Before visiting Berlin, I was expecting it to be hipster central; Dalston with a post Socialist edge. And more street art.
But I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there’s hipsters aplenty but what Berlin’s buzziest area Mitte does well is easy going cool with a complete lack of pretentiousness (take note, East London).
Affordable rents and a low cost of living mean young families mingle with the tech entrepreneurs and floating ‘creatives’, which all mixes together to produce a welcoming, relaxed area of co-working spaces, gin bars and local Italian restaurants.
Mitte is the most central Berlin district and is the historical heart of the city. Mitte was once the centre of East Berlin but in the reunified city, the boroughs were redrawn and it’s now a larger, sprawling neighbourhood. Most Berliners use Mitte only in reference to the original smaller locality and not the wider borough.
If you’re looking for the must see tourist sights, visit Tripadvisor. But if you want to know where to go for the best flat white or hummus or where Berlins locals rate for Asian street food, read on. This is Berlin for cool seekers.
Impala Coffee is the kind of place you wish was your local cafe. Cool and comfortable with lots of outdoor seating, it serves great coffee and delicious cakes and pastries. We were lucky enough to be staying just down the street at East Seven Hostel and in 3 days, I stopped in here no less than 5 times.
Do You Read Me?
Hat tip to the wonderful Herb Lester, whose Berlin map which pointed me in the direction of Do You Read Me? Its grey and slate interior is rammed floor to ceiling with hundreds of magazines covering fashion, art, music, design and travel and a selection of art books also.
Bonus: Do You Read Me is on Auguststrasse which is only a half mile stretch but has emerged as a microcosm of Berlin; Departures.com calls it ‘the best three blocks in the whole of Berlin,’ It’s a relaxed stretch with bike rental shops, friendly bars and some great Italian cafes (try Da Piadina) plus Shisho, one of the best burgers spots in the city. Prepare to queue.
Sankt Oberholz Cafe & Co-Working Space
Berlin has plenty of good coffee spots but for a really decent flat white, head to Sankt Oberholz. Completely lacking in the standoffish-ness some co-working spaces suffer from, Sankt Oberholz is a friendly, cool space with tables out the front that catch the sun in the afternoon. When we visited, a lovely Aussie girl made me a perfect flat white and reccommended Transit for dinner (see below). A great place for digital nomads and design nerds.
Transit is a casual South East Asian restaurant which specialises in small plates. It’s super affordable, even by Berlin standards, and the quality of food is impressive. Everything we had was absolutely delicious but particularly the crunchy grilled pork belly . We sampled a total of 8 small plates, with two soft drinks, for a total of 36 euro. Bargain.
Go early to get a table or book ahead to get a seat in the outside terrace.
Hummus & Friends
This Israeli run place simply does great food. Everything is fresh and full of flavour, making it the perfect brunch spot. It’s minimalist design, with grey walls, dark green tiling and bleached wood furniture also make it extremely instagrammable so expect the weekend crowds. Get there before midday on Sunday to get a table (notorious Berlin nightlife= distinct advantage for early risers), try as much hummus as possible and the mixed grilled tomatoes and bulgar dish. Your welcome.