Nothing says autumn in Berlin like a heaping plate of hearty German food. Berlin is famous for its wide array of delicious ethnic cuisines, but there’s only one way to warm up on a chilly autumn day: dig into a platter of meat, potatoes, and seasonal vegetables, including Grünkohl (curly green kale), Blumenkohl (cauliflower), and Wirsing (savoy cabbage).
What to look for
Cheapos with an appetite are well served by a number of low-cost eateries in the central district of Mitte, where most major sights are located, that turn out big, warm meals at surprisingly low prices.
Unless you’re in an adventurous mood, be sure to avoid Berlin’s more unusual specialties, including Eisbein (pickled knuckle of pork), Hering nach Hausfrauenart (pickled herring), and Gekochte Eier in Senfsauce (boiled eggs in creamy mustard sauce). Stick instead to filling classics like roasts, schnitzels, sausage, and vegetarian-friendly casseroles.
Where to get home-cooking in Mitte
Follow procrastinating Humboldt University students to Deponie No. 3 (Georgen Str. 5, U-bahn and S-bahn: Friedrich Str.) for a budget-friendly meal that will keep you fueled for hours. Near the pricey Friedrich Strasse and stately Museum Insel, this wood-lined, pub-like eatery is adorned with a hodgepodge of hokey antiques. Find a wooden table and peruse a huge menu of classic German meals like mama makes. Most entrees, including stuffed cabbage, big schnitzels, and vegetable Aufläufe (casseroles), cost less than €10.
Down the street from Deponie, the appropriately-named Cum Laude (Universitäts Str. 4, U-bahn and S-bahn: Friedrich Str.) is another gathering place for Humboldt students and professors. With its vaulted ceilings and sturdy wooden tables, Cum Laude has an old-fashioned collegiate atmosphere. The restaurant is affiliated with the university, but it is open to the public. Though it labels itself Mediterranean, the restaurant’s best dishes are regional classics, including Havelzander (pike-perch from the Havel river) served with cucumbers in creamy dill sauce. You’ll be full for hours for about €10. The business lunch is never more than €6.
Decorated with antique movie posters, cozy Sophieneck (Grosse Hamburger Str. 37, U-bahn: Weinmeister Str.) is steps from Hackescher Markt’s pricey boutiques and Sophien Strasse’s exclusive art galleries. Luckily, prices for dishes such as roasted pork, Bratwurst, and Boulette (meat patties), aren’t out of reach. Even with a beer, you can dine for about €10. Stop by for lunch to take advantage of the daily specials, which always include a vegetarian option (€5.90).
Quick eats that will still warm you up
If you’re in a rush or about the catch a train, head to the food court on the ground floor of the Friedrich Strasse Bahnhof (train station, U-bahn and S-bahn: Friedrich Str.) to find German classics served with speed at Damisch (across from the Edeka grocery store). Dishes like stew, schnitzel, Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes), and a plus-sized Currywurst usually go for €5–7. With a meal like this, you won’t notice the brisk temperatures outside.