If you’re planning a trip to Berlin and you’ve asked your mates what to see and where to eat, I doubt any of them have directed you to Schöneberg.
But the area actually has plenty to see, like where John F. Kennedy announced “Ich bin ein Berliner”, where Marlene Dietrich partied with Christopher Isherwood and where David Bowie used to live.
More importantly, though, these days Schöneberg is home to good burger joints that I think deserve some of the recognition that restaurants in other, ‘cooler’ parts of Berlin get regularly.
So, I went to eat at some and the four included here are my favourites. By the end of this article, I hope you’ll take it from me that the Instagram-famous restaurants of Kreuzberg and Neukölln aren’t the only places in Berlin where you can get your chops around a properly good patty.
Of course, if you’ve enjoyed a burger in Schöneberg at somewhere I haven’t mentioned, then feel free to hit me up in the comments. I’ll get to it when my meat sweats have stopped.
Bärlin Burger – an authentic Berlin experience
First stop was Bärlin Burger on Bülowstraße. This place is a lot like Berlin itself: gritty, with no messing around. As soon as I walked in I could feel that Bärlin Burger is Berlin through and through, with just a few older, local guys sitting with some pilsners and the flag of Berlin hung proudly on the wall. Bärlin Burger’s name is a play on the word Bär, which is German for bear, the city’s emblem and mascot, and also a nod to the owner being a born and bred Berliner. Point being, this is one of the most authentic burger experiences you’ll find in the city.
Using my best-but-still-not-very-good German, I ordered the crispy chicken burger with chips and, in true Berlin style, the man serving gave me a wordless nod to indicate I should take a seat and he’ll bring it over. I obliged and had a further shuffle through the menu while waiting. On a different day I could have had a tuna burger, a halloumi burger or even the mighty Bären Burger, complete with 450g of beef and about eight different types of cheese.
Truth be told, before my crispy chicken arrived I was a little annoyed I hadn’t gone more adventurous with my choice, but the curry & mango sauce covering the chicken soon surprised me in the best kind of way. You could tell that the sauce was signature, the bread was soft, the chicken extremely juicy and the salad fresh and crunchy. I was satisfied and for only €7.50 with chips I even had cash left for a chocolate bar on the way home.
If you want to eat burgers like the Berliners and without a tourist in sight, eat here.
Address: Bülowstraße 24, Schöneberg, 10783 Berlin
Hours: 10am to midnight every day, except Wednesday when it opens at 8am
Schöne Burger – chomp your patty with Pride
With a thriving gay community, Schöneberg is one of the most open, tolerant and eclectic areas of Berlin, particularly around Winterfeldtplatz where Schöne Burger is. This is a Berlin burger restaurant that embraces the spirit around it, which so clearly makes it a neighbourhood favourite. When I arrived on a rainy and dark evening the Schöne Burger atmosphere cheered me right up. There’s multi-coloured paint giving a nod to the rainbow Pride flag that’s everywhere you look in the area, candles, cool boards with available specials handwritten in chalk and just a general good vibe.
After ordering my classic cheeseburger at the counter, I asked the kind bloke who served me how long he’d worked at Schöne Burger. He told me a couple of years and seemed genuinely pleased about it. The owner really loves Schöneberg, he says, seeming to appreciate that I’d shown some curiosity.
A browse of the Schöne Burger menu makes for impressive reading. All beef is 100% organic, the buns are made fresh every day and the burgers range from classics to properly inventive options like the Stinky Blue with baked pear, gorgonzola, truffle mayo, baby spinach and red onion, or the Crazy Miyagi with soy steak, sweet chilli cream cheese and cucumber.
My classic cheese was brought to me within five minutes and it was very good indeed. The beef was done rare in the middle, as I’d asked, and the whole thing went down a treat. The chips still had their skins on, too, which is always a win with me. Once done eating, I looked to my left and there were even little wet wipes to clean up with. By the time I was putting my coat on to leave, the place was full with folk getting their (presumably regular) fix on the way home from work. Spot on.
