Katherine Sacks

Correspondent

  • Berlin, Germany, Europe

Katherine Sacks is a correspondent who lives in Berlin and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Prior to moving to Germany, Sacks traveled throughout the U.S. for StarChefs.com, interviewing chefs and researching culinary industry trends. She is now a freelance writer and recipe developer who covers travel, food, lifestyle and health topics. A graduate of Drexel University’s culinary arts department and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Sacks combines seven years of restaurant experience with her reporting and editing background. Her work has appeared on FoodandWine.com, StarChefs.com and Chicago magazine, among other publications.

  • On July 2, 2014
  • On July 29, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best wine bars in Berlin?

    Berlin has a number of great wine bars to choose from. One of the classiest is Weinbar Rutz, which boasts a Michelin star and is said to have the best Riesling list in Germany.

    A more traditional wine bar is Prenzlauer Berg’s Weinstein, near Hemholz Platz, which has the feel of Old World Germany and carries a diverse list.

    For a low-key experience, head to Weinerei, near to Zionskirchplatz, where you’ll find living room style décor and a laissez faire honor system policy—after enjoying the selection of wines, guests are simply asked to leave the price they think is fair.

    And just off of Mitte’s trendy Rosenthaler Strasse, Muret la Barba is a great Italian bistro and wine shop, where you’ll find a large variety of wines to both purchase and sample. The classic menu, with charcuterie and housemase pastas, is also worth trying.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best cocktails in Berlin?

    Germany may be known as the capital of beer, but the city boasts quite an impressive cocktails scene as well. From intimate, speakeasy style bars to hotel lounges, you can find plenty of places to get a great drink in this city.

    If you are looking for a great cocktail in West Berlin, head to the saloon-style bar Stagger Lee, try the speakeasy Green Door or head to Tiergarten park and Victoria Bar. In the center of town, you’ll find the Amano Hotel, Newton Bar, and Reingold, all well known in Mitte for their drinks menus. In Prenzlauer Berg, Beckett’s Kopf and Immertreu are favorites, while Würgeengel and John Muir are places to try in Kreuzberg. And elsewhere in Berlin, you’ll find great drinks at Bebel Bar & Velvet Lounge, Neu Odessa, and Rum Trader.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Berlin?

    If you can only do one thing in Berlin, visit the Tiergarten, and on bike would be best! Starting at Brandenburg Gate, directly opposite the park’s entrance, you are immediately thrown into the city's storied history and impressive architecture.

    The sprawling park (600 acres) is full of historical landmarks, including the Reichstag, the Victory Column, and Germany’s version of the White House, Bellevue Palace. There are picturesque meadows, plenty of paths, and of course, the River Spree to walk or bike along. You’ll also find several beer gardens tucked inside the gardens, a nice way to relax and enjoy some of the local culture. It’s really a great way to see a lot of Berlin.
  • On July 9, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best local dishes in Berlin?

    Unlike Belgium’s waffles or French Champagne, Berlin isn’t known for something ultra luxurious with it comes to cuisine. The real treat here is street food, and the two must-try dishes are currywurst and doner kebabs.

    Instead of a typical bratwurst, grilled and served in a brötchen, currywurst is a steamed, then fried pork sausage that is sliced and covered in curried ketchup. The bread comes on the side, perfect for soaking up all the sauce. The doner kebabs come thanks to Berlin’s large Turkish immigrant population, and feature veal, chicken, or lamb slowed cooked on a spit, which is then shaved and served in a pita-like flat bread. Hot sauce, garlic sauce, and yogurt sauce generally top the meat, along with a salad of shaved lettuces and cabbage. You can find both items at the city’s many Imbiss, Berlin’s answer to the fast food stop.

    On the sweet side of the spectrum is the jelly doughnut, made infamously popular with John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Brandenburger Tor speech that included “Ich bin ein Berliner.” In fact, the doughnuts in this part of Germany are called pfannkuchen (which confusingly means pancakes elsewhere throughout the country). No matter the name, they are delicious, especially when found at some of the city’s older traditional-style bakeries.
  • On July 8, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best bars in Berlin?

    Berlin’s go-to bar is a casual watering hole that looks like your best friend’s living room, complete with the assortment of vintage furntiture and odd ball curiosities. Try places like Kreuzberg’s Vögelchen, where the 1960's style TV has been refurbed into a fish tank, or Prenzlauer Berg’s Weinerei, which has a very friendly honors system when it comes to paying for your vino.

