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La Ultima Cena

by James Glazebrook

La Ultima Cena Exhibition Space Bokeh

La Ultima Cena is a special place. A taste of Mexican authenticity in a city dominated by Tex Mex joints, a shining cultural light glowing among the sex shops and Möbel sellers of Urbanstrasse, a bar/eatery/exhibition space/venue for experimental, industrial music – there’s simply nothing else like it in Berlin.

The founders of La Ultima Cena, meaning “The Last Supper”, have taken inspiration from both the Catholic symbolism and the street life of their home countries of Mexico and Spain, and created a totally unique space. In the front room, decorated in gold and concrete and traditional plastic tablecloths, the food is free – paid for, and washed down with, Corona and tequila, mescal and killer black shots with chillies in. Behind this, a cluster of exhibition spaces show video art and darkly ritual installations, and host the odd musical performance.

La Ultima Cena is an edgy, night-or-day night alternative to the more chilled out spots in neighbouring Graefekiez. We can’t wait to take visitors there in summer to show just how weird and wonderful Berlin can be. ¡Salud!

La Ultima Cena Interior

La Ultima Cena Taco

La Ultima Cena Food Closeup

La Ultima Cena Bottles on Shelves

La Ultima Cena Chili Shots

La Ultima Cena Exhibition Space

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Nalu Diner

by James Glazebrook

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There are plenty of great places to get American food in Berlin – California Breakfast Slam and Dirty South are just two of them. But nowhere looks as authentically “American diner” as Nalu Diner on Prenzlauer Berg’s hip Dunckerstraße. You can just imagine Agent Cooper sitting at Nalu’s counter and enjoying a slice of pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee”. Sat in our booth, as soon as our generous meals were set down on the table covered in “Presidents of the United States” fact sheets, we knew we’d love the place. Nalu had me at their bursting-at-the-seams Reuben sandwich; by the third free coffee refill, I had promised them my first-born. All this place needs is a lady with a log, and it will be perfect!

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Dirty South

by James Glazebrook

bootless along wall

There’s no denying the awesome power of the German Frühstück (zum Bespiel) but, as far as we’re concerned, no one does brunch like the Americans. That’s why we headed to Dirty South in Friedrichshain, a restaurant and bar opened by the Philadelphians behind Cupcake Berlin. A down-home diner with a punk twist, Dirty South serves up comfort food for homesick expats and Yankophiles like us.

Zoë opted for poached eggs served with a scrummy biscuit and real(!) bacon, while I went with an epic breakfast burrito – a heavenly heart attack in a wrap! They were out of Brewdog, so I washed everything down with a lovely bottle of HOLYSHIT, from Berlin brewery Schoppe Bräu. If you miss American food, and friendly American service – or if you just want a cool place to hang out and fill your faces – then Dirty South is the place!

photos on wall

flyers on wall

bottle of beer on table

brunch and breakfast burrito

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Win the gift that keeps on giving: a coffee subscription from Silo!

by James Glazebrook

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we're running any open competitions]

For us, this year’s coffee discovery was Silo, a beautiful Friedrichshain cafe run by Aussie expats with exceptional taste in the black stuff. We’re pleased to announce that Silo are now sharing their obsession with all things caffeinated beyond the Berlin borders with a curated coffee subscription service – AND that they’ve given us three months’ worth of coffee to giveaway! Introducing your prize:

The Silo Curated Coffee Subscription is a guided tour through what we, the owners and operators of Silo, a specialty coffee shop in Berlin, think is the best coffee available.

We will be sending out the best coffees that we can get our hands on. Subscribers can expect to receive coffee from renowned German roasters such as The Barn, Bonanza and Five Elephant on a regular basis, as well as some fantastic roasters from overseas including Drop Coffee, Coffee Collective, and Workshop. We are always looking for the finest coffees of the season and we will be sending out the best we can find. When we are able to, we will reach further afield and bring some coffees back from other renowned coffee roasting countries like Australia and the US.

At the start of every month we select and send one 250g (or 1/2lb) bag of freshly roasted coffee to you. We select one filter and one espresso every month, and you can subscribe to either. If required, we can also grind your coffee to suit your equipment. We select your coffee with the aim of sending out a diverse and interesting range of coffee from a wide range of origins, roasters and profiles.

