I came across Prater Garten by accident, which is often the best way to find things in a new city.
The place where I had intended to eat was closed by the time I got there, so with a grumbling belly late in the evening, I started wandering the neighborhood looking for some other options. After about fifteen minutes of passing fast food, non-German food and many more closed restaurants, I came across the gate to Prater Garten.
I was going to dismiss it, since what looked like an empty beer garden wasn’t high on my list for a late, chilly Berlin evening. Luckily, I noticed the proper restaurant nestled in the right hand side of the large open space. The restaurant is hard to miss. It has a big red lighted sign that reads “Gaststätte” (German for “restaurant”) on the roof.
I went in and immediately knew I had stumbled into a great experience. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and rustic. The building and it’s furnishings could have easily been the originals from the nineteenth century. The space includes a long bar and a couple of dozen tables. At one end of the seating area is a stage. I found myself thinking that this would be a wonderful place to hire out for an event. The fact that it was packed with locals late on a weeknight further cemented my idea that I had chosen well.
The wait staff was an eclectic mix that one might find in a bohemian neighborhood in any big city. My waitress was heavily tattooed & pierced, and very friendly & helpful. She was quick to step in with her excellent English after hearing me stumble through my mostly nonexistent grasp of the German language. After she took my order with a bit of a raised eyebrow, the reason for which I would only understand later, she brought me my beer. I opted for the half-liter Prater Lager Schwarz, the house dark beer, which was amazing.
When my food was served, I discovered the reason for the raised eyebrow. The plate of eggs in mustard Sauce with mashed potatoes, which I had thought was an appetizer, turned out to be huge. Three hard boiled eggs were nestled into a mound of mashed potatoes and covered in a wonderfully tangy mustard sauce. Next was the beef goulash, served with potato dumplings. This dish had such a complexity of flavor, and the beef was perfectly tender so as to nearly, but not quite, disintegrate upon meeting my fork. I was so satisfied with my meal that I made it a point to come back twice more during my time in Berlin. I also made it a point to avoid ordering more than one plate. In addition to the eggs and the goulash, I recommend the roast duck.
Also good is what, for lack of a better term, I call the grill shack. This is on the right side of the garden’s huge outdoor space near the window where one can buy beer and sodas. The grill shack offers sausages, snacks and small dishes.
After the last few paragraphs, I think it will come as no surprise that I wholeheartedly recommend Prater Garten. Whether it’s a sausage lunch in the beer garden or sitting down to a hearty meal in the Gaststätte, this is a place where you can get an authentic taste of German fare.
Please be aware that Prater Garten is cash only.
Prater Garten is located at:
Kastanienallee 7 – 9
To find Prater Garten via public transportation, take the U-Bahn U2 line to Eberswalder Straße. Kastanienallee begins under the train station. Walk south along Kastanienallee and you’ll find Prater Garten on the right side of the street. In case you don’t have a compass, Kastanienallee becomes Pappelallee on the north side of the train station. The M1 tram also runs down Kastanienallee.
On the web (in English, opens in a new window): http://www.pratergarten.de/e/index.php4