    When the weather turns warm, the best place to take in Berlin’s drinking atmosphere is at one of the city’s many beer gardens. The sprawling Prater Garten is the oldest in Prenzlauer Berg and one of the city's best, while the idyllic Tiergarten park is home to several options, including the canal side Cafe am Neun See.

    For a more sceney bar, Hotel de Rome’s Bebel Bar & Velvet Room ranks high on cocktail lovers’ lists, as does Le Chat Gris in Mitte. And beachy Spree River-side clubs like Club der Visionaere never fail to disappoint if you are looking for a casual place to grab a beer and listen to some dance beats.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best hotels in Berlin?

    Berlin offers a variety of stunning hotels, spanning Old World charm to modern-day aesthetics. Here are some of the top choices for lodging in Germany's capital.

    The Hotel Adlon Kimpenski has been a major landmark in Berlin’s cityscape for ages; Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo were among the hotel's early fans. Although the buidling suffered damage during the World War II bombings, it was restored in 1997, and is today one of Berlin’s premier luxury hotels, featuring glamorous Old World style and elegant décor. The spacious rooms offer sweeping views of the nearby Brandenburg Goate, and include free Wi-Fi. The hotel boasts the popular outdoor Beluga Terrace, as well as a new restaurant from chef Tim Raue, Sra Bau, among other dining options.

    Inside a former 19th century bank building, Hotel de Rome is a towering neoclassical building located on Bebelplatz. The building was converted to a hotel in 2006 and its trappings still harken to its financial beginnings—the highly lauded spa is inside the old jewel vault, while the swimming pool floor is speckeld with gold flake. The 146 rooms include high ceilings, wood paneling, and complimentary internet access. Don't miss the hotel’s Bebel Bar, one of Berlin’s top choices for a specialty cocktail.

    Set amidst the skyscrapers of Potsdamer Platz, the Mandala Hotel is one of Berlin’s top boutique hotels. Its impressive 157 studios and suites, said to be the largest hotel rooms in Berlin, include walk-in closets, small kitchens, and the latest in technological amenities, making it a great choice for longer visits. The atrium-level restaurant Facil, helmed by chef Michael Kempf, offers one of the most dynamic culinary experiences in the city.

    Located in the heart of the trendy Mitte neighborhood, Casa Camper puts you steps away from some of the city’s top boutiques, galleries, and landmarks. An emphasis on creative design and simplicity gives this hotel a chic minimalist look—wooden floorboards and furniture, chrome fixtures, bold color choices, and modern accents fill the lobby and rooms. The hotel’s popular restaurant Dos Pallilos serves playful Japanese-themes tapas.

    If you’d prefer a more verdantly lush locale, the Schlosshotel Im Grunewald offers the elegance of royalty (the hotel was the former residence of the personal advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm) alongside the city’s picturesque and sprawling 7,400 acre Grunewald forest. A design renovation in the early 1990s thanks to Karl Lagerfeld gives the hotel a good mixture of modern aesthetic and classic style, incorporating velvet chaise lounges, glass chandeliers, and antiques.
  • On June 18, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best restaurants in Berlin?

    Although Berlin isn’t well known as a top culinary destination, the city’s growing number of avant garde locales, modern eateries, and Michelin-starred restaurants give plenty of reason to pay attention to what’s going on in its food world. New restaurants are opening everyday, but these five are a cut above the rest, and are really defining the food scene in Berlin right now.

    Rising culinary star chef Tim Raue has earned much praise for his innovative Asian-inspired Restaurant Tim Raue. Located near Checkpoint Charlie in the city’s trendy Kreuzberg, the restaurant combines the flavors and techniques of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine with Raue’s refined style. With two new resturants, Sra Bua and La Soupe Populaire, opened in summer 2013, Raue is continuing to make his mark on Berlin.

    Set on the fifth floor atrium of the elegant Mandala Hotel in Potsdamer Platz, Facil is run by the talented chef Michael Kempf. The tasting menu is among the most affordable in Berlin, and offers some of the city’s most innovative cuisine.

