Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in Mitte, Berlin
13 Jul 2022
East Berlin – and more precisely Mitte – quickly became one of the most creative areas in the city after The Wall came down. Literally translating to mean ‘middle’, this swanky central neighbourhood is home to some of Berlin’s most famous historical landmarks: Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie are all within walking distance of each other.
But there’s so much more to do here than sightsee. From design stores to bookshops, chic eateries to dive bars, there’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy in this pocket of Berlin.
Here are our favourite spots:
Opened by Kresten Thogersen, back in January of 2015, this L-shaped cafe exudes rustic chic: thick wood panelling, soft-white walls, steel tables, low-hanging lamps, and baristas in denim aprons. Come here for the coffee and cake, stay for the vibe.
do you read me?!
Located in a quiet corner on Auguststrasse, do you read me?! is the perfect place to go and peruse the international assortment of fashion, art and design tomes as well as magazines, along with a large edit of literature – both fiction and nonfiction, of course. The concept was to provide “an inspiring overview of today’s printed matter, both independent and popular, copy-shopped and glossy, strange and familiar,” and that it does and more.
Looking for a plant-based patisserie? Head to FREA BAKERY. "We want to act just as sustainably, animal product-free and waste-avoiding in the bakery as we do in the restaurant," explains owner David Suchy, "and thus also make a difference in the bakery trade." As far as the products used in the kitchen are concerned, FREA pays close attention to seasonal and local produce, and is as zero-waste as possible. Guilt-free sourdough and cakes this way…
Nestled between all the designer shops, contemporary art galleries and cafés of Mitte, you’ll find a historic dancehall – Clärchens Ballhaus. This century-old, two-storey ballroom, founded in 1913, may be best known for its charming faded grandeur and the regular dances it holds, but the food is also a major draw. Here, guests can sit down to German and Italian-inspired lunch and dinner, served by bow-tied waiters. Perfect if you’re looking to add a little glamour to your trip.
Chef Stephan Hentschel has been rethinking and reworking vegetarian cuisine to create an inspiringly cliché-free menu at Cookies Cream. Tofu and pasta are shunned for dishes such as parmesan dumplings with cilantro carrots and potato rolls with beetroot carpaccio. The local and seasonal produce mean that the menu is ever changing: “always true to our belief in pristine products – carefully chosen, respectfully prepared, lovingly served.”
More a museum than an actual gallery, this concrete World War II bunker has been transformed into a 3,000 square-metre space containing the formidable private collection from advertising mogul Christian Boros and his wife Karen. Expect to find contemporary greats such as Olafur Eliasson and Sarah Lucas, as well as a healthy selection of contemporary local and international names that have caught Boros’ eye. Other galleries in the ‘hood’ include the KW Institute for Contemporary Art and the Me Collectors Room.
An acronym for ‘South of Torstrasse,’ SOTO was founded in 2010 and has one of the best selections of menswear around town. Expect to find garments worn by Berliner men: mostly black, and everything from the latest nordic staples of Norse Projects to the finest prints of Dries Van Noten.
North of Torstrasse stands Distrikt Coffee, which was launched by Sophie Hardy and Hannes Haake. Walking inside, you’ll immediately notice its beautiful, spacious interior: raw brick walls, wooden and black steel tables, and leather comfortable couches. Whether you’re meeting friends for lunch, or need a caffeine fix and a working space, this is the spot. The new head-chef Matthew Maue’s menu doesn’t disappoint either.
Walk by The Tree on Brunnenstraße and you might not even realise you’re passing by a restaurant. You might think it’s a gallery, design store or maybe a flower shop. What you definitely won’t expect is a Chinese noodle shop. Founded by landscape architect Ling Ma and railway engineer Xiaoting Zhang, who pay homage to their Sichuan and Donbei heritage via aromatic cold starters and noodle dishes. Make sure you try the handmade pressed noodles – the secret recipe which was passed down from a family friend.