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5 Things Not to Do in Berlin

Updated: Mar 27



 

Eat a Döner


Surely this is a mistake? Döner is as ubiquitous with Berlin as the Berlin Wall. True and in fact I am not saying don't eat Döner at all, rather eat the right kind of Döner or eat a Chicken Gemüse Kebap.


Regarding the former, this can be tricky. Traditionally Dönerfleisch - "Döner meat" - is filets of either veal, beef, or lamb, but legally speaking (yes, there is Döner law in Germany and they enforce it) the meat can contain up to 60% minced meat. Meaning most Döners in the city take the fast-food shortcuts and are half or majority minced meat - AKA a meatloaf sandwich.


For those trying to stay above water and keep quality, but also keep costs down, chicken has become the popular option in the last 10 years in Turkish fast food stalls - influenced by the popularity of the Arab Shawarma, that is mostly chicken in Berlin.


But according to Döner Law, a Döner cannot be called such if it has chicken, thus many shops have the options with various adjective combinations: Chicken Gemüse Kebap or Chicken Döner Kebap.


Whether interested in chicken or traditional Döner, check out these tips for some solid Döner-ing:


Best Gemüse Kebap - an inconspicuous joint, that is quickly rising among the best in the city

Imren Grill - One of the legends when it comes to Döner. Brave the chaos of ordering to reap the reward: a legitimate Döner. Get the spicy sauce if you like it hot and grab some napkins!

Rüyam Gemüse Kebab - Rüyam has grown over the years (almost 24k reviews!) and this comes from respecting their ingredients: chicken, high level sauces, and fluffy bread. If you're in the area, don't miss it.

Aceto Chicken Döner - Not that anyone would call it that. It is "the döner place on Simon Dach Strasse". Solid chicken Döner to fulfill your late night hunger.


 


 

Eat Mexican Food


So you may be thinking that this one is clear without going any further - I mean...Mexican food in Berlin!? Well you would be mistaken. There are in fact some solid Mexican Restaurants in Berlin and I will get to them below.


What I am referring to are the rip-off restaurants set up in touristy areas that not only have low quality food, but rude service, distorted prices, and so many other red flags that it is incredible they manage to stay afloat. What red flags you may ask?

  • The Menu: Italian, Indian, Mexican, Burgers. The menus always make zero sense, are too long, include Mexican food and the biggest red flag...

  • Cheap Cocktails: No self-respecting and serious restaurant in Berlin does this. Crummy cocktails is exactly what you will get and is a far cry from how locals drink. Open your eyes to this detail and you will be able to avoid 80% of all the terrible restaurants in Berlin

  • Waiters Approaching You: This is not how local joints work. If you have a waiter telling you to "come on in" then move along

  • Large Groups of Drunk Tourists: Need I say more

Luckily there are not too many of these spots in the city, but the main areas to find them are Simon-Dach-Strasse, Falckensteinstrasse, and at the start of Oranienstrasse near Görlitzer Bahnhof. Maybe you will start to see a pattern emerge...


If though you are craving Mexican, go and support local owners who are trying to provide you with good service and quality food:


Sabor a mí - Great "Taco Truck". Find them in the Markthalle Neun Thursdays from 4PM during Street Food Thursdays

 

 

Go up the TV Tower


Yup, I said it, don't bother. It is an amazing view, but will there be fog in the morning? Is it worth almost 25€? Do you need to travel 203 meters into the sky to get a view of a city that has barely any skyline besides the building you are in? Are you fine with crowds and limited space?


Check out these spots instead for great views, for low or no cost:


Flak Tower in Humbolthain Park - yup, there is a massive WWII-era Flak tower that was covered by debris and planted with trees. Walk up for free

Klunkerkranich - Located on the top level of a parking garage on top of a shopping center turned outdoor bar. Get there before 4PM for no cover charge

Panoramapunkt - Hop on top a building at Potsdamer Platz for a great view at a more reasonable price

Solar Sky Bar & Restaurant - A great spot for fine cocktails and some good eats, but everyone is there for the location

Kreuzberg Denkmal - A gothic styled memorial to Prussian victory in the Napoleonic Wars located in Viktoriapark on a hill. Just keep heading up and you will arrive

 

 

Go to Checkpoint Charlie


Yes, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can probably just skip Checkpoint Charlie. Most guiding companies only include it because people expect to go there and it is already on a very standard route, but when it comes to sights in Berlin its ranks very low. Understandably a tourist attraction for years after the Wall fell, there is not a scrap of authenticity at Checkpoint Charlie nor has there been for many years.


The city and the investors who have purchased some of the surrounding land, still do not know the best course of action, while McDonalds, KFC, and an Irish Pub have claimed the space in the interim. This isn't even to mention the museum located there. If you are curious feel free to reach out to me and ask my opinion on that...


 

Eat or Drink from the Big Chains


Perhaps you already see where this is going, but if you are going to visit Berlin try then support Berlin. Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Hard Rock Cafe...what's the point of visiting if you are buying or supporting any of these places?


Berliners love to support local so we have our own great chains that have beat out plenty of international franchises. This is why when you leave the city center you won't find many if any of these global fast food monsters.


Check out this short list of some great local chains:


 

Your Trip Berlin


Want to avoid some of these pitfalls for your group trip or team event? Contact Your Trip Berlin or book an obligation-free 30-minute meeting to get your trip started!


 

Great Chains in Berlin


 

Alexander La Rocca


A profile picture of Alexander La Rocca with Mauerpark in the background

Alexander La Rocca has been creating experiences for

visitors to Berlin since 2012 when he began in the tourism industry. Having organized and led thousands of tours, trips, and events, he started his own company yourtripberlin.com.


Whether for large groups or company or team events, he offers his expertise to make a trip to Berlin a memorable experience. Visit him at https://www.yourtripberlin.com/ if you are looking for help organizing your visit to the city!

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