Berlin’s Kreuzberg Neighborhood Guide

  • Stephen Hartmann's namesake restaurant was recently awarded a Michelin star.

    Stephen Hartmann's namesake restaurant was recently awarded a Michelin star.

  • HARTMANNs has a regularly updated menu features exquisite seasonal fare.

    HARTMANNs has a regularly updated menu features exquisite seasonal fare.

  • The real treat of bar-cum-café Luzia is the atmosphere.

    The real treat of bar-cum-café Luzia is the atmosphere.

  • Luzia is a standby in the Kreuzberg drinking scene.

    Luzia is a standby in the Kreuzberg drinking scene.

  • Ritter Butzke has three different dance floors and an outdoor courtyard that opens in the summer.

    Ritter Butzke has three different dance floors and an outdoor courtyard that opens in the summer.

  • Ritter Butzke occupies a former factory warehouse.

    Ritter Butzke occupies a former factory warehouse.

  • Soluna Brot und Öl was dubbed the

    Soluna Brot und Öl was dubbed the "Ferrari of bread" by Michael Hoffman.

  • Soluna Brot und Öl specializes in organic breads made from specially-aged flours.

    Soluna Brot und Öl specializes in organic breads made from specially-aged flours.

  • Voo Store is a high-ceilinged, airy fashion emporium.

    Voo Store is a high-ceilinged, airy fashion emporium.

  • Bare racks and concrete floors display the avant-garde wares of Voo Store.

    Bare racks and concrete floors display the avant-garde wares of Voo Store.

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Long a stronghold for Berlin’s creatives and counterculture adherents, Kreuzberg beckons those seeking subversive fashion, cavernous warehouse clubs, and the perfectly leavened loaf of bread.

By Zing Tsjeng

Unlike Mitte, its fashionably gentrified neighbor, Kreuzberg has long sustained its reputation for edgy bohemianism and counterculture: punks, anarchists, and bohos have long made their home within its artfully decaying buildings. It’s a neighborhood that wakes up early and goes to bed late—and that’s if it goes to bed at all.

Kreuzberg was once one of the poorest areas in the city: enclosed by the Berlin Wall on three sides, the former West Berlin enclave drew squatters, students, artists, and Turkish immigrants with its cheap housing. Increasing numbers of start-up geeks and trend-seeking expats from all over the world have smoothed down the grittier edges of Kreuzberg’s exterior, but it’s still one of Berlin’s buzziest areas. An ever-changing roster of fashionably shabby bars, artisanal coffee shops, and pop-up street food eateries dominate its streets, offering everything from Korean bibimbap to Mexican tacos.

And of course, who can forget the nightlife? In Berlin, clubs open late—don’t bother putting on your dancing shoes till at least eleven at night. New York might be the city that never sleeps, but the German capital gives it a run for its money.

Bare racks and concrete floors display the avant-garde wares of Voo Store.

Bare racks and concrete floors display the avant-garde wares of Voo Store.

Voo Store

Voo Store’s in-house line of tote bags read “Voo love is true love”, and you’ll understand why after stepping into this 300-square-meter concept store—fans of quirky, independent shops like Colette in Paris or Opening Ceremony will fall hard and fast for its accessible streetwear intermixed with avant-garde, high-fashion pieces. Situated off a busy main street and in a charming courtyard, this high-ceilinged, airy emporium is the brainchild of retail wunderkinds Kann and Yasin Müjdeci, who also run the bar-cum-café Luzia fifteen minutes down the street.

The Voo philosophy is simple: to stock sustainable, top-quality items from niche manufacturers that will last a lifetime. It’s an ethos that has won the store accolades from all over the world, including the title of world’s best boutique in 2012 by e-commerce hub Farfetch.

In practice, that means classic Stutterheim raincoats from Stockholm in high-quality, hand-sewn oilskin, elegant Daniel Wellington wristwatches crafted in Switzerland, and fashionable separates from established German designers like Hien Le and A Kind of Guise. International brands such as A.P.C., Dr. Martens, and Kenzo are also on offer, with wares running the gamut from cheeky art motif sweatshirts to vivid digital print dresses in scuba material. The store also displays a well-edited selection of books and magazines from publishers like Phaidon.

Conveniently, one of Berlin’s best coffeehouses is also at Voo—Companion Coffee (Oranienstraße 24, 49-176/6344-6225; from US$3.50), one of the cafés at the forefront of the artisanal Third Wave Coffee movement in Berlin. Sit down with a cappuccino and a seasonal tart baked by the one of the baristas. If you’re in town for longer, do check out Voo’s website ahead of time, as the store also plays host to a lively calendar of art exhibitions, live gigs, book readings, and fashion parties.

Oranienstraße 24; 49-30/6165-1119; Voo Store  

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