Travel

Millennial Guide to Mitte, Berlin

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mitte, Berlin: The Millennial Guide - Places to Eat, Drink & Shop

If you're planning a trip to Berlin over the winter months - great choice. My advice is to stay in Mitte, cosy up with a chai latte in one of the many foliage-filled cafes, take a break from the bustling streets inside the array of design-led concept stores and lose yourself in the beauty of Berlin’s hidden inner courtyards. Only ever a short underground train ride away, you can discover main attractions like the Berlin Wall, Alexanderplatz, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. But Berlin isn't all grey and concrete. Here's my guide to the top millennial spots in Mitte.

Brunch in Mitte

Brunch is big business in Berlin and if the classic cold cuts and cheese don't take your fancy on those chilly winter mornings, you won't be short of a quirky brunch spot to discover in Mitte.

Commonground

My suggestion is: go to Commonground, order the breakfast tacos and congratulate yourself on finding possibly one of the best bruncheries going. The tacos arrive bursting with confit pork, organic scrambled eggs, white bean smash, pickled red onions, maple-chilli dressing, coriander and greens on crisp tortillas. This dish makes for one obscenely satisfying mouthful.

Team your tacos with a Bloody Mary to kick-start your winter wanders around Mitte. Commonground adds grapefruit and honey to this breakfast cocktail staple. But don’t be deceived - they’re not delicate with the tabasco.

Commonground is a gorgeous setting. More like that of a distinguished traveller’s bohemian holiday retreat than a restaurant. Framed with the familiar potted greenery that I’d come to know and love in Mitte, the rooms are filled with an eclectic concoction of polished wood tables, plush sofas, Seventies leather armchairs, rattan lamp shades and openwork book shelves. Think earthy elegance. The kind of place where you could while away sun-dappled Sundays with your favourite novel (and obscenely tasty tacos).

Distrikt

‘No reservations, just come on by’ states Distrikt’s website. And come on by you must.

Mark’s simply-put ‘soft boiled egg’ was anything but. The perfectly spherical poachy was nestled amongst a bed of crunchy green beans that had been laced in a salty garlic butter. And trust me, those beans were an unforeseen treat. I was granted a solitary bean to sample. Beneath the bed of beans lay a tempting pile of wafer thin, black forest ham. By which point, Mark was rendered silent until the last mouthful. A rare occurrence.

My poached eggs on toast were accompanied by avocado (obvs), burnt tomatoes and toasted seeds. On the side, we partook in the green juice and - for balance - the red juice. Mark’s red was a canny Bloody Mary substitute, with ginger giving it that all-familiar kick. And my green was refreshingly minty (due to the mint) and made a welcome change from Mitte’s creamy chai lattes.

This place is very cool and remains busy from the tables to the window seats, where coffee-drinkers casually position themselves with laptops and without a care in the world.

Cafes in Mitte

Get used to chai lattes, fresh juices, minimal interiors and low-hanging foliage inside Mitte’s lengthy trail of cafes. Mitte's cafes serve up lovingly-made speciality coffees, large doses of wholesome foods and lashings of laid-back vibes. Pine is the chosen wood, walls are white and lights are pendant. Don't turn up expecting a greasy spoon breakfast, these guys in Mitte are all about detoxing and anything with -free after it. Sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free... You get the gist.

Funk You

We stumbled upon Funk You, who specialise in all natural food derived exclusively from the plant kingdom. Spirulina, matcha and chia are just some of the ingredients you should familiarise yourself with before ordering from one of Mitte’s health food havens. Funk You's menu consists of superfood smoothies, acai and matcha bowls, overnight oats, raw cakes, wraps and an array of meticulously presented salads.

Cafe Bravo (KW Institute for Contemporary Art)

Cafe Bravo might be my most beautiful chance discovery. I can’t speak for how it appears in the summer, but shrouded in November grey and Berlin "noir" with the last of the Autumn leaves on the ground, the stunning Auguststraße courtyard can be relished from within the Cafe’s minimal glass cube. Originally created as a piece of art, I felt altogether too ordinary to be warming myself with a chai latte in this steel, glass space without a sketch pad or professional portfolio. Opposite us, designers discussed their work intently behind the warm glow of their Macbooks.

It turns out Berlin’s hidden inner courtyards are a thing of beauty, and you should absolutely root one out.

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art is opposite if you fancy topping off your quintessentially Berlin cafe experience with a peruse of some progressive (and somewhat questionable) artwork. Art.City.People. is next door selling craft coffee, fresh snacks and cake.

Restaurants in Mitte

From beautiful, concept delis to carnivorous burger joints, innovative dining experiences and regional specialities - Berlin eateries have it all. Discard your preconceptions of sauerkraut and currywurst (although if you care to dabble in the famous German delicacy, I recommend Curry 61 in Mitte), and do your research of exceptional fusion restaurants, which combine traditional recipes with the modern Mitte decor.

PHO - Noodlebar Berlin

PHO is a tiny Viatnamese jungle residing in the hipster neighbourhood of Linienstraße. Low lit, leafy and intimate, we took our (very close) place amongst fellow diners upstairs - relishing in the respite from Berlin's spiky winter air. We spent no time in the neighbourhood other than to find this authentic Ha Noi gem famous for it’s PHO noodles. However, Michelin star restaurants and rustic wine bars are also here waiting to be explored.