    Another Michelin-starred wonder, Reinstoff combines modernist cooking techniques with the inventive flair of chef Daniel Achilles. Tucked inside the industrial space of a former warehouse in Mitte, Reinstoff’s chic décor provides the perfect backdrop for this daring cuisine.

    For a taste of traditional German fare, Lutter & Wegner offers some of the best schnitzel in the city, along with other traditional Austrian specialties. Inside a historic-style building across from Gendarmenmarkt, the former vinter also boasts an extensive wine list.

    Grill Royal is one of the most well known restaurants in Berlin, recognized for both its incredible steak menu and its celebrity clientele, including George Clooney and friends. Located on the Spree River, this upscale steakhouse offers impressive views alongside a no-frills menu of top quality meat and seafood.
  • On June 13, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What is Berlin’s dining scene like?

    German food has a reputation for being heavy and rich—sausages, dumplings, gravies, and potato dishes all come to mind. But Berlin has a surprisingly vibrant culinary scene, a combination of the Old Guard and new chefs ready to take the world by storm—as of 2013, the city has 13 Michelin stars, more than any German city.

    Old-school German restaurants are still here, with places like Max und Moritz and Clärchens Ballhaus showing off the charm of yesteryear, and still offering a great schnitzel. But in a city known for reinventing itself, today’s young Berlin chefs are branching out from tradition, bringing in the new techniques of modern cuisine and embracing the spices of other cultures. Restaurants such as Reinstoff and Facil both serve food as impressive as their surroundings, creating an engaging, cerebral experience. This type of resaturant really shows where the future of Berlin's cuisine is headed.

    As Berlin’s culinary scene continues to grow and modernize, the city is also becoming home to a number of moderately priced restaurants. Home to a large Turkish community, as well as growing Vietnamese and Japanese populations, the city boasts a number of wonderful ethnic restaurants, pastry shops, and eateries. You can now find restaurants of every type in Berlin, from Santa Maria, a Mexican-style cantina in Kreuzberg and Si An, a Vietnamese teahouse in Prenzlauer Berg, to Cocolo Ramen, a hidden away Japanese ramen restaurant in Mitte.

    The city also has a thriving number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Restaurant Cookie’s Cream has become popular for its affordable chef’s menu, as well as the nightclub underneath the restaurant. And Berlin is home to a growing supper club scene, with more and more young chefs stretching their culinary wings here, which whispers of more great things to come.

    But without a doubt, Berlin is known for its street food. Many locals live off a diet of döner—a Turkish-style sandwich composed of grilled meat and garlic sauce—and currywurst—a bratwurst covered in curried ketchup. Konnopke's Imbiss is said to be one of the best for currywurst in the city; for a döner try Rosenthaler Grill & Schlemmerbuffet.
  • On June 13, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What is Berlin’s dining scene like?

    German food has a reputation for being heavy and rich—sausages, dumplings, gravies, and potato dishes all come to mind. But Berlin has a surprisingly vibrant culinary scene, a combination of the Old Guard and new chefs ready to take the world by storm—as of 2013, the city has 13 Michelin stars, more than any German city.

    Old-school German restaurants are still here, with places like Max und Moritz and Clärchens Ballhaus showing off the charm of yesteryear, and still offering a great schnitzel. But in a city known for reinventing itself, today’s young Berlin chefs are branching out from tradition, bringing in the new techniques of modern cuisine and embracing the spices of other cultures. Restaurants such as Reinstoff and Facil both serve food as impressive as their surroundings, creating an engaging, cerebral experience. This type of resaturant really shows where the future of Berlin's cuisine is headed.

    As Berlin’s culinary scene continues to grow and modernize, the city is also becoming home to a number of moderately priced restaurants. Home to a large Turkish community, as well as growing Vietnamese and Japanese populations, the city boasts a number of wonderful ethnic restaurants, pastry shops, and eateries. You can now find restaurants of every type in Berlin, from Santa Maria, a Mexican-style cantina in Kreuzberg and Si An, a Vietnamese teahouse in Prenzlauer Berg, to Cocolo Ramen, a hidden away Japanese ramen restaurant in Mitte.

    The city also has a thriving number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Restaurant Cookie’s Cream has become popular for its affordable chef’s menu, as well as the nightclub underneath the restaurant. And Berlin is home to a growing supper club scene, with more and more young chefs stretching their culinary wings here, which whispers of more great things to come.

