Statistically, about 100 FIT World Congress attendees will have celiac disease. If you are one of them and have heard about (or experienced first-hand) how difficult it can be in Germany to find restaurants and cafés offering gluten-free food, you may be worried. But fear not! Berlin actually gives you quite a range of places to choose from. First of all, if you are staying at a hotel with breakfast included in your rate, be sure to contact them in advance and ask about their gluten-free breakfast options. In my experience, most hotels now cater to this and other dietary needs, but there still are exceptions and you don’t want to be caught out.
For delicious cakes – both fancy and plain – and ice cream (served in gluten-free cones), my favorite place is Eis Voh. Located near the Walther-Schreiber-Platz U-Bahn station (U9), it is absolutely worth a visit for a sweet treat. It’s also not too far from the conference venue and is open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. Check out their website for current offerings (only available in German). For those without a sweet tooth or in need of more nourishment, they also serve gluten-free soups and savory snacks.
If you are okay with meat, the small steak house chain Block House might be attractive. The will provide you with a list of the gluten-free items on their menu upon request. Be sure to let your waiter know that you have celiac disease and that they need to be extra careful in order to avoid contamination. Of the seven Block House restaurants in Berlin, the one at Teltower Damm 36 is closest to the conference venue (walk to Clayallee 229 and take the 285 bus to Zehlendorf S-Bahn station).
For Italian fare relatively close to the conference venue (4 stops on the U-Bahn to Breitenbachplatz), Il Gattopardo offers gluten-free pasta. You can also pre-order gluten-free pizza.
Gluten-free pizza without the need for pre-ordering is available from Simela on Kantstraße on the western side of the city center. This is a cute “hole in the wall” restaurant where reservations are recommended if you want to eat in, but you can also take away your pizza and enjoy it on one of the benches on nearby Savignyplatz. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If you are a paleo eater or have always wanted to try paleo cuisine (it is naturally gluten-free because it avoids grains), visit one of the two Sauvage restaurants. The bigger restaurant, which accepts online reservations, is located in Prenzlauer Berg, which is quite a distance from the conference venue. However, their food is definitely worth the trip if you have the time. Be sure to reserve your table ahead of time and budget for the rather pricey main courses (see website for current menu). Not any closer, located in Neukölln, their smaller branch offers simpler and more affordable fare. This location does not take online reservations.
While you are in the city exploring Berlin’s crowded down-town area, you can have a tasty Thai meal at Cha Cha on famous Friedrichstraße. This restaurant has plenty of seating, so you probably won’t need reservations. Their gluten-free options are clearly labelled on the menu. You’ll also find two Block House restaurants in this area and at least one Maredo restaurant, part of another steak house chain. Maredo restaurants have a number of gluten-free options – just ask for their allergen list.
Should you have chosen the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden mall for your shopping trip, you can find refreshment in the gigantic servings of tasty ice cream at Caffè e Gelato inside the mall. Not all varieties are gluten-free, but there are plenty to choose from. Be sure to let them know that your ice cream must not be contaminated.
Visited Potsdamer Platz, but don’t want ice cream? Try the FBI Eatery at Potsdamer Platz 9. They offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free foods, all clearly labelled on their menu.
If these options leave you wanting, visit Glutenfrei in Berlin, an English-language guide to eating gluten-free in Berlin. It features restaurant reviews and a map of places serving gluten-free food.
Text: Dr. Ulrike Walter-Lipow