Neukölln For Now
That’s where you live? That’s rough. Isn’t it dangerous? Can you go outside at night? Isn’t
that where someone was shot the other day? When I moved to Neukölln 10 years ago,
those were the reactions I got when I told people where I lived. Hard to believe this is the
same neighbourhood that is now being hailed as Berlin’s most vibrant and exciting areas in
online blogs and travel guides.
While it still has it’s fair share of problems to deal with – unemployment, poverty,
delinquency – it’s hard to deny that Neukölln has quickly turned into the most fertile soil to
settle for students and artists from all over the world.
I’ve always enjoyed living in Neukölln. I’ve always had a soft spot for it’s grungy
supermarkets, run-down cafés and bakeries and the internet cafés with it’s long distance
phone booths always packed. A lot of that has changed. Gentrification is a term often
used when discussing this district which seems to be re-inventing itself season after seaon.
A few years ago, after returning from a two months trip I was surprised to see some of my
favorite shops taken over by art galleries and vintage stores. I grew to enjoy this constant
change. What fun to walk the streets and discover new things every day. For me, it’s all
about blending. Some of the following places might have seemed like a gamble when
they burst upon the scene. Now they are part of what makes the heart of Neukölln beat.
LAVANDERIA VECCHIAFlughafenstr. 46
Go grab some lunch at Lavanderia Vecchia on Flughafenstrasse. Hidden in the second
backyard in a former laundry, this Italian restaurant is beautifully mixing industrial design
with a rural, laid-back ambiance. Choose from a delicious – and affordable – menu of
pasta, risotto and salad and take a seat among white varnished tables next to an open
kitchen. Before you leave, don’t forget to throw your tip in the wishing well in the middle of
the restaurant. On a busy day you can see cabs bringing in customers all the way from
Mitte for their lunch break. It’s that popular.
PEQUOD BOOKSSelchower Str. 33
Take a 5 minute walk towards Schillerkiez and stop for a browse at Pequod Books. This
international second hand bookstore on Selchower Strasse is perfect for stocking up on
paperbacks. From German, English and French to Italian, Russian and Chinese, they’ve got
TEMPELHOF AIRFIELDMain Entrance Oderstr.
The former Tempelhof Airfield has been opened up and turned into a huge park. It’s
probably the most popular hangout in the area. Take a few hours to go for a walk or lay in
the grass and watch the skaters and windsurfers do their thing on the tarmac. There’s an
ever-growing urban gardening community and it’s a great place to have a barbecue in
FEED CAFÉ, CAFÉ TREIBHOLZ, SCHILLERCAFÉ, ENGELSWeisestr. 49 Hermannstr. 37 Herrfurthstr. 3 Herrfurthstr. 21
Up for a coffee? It’s hard to keep track as new cafés seem to be popping up on a weekly
basis. Give the Feed Café a try. This nicely furnished little coffee shop on Weisestrasse
combines italian roasting and homemade cakes and cookies with carefully selected
vintage menswear, accessories and shoes. The Café Treibholz on Hermannstrasse has
great coffee, great muffins and sandwiches and a great logo: the log lady from David
Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS. Favorite sunday brunch settings include Schillercafé and Engels, both
on Herrfurthstrasse and close to the airfield.
ROLLBERG, PASSAGE, CINEPLEX, NEUES OFFRollbergstr. 70 Karl-Marx-Str. 131 Karl-Marx-Str. 66 Hermannstr. 20
If you’re into film like me, Neukölln gives you a great selection of cinemas for every mood.
The Rollberg with it’s five modern cinemas is the place to go to for original language films.
If you feel like catching up on German releases, the Passage on Karl-Marx-Strasse is for
you. The Neukölln Arkaden shopping mall hosts a huge Cineplex under it’s roof.
Blockbuster and 3D-films are the main focus here, and you can enjoy your popcorn
without getting shushed. One of the most gorgeous cinemas in Berlin is still the Neues Off.
Hidden behind an unsuspicious house front close to Hermannplatz, it’s a 1950s style
treasure specializing in European and American quality cinema in original language. And
in the summer, the Open Air cinema in the Hasenheide park is a lovely place to have a
beer with friends and enjoy a movie.
BURRITO BABYPflügerstr. 11
I confess. I am officially addicted to Burrito Baby. The cozy diner on Pflügerstrasse has the
best Mexican food in town. Run by a lovely German-Australian couple, they serve fresh
made burritos, tacos, quesadillas and (my favorite) warm corn bread from the oven. No
meat is to be found here but you won’t miss out on anything – try the vegan burrito with
cashew creme and you’re in for a total treat.
DAS TIERWeserstr. 42
Finish your day with a cocktail at Das Tier. This dimly lit, understated bar on Weserstrasse is
always packed, and the bartenders are quick to whip up the most delicious drinks for their
quintessential Neukölln crowd.