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Berlin Dispatch: Food Sweep #3 (4 Euros or Less Version)

The next Berlin taxi adventure is coming soon. In the meantime, I’ve been searching the city for good things to eat that don’t cost too much money.

Here are four tasty dishes and one (not too surprising) disappointment – in honor of my incredible shrinking wallet, everything you see on this list is 4 Euros or less:

Francette Mokros dishes out her mom's recipe for hand-cranked coconut & mango ice cream at the Winterfeldplatz Market.

1. The Winterfeldtplatz Market in Schoeneberg is on the radar for a reason – there are a handful of vendors here who sell delicious food you won’t find anywhere else. My favorite is Francette Mokros, who emigrated to Berlin from Guadaloupe (in the French Antilles) in 1971.

Francette makes her mom’s recipe for coconut and mango ice creams and hand cranks them every half hour. 2.50 for a cup sounds expensive until you taste it. If you like your ice cream very sweet, you won’t like this stuff. If you like it to taste like an amplified version of the flavor you’re after, you’ll love it.

Winterfeldt Platz Markt, 10781 Berlin, Schoeneberg
Open: Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00-14:00 (16:00 on Saturdays)
Recommended: Coconut ice cream with mango from Francette Mokros’ Caribbean stand near the center of the market
Click here to see photos of other goodies worth tasting at Winterfeldtplatz.

2. Nil Sudanesischer Imbiss is known for its peanut sauce-topped falafel, which founder and chef Walid started cooking for his classmates when he was studying to be a landscape architect in the 1990s.

Eventually Walid ditched landscaping and started his first snack bar in Friedrichshain (East Berlin) 10 years ago. His falafel became so popular he opened two other restaurants. When I’m hungry for a healthy, vegetarian, 3-Euro meal, I like his falafel, but I like his peanut soup (2.50 Euro) even more: frozen green beans can’t ruin it, and cumin is a great touch.

Nil – Sudanesischer Imbiss
Grünberger Str. 52, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain
Telephone: 030 – 29 04 77 13
Email : [email protected]
Open: 11am-midnight, 7 days a week
Recommended: Peanut soup, 2.50 Euro

3. When I read about 1-Euro tacos on Taco Tuesdays at Santa Maria, a Mexican ‘diner’ that got a nod from the New York Times last year, I hoped they would kick my Mexican food snobbery to the curb. (They make their own tortillas! They marinate their chicken in chipotle!)

But no. The tortillas are a little dry but soft enough, but the meat (I tried beef and chicken versions) is an under-salted snooze. There’s no punch, no atomic flavor to be found here. Tomatillo salsa is good but not good enough to wake these tacos up – and red chili salsa (watered down to mellow) is best left alone.

Santa Maria
Oranienstrasse 170, Kreuzberg, 10999 Berlin
Tel. 030 92210027
Open: Mon – Sat: 12:00pm-2:00am; Sunday: 4:00pm to 2:00am

4. Whenever I get what sounds like a promising doener lead – like the one from Cihan S. about the doener kebab at All in One in Mitte – I chase it. I agree with Cihan – this is some of the better doener I’ve tasted in Berlin: the meat isn’t too greasy, and they cut it to that dissolve-on-your-tongue razor thinness. The vegetables are fresh.

But the bread – at least the tortilla-like bread they use for durum doener – doesn’t measure up to what’s inside the sandwich (Cihan told me after the fact to try it on regular flatbread – and I will next time). The other problem here – and at most doener stands in Berlin – is that sauces are too sweet (I’ll never understand why anyone thinks sugar belongs anywhere near herb sauce or garlic sauce for a savory sandwich).

I know there’s a lot of bad doener kebab in Berlin, and I know most of the meat is wholesale, processed, artificially flavored stuff that come from some factory somewhere. But I still can’t resist it. Part of it is because doener is democratic (i.e. cheap, portable, and always enough for a meal). Part of it is because doener – with slices of lamb or beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, sumac, lemon, and chili or garlic or herb sauce – has the potential to be sublime. It’s not quite sublime at All in One, but when I’m craving doener and I’m in the neighborhood, you’ll find me there.

All in One
Rosenthaler Strasse 46 – 10178 Berlin – Mitte
Telephone: none listed
Open: Always
Recommended: Doener kebab im Brot (in flatbread), 3.50 Euros

5. I didn’t come to Berlin for the burgers, but I’ll stay for the burgers – and I will eat them at Burgeramt.

There’s always a crowd at this restaurant across from Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, and when I tasted their cheeseburger last week – ahem, their free-range, grass-fed, big- as-my-face cheddar cheeseburger – I understood why. Yes, it’s a little heavy on the mayo, and, yes, the bun could be more substantial, but this is a prodigious patty good enough to impress a beef-loving Argentine. And it only costs 3.90 Euros.

Krossener St. 22, Boxhagener Platz, 10245 Berlin – Friedrichshain
Tel. 030 400 39 803
Open: Mon-Fri, 12:00pm-12:00am; Sat-Sun, 11:00am to 12:00am
Recommended: Classic cheeseburger with cheddar, 3.90 Euros

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