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Eating Out

Dining al-fresco on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt

One of the great things about Berlin is that you can dine out cheaply but well. It might not be a paradise for Michelin star spotters, and we can - but won't - name a couple of places which have a reputation for serving you the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. But for the most part you can easily find places to fit every taste and budget.

For the budget-conscious and those in a hurry, the ubiquitous Imbiss (snack bar) is a quick and easy source of nourishment. They're pretty much everywhere, particularly at stations and wherever large crowds of people pass by. As a quick and easy rule, they fall into two categories: German and Turkish. The staple of the German imbiss is sausage (wurst): the Berliner speciality is Currywurst, served in a hot curry source. Turkish places are generally centred around the Döner, which is the basis for a döner kebab.

belegtes Baguette (baguette sandwich) or cake. You'll need to order at the counter and make it clear you want to eat in (zum hier essen).

Selbstbedienung), expect to be served by a waiter or waitress in restaurants, cafes and even pubs. Generally you can sit where you want, unless the table is reserved (reserviert). During the spring and summer many restaurants and cafes also have outside seating; depending on location this can be self-service. Unless a place is very busy, you will not be hurried and can enjoy your meal or drink at leisure.

Pay at the end of the meal when you want to leave; call the waiter / waitress to your table. It's customary to add a small tip; between 5% and 15% is usual, depending on circumstances. Note that credit cards are not universallyy accepted; it's best to check before ordering.

Unfortunately for non-smokers, Berlin (and the rest of Germany) aren't very good when it comes to no-smoking areas. The only way to completely avoid smoke is to stick to the well-known international chains; otherwise, try and stick to quieter periods when restaurants and cafes are not as full. The smoking issue has become current in recent years however, and a general smoking ban in restaurants and cafés will come into force in January 2008.

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