Berlin, Germany’s eclectic capital city, is home to one of Europe’s most innovative and fascinating food scenes.
Berlin’s status as a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities means the variety of international cuisines on offer in the city is simply extraordinary. From wonderfully authentic Vietnamese and Turkish food, to clever, contemporary takes on everyone’s favourite all-time classic – the burger, those who live in or visit Berlin often wax lyrical about the German capital’s culinary gems, and their affordable prices.
Widely reported to have originated in, or at least have its name derived from, the northern German city of Hamburg, burgers have of course successfully made their way down the A24 autobahn to Berlin, and have been satisfying the palates of hungry diners for decades.
Whether you prefer to get your hands dirty with a top-notch beef, pulled pork or vegan burger, or elect instead to take the fork and knife approach on a chicken or vegetarian option, you’re guaranteed to have all of your wildest burger wishes answered in Berlin, particularly in the city’s sought-after neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg.
The area of Prenzlauer Berg to the north-east of Berlin’s city centre is a favoured haunt of expats and young professionals, and is a gold mine when it comes to finding wonderful dining out options.
Those on a quest to find brilliant burger joints will not be disappointed, with some top-drawer eateries on offer. As a burger fanatic myself, I’ve chosen four restaurants that beautifully showcase that in Prenzlauer Berg, there truly is a burger for everyone.
Lily Burger & Steaks
At Lily Burger, a Berlin culinary institution nestled on the border between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, size really does matter. Renowned for their towering creations that can feature multiple patties and a whole host of tasty toppings, an eye-catching message affirming that “this is where the magic happens” is aptly painted above the entrance to Lily Burger’s kitchen.
The restaurant’s 20+ page menu also packs a punch, with diners able to order signature, big-hitting dry-aged Black Angus steak beef burgers with names like John Gotti, Notorious B.I.G. and Mike Tyson, as well as having the option to build their own customised veggie, chicken or vegan feast.
Not wanting to rock the boat with a complicated order on my most recent visit, I plumped for the Käptn Jack Sparrow, a behemoth of a beef burger with bacon, cheddar cheese, pineapple, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickle, plus an onion ring for good measure. Served with a side of what must be said were incredible sweet potato fries, the burger went down an absolute treat. The succulent meat patty was cooked nicely, and the waterfall-like stream of BBQ sauce brought a much-needed bit of heat to proceedings.
The overall dining experience at Lily Burger, although not one to write home about, is still an enjoyable one. The restaurant itself is slightly reminiscent of one of Berlin’s famous night spots, with coloured graffiti and artwork adorning the walls. The service is generally friendly, if not a little rushed, due in part to the popularity of Lily Burger amongst Berlin’s burger aficionados. Upon first glance, the menu isn’t the easiest to navigate, but once you’ve found your bearings, you’re sure to find something that’s right up your street.
Address: Lily Burger & Steaks, Am Friedrichshain 34, 10407 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0) 30 20 92 7127
Opening Hours: Daily from 09:00 to 02:00
Public Transport: Two-minute walk from Am Friedrichshain tram (M4) and bus (142 and 200) stop
A restaurant that prides itself on being 100% vegan, Lia’s Kitchen is consistently ranked online as one of the best places to eat burgers in not just Prenzlauer Berg, but the whole of Berlin. Founded by three Israeli guys named Lior, Itai and Alon – hence the name Lia’s Kitchen – the restaurant caters for a maximum of 8-10 guests indoors, with a welcoming outdoor dining area also available when the Berlin weather is behaving. Indeed, when I visited last, there’s wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
The idea behind Lia’s Kitchen came about approximately 3-4 years ago, after the aforementioned trio shared an inspirational meal in Tel Aviv. Itai, one of the co-founders, adds, “Lior, who was already residing in Berlin and had been working in the kitchens of the city, told us about the growing vegan scene in Berlin. It took a while, but we decided to give it a shot.”
Vegans across Berlin are glad the triumvirate decided to take that shot, as the restaurant and its colourful menu continue to receive rave reviews from diners. During my visit, I tucked into the resident “Chicken Cheeseburger”, seitan strips with vegan feta cheese, marinated roasted paprika, rocket leaves, mayo, and chilli sauce. Accompanied by a side of fries and coleslaw, the meal was hearty, with the feta cheese and chilli sauce serving as absolute revelations.
