Got a sweet tooth? Do savoury and meat float your boat? Looking for something quick and tasty to fill your stomach after a long day of sightseeing? Well, you’re in luck during a visit to Berlin, Germany. The city boasts a variety of street food that is relished by one and all. From bratwurst and pretzel to doner kebabs, curries and falafel, you’ll find it all here. All these street food items have made their way into German hearts in recent decades, and they, of course, have incorporated local and outside influences to a great extent. So when you’re out exploring such iconic landmarks as the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag, do try out the street food. You’re likely to find some tasty meals to truly tantalise those tastebuds. Read on for the top 10 street food you must try in Berlin, Germany.
1. Doner kebab
Originating in the Ottoman Empire (today’s Turkey), the Doner kebab has become a true takeaway staple in numerous countries around the world. It is often exported by Turkish migrants and rapidly adopted by an appreciative audience. Germany is no different. After arriving in the country in the 1960s, its popularity has skyrocketed and, at the start of the 2010s, it was on sale in more than 16,000 eateries around Germany. In Berlin, the dish was initially fairly simple, containing just the meat, a little salad and onions. Nowadays, it is typically available with beef and chicken varieties, although lamb and vegetarian options can also be found. What sets Berlin apart, though, is the sandwich-styling, as well as the wide range of sauces used to garnish it, including the popular hot sauce variety. Will you tuck into a food that has become one of Berlin’s signature street food options?
As the use of wurst would suggest, this is very much a creation of Germany. However, despite the name, Currywurst isn’t a sausage that contains curry. Instead, this pork sausage is first steamed and fried before being covered in a curry-style ketchup sauce - derived from tomato and spices - and then given an additional topping of curry powder. Available as a whole sausage, but also available in chunks, the sausage is often served alongside chips (fries to our American friends) to create a staple takeaway food. It is especially popular in Hamburg, an area around the Ruhr and, yes, Berlin, too.
A true icon of the German food scene, bratwurst originated in the country as long ago as the early 1300s, although sausages date back another millennium. That length of time has allowed the bratwurst to blossom into all manner of varieties. Typically made from pork, although beef and veal versions are also not uncommon, these sausages feature finely chopped meat and have developed a range of regional varieties within Germany. From the coarse-textured Coburger to the Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, and Nuremberg, which is much thinner and often seasoned with marjoram, there are many varieties of Bratwurst available in the city.
4. Halbes Hähnchen (Half chicken)
Halbes Hähnchen, or half chicken for those not fluent in German, is another street food staple. Although not uncommon as a bar meal staple in many corners of the world, Berlin offers an array of different takes on the dish. The only guiding rule is that they are mouthwateringly juicy while also being nice and crispy on the outside. Typically served with fries, some broilers throw different spices into the mix, others offer larger birds, and some will serve halal-friendly dishes. Fries can often be substituted for other ingredients, such as pretzels, bread, and basmati rice. Whatever your preferred choice, there’ll likely be an option to suit your palate.
Familiar to food fans all across the world, the humble burger’s origins are shrouded in mystery, with all manner of competing claims. But one thing is certain, the term derives from Germany’s second city, Hamburg, which means Germany knows a thing or two about the mouth-watering meat patty sandwich. Berlin natives are particularly big fans of the iconic fast food, with a host of burger joints dotted all over the city, and new venues popping up all the time. Varieties include barbecued burgers with smoky flavors, burgers with melted Gouda and Cheddar, and more. Accompaniments to the burger can vary from french fries to sweet potato chips.
A dish with a real historic pedigree, Falafel is thought to have originated at least 1000 years ago in the Middle East, although some theories have it go back much further to ancient Egypt or Persia. Usually consisting of grounded down fava beans, chickpeas, or a combination of the two, these popular fritters are usually formed into deep-fried balls or patties. A range of spices and herbs are also often added to give it unique flavours. Germany was a relatively late adopter of the dish. Its popularity has rocketed in Berlin in recent decades, thanks to the city’s growing Arab population, who are thought to have helped popularise it. What’s more, the dish has received its own unique twists - vegetables and sauces are often added to the pita breads containing falafel. Speaking of sauces, a sweeter mango variety is also popular, instead of the traditional varieties used elsewhere.
Another quintessentially German creation that food fans around the world have taken to their hearts, these very tasty pastry knots (known as brezel in Germany) come in all shapes and sizes. While salt is by far the most popular seasoning for the doughs, all manner of other ingredients can be used in the condiments stead, from decadent chocolate, nuts and cinnamon to sugar and even cheese. And, of course, their ubiquity in Germany means you’ll not have to go far to find them in Berlin. What’s more, they are surprisingly versatile, and Germans have added them to all manner of other foods. Pretzel with wurst, anyone? How about a croissant? Why not. Berliners have done both… and a whole lot more.
8. Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancake)
A type of potato pancake, the Kartoffelpuffer is closely associated with Germany and Austria. Made using grated potatoes, as well as eggs, flour and onions, this savoury dish is incredibly versatile, working alongside everything from sweet fruits and apple sauce to tasty meats. Naturally, this makes it a big hit with diners, and you’ll find it everywhere from established sit-down eateries to street food stalls. Its hearty ingredients also make it a popular food-to-go option during the winter months.
9. Pfannkuchen (filled doughnut)
Not the pancake you might think from the German translation, Berlin’s take - the Berliner, or Pfannkuchen - is actually a pastry akin to a doughnut without a hole. Commonly filled with jam or marmalade and fried in oil, they are sure to appeal to any diner with a sweet tooth. Just keep a watchful eye out for the liberal dusting of sugar on the surface, or you’ll wind up with the food equivalent of a milk moustache.
The humble hotdog may have conquered the world, but its roots are definitely Germanic. Typically a Frankenfurter or Vienna sausage, the hotdog dates back centuries, and was eaten in the middle ages before being exported to all corners of the world, thanks to waves of German migrants introducing it to the grateful public. Typically eaten inside a sausage bun, but also popular on a stick. It is usually made from pork, but versions with beef, turkey and chicken are not unheard of. It is served with different condiments and toppings.
Time to tickle those tastebuds
There are aplenty savoury and sweet dishes that you can try in Berlin. But its street food is the one that really grabs food lover’s attention. Check out our above list of the street foods that you must try in Berlin, Germany’s cosmopolitan capital.
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