Zur Haxe is a fantastic German eatery hidden in Northern Prenzlauer Berg where you can eat Berlin’s best, Bavarian style Schinkenhaxe and satisfy your deepest pork crackling cravings. Combine this with one of the loveliest service teams of the city and you have a winning concept.
The first time I heard about Zur Haxe was when a Danish friend started raving about this German place he’d been to in the middle of nowhere, offering pork knuckles the size of sheep with crackling all around it and Bavarian ladies serving beers in massive jugs. For a long time I didn’t spend too much thought on it since I credited the stories to the very strong pork affection inherited of every Dane, I had also not heard anyone else mention this place ever, so how good could it really be. When I finally one day made my way out to Zur Haxe, it didn’t take me long to realize how spot on the description of my Danish friend was. Zur Haxe is an eatery fit for a feast of gods and a visit here pretty much a guarantee for a fantastic dining experience you won’t forget.
“I would go as far as saying that this Haxe has magical capabilities”
Zur Haxe is located very much off the grid in Northern Prenzlauer Berg, right on the border to Weißensee and pretty much right in culinary wasteland. Once you enter the doors to Zur Haxe though you step right into the Bavarian pork heaven. The whole place is decorated like a proper, Southern German Gaststube and throughout the years guests have donated an astonishing and borderline scary amount of memorabilia to the restaurant. The place is stuffed with teddybears, dolls, pictures and tons of other items and don’t be alarmed if you end up next to Dieter, the friendly police teddybear. It’s totally normal. Another, charming detail is how the staff fully adapted the Bavarian theme; the ladies always dress up in Dirndls and the gents in Lederhosen, which gives the whole experience a (good) Disneyland vibe. The head waiter further takes the game to a whole new level as he, in addition to his class A Lederhosen outfit, also sports a humongous beard that will make every Neukölln barista massively jealous.
“The place is immensely popular with local Berliners”
The food at Zur Haxe is traditional, Southern German with an addition of a couple of Berlin classics and also some seasonal dishes where the chef plays around a bit. On your first visits you should however devote your entire attention to the Schinkenhaxe, the signature dish of the restaurant and the single, most important reason you should embark on this journey to Northern Prenzlauer Berg. It’s essentially a whole pork knuckle that has been cured and then baked in the oven to crisp up the skin. The result is nothing but marvellous, a thick layer of crunchy crackling hides the juicy and tender meat that just falls of the bone the moment you start touching it. I would go as far as saying that this Haxe has magical capabilities, because every time I think I’ve eaten the whole damn thing I flip it around just to find twice the amount of meat hidden under the bone. That’s always the moment when the real meat sweats start. The Schinkenhaxe is a struggle, even for the experienced eater. I would estimate that they once a hit way over 400 grams in meat only and I’ve hardly ever managed to finish an entire Haxe by myself. My lady friends usually share one single Haxe and are hardly able to finish that. The fact that it’s served with two massive slices of Semmelknödel and Sauerkraut also doesn’t make it any easier. I’m a massive fan of good pork crackling and the amount of cracking you get with a Schinkenhaxe is enough to satisfy my cravings for months. It’s very intense, very fatty and really just plain beautiful if you’re into that kind of stuff. The other items on the Zur Haxe menu are also very solid, the classic dish Duck with red cabbage and Klöße crispy and perfectly cooked, the veal liver with apples and onions massive and spot on. The seasonal dishes are usually lighter and also very, you can for example enjoy game and root vegetables in the winter or asparagus in the spring. You might guess that this is really not the best place on my list for vegetarians, they do however have the classic, vegetarian options in the form of Semmelknödel and salads.
A meal at Zur Haxe is an experience, and not only because of the food and the setting. The service is some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered in Berlin, these guys are all about big smiles and heart-warming chuckles. At Zur Haxe you’ll never have to wait for your food or drinks, you will be taken care of from the moment you step inside the door. The place is immensely popular with local Berliners and if you’re not one of those, you will be an odd bird. This is old school Berlin and we’re a long way from Matcha Lattes and Indian Pale Ales.
Zur Haxe is by far one of the best, traditional German restaurants in Berlin, both in terms of food quality as well as overall experience. You feel transported a couple of hundred kilometres further South, right to a lovely little Bavarian Gaststube. If you are looking for one of those proper, German meals this is the place to go. I promise you that you’ll leave with a story you can tell for weeks. And for your own well-being, for god’s sake remember that it’s ok to give up on the Schinkenhaxe.