Not much beats sitting in a warm, traditional German pub with a half-litre of beer. We pick Berlin’s best establishments that even the locals love...
Small, cosy, warm and every inch of wall covered by… well, something. Dicke Wirtin is a traditional Berlin pub at its very best, and if you want the truly authentic feel, this is where to go. The food prices are slightly above average compared to other spots in Berlin, but they're by no means extortionate (between €10-15 for a main), and you pay for both quality and quantity. True German food never comes small in any case!
The gefüllte rinderroulade (beef roulade with tasty red cabbage and potato dumplings) is divine. Stick to the traditional German food and you will certainly not be hungry afterwards. The crowd here is particularly local, and as a sports bar it can get busy on occasions, but for the nine varieties of beers on tap it really is worth it.
Zum Nussbaum may not appear the most prepossessing of pubs – inside or out – but that’s the beauty of it. The great thing about the Nut Tree is just how quiet it is, how rewarding that feeling is when you get a table (it’s a tiny pub that only sits about 20 people) and its rich history as one of the oldest pubs in Berlin. Nestled in the Nikolaiviertel, the Old Quarter of Berlin, the Nussbaum has had many famous Berlin patrons such as cartoonist Heinrich Zille.
The pub is usually quiet and intimate. It’s also a great place for striking up conversation with the locals, maybe even practising your German. With stein-lined shelves, old-fashioned décor and some of Zille’s most famous portraits hanging on the walls, you can’t help but feel you’ve gone back to old-time Berlin.
If you’re looking for good, reasonably-priced German grub, then the more modern Brauhaus Lemke Am Alex is one of the most popular spots in the city. Almost all mains are under €15 (the spätzle is top notch), the portions are huge and the beer can’t be faulted. Be wary of weekends when it can be impossible to find a seat without a booked table; the Brauhaus is rarely quiet.
The pub has a great location (just off Alexanderplatz), a great atmosphere and is very foreigner-friendly. Here you’ll also find the Brauhaus Pilsener – the specially brewed Brauhaus wheat beer – which is quite light and a personal favourite in Berlin.
Traditional Bavarian beer house fun is what Hofbräu München offers. It’s loud, it’s proud – it’s so German, and made up to recreate Oktoberfest. The beer is wonderful (if you can find a waiter to serve you) and comes in half-litre tankards or more.
The traditional food on offer is not to be missed either, so get to know your German bar snacks before you go! The hall itself is huge and the tables and chairs are the traditional type you'd find in the South German beer halls.
There’s live traditional German music nearly every single day of the year, plus dancing, lederhosen, dirndls... If you missed Oktoberfest, this really is the next best place to go. It’s rammed on winter weekends – so plan wisely. If you’re determined to get a seat, then avoid Fridays and Saturdays.
However, if the true beer hall feel is what you’re after and being squashed among Berliners is your thing, then a Friday night at the Hofbräuhaus might just be up your street. The summer months are also not to be missed, with plentiful outdoor seating just off Alexanderplatz.
If you’re looking for something central with rustic German ambience that isn’t full to the brim (unless you’re talking beer), Alt-Berliner Wirtshaus is a quiet, discreet, undiscovered traditional German pub only minutes from the Brandenburg Gate.
The staff are friendly and chatty, especially if you’re willing to try your hand at German (although they do also have English menus) and the food is fantastic. Try the hoppel poppel (a gigantic omelette stuffed with spuds, pork, onions and cheese) - not just because of its name - it’s absolutely delicious.
Another gem hidden away in Berlin’s Nikolaiviertel is the Georgbräu, and it couldn’t be more different from the Nussbaum. A huge, high-ceilinged, spacious pub situated right on the river, it’s one of the many establishments in Berlin that has its own in-house brewery, and is the only place you’ll find St George Pilsener. In the summer it’s perfect for relaxing alongside the Spree River with a beer in hand, especially if you’re interested in trying beers other than pilsner.
They also do excellent schnitzel (a must-try in Germany) and plenty of warming, traditional German food sourced from the Berlin/Brandenburg area. They have vegetarian dishes on offer too, which will be a welcome sight by some in a city that prides itself on all things meaty! The pub can be busy, but the individual booths make even the most crowded of parties unobtrusive. It’s certainly one to cross off the list for a true beer connoisseur.
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