It’s been a while since I’ve been on a first date, but I still remember the struggle. An ideal date restaurant has to be affordable but not cheap, unique but not pretentious and exactly the right mix of casual and romantic. It can be hard to find a restaurant in Berlin that covers all bases, but I’m here to help you out. Remember: I don’t like long lists because I consider them a betrayal of editorial power, so here are my 4 favorite first date restaurants (that are also quite perfect for 2nd and 3rd dates, I promise!).
After an overhaul of their Mediterranean menu, I went back to visit this hidden gem from Tel Aviv in its secluded spot in the Heckmann Höfe in Mitte. At Night Kitchen, you can expect a lively atmosphere with exquisite drinks and a long night with your company. All plates are to share, which can be a little bit annoying at other gastro-pubs (nobody likes sharing), but if you take the Friends menu, you will be served wines, snacks, starters and mains continuously by the super attentive and charming staff at a flat rate until you’re both full. And because they’re responsible for the selection of the food, you won’t be constantly interrupted by someone asking for your wishes.
You must try the Tomato Carpaccio, Za’atar Salad and Seabass for the ultimate Night Kitchen culinary experience. Add the Night Kitsch cocktail with vermouth to round off the wines and your date night.
NIGHT KITCHEN, Oranienburger Str. 32, 10117 Berlin
TO THE BONE
You may have heard of Dario Cecchini, the famous Italian butcher from Chianti, who has saved and revived traditional butchery from its downfall (as can be seen in the newest Chef’s Table season on Netflix). Now Cecchini’s own shop may be far away from Berlin, but steak and meat restaurant To The Bone has done a great job by appreciating Cecchini’s works and importing his classic steaks into their sleek and sexy spot on Torstraße. Now this whole fit may seem a bit radical as suggestion for a first date – meat, after all, has become a political more than anything, and bringing a potential vegan into a restaurant that is literally decorated with meat seems like the extreme sport edition of a first date – but if you’re a carnivore, you should be a carnivore with pride and standards. And where else would true love appear show it’s face, if not over a bloody medium-rare steak? Exactly.
TO THE BONE, Torstraße 96, 10119 Berlin
There are good pizzas and weird pizzas on the Gazzo menu, but on average, the surdough pizza in this joint is great. Sure – there are better pizzas in Berlin, but none of them are smack dab in the middle of Kreuzkölln’s nightlife area, and none are this excellent at hyping up a date with music and drinks. And what’s to go wrong with man’s (and woman’s) most fundamental favorite food? Well – they could order pineapple on it, which is obviously a dealbreaker. But other than that: a pizza can tell you a lot about your date’s character. Are they a Magherita or an asparagus-burrata-truffel type of personality? Because if it’s the latter, they may as well have chosen pineapple. Also: It’s loud and crowded at Gazzo, so if it doesn’t work out, you’ll probably meet someone else right after.
GAZZO PIZZA, Hobrechstraße 57, 12047 Berlin
DER HAHN IST TOT!
Fixed menus can be a blessing and a curse for a first date – sitting through the whole ordeal, even when the conversation is a non-starter, is my own version of a nightmare. But for some people, this could be exactly what’s necessary – endure the awkwardness from starter to dessert. At DER HAHN IST TOT on Zionskirchplatz, you’ll get a French/German cuisine inspired 4 course meal at 24€ per person. A good time to go is moules frites season. The restaurant is only open in the evening and is simply rustic, yet charming and stylish like the successful French country cuisine. The service is warm and friendly and underlines the pleasant atmosphere. Big bonus: sitting Al Fresco on Zionskirchplatz in spring or summer is awesome. Good luck with your date – if it doesn’t work out here, it’ll never work out.