Every year, the BFS Team (a.k.a The Hungriest People in Berlin) is out in these mean streets tasting, slurping, teasing, sipping, gnawing, and, of course, testing the bounty of the city - all for you. This year, however, we’ve decided to pull together some of the absolute best and most memorable specific dishes that we’ve enjoyed over the last twelve months. Instead of calling out a single ‘Best Restaurant’ or ‘Restaurant of the Year Berlin, 2023’, we prefer to dig deeper into the menus and showcase some of the best shining stars the city has to offer. Remember - if you’re ever in doubt about sharing one of these stellar dishes, just order two (and feel like a baller for free).
Below, you’ll find our collection of The Best Dishes of the Year 2023 - some hailing from the fancy-pants lands of the West, while others are more humble, best enjoyed outside, or even To-Go! It’s quite apparent that noodles play a huge role in our team’s minds (keep your eyes out for an article in the coming weeks!), as do sandwiches, and dumplings, and and…. Well, just check out the list and find out for yourself.
THAT one bowl of insane ramen
Ramen in Berlin has come a long way, but these Tokyo experts showed us how far we have left to go. From the umami punch of the dried fish broth to the crunchy, slippery shrimp wontons to the toothsome yet effortlessly slurpable noodles, every aspect of this €39 bowl was a revelation – especially the mascarpone-parsley-sansho pepper cream stirred in towards the end, which rivaled the film Eileen for 2023’s most satisfying third-act twist. P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for the secon act in 2024! - RACHEL GLASSBERG
THAT one bowl of Zajiang noodles
You'll have to head to the commercial district of Friedrichtstraße early to get a taste of Liu's iconic Zajiang noodles. This mirage in the desert of otherwise disappointing and overpriced salads and chain bakeries offers this spicy, tingly, punchy noodle dish with its highly addictive pork and bean sauce to hungry office workers and those willing to make the pilgrimage during weekdays. Choose between one, two or three chillies - just be warned - when the Sichuanese say spicy, they mean it. - LANA O’SULLIVAN
THAT one market stand
Maybe one of my most closely held secrets is the Thai Imbiss stand at the Winterfeldtplatz Markt on Saturday mornings. While well known to regulars (who are slick enough to bring their own take-away containers, IYKYK), I'm even hesitant to spread the word at all as I don't want to overrun this wonderful team. Of the many (many) lovely dishes I've had this past year standing at the high tops, the Pork Belly with Water Spinach has really stuck with me as one of my favorite single bites of 2023. Please go check it out, just go gently. (And be prepared to wait in line.) - NATHAN COLELLO GILMOUR
THAT one timeless classic
My opening of the year is Trio for their remarkable execution of the modern German Gasthaus and my favorite dish from their menu is their Backhendl Fried Chicken. Served with a potato salad (of course vinegar based without mayo), this beast of a chicken dish is no delicate chicken dish, we’re talking endless flavor and texture achieved by brining, marinating, and then battering into every little crevice before frying the juicy thigh to crisp and juicy perfection. A masterpiece, best enjoyed complemented by nearly all the other dishes on the menu. - PER MEURLING
THAT one perfect piece of fish
The thing to order at SAN (apart from the stellar sushi and sashimi selection) are the daily specials. Usually you will find a grilled fish collar on there, a leftover from the sushi making process. Simple, but this tuna “neck” from SAN was flawless - GRACIELA BOLAÑOS
THAT one Kokoreç sandwich
Naming a diasporic community’s ‘best’ version of a dish when you haven’t tried it in its country of origin is a bit like throwing darts wearing a blindfold. You might think you’re near the center, but how would you know? All I can say is that for me, the moist, griddle-crisped lamb intestines at this Charlottenburg branch of a Turkish chain hit the bullseye. - RACHEL GLASSBERG
THAT one Thai "salad"
Also simple, but the duck larb salad from the ramen pop up from Kuma Ramen (while still in pop-up mode!) was crazy delicious. By now I have forgotten what the ramen was (NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: It was a Tom Yum Ramen), but the salad stayed with me. - GRACIELA BOLAÑOS
THAT one fancy fish dish
Easy decision. Tim Raue’s Sangohachi Pike Perch with sauerkraut and Peruvian mint from his new Kolibri (German) menu. - XENIA GLASSEN
THAT one perfect wiggly spoon
If we've met at a party, we've probably discussed Mapo Tofu. I'm always on the prowl... for the best mapo tofu. The Mapo Tofu at Le Moon is the best I've been lucky enough to try in this town and is as close to the platonic ideal of the dish that I've been able to find in Berlin. The perfect heat, the sassy wiggle. It's the whole package. - NATHAN COLELLO GILMOUR
THAT one pop-up
The superlative Lobster Miso Tantan Ramen from the Le Duc salon pop up off Kantstrasse. All of them were great - but this one… wow. - XENIA GLASSEN
THAT one pop-up you'd go to twice in a week...
Absolutely no question: King Seimen Ramen pop-up. The main ramen bowl plus the all the extras served, it was all fantastic. - JAMIE HUNTER, Webmaster
THAT one insane Crab XLB
The grand finale of the legendary Chinese seafood dinner at Meet You in early 2023 for BFS Members was a basket of freshly steamed Crab Xiao Long Baos. Hand-folded by the owner, who’s arguably the best soup dumpling folder in the city, these dumplings were everything you’ll ever dream of when it comes to a soup dumpling; a paper-thin wrapper, filled with delicate brown crab meat and soup that hangs plump from your chopsticks as you pluck it from the basket and put it on a spoon with black vinegar and ginger. By far the best Xiao Long Bao I’ve ever had in Berlin, and the fac that every guest just got one, single dumpling (they were just too difficult to mass-produce) amplified the whole experience even more. - PER MEURLING
THAT one world famous lolllipop
Coda. Caviar. Popsicle. That's all I'm going to say. One of the all-time-greatest Berlin dishes for me. - XENIA GLASSEN