We have a three month coffee subscription to give away, worth €35! To find out how to win, scroll down…

HOW TO WIN A THREE MONTH SILO CURATED COFFEE SUBSCRIPTION.

Just answer this question in the comments below:

Silo’s first coffee selections were Gichithaini AA (blackcurrant, raspberry with wonderful mouthfeel) and La Divina Providencia (muted maraschino cherry balanced acidity with a syrupy body of fudge/caramel).

If you had to produce a coffee inspired by Berlin, what would it be called and what would it taste like?

You have until 6pm on Friday 27th December. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
2. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON!
3. Our favourite comment wins. It’s that simple.
4. We will announced the winners via our Facebook page on Saturday 28th December.

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Das Gegengift: Scottish food at Das Gift

by James Glazebrook

You probably already know Das Gift as an awesome expat hangout, a Neukölln Eckkneipe owned by Barry Burns from Mogwai and his lovely wife Rachel, and the site of the best jukebox in Berlin – with exclusive playlists from the likes of Caribou, comedian David Cross and Robert bloody Smith! But did you know that they also serve homemade Scottish food on Tuesday – Saturday evenings?

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As I’m 1/16th Scottish, was born within 60 miles of the border and lived for six months in Edinburgh, I am of course qualified to judge the national cuisine – despite what any Scot might tell you – and my verdict is: delicious. I enjoyed the best haggis I’ve ever tasted, served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potato, if you’re going to be all *English* about it), while Zoë plumped for the steak and ale pie – all washed down with cider and Pincer Sours made with vodka from Glasgow. For dessert, so often a disappointment in Berlin, we enjoyed a taste of childhood with marmalade bread and butter pudding, and the Glaswegian chef’s wonderfully unpretentious take on crème brûlée: “Burned Cream”.

In case you were wondering, Das Gegengift means “the antidote” and I can personally recommend this scrummy no-nonsense food as the ultimate hangover cure. If you don’t have as much hunger as I did, try one of the (still pretty generous) €4 dishes, such as the mini haggis plate or the mini sausage roll plate – served with homemade baked beans! You can taste the care that the chef, a lifelong friend of Barry’s flown in especially to run the kitchen, puts into her food, and Das Gift makes for a warm, cosy dining experience. We’ll be back soon!

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Glass Berlin

by James Glazebrook

Spoiler alert! Here’s a sneak peek of Glass Berlin‘s signature “mystery” desert, the Candy Box – a confection of homemade gummy bears, chocolate caviar, sweet herbs and other treats, spread across a table-sized sheet of aluminium foil. I’m sure Gal Ben Moshe won’t mind us blowing his restaurant’s worst-kept secret, because: every time the dish is prepared at a table, it draws the attention of all the other diners anyway, and it perfectly illustrates the head chef’s playful approach to cooking.

Moshe draws on cherished memories for inspiration – the Stadtgarten of vegetables, flowers and earth(!) brings an open-air picnic from Tempelhofer Feld to the plate, and other experimental dishes infuse his Israeli upbringing with the wide-eyed wonder of a (fairly) recent arrival in Berlin. If you go to Glass (and you should) we recommend trying the vegetarian menu – the Hokkaido of filled pasta, butter rum, brussels sprouts, cranberries and chestnut was a delightful surprise – and asking your attentive host about the influences behind his adventurous cuisine… and his awesome tattoo!

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Pee Pee’s Katzencafé

by James Glazebrook

Josie Thaddeus-Johns, creator of When You Live In Berlin, gets her fix of caffeine and cats at Pee Pee’s Katzencafé.

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What’s allowed: stroking, cuddling, watching. What’s not: restraining, disturbing from sleep, pulling of tails, flash photography. No, you’re not reading the new list of rules for Berghain, but a guide to what you can and can’t do in Neukölln’s Pee Pee’s Katzencafé.

I hadn’t considered getting my own pet in Berlin for the first six months or so of my new life here. Nevertheless, I was told, by an expat older and wiser than myself: “After you’ve been living in Berlin for a certain amount of time, you’ll just get this urge to get a pet”. And sure enough, I’ve now begun to suffer from this peculiar affliction. I guess when you don’t have that just-off-the-boat pressure to discover a new club every weekend, you have considerably more time for ensuring that an animal other than yourself is fed and cared for.

