.
This Michelin-starred spot offers one of the city’s most extensive and notable wine lists, with a selection of more than 1,000 bottles, and chef Marco Mueller’s flawless, experimental cooking. Mueller’s current fascination with ice cream results in unexpected combinations like apple-cucumber ice cream served with char.
We loved: Roasted venison with venison-and-tongue pudding with chanterelles and peas.