The Garmentory Guide to Berlin
To convey to you the Berlin experience, perhaps my first moments of arriving in the city in October 2019 can paint a picture of what to expect. After a late night flight and train ride to Kreuzberg (the sprawling student and artist district), my boyfriend and I were starving. It was coming up on 11:00, and while Berlin does have a reputation for late nights, every eatery on our list happened to close at that hour. Lucky us, we had 15 minutes until closing time and found ourselves right around the corner from one of Berlin’s best burger joints, Berlinburger International. We unloaded our duffel bags into our Airbnb (perhaps knocking over a lamp), and bolted into Berlinburger’s pink and blue lights where we were greeted by a fog machine, a mannequin’s head on top of the soda fridge, and the pounding of techno music. Alas, they were cash only and we had none. Flash forward, still hungry but loaded up on euros, Azzam was our savior. Gyros, fries, fries in your Gyros, all for two euro and open until 3:00am.
Considering every conversation I’d ever had about Berlin always included the words “techno” and “art,” that is exactly what awaited me upon arrival and during the next five days of my trip to Germany’s capital. And while I didn’t get turned away by the bouncers at ultra-hip nightclub Berghain (I was too scared to go), I did thoroughly enjoy all the art, culture, and eccentricity that Berlin had to offer. For your next trip to the big city—whenever that may be— check out my travel tips, favorite eats, and must-visit shopping stops, below.
Without a doubt, Berlin has a vibe of being transported into the matrix. Fashion wise, streetwear is huge. The pants are wide, the colors are either dark or all white, the shoes are chunky, the sunglasses are thin, and the beanies are tiny. All together, it makes for an effortlessly badass look.
Here’s me attempting the Berlin look, tiny sunglasses and all.
Tips for Berlin
- Cash is king. Many of the places, especially as far as food goes, are cash only. We learned that the hard way.
- So many people actually speak English, and Berlin is a huge melting pot of cultures.
- Berlin is home to the second largest Turkish population outside of Turkey, which means you’re going to be eating some authentic and spectacular Turkish food.
- Berlin is huge! Use the transportation system. I strongly recommend buying a day pass and don’t be surprised at how many people are chugging beers while on their commute.
- The city is covered in graffiti. Take it all in. It’s not going anywhere and it makes Berlin, Berlin.
- Aside from graffiti, Berlin is flooded with art. If you have a chance, visit some of their amazing contemporary art museums. I had the pleasure of going to Hamburger Bahnhof (pictured above) and I might have just fallen in love with the whole place.
Places to Eat
Roamers Cafe | Kreuzberg - Brunch/American Any restaurant where there is the most adorable pitbull with an equally adorable ginormous head and delicious caramelized pear French toast is more than alright by me.
Le Bon | Kreuzberg - Brunch/American They have fresh juices. They have hot porridge. But did I get any of those delicious things? Nope! I did, however, order a cheesy croque monsieur and was not disappointed. (If I had more room in my tummy, juice and porridge would have been invited to the party, too.)
Takumi NINE | Prenzlauerberg - Ramen If food was an instrument, this place would be the air horns. Fried chicken in your ramen. That is all.
Burgermeister | Schlesisches Tor - Burgers Berlin seems to love two things above all else: burger places and techno. If you’re looking for a solid, no frills, mouthwatering burger, make your way here. The food is inexpensive and you’re eating right under the train. This doesn’t sound luxurious, (and it isn’t), but the experience is worth it.
Azzam | Kreuzberg - Lebanese No words. You just have to go. Forget your five-dollar foot-long, Azzam’s two-euro gyro is where it’s at.
Okay Cafe | Neukolln While Berlin has no shortage of cute cafes, this one stands out for offering a different marzipan bun every day of the week. Okay Cafe has a Swedish touch and, on the weekends, serves up plättar, traditional Swedish pancakes.
Five Elephants | Kreuzberg and Mitte Clearly I judge my cafes on how delectable their sweets are, and Five Elephants did not disappoint. Their cheesecake flare is a Philadelphia-style confection. Say my three favorite words: rich, creamy, and cheesy.
Places to Shop
R.T.C.O. | Sunglasses Even though I wore sunglasses roughly once on my journey, R.T.C.O. makes some of the coolest shades in a variety of shapes and colors from lens to frame. Owner and creative power Tobias Bergmann happened to be there when we stopped by the shop (which is actually only open on Fridays and Saturdays). We spent a good hour trying on sunnies and having great conversation with Tobias. If you want a pair of specs no one else has, don’t hesitate to give him a visit.
Voo Store | Clothing and Accessories Nothing is more Berlin than Voo Store, a high-end concept shop with an in-house cafe. Voo Store is like the artsy style icon that influences your daring outfit decisions. Carrying brands like Eckhaus Latta, Dries Van Noten, and Lemaire, Voo Store is high fashion’s alternative face. Go here, drink a latte, and drool over their curation.
Sporadic | Men’s Streetwear I cannot say enough about Sporadic. These guys really have a goldmine here. If you love T-shirts and the story behind them, this is your joint. This store carries streetwear brands but on a deeper level. The owners could not have been more kind, welcoming, and knowledgeable about the shop’s selection. They stock brands like Aries, Cav Empt, Gasius, and Brain Dead. Thanks to their recommendation, I also found the best burger in Berlin.
Wood Wood | Clothing and Accessories The Mitte borough is where you’ll find tons of shopping in a more centralized location. I walked into Wood Wood and saw both a dachshund and French bulldog dressed in puffy vests and thought to myself, “This feels right.” Wood Wood is headquartered in Copenhagen (so you know it’s cool) and carries a mix of high fashion and streetwear. More importantly, the brands they stock are like a medley of all that is right—from Priscavera to Maryam Nassir Zadeh. You will find something you like, but on the off chance you don’t find anything, there is a dog!
The Good Store | Carefully Selected Secondhand This store is elegant, minimal, and so easy on the eyes. The selection is not overwhelming in number and the quality of the pieces is great. Here, you’ll find vintage and even recent seasons of designers like Jil Sander and Isabel Marant. Grab yourself a pair of form-fitting leather pants. You won’t regret it.
Weserstrasse | Vintage Hotspot I couldn’t just pick one store, so I picked the whole street! Lining this lane are four insanely amazing secondhand stores that will have you wondering if you’ve found the vintage holy grail only to realize that Berliners are simply spoiled with secondhand. Hit up two of my favorites: Neuzwei and Let Them Eat Cake.
Temporary Showroom | Established and Emerging Designers Not only is the team at Temporary Showroom some of the nicest people we’ve had the pleasure of talking to, the store also has a selection that is so avant garde and (for lack of a better word) juicy, you’ll have trouble walking out of there without catwalking. You’ll find uber cool designers like Stine Goya and Henrik Vibskov, plus racks full of striking textiles and defined shapes.
Check out our Q & A with Temporary Showroom here!