My dad has a saying: "I plan my vacations one meal at a time." Or maybe he didn't actually say that; I can't tell whether that is a quote he actually said, or something that I've just attributed to him, that he said something similar but not quite as catchy, or maybe is just something Guy Fieri said and I assigned it to my dad because they have similar haircuts. So I take this to heart, and whenever we are heading to a new city, much to Renee's chagrin, I will always google the phrase "______ famous foods" because I don't want to be talking to someone about what a great time we had in Iceland, and have them say "Did you have hot dogs there? THEY WERE UNBELIEVABLE!" and not have an opinion ready to blast out. Yes, we had hot dogs in Iceland. And lobster rolls in Boston. Don't forget pizza in New York. So we were not going to spend our time in Berlin without having currywurst.
Currywurst is a German delicacy that is most popular in it's capital city, having been born in 1949 when Herta Heuwer was cooking her fam some dinner and threw whatever she had in the pantry on the plate. It turned out to be a sauce combining ketchup and curry powder over a pork sausage, and what do you know A STAR IS BORN. Now there are currywurst stalls everywhere from Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie (Real missed opportunity: Call your stall Checkpoint Curry, then wait for the money to roll in. Come on Berlin do I have to do all this for you?) and every one has their own secret ingredient or special cooking technique. Everything from brown sugar to chamomile can make up the ketchupy (I tried for literally fifteen minutes to come up with a better word than ketchupy, but ultimately, no word described the sauce better. It's ketchupy. Get off my back Roget) sauce, and every Berliner has their favorite. So how to choose? Easy. Let a professional make the choice for you.
The Berlin Currywurst & Beer tour was certainly one of the highlights of our time in The Grey City (someone told us this was Berlin's nickname, I'm not sure it's accurate, but I'm using it, and now you will too. This is how rumors get started), and an absolutely fantastic way to get to know the Mitte area while drinking a lot of beers and eating a lot of currywurst. I'd recommend going on it during the early part of your stay, as the information given out by Bastian Schwithal, who runs every single tour (he told us he had been talking about Berlin for 8 hours that day and was starting to get hoarse), can be extremely useful for the rest of your stay. It's not all facts about beer (Fun Fact Time! Bastian told us the average German drinks just under 1/2 a liter of beer A DAY. DAMN AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR UNCLE LOU COULD PUT THEM BACK) or sausage (The average Berliner puts down a currywurst every fifteen days, I ate enough for almost two months worth), it's an in-depth look at the street art of the Mitte area as well as having a personal guide to the city. Bastian gave us all his cell number to text if we had any questions or needed recommendations on where to get a drink or do some discotheque-ing. Or even if you just wanted to talk about the Hoff, he was there for you.
Enough. LET'S GET TO THE SAUSAGES.
First stop on the tour was Brauhaus Lemke, an award-winning brewpub with a super cool Biergarten hidden underneath the S-Bahn, with the beer tank lines actually running directly underneath the train from the storage tanks to the bar itself. There Bastian took us through the history of both the dish and talked broadly about Berlin, as well as just about spices in general; he ground up some fresh curry mix, after smelling it, I'll never buy curry powder again. We were in a group of about ten people, and if you aren't interested in making some new friends or simply hanging out for a few hours with a wide group of people (Our tour had Nederlanders, Aussies, Brazilians, and a British couple), this might not be the tour for you, as there was a there were tons of opportunities to chat. Laughing and joking with new friends over a few pints and wursts while you're walking through the city truly makes it feel like you're a local (at least for a moment). While at Brauhaus Lemke, we sampled six of their beers (The Imperial Stout was spectacular) and had our first taste of currywurst and pommes frites.
After getting a solid six beers in (this was our kind of tour), we headed to our next stop, Curry 61, one of the oldest and most famous stands in the city. This is literally a food stall with nowhere to sit, and the pizza place next door wants to make sure they don't lost their seats to any Currywursters.
Honestly, you guys, I was so stoked to eat this currywurst, I forgot to take a picture. Imagine it in your mind. It looks fairly similar to the other pictures you've seen, only it's so delicious it only lasted about thirty seconds before it was in my belly. This was Renee's favorite of the three currywursts we tried, and I thought it was great too, but one part about a food tour is THERE IS NO TIME TO REMINISCE ABOUT A THING YOU JUST ATE BECAUSE HERE COMES SOME MORE BEER as we were on our way to the next stop, a slick pug-themed pub where you could pour your own Berliner Pilsners at the table. Again, my kind of tour.
I don't want to forget to mention that the entire time we're walking between stops, our tour guide Bastian is pointing out incredibly interesting and cool street art. This alley was an example of an off-the-beaten-path place you might have missed if you didn't have a local showing you the adventures of Little Lucy throughout the city.
We then went to one of the oldest pubs in Mitte, where the owner made fun of us in German with a cigarette dangling from his lips (much more charming than it sounds) while we enjoyed another round of either beers or shandys (beer mixed with lemonade) before heading to grab another round of currywurst (this version was my favorite, they fried the sausages for an extra second it seemed like to give them a great snap. By this time, Renee was almost full, so I got some extra wurst and fries. BONUS) at Curry Mitte. You guys, it was so good. I fell in love, and I'm sure all the beer we had drank beforehand didn't hurt my enjoyment levels.
FYI, if you go to Curry Mitte and order a vegetarian currywurst (Yes, these exist at most of the stalls around the city), they will tell you to GTFO Berlin style, which is definitely not something you want to happen.
CURRYWURST PRO TIP TIME: Don't pay more than four Euros for a currywurst and pommes, and no more than two for a wurst sans frites.
After that it was time for our last stop at the Circus Hostel, a hostel that brews itś own beer, but whatever, letś skip past that and tell you something in bold font.
THEY HAVE A DAVID HASSELHOFF SHRINE IN THE BASEMENT.
This is the kind of thing you would not see unless someone specifically brought you there, but it was glorious. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Actually, it was like five funny pictures, but still pretty awesome.
After that, we enjoyed our last beers, exchanged emails (I told you, food tours make new friends) and headed our separate ways. Us to take a ten hour train ride across Germany, and our fellow currywursters to one of the rooftop bars Bastian had recommended. Real talk you guys, we were comped on this tour, but it is a steal at only €39. Our friend paid full price and agreed that it was totally worth it. If you decide to hit up Berlin, we highly recommend Berlin Food Tours, the Beer & Currywurst Tour specifically. Tell them Josh & Renee sent you. Prost!