Eating out in Berlin

The German capital is home to thousands of immigrants from all over the globe. The local cuisine is a mirror image of the social situation of the city. A genuine culinary melting pot, Berlin blends traditions and flavours from the most remote corners of the world. While touring Berlin, don't forget to try the city's most typical dishes - even if they don't seem German, they belong to Berlin's culinary culture!

Many people say that there's not a single traditional Berlin recipe that hasn't been modified in some way by foreign influences. The truth is that popular sentiment for traditional specialties still grants them a secure position on the list of German favourites. Currywurst is a hot boiled and sliced sausage with ketchup and a large amount of curry powder, usually served with chips. The uncomplicated yet delicious Bratkartoffeln consist of potatoes fried with bacon and onion, best eaten with Boulette, a combination of a meatball and a hamburger. Greasy Schmalzstulle is a classic Berliner bread spread. Keep in mind that those obsessed with weight-loss shouldn't count on discovering their new favourite dish in a restaurant in Berlin.

However, healthy food options can also be found in the German capital. A typical breakfast consists of fresh fruit, meat and cheese, orange juice and is normally concluded by a large cup of coffee. Many consider Berlin to be Europe's party capital, so don't be surprised to discover that at weekends, some restaurants serve breakfast until 4pm.

The influence of immigrants' culinary traditions on what's eaten in Berlin today is immense. Spaghetti and pizza have obligatory positions on most of the restaurants' menus. Indian and Thai cuisines are becoming increasingly popular, and little Chinese and Greek eateries keep springing up around the city. Many people joke that the Berliners believe that Doner Kebab is their national dish, but they're actually right. This simplified version of a Turkish speciality was actually developed in Berlin, and has become one of the world's most popular fast food dishes.

If you feel like an exquisite meal, head for Alt Luxemburg, decorated in an early 19th-century style and serving top-quality traditional cuisine. House specialities include lobster, rabbit and rolled saddle. Abendmahl will surely turn out to be one of the strangest restaurants you've ever seen. This gay vegetarian restaurant decorated with tacky religious icons offers a different menu every day. Unusual sets of meals go under the mysterious names of 'Flaming Inferno' and 'Love on the Beach'. Be sure to try their ecologically-produced beer. Ana e Bruno is said to be the priciest Italian restaurant in the city, but it does live up to any expectations you might have. Käfer in the Reichstag, in accordance with its name, is located on the roof of the renovated Reichstag. Delightfully decorated with colourful designs, it's a refuge for weary tourists. At lunchtime, the normally quiet Restaurant Vao becomes a mecca for German celebrities attracted by its interesting menu.

To sample the actual flavour of the city, try Diekmann im Weinhaus Huth, located in the only building on the Potsdamer Platz which survived World War II. The menu includes both traditional dishes and slight variations on classic specialties, resulting in such delights as chestnut soup with venison carpaccio. Heidelberger Krug and Weitzmann are old-fashioned inns serving everything from Bratwurst to Spätzle at incredibly low prices.

For a snack or something really cheap, try the famous Berlin Doner Kebab. Probably the best place to do this is Aspendos, serving multiple variations of the specialty, including super-spicy Scharfe Sosse and vegetarian Sikma. Keb Up offers a great mini-version of the dish. Dada Falafel is known for its superb crunchy falafels with fantastically colourful sauces. Suriya Kanthi is the place to go in order to taste something you probably don't have a chance to sample very often -- Sri Lankan food – with a menu featuring such treats as avocado cocktails. The best and the cheapest place in town to have pizza is Trattoria Casolare. Be sure to reserve in advance and try their excellent house wine.

For a unique eating-out experience, drop in to Nocti Vagus or the Unsicht-Bar. At both of these restaurants, food and drink is served by blind waiters in absolute darkness. The absence of light is meant to eliminate distractions and enhance the customers' gustatory sensations. The menu includes fusion and international dishes. At night, expect a varied cultural programme with live jazz concerts and readings.

Berlin offers a wide range of dining opportunities, from old-school Bratwurst to pizza and spaghetti, and that's exactly what food in a cosmopolitan city should look like. Book a Berlin hotel and you'll have the whole world on your dish!