I warmed myself with a deep bowl of crispy duck breast drowning in curry coconut sauce and seasonal vegetables, accompanied by sticky, fragrant rice. It was a complete delight.

Night Kitchen Berlin

Night Kitchen's ethos is simple: sit on the bar with friends and enjoy a no-stress, no-fuss night out with good food and good drinks. Their personalised, Mediterranean dinner menu is created by the chef and designed for sharing - "family-style" from 17:00 until everybody goes home. Of course, being the anti-taster-menu couple that we are, me and Mark rebuffed the restaurant's namesake and instead opted for dishes of our own. Mark bitterly cut at his steak and I resentfully swallowed my risotto as we gazed upon the infinite rounds of small plates that were placed in front of the diners alongside us at the bar. The saving grace was the free shots of some unknown alcohol that we were plied with between the smug sharer's courses - courtesy of the barmaid who repeatedly toasted and drank with us.

Begrudging and tipsy, we mourned our missed opportunity at the Night Kitchen. Everything about this rustic environment is warm, inviting and open. From the staff to the kitchen, bar area and cobbled courtyard. Learn from our mistakes, trust the locals and order the parsonalisiertes menü.

Spindler Berlin

Rated at OpenTable as one of the Top50 restaurants in Germany and awarded with a cap from the Gault Millau guide 2017/2018, Spindler's seasonal menu is modern and French-inspired. Despite their seasonal changes, longstanding classics include Haveländer pork belly, king oyster mushrooms and entrecôte from the grill. From pan-fried monkfish to crispy pork belly in smoked-beer sauce, Spindler delivers warming dishes perfect for a winter weekend.

This romantic brasserie also serves an extensive brunch menu. Put your avocado on the back-burner. Spindler's brunch options include bavette steak and eggs plus sharing platters fit for only the finest of breakfast dates.

Standard Pizza Berlin

Anything but standard, the owners of this Berlin pizzeria take their pizza ingredients as seriously as their hipster hats. Think wood: industrial wood chairs, walnut wood benches, and - of course - a traditional wood-fired pizza oven designed to cook its Neapolitan dough up to 500° Celsius. 'Not standard' reads the obligatory neon sign on the wall behind where we tucked into our "pies".

Championing fresh products made by small producers, Standard commits to baking real Neapolitan pizza, with authentic quality, genuine ingredients, traditional production methods and no compromises. Everything is cut by hand including crushing the tomatoes from hand to sauce and the dough is freshly and gently prepared with a traditionally long rest period of 24 to 30 hours.

And if that doesn't whet your appetite, their Instagram feed will. We'd recommend the 'Nduja: 'a red pie with spicy spreadable pork salumi, mozzarella di bufala, pecorino and basil'. Oh, and a few Moscow Mules.

Shops in Mitte

Mitte inhabitants seem to have an uncanny ability to add creativity to every corner of its burgeoning borough. Local designers and craftspeople are championed within the selection of artisan shops, which range from beauty to fashion stores, foodie delights and unique living interiors. But for paper lovers and avid readers like myself - you will relish in Mitte's array of bookshops and cute stationery stores.

Paper & Tea

No doubt inspired by Berlin's apparent matcha obsession, Paper & Tea have set out to interpret and promote the role of fine tea for a fulfilling modern lifestyle. They focus on pure, 100% natural whole-leaf teas sourced at origin from small-scale farms across the globe. If you know your Assam from your Rooibos - or even if you're just partial to ceramics, pretty packaging and pristine decor, then this is the shop for you. FYI, they sell Vodka Tea Infusion Kits - which is something I swear I invented during my first year at uni.

We visited the Mitte boutique, younger sibling to their original concept store in Charlottenburg. Pop in to participate in (or simply appreciate) the freshly brewed tea tasting bar and take a break from Mitte's bustling side-walks.

Aesop Mitte

Aesop is famous for its wildly creative concept stores and this one is no different. Their iconic brown apothecary bottle acts as the store's door handle and rows upon rows of cleansers, conditioners and creams adorn the green-tiled walls. If you like your plant-based lotions and potions, this is the place for you.

R.S.V.P Papier

This cute stationery store is printed happiness personified. As their name suggests, R.S.V.P. supplies everything to satiate your gift-wrapping and letter-writing desires. You'll delight in everything from envelopes to travel journals, origami paper and washi tape. The only thing you'll be lacking is a pen-pal.

Do You Read Me

Find this minimal, black-walled bookstore in Auguststraße and try not to drool all over its well curated assortment of books, independent magazines and newspapers. If you find yourself overwhelmed and completely spoilt for choice (and you will), Do You Read Me has recently opened its online doors so you can now get their niche books and printed goodness delivered direct to your doorstep, so you can read - and drool - to your heart's content.

Schee

Schee is the place to go for wall, decor and stationery porn. Their extensive screenprint collection includes offerings from graphic artists and illustrators such as Stanley Chow, Telegramme Paper Co. and Lilly Friedeberg. Wordsmiths and Pinterest enthusiasts, this is a haven of paper, prints and pottery that will preoccupy you until your partner drags you away.

Have you been to Mitte? I'd love to hear your suggestions, as I can guarantee this won't be my last visit.

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