Cafe Pförtner To the back of the bus

The name of the game at Cafe Pförtner is understatement. Most of the seating is shabby or at least semi-outdoors (say on a rickety old school bus) and orders have to be lodged at a busy counter in front of the restaurant’s only visible menu. So far, so curious… Yet since opening in 2011, it has steadily grown into a word-of-mouth favorite with regulars that go from trendy to fogey and back again. Why you holler? Simply ’cos Cafe Pförtner is small on pretension, big on charm, and massive on home-cooked goodness.

Situated in a somewhat secluded red-brick building by the Uferstudios in ever-becoming Wedding, one of the bistro owners, Daniel, is from Germany and the other, Christian, hails from northern Italy—which explains why their dishes often have an Italian twist to them. Fine fish and fresh pasta usually grace the chalkboard but the offering changes daily, making every meal quite the carpe diem experience. Coming from a concert at Piano Salon Christophori next door? Undo one or two buttons on the collar and queue up; you’ve entered Pförtner’s doors.

Feed x Veist Split personality

We felt a little aggrieved when we only paid passing mention to this quirky wee place when we shined the spotlight on its bigger sister Veist, so we decided to give it a little Unlike-cyberspace all of its own. While big sis is a straight up vintage store stocking women’s apparel, Feed x Veist is threads for guys with a cafe attached — for the discerning gent, let’s say, who’d like to sup upon a special recipe mojito, or chow down on some crostata di mele, while he browses. (Ladies, you’re welcome too, obviously).

Let’s start on the Veist side of things. Yes, the selection of garments isn’t massive, but that’s because they’ve done away with the chaff. Almost everything there is worth trying on, at the very least. There are shirts — from plain, through patterned, to plaid — old school kicks, jackets (heavy duty and light) and accessories. Insider tip: The jumper section is where you’re going to find the real winners. If you’re worried about paying through the teeth, don’t be. The prices are refreshingly reasonable — shirts go for around €15.

Now for Feed, the cafe section of this unlikely symbiosis. Looks-wise, it’s no frills in a good way — simple wooden furniture with chipped paint and crates made into seats. The menu is centred around lunchy stuff (quiches, tarts and salads) and various homemade Kuchen. There’s daily food and drink specials such as the aforementioned mojito and crostata, too, and if you’re heading down post-daylight hours, there’s every chance you’ll find yourself becoming part of a mini-gig. There’s no corners to hide in, it’s that cosy.

Aunt Benny Canadian bacon

Co-owned by two charming Canadian expat siblings, Aunt Benny is a straight-up Friedrichshain stalwart. When they landed just off Traveplatz way back when in 2008, they snatched the Kiez’s brunch ball from the cold cuts, processed cheese and bread roll brigade — who’d dropped it in a big way — and have been running with it ever since.

It’s pretty plain to see why no one’s been able to wrestle it out of their grasp for such a long time, too. The menu is watertight: Deep-filled savory tarts, baguette-sized croissants stuffed with cheese and ham, Montreal-style bagels, inventive salads, smoothies, and spot-on coffee. They’re detail fiends to boot — that’s solid silver cutlery you’re holding in your hand there, none of this silver-plated pretender rubbish!

What’s more, having conquered the earlier hours of the day, they’re now opening beyond the twilight hours into bonafide after-dark territory — to combat the ever-present menace of Simon-Dach-Straße a few streets over. The evening menu is wine and cake-centric, so you can plonk yourself in one of the homey wooden chairs, hunker down with a bottle of Riesling and a bowl of fruit crumble (big splodge of ice cream included), and watch Berlin’s night-owls come out to play.

La Pecora Nera Black sheep, done good

Somewhere deep down inside, we all have an Italian mamma. And in this joyous make-believe world, she cooks exactly like they do at La Pecora Nera. This being Berlin, however, the chef sports tattoos and untamed whiskers, but trust us, this is the real deal.

Roberto Falcone comes from Veneto and serves straight-up classics from his native region to an insatiable Schillerkiez clientele. Think lush slabs of polenta grilled with put-a-fork-in-it salsiccia and tangy radicchio leaves; or long chewy tubes of bigoli pasta with a rich meaty duck sauce. The menu here is as tight as the aforementioned animal’s arse and doesn’t miss a step. Variety is provided by the daily specials which dance to a veggie-Tuesday, fish-Friday, roast-Sunday kind of rhythm – and there’s a traditional Venetian spritz happy hour every day from 6-8pm.

In the not so Siberian months, there’s also a wonky pavement overlooking a red-brick church on which to imbibe the aperitif or one of their exclusive northern Italian wines. All in all, for this sort of money, it doesn’t get much tastier, or cosier, in this city.

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