Moabit? Tell Berliners that you live there, and you usually get a frown. In the days of West Germany, it was a bit secluded, cast against the wall on it’s eastern borders. And in the last two decades it was always the ‘next hot thing’ that never really came into fashion. But that’s exactly what makes it so charming, I discovered in the past twenty months.
Not that there isn’t a good reason to move. My new place in Kreuzberg/Mitte is much more central, in sharp contrast to Moabit with only one U-Bahn line (the not so convenient U9).
But where the gentrification wave of bohemian hipsters and young families took over Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and now Neukölln, in Moabit you can still find a healthy mix of different groups. There are scores of students because the Technical University is around the corner. The Turkish population that has been living in this unpopular area is still there, making the Turmstrasse and Beusselstrasse a lively stretch. Pensioners occupy the Westfälisches Viertel, with its pre-war houses close to the Spree river. And there are many young professionals like me coming into the district, attracted by the relatively cheap rents.
That is changing rapidly, by the way. Hopefully it doesn’t rob Moabit of its genuine, eccentric vibe. So as a farewell to the place where I lived with loads of pleasure a small guide to Moabit.
yes, there is only one U-Bahn. But there’s plenty of buses (I for some strange reason hate to travel with them). The central S-Bahn lines are very close if you live near Bellevue in the south. If in the north, you have the S-Bahn Circular line nearby. And what most people don’t know: the new main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) is part of the district as well.
Apart from the transport, nature is probably Moabit’s biggest charm. Tiergarten is literally around the corner. And the Spreebogen (the part where the river starts to zig-zag through the city) is completely in Moabit. The stretch on the other side of Bellevue castle is very popular with sun-worshippers in the summer. Not so well-known is the stretch between Stromstrasse and Levetzowstrasse: the place where I enjoyed many bottles of wine on warm evenings, seeing the tour boats glide by.
Necessity #1 for fashionable internet hipsters in their hunt for the next cool district to live is of course a proper coffee place with wifi connection where you can act cool whilst pretending to work. Coffeemamas (Kirchstrasse 2) is nothing of all that: the service is charming, the interior design friendly and warm. And the beans are just delicious. Best place in the district, period.
More ‘high culture’ is Buchkantine (Dortmunder Strasse 1), a mixture of a cafe and a bookshop in the middle of the quite poshy Westfälische Viertel. Coffee is nothing special though. Around the corner is Fiaker (Bochumer Strasse 5), with excellent black brew but horrible service. And Cafe Pfau (on the corner of Turmstrasse and my good old Gotzkowskystrasse) is non-assuming but simply good.
I once described Mauerwerk (Zwinglistrasse) as a bar designed for hipsters, but without the hipsters. The interior is cosy, a bit Berlin-style with run-down walls. On some evenings, depending on the bartender, the music is quite good (and sometimes live). But the regulars don’t seem to care about both: Mauerwerk is still a pub for locals and a hidden gem for the rest of the world. Cocktails are dirt-cheap.
For cocktails you can by the way best cheat and go to Zeitlos (Franklinstrasse), 300 meters over the border to Charlottenburg. The building and location (an old warehouse at the border of the Spree) are beautiful, the regulars (nouveau riche) horrible, the cocktails superior. Go there between 5pm and 8pm daily for the happy hour.
There are plenty of Volkskneipen (people’s bars) in Moabit. I liked Nordwest Oase (Wiclefstrasse 17) best, a non-assuming place where you can watch football in peace and drink beer for very reasonable prices. The Lir (Flensburger Strasse 7) is good for footy as well, and for fish&chips. This Irish pub is close to Bellevue station. Last but not least: don’t forget to pay a visit to the Joanniter Biergarten in summer, in Kleiner Tiergarten.
In a district full of Turks and other ethnic groups, you can find plenty of schwarma, falafel, pizza and other places, especially on Turmstrasse. One of the best places I found was Maharadsch (Gotzkowskystrasse 25), an Indian place down where I was living.
For a lovely non-assuming German dish, head to Walhalla (Krefelder Strasse 6) in the Westfälisches Viertel. Loads of meat for little money, that’s the way we like it. Much more refined and absolutely delicious is the Probier Mahl (Dortmunder Strasse 9). They have a sort of tapas menu where you can combine loads of different tastes. One of the better places I visited in Berlin and absolutely the best price-quality-relation.
you might not expect a lot of art in Moabit, but the low rents attract artists. Since a couple of years the ZKU (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Siemensstrasse 27)) is one of the breeding grounds for cool projects in the district. It’s a former railway site that has partly been refurbished.
The Kulturfabrik (Lehrter STrasse 35) on the eastern side of the quarter has a nice small cinema and a pub where regular parties and concerts are being held. If you walk ten minutes further, you will find the Geschichtspark Moabit close to Hauptbahnhof. Turn right and move to the Ottopark, a nice little park with small hills and the traditional Ottostadion.
But one of the most pleasant places for me was the Arminius Markthalle (Arminiusstrasse 2-4). It is a place where they sell delicatessen to take home, but it also has a great wine bar and its own brewery. Cheers!