Local Scene & International Flavors at Street Food Thursday in Berlin

Local Scene & International Flavors at Street Food Thursday in Berlin

By the time this post goes live, it’ll almost be Thursday night in Berlin. And that makes me jealous.

Why?

Because I’m missing out on Street Food Thursday, by far the most truly local experience we had in Berlin. You see, every Thursday evening, Berliners gather at Markthalle (Market Hall) in Kreuzberg to eat their fill of food made by street food vendors who don’t have the financial means to open their own brick and mortar restaurants. Trust me when I say that these vendors give restaurants in Berlin a run for their money.

About 25 minutes and two buses away from our hotel in Mitte, we finally arrived to a residential area filled with apartment buildings covered in street art. As we walked, gawking at the wall art dimly illuminated by street lamps, we occasionally passed locals headed home or who-knows-where, and we wondered whether we were headed in the right direction.

After a few blocks, we began to see shops and restaurants, and were happy to see a crowd standing around outside a building unmistakably marked, “Markthalle.” We’d arrived.

As we walked inside, I was instantly infected by the energy emanating from the crowd of locals slowly shuffling around each other in an effort to get to the food stall of their choice. Not wanting to waste any time, I told Jave, “We have about 50 euros to spend. Let’s go nuts.”

With dishes at most stalls costing only 5 euros a pop, we loosened our belts and set out to try as many different international cuisines as our bellies could bear. Here are some of our favorite vendors from the night…

We saw a stall with a line of people waiting for some meatballs. A line of locals is always a good sign, and they didn’t lead us wrong. They were some of the best meatballs I’ve ever had. They came in four styles – German, Thai, Italian, and Indian. We tried one of each, and they were all amazing, especially the Indian flavored one. Accompanied by a side of warm, German potato salad, and our night of feasting was off to a good start.

As Jave talked food and spices with the stall owner, I chitchatted with a woman from Berlin who now lives in New York although she still has a place in Kreuzberg.

“Have you tried the pies?” she asked, pointing at a stall obscured by crowds of people.

“No, not yet,” I responded, mid-swallow.

“Well, you have to try the pies,” she continued. “They’re so good. You won’t be disappointed.”

Noted.

Midway through our conversation, the hall erupted in cheers as a Mariachi band made its way behind us for an impromptu jam session. Mariachi in Berlin? Where was I, at home in L.A.? The music was a novel treat for the Germans, and a reminder of home for us. But we cheered them on along with everyone else.

Next up, we couldn’t pass by the Ghanaian lady rockin’ afro puffs without giving her food a try. I’d never tried Ghanaian food before, so Jave and I gave it a go.

Fufu, fried plantains, and black eyed peas – the comfort of Jamaica and Southern cooking on a plate!

As we stood around eating our Fufu, we scouted for our next food stall victim. We kept noticing people standing around eating ridiculously tempting-looking noodles, but I couldn’t figure out which stall was selling them. So I finally tapped someone on the shoulder and asked, and he pointed me to heaven where noodles were made fresh right before our eyes.

For dessert, we finally made our way to the pie lady that our acquaintance from the meatball stand had told us about. I opted for some sort of yogurty pie with granola-like crumbles on top while Jave got a slice of gingerbread pie stuffed with cherries. Each slice was delicious although I liked Jave’s more.

“Is anyone sitting here,” I asked a group of retiree-aged locals who were chowing down at a table with a few spare spaces.

“No, come sit and eat with us,” they replied. And so we did, making friendly small talk along the way as they asked us if we’d tried this vendor or that vendor and making recommendations for which stall to try next.

Usually, dessert marks a finale. And it did – for Jave, at least. But as for me, I had my eye on the Venezuelan arepas stall across the way.

“But you just had dessert, Carmel,” Jave said, judging my fit of greed.

“I know, I know,” I replied. “But we’re at Street Food Thursday in Berlin.” Made perfect sense to me. Plus, I have a history of having eyes bigger than my stomach.

After spending about fifteen minutes in line for an enticing-smelling arepa, upon taking my first bite, I realized that it lacked seasoning and that perhaps it wasn’t worth the wait after all. But I finished it anyway…because we were at Street Food Thursday in Berlin.

Made perfect sense to me.

————————————–

  • Street Food Thursday is located at Markthalle Neun (Market Hall 9); Eisenbahnstraße 42/43, 10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg; Contact: 030 577 094 661; Hours: 5-10pm
  • Many vendors start to run out of food around 8:30-9 pm, so plan accordingly
  • Most (if not all) vendors accept cash only
  • For more details, visit the Markthalle website

PINNABLE

restaurants-in-berlin

Which street food stall looks the most appealing to you?

  • I had my husband check our dates for Berlin next month as soon as l read this, and yeah! We will be there at least 1 Thursday. I was hungry just reading about the food. Except for the fufu, never liked if as a kid..still don’t like it, everything else sounds wonderful, especially the plantain, my favorite food on earth!!! Thanks for this, so timely. We will definitely check it out.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yay – you’re going to get to experience the joys of Street Food Thursday! All I can say is wear some comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and go with a hearty appetite. Enjoy! 😉

  • Street vendors and merchants promoting wine-drinking – sounds perfect! Would love to try the Ghanaian food, as it looks pretty similar to the food in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, where I gained a few pounds in a week. Yet another reason to visit Berlin.

    • Dana Carmel

      Ghanaian food was awesome. I wasn’t expecting such familiar tastes (i.e., Jamaican and Southern), but I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Oh gosh Dana, I’m so stuffed just reading through all those delectable dishes you had. What a great local experience. I’ll definitely keep Markthalle when I visit Berlin.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes, Marisol – it’s a must do when in Berlin.

  • What a great find in Berlin! I’m glad you were able to experience such awesome street food there. We love a good street food scene and this one looks like a can’t miss.

    • Dana Carmel

      You’d love it, Mary. There’s a perfect dish for everyone – my kind of place!

  • Oh this makes me so hungry. Looks great. I’ll have to check that out next time I am in Berlin, as I have never been.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – there are so many options. There really is something for everyone there.

  • My dad’s half German and I traveled to Berlin a lot of times. Let me tell you that Turkish and Persian food is the best there. I often had some kebabs and lamb BBQ for my dinners there and GOSH that was so yummy! Omomomomo!

    • Dana Carmel

      Sadly, we didn’t try any Persian or Turkish food while in Berlin although I heard that it’s some of the best. But we did enjoy everything we ate around the city.

  • I llllove a good food post and this one is no exception. I might find my way to Berlin this summer while I’m in Europe so I’m definitely bookmarking this! Thanks for sharing, Dana.

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – definitely go if you’re there this summer. You’re a true foodie like me, so you’d love this event!

  • Thanks for the story and photo reportage, Dana. I really enjoyed the German food in “brick” restaurants. So this looks like a must visit place for me 🙂 will definitely visit next time (if in Berlin on Thursday).

    • Dana Carmel

      You’re welcome, and I highly recommend going the next time you’re in town. This was one of our most memorable experiences in Berlin.

  • Too bad about the arepa. I grew up with Venezuelan neighbours so I’m familiar with them, but the best ones I’ve tried so far are in Brick Lane, London, and that is also street food. I’d make sure to check out this place if I’m in Berlin!

    • Dana Carmel

      I’ll have to keep Brick Lane in mind the next time I’m in London!

thatgirlcarmel

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