Why you should care
Because this might be the end of warm beer for Berliners.
The smell of cigarette smoke on your clothes is a surefire indicator of a night spent partying, but a trend in one Berlin club leaves a different lingering odor: burgers. The city’s party culture has shifted. Now it starts early on Saturday afternoon — and it’s more about the food.
No longer in the mood for endless lines outside of “in” clubs or drinking lukewarm beer in the company of sweaty teenagers, club-goers are flocking to Berlin’s Prince Charles Club for Burgers & Hip Hop parties, held irregularly since late 2013. You get the amenities of nightlife — dancing, drinking, flirting — along with gourmet burger options, like the röesti burger with raclette cheese, or an Italian variation with scamorza that drips loads of runny cheese, or a burger braised in French cider for 65 hours. There’s even a cookie burger with goat-cheese ice cream. All at 6 euros per sandwich.
Hip-hop is more than just an ironic nod here, and the culinary experience is almost as important as the music.
Patrons follow a hip-hop dress code: sneakers, hoodies and beanies. Fairy lights strung across the low ceilings and beer benches make it feel more like a party in someone’s parents’ garage, except that stalls are offering handcrafted beer plus the standard bar range of Moscow Mules, trendy soft drinks and gin and tonics. Revelers gather long before midnight and then just stay. Hip-hop is more than just an ironic nod here, and the culinary experience is almost as important as the music.
“Food is becoming an increasingly important part of the city culture and also a way of defining your social status,” says Per Meurling, a writer at Berlin Food Stories. But Peggy Schatz, food blogger and Berliner, suggests that the foodie trend isn’t so great for those who aren’t partyers or, more significantly, aren’t flush with cash: “How about serving good food to those who can’t afford restaurants and clubs?” She sees the long-standing supper clubs — dinners in private homes — as a better alternative.
The origin of the city’s foodie trend may be Street Food Thursdays at Kreuzberg’s historical Markthalle Neun. Crowds at this bustling indoor market peak on Thursdays, when stalls offer handmade Chinese noodles, focaccia fresh from the oven, natural wines from France, home-brewed pale ale and sweets from nearby neighborhood manufacturers. At the long tables, young families share seats with students, and party people meet expats. The language mix is eclectic, and the atmosphere rivals a Mediterranean piazza.
On Fridays, the Gelände Neue Heimat, a fallow piece of land in Friedrichshain, hosts Bar & Food Night with drinks, music and food starting at 8 p.m. and lasting into the wee hours of the morning. Music varies from a jazz combo to soul music and, later at night, electronica. Three interchanging bars showcase their creations, and vendors offer cheese spaetzle and schnitzel, oysters, Polish pierogi, sweet chili nuts and Sicilian street food to line your stomach.
Why does urban downtime now appear to revolve around food? One possible explanation is the current “consciousness” trend. People want to treat themselves with good food while simultaneously showing off their good taste, ideally in a sustainable way — instead of wrecking their bodies by partying all night.