Berlin Street Food Classics

Photography by Florian Denzin

What the hot dog stand is to New York, the Imbiss is to Berlin.

Housed in little huts on the sidewalk, Imbissbuden sell cheap to-go snacks for only a few euros. Since they began, Imbiss have been meeting points for all walks of life: young, old, rich, poor, academics, proletarians, creatives, yuppies and club kids.

Every German region has its own Imbiss-specialty and Berlin is the record-holder in this culinary discipline. In addition to the broiler (roast chicken) and bulette (meatball), there are two Imbiss-classics that have built a reputation beyond Europe: the Currywurst (slices of fried sausage drowned in a ketchup-like sauce with curry powder sprinkled on top) and the Turkish Döner Kebap (meat cut off a kebab spit and stuffed in a pita bread with salad, feta cheese, onions, garlic sauce and spices). Any trip to Berlin should include a visit to a Currywurst or Dönerimbiss. Because there are so many, however, it can be difficult to pick a good one.

On Mehringdamm, the bustling main street in the middle of Kreuzberg, two of Berlin’s most popular Imbiss, Curry 36 and Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, peacefully coexist right next to each other. These Imbiss have become institutions and perfect representatives of Berlin’s incredibly diverse street food scene.

Vera Stenschke and her team have been serving the famous Berlin sausage delicacy with their special homemade sauce at Curry 36 since 1980. The West Berlin equivalent and closest competitor to East Berlin’s Konnopke Imbiss is hard to miss with its long line of people patiently waiting to claim their very own piece of Berlin Imbiss-history with a side of fries.

Only a few steps away, on the same side of the street, you will find a similar scene: people come from all over the city for Mustafa’s delicious Gemüse Kebaps.  Mustafa’s kebabs stand out from other Berlin kebab stands with their signature mixture of fresh and fried vegetables, served with or without hot chicken shaved off a turning spit.

Both Curry 36 and Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap serve a drink Germany has become world famous for, the traditional pairing with street food: Beer.

On a late weekend night, you might even witness people stumbling from Curry 36 directly over to Mustafa’s to continue their sumptuous midnight grease feast.

– Julia Schröder