Berlin’s best cheap eats: Döner, currywurst, food markets and outdoor dining

Doner in Berlin
Doner kapabs can be enjoyed in the afternoon, evening, or on any random street corner at 2 AM. Photo: roboppy

Cheapos traveling throughout Europe delight upon arriving to Berlin—after weeks of spending mad cash on “cheap” eats, from $7.50 falafels in France to $10 hot dogs in Scandinavia, Berlin offers budget travelers’ pocketbooks a reprieve.

Throughout the city you’ll have no problem finding delicious meal deals, like a döner kebap piled with fresh toppings for under €3! Armed with a €1 beer from the next-door “Späti,” you’ll enjoy every bite and look like a local while hunched over your food on the nearest bench.

So grab some extra napkins and belly up to the bar. Here’s a primer on Berlin’s best street food.

Related: Win a trip for 2 to Berlin to celebrate the Fall of the Wall this November!

Mustafas Gemüse Kebap,

There’s a good reason you’ll always find a line at Mustafas Gemüse Kebap. Photo: Frank M. Rafik

Döner

Döner is ubiquitous in Berlin, and most Berliners’ “favorite” döner shop is either the one closest to where they spent their evening partying or the most convenient to the tram, train or bus stop on the way home. While plenty of döner are enjoyed during normal daytime hours, for an authentic döner experience try ingesting one on any random street corner at 2 AM. Don’t feel the need to over plan your döner purchase, as döner will always, always come to you when you least expect it and most need it.

That said, if you prefer to flock to your döner, you can join the long lines forming at:

Mustafas Gemüse Kebap
Kreuzberg, right outside the U6/U7-Mehringdamm station.

Grill and Schlemmerbuffet
Located in Mitte at U8-Rosenthaler Platz.

Hasir
Six locations across the city.

Tadim
Located in Kreuzberg at U8/U1-Kottbusser Tor.

Know before you go: With/out onions “mit/ohne Zwiebeln,” with/out garlic “mit/ohne Knoblauch,” with/out chili sauce “mit/ohne scharfe Sauce.”

Curry 36

Curry 36 will fill you up at almost any time of day or night. Photo: Klark & Kim

Currywurst

If you get to Mustafas (above) and decide the line is simply too long to wait, luckily relief is just up the block: Curry 36 serves up some of Berlin’s best currywurst virtually all hours of the day and manages to handle its line a lot more quickly than Mustafas. The Kreuzberg location is its most popular, but you can get the same food at its Zoologischer Garten outpost (U9, S-Bahn, and trains).

Konnopke’s is your currywurst destination in Prenzlauer Berg (U2-Eberswalder Str.).

Wittenbergplatz, located at the junction of the U1, U2, and U3 lines and at the foot of KaDeWe, is a handy place to grab a currywurst, as there are kiosks on each of its four corners serving up traditional or organic varieties (as well as, you guessed it, döner!). Nearby Dolores offers fresh, delicious, made-to-order California-style burritos.

Know before you go: With/out natural casings “mit/ohne Darm.”

Dada Falafel

The delicious falafel plate at Dada. Photo: Garrett Z

Falafel

While Berlin isn’t as famous for its falafel as, say, Paris, fans of the food will greatly savor the offerings at DaDa Falafel (U6-Oranienburger Tor) or Habibi (two locations in Schöneberg, either U7-Eisenacher Str. or U1/U2/U3/U4-Nollendorfplatz).

Eating your way through Berlin’s markets

Like many European cities, Berlin hosts a variety of weekly indoor and outdoor markets with a wide selection of traditional and ethnic options on offer.

Winterfeldtplatz

Winterfeldtplatz market has open stalls specializing in local cheeses and produce, perfect for an afternoon snack. Photo: Apler C

Winterfeldtplatz

This open-air market is recognized for fresh local produce and locally-crafted, high-quality meats, cheeses and other specialty foods. It’s held Wednesdays 8 AM to 2 PM and Saturdays 8 AM to 4 PM, a short walk from U1/U2/U3/U4-Nollendorfplatz or U7-Kleistpark.

Maybachufer

This market has the feeling of a Turkish bazaar, with as many cheap things as foods for sale. It’s held Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 AM to 6:30 PM and can be reached from U8-Schönleinstr.

Markthalle Neun

Popular with foodies from the slow food movement, the covered Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg offers a weekly market of locally-produced and high-quality foods on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 6 PM, and a daily lunch special in its canteen from 12 to 4 PM (closed Sundays).

Every Thursday night between 5 and 10 PM, the hall hosts “Street Food Thursday,” where an ever-changing cast of cooks offers up tacos, BBQ sandwiches, dumplings and everything in between! Markthalle Neun can be reached from U1-Görlitzer Bahnhof.

Streets with great outdoor dining

Friedrichshain

Friedrichshain is a popular area for al fresco cafes and eateries. Photo: La Citta Vita

Friedrichshain’s Simon-Dach-Str.

If it’s restaurant dining en plein air you’re looking for, there are two Berlin streets where you can’t go wrong. First is Friedrichshain’s Simon-Dach-Str. The atmosphere here is lively—even celebratory, as scores of stag and bachelorette parties seem to have an obligatory evening stop here. Weekend brunching is also popular in the area, which is easily reached from U5-Frankfurter Tor or S-Warschauer Str.

Related: A Walking Tour of former East Berlin: Hanging out in Friedrichshain

Kreuzberg’s Bergmannstr.

Second go-to address is Kreuzberg’s Bergmannstr., equally as visited on summer evenings as the Simon-Dach-Str., but by a more relaxed crowd. Cafes, bars and restaurants line both sides of the streets between Mehringdamm and Zossener Str. The popularity of both Simon-Dach-Str. and Bergmannstr. have led to similar development in neighboring streets, so feel free to wander a bit till you find the right place to sit.

Schöneberg’s Akazienstr.

A third option with a plethora of restaurant styles and comfortable places to enjoy a drink (but avoid tourist crowds) is Schöneberg’s Akazienstr. It has plenty of options including Vietnamese food, falafel and relaxed outdoor cafes perfect for hanging out for an afternoon.

And for dessert?

Caffe e Gelato

Caffe e Gelato at Potsdamer Platz Arkaden shopping center serves up a tasty bowl of ice cream. Photo: Olivier B

Within a stone’s throw of many of these establishments are some of Berlin’s most popular and delicious homemade ice cream shops.

For more information, read our previous post on the scoop on Berlin’s best ice cream options.

About the author

Hilary Bown
An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.
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