    But without a doubt, Berlin is known for its street food. Many locals often live off a diet of döner—a Turkish-style sandwich composed of grilled meat and garlic sauce—and currywurst—a bratwurst covered in curried ketchup. Konnopke's Imbiss is said to be one of the best for currywurst in the city; for a döner try Rosenthaler Grill & Schlemmerbuffet.
  • On June 13, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best outdoor activities in Berlin?

    Anyone will tell you that the best time to visit Berlin is summer, thanks in part to the city’s thriving outdoor pastimes. The German capital is composed of roughly one-third natural space—parks, rivers, lakes, and gardens. One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors in Berlin is in one of the city’s many parks; from the central Tieirgarten to the former airport turned city getaway Tempelhofer Park, these parks include paths for walking, jogging, and biking, along with restaurants and cafés. Many of the city’s parks, including Volkspark Friedrichshain, also screen outdoor movies in the summertime, another pleasant way to enjoy the city al fresco.

    Another great way to enjoy the outdoors in Berlin is on bike. Rentals are available all over the city; companies like Berlin on Bike and Fat Tire Berlin offer rentals starting at 10€ a day, as well as guided bike tours. The city has an impressive network of bike paths and lanes, making it easy to get around and see many of the major sights and landmarks and the many picturesque parks are quite enjoyable to ride through.

    If you’d prefer a less sprightly activity, a boat tour through Berlin is a wonderful way to see the city’s sights with a fresh a perspective. Companies like Reederei Riedel, Exclusiv Yachtcharter, and Stern und Kreisschiffahrt offer tours from 1 to 6 hours, covering the major landmarks, history, and geography of the area. From artwork to cultural sights, you can see it all by boat, while also catching the breeze of the Spree River and some sunshine.

    Or if you’d prefer to just sit back and relax, there are plenty of restaurants, cafés, and beer gardens along the Spree River that are perfect for people watching and taking in some sun. Monbijoupark is a park right across from the Spree, and popular with lounging locals. Further down the river you’ll find Capital Beach, a river side bar whose deck chairs are directly opposite the Hauptbahnhof. And for the German beer garden experience, visit Zollpackhof, where you can enjoy beer and bratwurst in the great outdoors.
  • On June 12, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best day trips near Berlin?

    Although Berlin offers plenty to see and do, if you want to get away from the city for the day, there are several options for nearby day trips as well.

    Just 20 miles from Berlin, a trip to Potsdam is a great way to spend the day. Located on the Havel River, Potsdam is home to the sprawling Park Sanssouci, with numerous palaces and gardens to explore; a historic Dutch Quarter full of shopping and restaurant options; and a look into Germany’s version of Hollywood with the Potsdam Filmmuseum’s take on the history of film production in the area and the theme park-like Film Park Babelsberg.

    On a sunny day head to Berlin’s version of the beach—Lake Wannsee, the longest inland sea beach in Europe. Thirty minutes west of Berlin’s center by train, the lake features a 1-kilometer long sandy beach with a water slide, beach volleyball courts, and nudist area.

    To take in some of Germany’s harrowing history, a trip 40 minutes to the north brings you to the memorial site of Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp. Erected in 1936, the site was used as a model for many of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Today many of the buildings remain, including the gas chamber, prison cells, and barracks. It is easy to reach by train, a shot walk from the S-Bahn Oranienburg station.

    A 45 minute train ride southeast of Berlin will take you to the wonderful lush greenery that is the Spreewald forest. A winter visit is the perfect time to take advantage of the area’s thermal baths; in warmer weather spend time hiking, canoeing, or riding paddle boats. Just make sure to try the famous Spreewald cucumbers!

    The coastal town of Hamburg may be further than the rest, but the speedy German rail system can get you there in an hour and a half and, if you have the time, it’s worth a visit to this port city. Take a boat ride down the River Elbe; walk along the canals and bridges of the historic warehouse distric; and see the flashy lights of the Reeperbahn.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    Where is the best shopping in Berlin?

    West Berlin has a certain Parisian charm about it, and on Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm), you’ll find some high-end shopping on par with the fashion capital. Along with luxury designer brands like Prada, Versace, and Chanel, this mile-long shopping street is home to Europe’s largest department store, Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe). The premium department store houses six floors of fashion, jewelry, home goods, and shoes, as well as an impressive food hall that’s not to be. When you are ready for a break, head to the top floor restaurant and enjoy lunch underneath the café's stunning art deco glass ceiling.

