As the 4 of us walked through the neighborhood streets of Prenzlauerberg and Mitte in Berlin chatting excitedly about restaurants, dating, and life in Berlin I felt a little Sex in the City nostalgia coming on. It had been a while since I had this feeling in my travels – it was comfortable – I felt as if I were out with 4 girlfriends gossiping and enjoying the hip life for a bit. I don’t even think we noticed the cold, but instead just enjoyed each other’s company over drinks, food and walking between restaurants in Berlin.
The Gastro Rallye East Food Tour was a way to get introduced to a neighborhood and the hip restaurants of the area. I was really curious to see how this tour delivered the ‘off the tourist track’ elements it promised. The tour description states:
“We have introduced a new kind of experience for sophisticated world travelers, international companies and individuals interested in food and urban lifestyle. All our tours grant our guests a look behind the scenes of each destination and offer a great deal of surprises and secrets, both on and off the cliched, well-beaten tourist track.”
Since I was supposed to be a ‘sophisticated world traveler’ – I put on my best unwrinkled hip clothes out of my backpack and Lisa, Karina, and me went to meet Lollie to have a night out on the town eating at the local hot spots. The tour promised 4 stops at restaurants each lasting about an hour each – this was a full evening commitment! At each restaurant we would have another course – similar to progressive dinner parties I used to throw with friends in the past – but I liked the idea of having a progressive restaurant reservation! Each course also included a glass of wine or other beverage.
Lollie, our guide, was fun and social – we all bonded quickly. Lollie was an expat in Berlin for 10 years – after 10 years in a place a person can wear the ‘local patch’ in my opinion. Lollie was also a writer and freelancer so we had lively conversations about freelancing, art, living in Berlin and of course girl talk. In addition to leading us to the restaurants and keeping us on time for our reservations, Lollie also showed us a few secret bars in the area we started our progressive dinner.
W Der Imbiss – Starter of Nan Pizza
Vino e Libri – Seafood Salads - salmon tatar with strawberries and an fried sea wolf filet and prawn
Mani Hotel & Restaurant – Main Dishes of Beet Root, Yellow fin tuna in pistachio cream, falafel, and various other Lebanese and turkish inspired dishes.
Rutz Wine Bar – Dessert of cheesecake with berry foam and syrups and of course amazing wine offered up by their sommelier.
Yes – I felt like it did provide a bit of an inside local scoop. Each restaurant we went to was not filled up with tourists – but instead it was locals that filled the seats and conversations filled the air. I suppose the odd exception to that was Mani – where there were more tourists there since it was a hotel restaurant. These are not places I probably would have found on my own especially since they ranged in prices and types of food from the W Der Imbiss casual café to Rutz Wine bar for the person with a love of wine and a overflowing pocket book. Overall even though it was a tour – it felt more like a night out on the town with friends – I felt a part of the experience and not like someone who was a visitor.
The food was very filling and it was actually nice to walk between the restaurants between courses since it did provide a little exercise. I loved the Lebanese inspired dishes at Mani the most. And the Reisling wine at Rutz for dessert was a perfect way to end the evening.
Lollie was a great host telling us stories of the neighborhood and pointing out favorite places as we hurriedly passed by on the snowy cold evening. By the end we were all toasty warm with wine and full bellies! We actually even stayed in touch with Lollie after the tour hoping to meet up with her again – we had bonded beyond the typical guide/client relationship in this intimate evening setting.
At 190€ per person – the tour is a bit pricey – but do consider that you are eating eating and drinking for four hours in very nice restaurants in Berlin – this is not street food!
Inclusions: a 4-course menu (4 restaurants), 1 beverage per location (wine, beer or soft drink), water, coffee with dessert, a private guide and lots of insider tips.
Start: 6.00 or 7.00 pm (every day)
Duration: approx. 4.5 hours
For those looking for even more local experiences – you might want to also check out another unique local based tour they run:
Urban Living tour
This living culture tour is unique because you’ll actually be visiting homes spread right across the city of three very different, interesting Berliners that make up the city’s diverse social fabric. Our hosts will not only invite you inside to showcase their distinctive homes and décor, they will also give you a unique perspective on the city that they love.
Disclosure: The Living la Vida Local experiment is in partnership with Go with Oh. However all opinions expressed are my own.