Address: Goltzstraße 24, Schöneberg, 10781 Berlin
Hours: Midday to 11pm every day, except Friday and Saturday when closing is 1am
Schiller Burger – grab a bite on Akazien
On one of the most desirable streets in Schöneberg, and therefore probably the burger joint that people who live in the area would point you to first, Schiller Burger contends for my own personal number one spot. It’s a small restaurant with space enough for about 10 or 12 people and more often than not there’s rather loud techno playing courtesy of the young-ish staff. Still, you soon acclimatise once you’ve ordered and got seated with a bottle of beer from the fridge.
Confession, I’ve eaten at Schiller Burger quite a lot because I live nearby, which means I’m probably too familiar with the menu. The Wallenstein was the first burger I tried here, which is of the chilli cheese variety and packs quite the punch thanks to jalapeños, cherry peppers and, well, chilli cheese. The Thalia burger is stacked with goat cheese, bell peppers and honey & mustard sauce, while the Battle With The Dragon features two beef patties, four rashers of bacon, three chunks of halloumi, zucchini, tomato, beef paprika, braised onions, iceberg lettuce, mixed salad, mustard and BBQ sauce. Next confession: I’ve never managed to finish it.
On this occasion, however, I went for the Don Carlos: beef, bacon, tomato, mixed salad, pickled cucumber, caramelised onions, BBQ and honey & mustard sauce. If that sounds like a heart attack, it’s really not. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the freshness and quality of ingredients at Schiller Burger are such that food babies don’t occur. The burger arrived at my table stacked beautiful and high to show off everything inside, with a big toothpick-looking thing through the middle to keep it all secure.
Bread note: all the buns used here are baked the same day at Schiller Bakery just a few shops away and sometimes I’ve actually seen the chefs walking to and from with big baskets full of them. You are paying a bit of a premium at Schiller Burger – by that I mean over €10 for a burger and chips – but it’s worth it.
Address: Akazienstraße 2, Schöneberg, 10823 Berlin
Hours: 11am until 10pm every day, but it’s open until midnight on Friday and Saturday
Zsa Zsa – for when it’s a proper meal out
Not at all hole-in-the-wall and very much a restaurant for an actual meal out, Zsa Zsa is the internet’s highest rated burger restaurant in Schöneberg and after my visit I’ve got no grounds to disagree. The owner is a very nice chap called Ernesto who’s quite obviously passionate about his food and drink, employing some fine burger builders and cocktail curators so that Zsa Zsa feels fun yet refined.
Burgers of note at Zsa Zsa include The Magic Mushroom, which does not cause hallucinations but does consist of sautéed shiitake mushrooms on a potato, red onion and goat cheese hash brown, served with chive-sour cream; The Surf & Turf involving a beef patty with caramelised onions, grilled king prawns and lobster mayonnaise; then The Havana, a beef patty with fried banana, grilled bacon and habanero chilli mayo. Again, as you can now see, fun yet refined applies.
Being a fan of whisky, I ordered The Kentucky: a beef patty marinated with Maker’s Mark Bourbon and topped with roasted bell peppers and Swiss raclette cheese. It was top-draw, and despite the last few bites being a slight struggle thanks to the richness of the marinade, I’d eat it again in a heartbeat. The meat was premium, juicy and not so fatty that my plate acquired a puddle of grease. Served with the burger were good fries and a little pot of homemade slaw, which was a very welcome addition.
Being a proper restaurant – and one that’s pretty damn stylish, it has to be said – Zsa Zsa serves more than just burgers, so expect a few salads, some wings, desserts and regularly rotating guest burgers as well. Then, final note, the earlier mentioned bar staff will be happy to mix just about any cocktail you might fancy. I had a coke, but only because it was a school night. Keep up the good work, Ernesto.
Address: 28 Motzstraße, Schöneberg, 10777 Berlin
Hours: 5pm until midnight every day, except weekends when opening is 4pm