Dining out is an inexpensive activity in Berlin. All prices on menus include VAT (sales tax). Currently in Berlin, restaurants are mostly non-smoking, but places with two rooms can offer one as a smoking room (although this applies mostly to bars). Smoking bars without a second room prohibit entrance to those under 18. Smoking in restaurants, except working-class places, is rare. You should never expect that an eating establishment will accept credit cards; if you have any doubts, ask before you’re seated. Depending on the establishment, reservations may or may not be possible.

Hours of business vary greatly however generally speaking establishments are open throughout the day and well into the evening.

Notable restaurants offering typical German fare include:

Unlike many European cities, brunch is a common dining event on the weekends, and usually features buffet-style service. Charlottchen, Droysenstraße 1, Charlottenber tel 030 324 47 17, and Strandbad Mitte, Kleine Hamburger Straße 16, Mitte tel 030 24 62 89 63 are especially great for families, as they have play areas for kids.

However, the main draw to Berlin’s food scene is the incredible range of food you can have. There is a wide variety of ethnic food available in the city’s many restaurants. However, there are a few caveats. Affordable French food is rare; east Asian food is usually wok-style noodles; there’s very little authentic Chinese food; Malaysian food is unknown; and Indian restaurants are everywhere, but extremely unauthentic.

Notable ethnic restaurants include:

  • Al Contadino sotto le Stelle; Auguststrasse 34; tel: 281 9023; http://www.alcontadino.com/; Upscale Italian food.
  • Trattoria Paparazzi; Husemannstrasse 35; tel: 440 7333; Well-priced southern Italian food.
  • Ostwind; Husemannstrasse 13; tel. 441 5951; Well-priced and authentic Chinese food.
  • The Bird; am Falkplatz 5; tel: 51 05 32 83; http://www.thebirdinberlin.com/; Steaks, a rare commodity in Berlin, and American food, medium-range prices.
  • Restaurant Pasternak; Knaackstrasse 22/24; tel: 441 3399; http://www.restaurant-pasternak.de/; Russian food, well-priced.
  • Le Cochon Bourgeois; Fichtestrasse 24; tel: 693 0101; Medium-range priced French food.

Dining Etiquette

Once you are enter a restaurant, you don’t wait to be seated. Find an empty table and take a seat. It is very uncommon to have a waiter seat you. If there are no empty tables, it is not considered impolite to ask if you can share a table with someone who is already seated. Obviously reserved tables (reserviert) should be avoided.

Beliners are very family orientated and as a reflection, children are welcome in most restaurants, in fact you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t cater to little ones.

When it comes time to pay for the bill, it is not uncommon for the waiter to linger around for payment once they have handed you the slip. Leaving money on the table to settle a bill or even to leave a tip is not done.

Where to Eat

Some great resources for reading reviews on Restaurants throughout Berlin are as follows:

  • Timeout Berlin (http://www.timeout.com/travel/berlin) has the best restaurant guides in English; you can pick up a copy at almost any newsstand in the most touristy areas of Berlin.
  • http://www.hungryinberlin.com/ has useful links for cooks, a comprehensive market schedule and market and restaurant views from expat locals.
  • Qype (http://www.qype.co.uk/de) is a review forum where you can find out great recommendations from the locals.
  • Exberliner (http://www.exberliner.com) has a great website full of lots of tips on where to eat. Also check out their monthly magazine for latest reviews.
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