    In East Berlin, the central Mitte neighborhood is home to some of the city’s young designer boutiques and showrooms, like Antonia Goy and Lala Berlin. Steps away from the nearby Alexanderplatz, the Alexacentre shopping mall offers a wide variety of more commercial stores, like German brands Camp David and S. Oliver, as well as globally recognized European chains H&M and Zara.

    Berlin is also home to some great vintage and flea markets. The Sunday Mauerpark flea market gathers eclectic shoppers looking for a bargain on used bikes or vintage ware, while the Straße des 17. Juni market is known for a stricter policy for its vendors, which leads to more professionals and antiques. You'll also find small trinkets, jewerly, and housewares at the city's farmers markets; the Saturday market at Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg is worth a visit.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best coffee shops in Berlin?

    The café culture is very much a part of German life—there is always time for coffee and cake (most often a dense piece of quarkkuchen). Cafés and coffee shops line the streets of Berlin, where you will find both residents and visitors lazily enjoying the day over a massive cup. In the summer, this relaxed attitude spreads onto the streets, as cafés add plenty of outdoor tables and seating. Anne Blume and Cafe Fleury are portraits of this type of Berlin institution, the type of places you can get your caffeine on all day long.

    Coffee in Berlin has changed for the better in recent years, thanks to an influx of roasters and enthusiasts immigrating to the city from all over the globe. With their latte art talents, fancy equipment, and high standards for sourcing beans, these aficionados have upped the ante on Berlin coffee, helping the city to compete on a world level when it comes to java.  At shops like Mitte’s The Barn, Prenzlauer Berg’s Bonanza, and Kreuzberg’s Five Elephant, you’ll find some of the best the city has to offer.

    If you’d like to get a little work in with your caffeine fix, Sankt Oberholz, KaffeeMitte, and Bully’s Bakery all offer wifi along with a side of caffeinated atmosphere.

    And in West Berlin you can find a few examples of more elegant coffee shop culture. Inside a turn-of-the-20th-century villa, Café Einstein Stammhaus is a refined Viennese restaurant and coffee house, which roasts its own coffee and takes pride in its Austrian classics, including Apfelstrudel. And you can take a break from shopping on the ritzy Kurfürstendamm at Cafe im Literaturehaus, a charming coffee house where poetic and literature readings often take place.
  • On May 27, 2013
    Katherine Sacks answered the question: Katherine Sacks

    What are the best museums in Berlin?

    Berlin is home to more than 170 museums and galleries, many of which are conveniently located near each other on Museum Island, keeping visitors busy for days on end. The city’s three day pass, allows access to many of the big museums for three consecutive days, and, at 24€, is an economical way to go if you plan on visiting more than one or two during your visit.

    Both the Deutsche Historische Museum and Neues Museum are among the most popular destinations because they both hold eye-catching artifacts and antiquities collections—you’ll find an extensive selection of cultural, political, and economic relics and documents inside the Historische Museum, while objects like Nefertiti’s bust are inside the Neues.

    Another popular destination for visitor’s to Berlin is the newly opened Pergamon Museum, which houses not only a massive Greek Temple, the Pergamon Altar, but also a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate, one of the eight gates of Babylon, as well as numerous other impressive artifacts and reproductions.

    Those interested in Jewish history may wish to visit the Jewish Museum, which chronicles Jewish people from the Middle Ages through today. Rather than focus on World War II and the Holocaust, the museum is centered on and celebrates Jewish culture, life, and history. For a more direct look on the Holocaust and the crimes of World War II, the Topographie des Terrors houses photographs and documents that outline and explain many of the actions of the Nazis' Reich Security Main Office.

    For modern art lovers, the Hamburger Banhof is the place to visit. Inside a former railway station, this contemporary art museum features some of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Joseph Beuys. Galleries like the Martin-Gropius-Bau, and Sammlung Boros Collection are also popular for their wide-ranging and often controversial exhibits. And for the design-oriented, the Bauhaus Archives is home to a collection of artifacts from one of the most influential schools of architecture in the 20th century; you’ll find sculpture, ceramics, furniture, and architectural models by Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Josef Albers inside.