Luckily, since I live in a fifth floor flat, more immediate help is at hand. Pee Pee’s Katzencafé (despite its unfortunate name) is designed for people like me to get our stroking, cuddling and kitty-watching fix. The place is filled with a number of cat climbing frames for feline entertainment. When I visit, both cats (Pelle and Caruso – brothers!) are curled up on the top of a frame each. They pass my own personal cuteness test with flying colours, but also had to pass slightly more official tests to be sanctioned for public consumption. As did their owner, Andrea, who filled out pages of questions to show that she knew everything there is to know about cat care – yep, German bureaucracy extends to felines too. It’s this bureaucracy that keeps the cats to just two in number – no more are permitted in a space of this size.

Boasting WLAN (I’m telling you this because, as a freelance writer/nomad internet user, it’s the first thing I look for in a café), it’s calm and relaxing, just next to the beautiful Thomashöhe, in the quiet bit of NK between Hermannstrasse and Karl-Marx Strasse. Its coffee (contrary to what Exberliner might say) isn’t up to the scratch of the Neukölln’s more trendy coffee places, but their New York cheesecake (a speciality according to Andrea) could definitely give the rest of the cheesecake brigade a run for their money.

It might not be the trendiest place, but if you’re having one of those days where your mood can only be improved by getting close and personal with a lil furry thing, it seems like a fair deal. #Miaow.

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Restaurant Tim Raue

by James Glazebrook

Tim Raue Restaurant Meal

If you’re in Berlin and into food, you will have heard of Tim Raue. The former delinquent from Kreuzberg is the ultimate Berliner-made-good, now running three restaurants, including his eponymous flagship – one of just four Berlin establishments to have earned two Michelin stars. We were lucky enough to be invited to Restaurant Tim Raue and sat at the chef’s table (The Krug Table), for an introduction from the man himself. Raue started us off with eight small dishes, which illustrated how he tailors Asian cuisine to fit European tastes – and in the case of the not-actually-alive drunken prawns – local food laws! Over six succulent courses, we sampled high-quality ingredients prepared meticulously, from caviar to Cantonese-style langoustine to truffle brought all the way from Australia. We aren’t the food writers to do Restaurant Tim Raue justice, so we’ll leave that to Berlin Food Stories, and jump straight into the pretty pictures – feast your eyes!

Tim Raue Restaurant Menu

Tim Raue Restaurant Starter Closeup

Tim Raue Restaurant Gurken Dish

Tim Raue Restaurant Meal

Tim Raue Restaurant Meal

Tim Raue Restaurant Meal Shot from Above

Tim Raue Restaurant Dessert

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Silo

by James Glazebrook

Silo Friedrichshain

We may be wrong, but it feels like there’s been no decent coffee in Friedrichshain since No Fire, No Glory moved up to P Berg. So we welcome Silo, recently opened by two Aussies bringing with them flat white-making skills and a shared obsession with all things caffeinated. They’re indebted to The Barn, which is where they source their roasted beans and borrow some of their techniques, but they beat out Mitte’s micro-café in square meterage, interior design and welcoming atmosphere. Try the filter coffee specials – I enjoyed a blueberry-imbued Ethiopian – or go on Tuesday, for one of Silo’s public cuppings (full details on their Facebook page).

Silo Friedrichshain bar

Silo Friedrichshain abstract painting

Silo Friedrichshain roasted in Berlin

Silo Friedrichshain Olive

Silo Friedrichshain books

Silo Friedrichshain Olive close up

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Engelberg

by James Glazebrook

Did you know that Strammer Max, as well as being Saxon slang for a bonk-on, is a traditional German meal usually made up of (fried) bread topped with ham and a fried egg. If we haven’t just ruined it for you, you can order this delicious dish at Engelberg, a lovely brunch spot we found near Mauerpark. Serving up other modern takes on German (or Swiss?) specialities, such as Leberkäse (meaning “liver cheese”, but more appetisingly described by an Australian friend as “meat-sausage”), and doing so with care and efficiency – even on super-busy Sunday lunchtimes – Engelberg comes highly recommended. With a dick joke on the side.

Engelberg, Oderbergerstrasse 21, 10435 Berlin.

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