When in Berlin, there are plenty of reasons to get out bed: cool sights, eye-opening museums, fashion forward shopping...and breakfast. Germans take their breakfast seriously.
But the star of the show is really the bread. Even carbophobes will be tempted by the mind-boggling variety of freshly baked loaves, rolls and pastries. Crusty or soft; based on rye, sourdough or wheat; with or without grains or seeds; white, black, grey or brown - 600 different types in all (says Wikipedia). In case you wish to confirm this, just ask the folks at Alpenstueck Baeckerei, one of Germany's best bakeries.
Of course, in case cold meat in the morning isn't your thing, there's no shortage of breakfast favorites from all over the world in cosmopolitan Berlin, like huevos rancheros at hip Cabslam in Neukoelln or the protein-loaded Irish breakfast bonanza at Cafe Hilde in Prenzlauer Berg. Those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven at Zimt & Zucker, which makes delectable crepes and waffles with all sorts of gooey toppings.
It's no small feat to be voted one of Germany's best bakeries in a country famous for its mindboggling variety of delicious breads, pastries and rolls. While most of us are still catching up on our beauty sleep, Alpenstueck's breadmeisters are busy at work churning out a mouthwatering assortment from scratch, completely eschewing preservatives or flavor enhancers. You can buy the result in the boutique-style bakery or grab a table in the attached cafe for an eye-opening breakfast served amid rustic, country-style decor. Insiders go for the 'Alpenstueck Fruehstuck III', a huge pile of cheeses, ham and salami served with creamy herb-infused quark (kind of a lighter cream cheese) and fresh fruit. It's beautifully presented on a wooden board and easily feeds two. A nod to the owner's southern German origins is the 'Bavarian Fruehstueck' a chewy pretzel served straight from the oven with nothing but a drizzle of melted butter. (030-2175 1645)
Café am Neuen See
Tiergarten Park is Berlin's equivalent to New York's Central Park: a vast leafy oasis in the heart of the city, teeming with mature trees, a web of walkways and spacious lawns. It's also home to this beloved cafe-restaurant-beer garden combo which also happens to serve a stellar breakfast until a hangover-friendly 4pm. Budget a couple of hours to linger over their popular 'tier for two' - a delicious decadent bonanza of cheese, hams, muesli, yogurt, boiled eggs and homemade jams all appetizingly arranged on a three-level tray and served with a basket of freshly baked bread. If you're not quite as hungry, you can also pick and choose from the a la carte menu, which includes such tasty temptations as house-smoked salmon and organic mozzarella. (030-2544 9300)
Although right in the heart of Berlin's traditional gay quarter in Schoeneberg, More is the kind of cafe-restaurant that makes everyone feel like family. This is especially in the mornings when it serves up an extensive breakfast menu that spans the culinary arc from the 'Mini More'(two rolls, butter, jam) to the full-on 'More Imperial' consisting of homemade salads, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and lots 'more'...including a glass of bubbly. The café itself is stylish, modern and minimal with friendly and attentive staff ensuring a fun and pleasant nosh. (030-2363 5702)
Tomasa in der Villa Kreuzberg
In a 19th-century red-brick fairytale villa on the edge of the romantic Viktoriapark, this is the prettiest of the four Tomasa branches in town. In summer especially, the Mediterranean-style garden is an inspired setting for a leisurely start to the day. Breakfast is served until 4pm and more than a cut above the usual cheese/cold cut/bread selection. A perennial bestseller is the waist-expanding 'Tomasa-Brunch', which stars such homemade delicacies as grilled pork with tomato hollandaise, smoked salmon in a honey-dill-mustard sauce, and sesame-encrusted baked Camembert. Of course, it also includes scrambled eggs and bacon, sausages and various jams and pastries.... Work off the postprandial stupor by climbing to the top of the park for sweeping views over the city. (030-8100 9885)
