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A guide to a once notorious neighbourhood through street art, nightlife spots and cafés.
No waterside, no big museums or beautiful mansions. What is the secret of the rejuvenated and now widely popular Schanzenviertel (aka Schanze)? Not too long ago, this used to be an uninspiring part of town, close to the meat market and a working-class district. It is home of the “Rote Flora” – a run-down theatre that has been, for quite some time now, a meeting point for left-wing movements and a no-go-area for the police. Of course, gentrification has changed the quarter, but not too dramatically. The overall leftist and anti-globalization movement stopped some projects and big chain stores from getting a foot in the door. Now, the overall feeling is laid-back, with a friendly vibe for tourists and nightlife. It has remained somewhat alternative (great street art!) with a wide range of ordinary shops and restaurants. But if you know where to look, you can find some unique treasures. Here is our Schanze Guide.
Among the vast number of rather crummy shops of all sorts in the Schanze, you can still manage to have a unique shopping spree for design, fashion and beyond. If you are looking for nice design items, start at Minimarkt in the cosy Bartelsstrasse. They are filled with all sorts of high-quality accessories, textiles, books and souvenirs that worth a look – and that will fortunately fit into your luggage.
Original and sometimes handmade design items can be found in a small concept store on the outskirts of the Schanze: The Human Empire shop has it all: posters, books, small art items and some trendy clothes as well. As with most design shops here, you can feel the Scandinavian influence: Hygge and cuteness.
If you are looking for the nice women’s fashion shops, stop at Kauf dich glücklich, a nicely designed shop with the sort of hipster-friendly women’s wear that’s ideal for every big city in Europe. This one is on the very busy Susannenstrasse and has a good vibe to it. If you walk up to lush Juliusstrasse you will find a sweet little courtyard and a small shop, Wie es Euch gefällt. Here you can shop for smaller fashion labels, affordable jewellery and small design items. And after that you might sit outside on the small bench in the courtyard, which is (secretly) the best spot to sit in the Schanze. If you are looking for some new sunglasses or frames that are not on everybody’s nose already, you should check out the Glassaal, a cool little shop with exceptional staff and all the right brands.
The Schanze offers a huge number of eateries which serve all day long. For a nice breakfast/brunch spot, try the Café unter den Linden, which is an old-time classic and offers a more than decent breakfast in a beautiful and calm location under big trees and outside in the sun.
If you just want a quick, sweet bite, take a visit to the Pastelaria Transmontana, a small Portuguese coffee house with nice outside seating and a whole world of pastries to die for. This place has been here for ages and may have been the reason why the Schanze got gentrified. Back in the 90s, when nobody dared to come here, all the people we would call “hipsters” today would make their way here to get their daily “galão-fix”.
For a nice Lunch, you have plenty of options on the streets but best to try the upscale lunch at the Bullerei, which is owned by the young celebrity chef Tim Mälzer. The Restaurant is on a small hill, the “Schanzenhöfe” which is also home to the brewery and brew shop Ratsherren and gourmet coffee shop Elbgold with their own roaster and a nice courtyard. An ideal place for a post-lunch coffee in the sun. If you are craving for exquisite cake or sweets you should head straight to Herr Max, which is a tiny café with homemade cakes so sweet that they will make an impression not only on your taste buds but on your Instagram account as well.
In the evening, the best aperitif in the Schanze can be found on the terrace of the Bistro Carmagnole, a delightful French bar and restaurant. Their drink selection is outstanding. Try to get a seat outside on the blue chairs (no reservations). And if you decide to stay because you love the wine list and like the look of the dishes going around, nobody will blame you if you just spend the evening here. A fine choice.
If you have something exclusive in mind and want to try the best fish restaurant (hands down!) in a city full of good Seafood places, try get a table at the Jellyfish, a superb but unassuming tiny Restaurant on the outskirts of the Schanze. They will surprise you with an unparalleled inventiveness and with experimental dishes. Think: Seafood head-to-tail. Worth checking out!
If you are a lover of great beer and like some nice food to go along with it, you should head to the Altes Mädchen, a Braugasthaus which is part of the Ratsherren brewery in the Schanzenhöfe. The atmosphere is rather rustic, complete with a fireplace and a beer menu to dream about. Plus, a couple of direct lines to the brewery are just around the corner.
A great wine selection can be found in the cosy Neapolitan pizza place called Jill. They have the best pizza oven in the city and pleasant outside seating. Interestingly, they were on the verge of getting booted out by the traditionalists in the Schanze and professional nay-sayers to new things. But they stayed and it is an absolute win for the neighbourhood.
The newcomer, Tiny Oyster Inn, has become the best cocktail bar in the Schanze (or close to it). In a remote but awesome location, the people here are doing everything right. It is cool but classic cocktail bar everybody has been waiting for. The atmosphere is exciting with friendly, knowledgeable staff and the drinks are spectacular – such a nice addition to the Schanze experience and the perfect spot to end the night out.