(Updated 2017) Gräfekiez – the residential neighborhood around Gräfestraße, southwest of the Landwehrkanal – is an enclave in the middle of Neukölln. The gracious Gründerzeit architecture invites you to take long walks in a colorful and rich neighborhood with plenty to discover.
Here are a few of my favorite places and things to do in Gräfekiez. As always, take everything with a grain of salt and go exploring on your own!
Have the best Neapolitan pizza at Casolare
The hectic Italian pizza restaurant is a testament to how pizza should be. In the summertime, the terrace invites guests to watch over the the frantic street life on Admiralsbrücke.
Definitely make reservations for dinner, as it tends to get overcrowded. And while not everybody likes the rough treatment of the All-Italian service, it’s become a Berlin tradition to complain about the team.
Casolare, Grimmstr. 30, 10967 Berlin
Take pictures for your Insta of Urban Krankenhaus
Modernist architecture isn’t quite as ubiquitous in Berlin as it is in other cities (like London), but you can nonetheless find some brutalist buildings in the West. The Urban Krankenhaus, although of mediocre standard from the inside, is a fascinating complex smack-dab in the middle of Kreuzberg. It is a wonderful Instagram motif. Read more about brutalist architecture in Berlin.
Urban Krankenhaus, Dieffenbachstraße 1, 10967 Berlin
Have weekend brunch at Le Bon
I had grilled banana bread once at Le Bon for breakfast, and as a result, I spent three consecutive weeks trying to do it at home. I failed spectacularly. Anyway, Le Bon offers some tasty breakfast options with an Anglo-American touch and artistic, youthful patrons. Expect it to be overcrowded for the weekend brunch.
Le Bon also serve lunch and dinner, but I’ve always been rather keen on their Bloody Marys, so I’m only tempted for brunch.
Le Bon, Boppstrasse 1, 10967 Berlin
Roam through Umbras Kuriositätenkabinett
This bookshop is a charming mess, outside and in. It invites you into that magical, romantic setting of a traditionally unorganized way to discover literature. There’s English stuff as much as German, and getting lost in the tiny space is no problem if you love books.
Umbras Kuriositätenkabinett, Graefestraße 18, 10967 Berlin
Have great cakes at Kaffeebar
If you’re willing to wait for your mediocre Cappucino (no filter coffee), then Kaffeebar is a good location with an included “people watching” mode. Good looking people, all the way – and in the same aesthetic sense “cool” as Le Bon. There are better cafés, to be honest, but none in this neighborhood that would serve better cake. Oh yeah. The poppyseed lemon cake. Oh my God. It’s the best.
Kaffeebar, Graefestr. 8, 10967 Berlin
Chill at Admiralsbrücke, take a walk on Urbanhafen
Lots of green space to walk, picnic or BBQ in the summer. Lots of space to watch the atomic Landwehrkanal dabble in its deadly ways.
And Admiralsbrücke: I remember vaguely that we used to hang out there and listen to street musicians. It was that summer, and we thought that Berlin finally felt like it could have that certain Mediterranean touch. Of course, police shut down all public activities after 8pm in the year that followed, and nowadays, those that hang out on the bridge are mostly Gaukler. But the pedestrian bridge still exists, and it deserves the nostalgic mention.
Have amazing drinks at Mini Bar
You could miss it if it weren’t for the neon bringt light outside. All it says is “bar”, and literally, that’s all there is: a bar. The 10 patrons that fit inside the premises are anywhere from basic to absolutely fucking nuts, but the drinks are good and the vibe is usually exceptionally, uhm, “Berlin”.
Minibar, Graefestraße 77, 10967 Berlin
End your night at Schlawinchen
Speaking of bars: if you’re looking for a 24/7 option and have no shame to drown a Herrengedeck at 9 in the morning on a working Monday, Schlawinchen is your place to be. Even if you can’t remember anything: if the party ended in this dive bar, you probably had a good time.
Bei Schlawinchen, Schönleinstraße 34, 10967 Berlin
Have the best Dürüm sandwich of your life at Imren
Imren is one of the best sandwich places in the city. They prepare a kebap speciality that until now has convinced everyone I took to this place.
And although there seem to be many different Imrens now, only one of them is really real. We used to call it the “Fundamentalistendöner” because someone told us that women weren’t allowed to go in before they reformed their service. I have no idea if that’s true, but the story makes the meat and the perfectly rolled sandwiches even tastier. Imren sticks to a very classic, but well delivered approach: a lot of juicy meat, a fairly small amount of bread, some lemon and maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll squeeze a tomato in it as well. And if you only try one thing from this list, then it should be an Imren Dürüm.
Imren Grill,Boppstraße 10, 10967 Berlin