In fine weather, there are few better places to get fortified for the day than at Hüftengold, a tiny cafe on the sunny side of Oderberger Strasse in the hippest part of the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Owner Annie Rott has turned the broad sidewalk terrace into a flowery oasis with vintage benches and tables painted in happy-mood-inducing Mediterranean blues and greens. The menu offers a variety of breakfasts (including two vegan versions), along with delicious smoothies, freshly pressed juices and quality coffee drinks. Everything is made to order and - to quote Annie's motto - 'with love'. Since meals might take a bit longer to prepare here, you'll have ample time to indulge in some primo people-watching. (030-4171 4500)
We love this neighbourhood corner cafe in pretty Prenzlauer Berg for its unpretentious ambiance, friendly staff and excellent Irish breakfast, an homage to owner Mike's homeland. He and his wife, both artists, have given their place a stylish grandma's lair look with vintage sofas and chairs from the 50s and 60s and dazzling (and slightly dizzying) retro flower wall paper. The Irish breakfast (served weekends only) is a meat-heavy load featuring bacon, sausages as well as black and white pudding imported from Ireland. It goes well with a strong cuppa Barry's Irish Tea. Non-carnivores can go meatless with the 'Veggie' platter. A bottomless bread basket accompanies all orders and the robust coffee is fair trade-sourced. Free wifi, a good magazine selection and a sidewalk terrace invite lingering. (030-4050 4172)
Cabslam - The California Breakfast Slam
If you're in the mood for a breakfast of champions, make a beeline to this Left Coast outpost near a picturesque canal in the hipster hood of Neukoelln. Starting out as a pop-up weekend brunch place, the venture got such rave reviews, it recently moved to bigger digs and expanded its repertoire to include lunches and dinners. But it's the breakfast that has 'slam' groupies in a headlock. If the prospect of fluffy pancakes drenched in maple syrup, eggs benedict with homemade creamy hollandaise, or tangy huevos rancheros doesn't get you out of bed, perhaps such out-there concoctions as the 'bacon and banana marshmallow fluff' will. Coffee fiends will be happy to hear that all java beverages are made with beans from Five Elephant, currently one of Berlin's top micro-roasteries. (030-686 9624)
Zimt & Zucker
Wave to the happy folk on the tourist boats gliding past you along the Spree River while ensconced in this charismatic coffeehouse with its detail-oriented olde-worlde decor. Breakfasts here are named for ballroom dances and range from the 'Slowfox' (2 fried eggs on toast) to the 'Tango Deluxe' with such extras as salmon, creamy feta cheese and a glass of fresh juice. In keeping with the name (which translates as Sugar & Cinnamon), there's also a big selection of waffles, crepes, strudel and rice pudding with various toppings, most of them sweet. Everything's prepared to order, giving you more time to keep an eye on those boats. (030-8101 0858)
This corner cafe-cum-flowershop is a classic breakfast stop in the nicest part of the boho-trendy Prenzlauer Berg hood. It's named for a 1919 dadaist poem by the German artist Kurt Schwitters and charmingly decorated in an Art Nouveau-inspired style with soft colors and curvaceous booths. Wake up to breakfast platters quite appropriately named for flowers and featuring quality ingredients along with freshly made spreads and salads. The 'Alpenrose', for instance, is a mouthwatering potpourri of creamy goat cheese, Tyrolean ham, Swiss sausage salad and fresh fruit. 'Oleander' teams parma ham with provolone and marinated vegetables. The piece de resistance, though, is the 'Anna Blume Special', a three-tiered extravaganza that gives you a little taste of everything. The extensive menu also includes sweet and savoury crepes, salads and sundaes. In the afternoon, devotees invade for the pretty homemade cakes. (030-4404 8749)
Milja & Schäfa
Right at the Ostkreuz train station, this new contender has quickly garnered a loyal following, especially for its yummy breakfasts listed on a black-slate menu behind the counter. The place sits behind panoramic windows and is entirely dressed in natural wood, creating a warm and unhurried ambiance. Of course, on blue-sky days, everybody wants to bask in the sunlight at a sidewalk table. You can go classic with cheese, cold cuts and scrambled eggs or try one of the more creative dishes, such as the sweet potato frittata or the delicious French toast with plum compote. At other times of the day, people invade for the homemade pastas and crisp salads. (0176-6266 8459).