The dining experience at Lia’s Kitchen is great, with friendly service and a chilled soundtrack playing in the background. As Lior points out, “Many people love the music we play, so we decided to publish our ever-evolving playlist on Spotify for everyone to follow.” With a core principle of Lia’s Kitchen being that no one leaves the restaurant hungry, you’ll definitely know that you’ve had a meal as you bid the restaurant adieu.
Address: Lia’s Kitchen, Kollwitzstraße 47, 10405 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 68 32 4637
Opening Hours: Daily from 12:00 to 22:00
Public Transport: Three-minute walk from Knaackstraße tram stop (M2), or Senefelderplatz U-Bahn (U2) and bus (N2) stop
Bun Bao – Finest Asian Burgers
For those looking for a wonderful twist on the conventional idea of a burger, a trip to Bun Bao is a must. Masters of conjuring up plates of pure brilliance, their Asian-style burgers are a treat for the eyes, and the taste buds.
The restaurant itself is quite futuristic in its design, with a colourful array of pixel art hanging from the ceiling, and a large print of one of the signature burgers emblazoned on the wall behind the cash desk.
A spacious eatery with plenty of indoor seating, Bun Bao’s prime location on one of Prenzlauer Berg’s finest tree-lined boulevards means the restaurant’s attractive outdoor blue benches are also prime real estate during the summer months.
The menu itself is varied, with a whole host of Asian flavours featured throughout. As the restaurant’s name suggests, burgers are the headline act, and I chose to order the Bun Bao Original (The One and Only) on a recent lunch there, with tender pork belly, onion, pickled radish, carrot, hoisin sauce, gherkin, coriander, and roasted peanuts. Undeniably delicious, the majestic flavours of the pork belly make you want to not just compliment the chef, but also invite him/her out for a drink. The bun is also a massive hit, as it serves as not just an Instagram-friendly focal point, but also as a taste sensation that marries the whole meal together.
The service at Bun Bao is on point and comes with a smile, and whilst there, the waiter told me that in serving fresh bao burgers, the restaurant is proud to offer something different to the standard burger joints in Berlin. With fantastic online reviews and a menu as appetising as any I’ve seen, Bun Bao might want to invest in some more blue benches come springtime.
Address: Bun Bao – Finest Asian Burgers, Kollwitzstraße 84, 10435 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 23 49 6218
Opening Hours: Sunday-Thursday from 12:00 to 22:00; Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 23:00
Public Transport: Five-minute walk from Prenzlauer Allee/Danziger Straße tram stop (M2 and M10)
A restaurant with a cult following in Prenzlauer Berg, The Bird is a large, New York-style eatery that encourages diners to make themselves feel right at home.
Passionate about how best to prepare and serve premium steaks and burger patties, the way to play things here is to order your meat medium-cooked; the menu even jokingly states that the chefs won’t be best pleased if they get wind that a well-done order has been placed. I had first-hand experience of this when I visited recently, as the whole restaurant let out a proverbial gasp when a man – as if uttering the name Voldemort amongst employees at the Ministry of Magic – ordered a well-done burger. Once the waiter had safely lowered his eyebrows, the diner sheepishly ‘corrected’ his order, and normal service was resumed.
When it came to putting in my order, I confidently went for the Filthy Harry burger in an English muffin with cheddar cheese and bacon. Unfortunately, no homemade sauce was provided, so it was a DIY ketchup and mustard job. Tucking into it with The Rolling Stones playing in the background, the consistency and flavour of the meat did give me great satisfaction, but the addition of a single piece of lettuce and onion on the side, rather than on the actual burger, was a little disconcerting, and proved that you can’t always get what you want.
Good seating at the bar area creates a sense of camaraderie with the friendly staff. Ironically, despite the fact that there is a wide variety of beef burgers on the menu, The Bird really is a no-bull kind of place, with diners encouraged to get stuck in to their burgers with their hands. Popular with the Berlin foodie community, table reservations are recommended, and with merchandise also available, you can even go as far as to say “eaten there, got the t-shirt”, if you’re a big fan.
Address: The Bird, Am Falkplatz 5, 10437 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 51 05 3283
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday from 18:00 to 23:00; Friday from 16:00 to 00:00; Saturday from 12:00 to 00:00; Sunday from 12:00 to 23:00
Public Transport: Five-minute walk from Schönhauser Allee station (S-Bahn S1, S2, S8, S41, S85; U-Bahn U2; bus N2; and tram M1 connections)