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Eating Down Sonnenallee in Berlin

Neukölln’s longest high street, Sonnenallee, has had a reputation among Berliners for a while as a grotty and somewhat undesirable area. Walking down the busy street, it might seem at first that everything is either a wedding shop, shisha bar, Middle Eastern grocery store, betting shop, or Späti (convenience store). However, thanks in part to the rapid gentrification of certain areas of Germany’s capital, it is fast becoming an area where new residents to the city are wanting to hang out, eat, and drink.

Sure, the streets are not the cleanest you’ll find in Berlin, and there’s some ugly graffiti strewn here and there, but that may indeed be part of what makes it still attractive to some. It’s definitely nowhere near as polished as some of the much more established gentrified areas of the city, such as parts of Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte.

Neukölln has long been one of Berlin’s most multicultural neighbourhoods, with a large Turkish, Syrian, and Lebanese population. There is also a significant East Asian population, as well as many migrants from other parts of Europe, making the food offerings along this street – one of the neighbourhood’s main arteries – pretty diverse. Here are some of the best places to eat on Sonnenallee, with Italian, French, Syrian, and Thai cuisine represented.

Espera: Sonnenallee 35

Stop by this cute coffee shop for a perfect espresso, and perhaps a slice of one of their more decadent cakes, while watching the diverse inhabitants of Neukölln dash down busy Sonnenallee. The coffee is fair trade, the ingredients are all organic, and it’s about as hipster as can be for such a tiny café. They also have a few nice bagels, homemade focaccia bread, and several Mediterranean-style breakfast options.

Azzam: Sonnenallee 54

Serving perhaps the best Levantine food in Berlin, this popular Syrian place has generous portions for low, low prices. Try the foul, mousabaha, baba ganoush, and of course falafel. They also serve meat, and most dishes are available as a plate or a flatbread wrap to take away. Order and pay at the counter, then wait for your order to be called. In the meantime, there is free black tea and hot water available. Portions really are quite large – two or three dishes are enough, even for a group of four.

Industry Standard: Sonnenallee 83

For something a bit different and special, this French-inspired restaurant serves up some things that are otherwise hard to come by in Berlin. Dishes are best eaten tapas-style here, meaning they are perfect to share with a date or a group of friends. The selection of cocktails is especially impressive, and they offer some excellent quality European wines.

Kindl Stuben: Sonnenallee 92

This somewhat typical German pub with a twist is popular among English-speaking expats, and often puts on low-key live music acts. Unusually, the main area of the pub is non-smoking, while smokers are confined to the ‘fish tank’ or must go outside. There are several bar snacks, and also a German/Italian-inspired menu that changes daily.

Mae Charoen Thai Imbiss: Sonnenallee 134

A tiny Thai eatery, brightly decorated in blue and red, this place serves generous dishes for around the €5 mark. Most everything is available with a choice of beef, pork, chicken, duck, shrimp, squid, or tofu. Grab a bench outside on a hot, sticky summer’s evening and imagine you’re dining al fresco in Bangkok rather than Berlin!

Konditerei Al Malak: Sonnenallee 138

Perfect if you’re craving something sweet late at night, this simple little Lebanese baklava shop offers a nice range of different kinds of sweet, flaky pastries. Particularly recommendable are the pistachio triangles. Point out what you want, and you’ll be charged by weight. There is no seating, so grab your baklava to go and take it to a nearby park, or sit by the canal.

Have you ever been to the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin, or visited any of these places? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to visit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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