In the heart of Kreuzberg, the well-known cultural center of West Berlin, you’ll find the thriving Markthalle Neun. Less than a decade ago, the old building and local landmark was slated for demolition to make way for a modern shopping center and underground parking. The 19th century market, once one of 14, was saved from destruction and now buzzes with new life, from farmers selling locally grown produce to events and fledgling businesses. While we didn’t have nearly enough time in Berlin to explore Markthalle Neun as much as we’d have liked, we did make it there for what is arguably their most popular event: Street Food Thursday.
When we arrived to Markthalle Neun, the atmosphere was like a gigantic block party. The air was filled with the smells of delicious foods from a diverse mix of countries. We began to roam the countless aisles and scope out what there was to eat; the options far exceeded what we’d been imagining. From German classics like spätzle, to handmade asian noodles and dumplings and even a booth by Hartmann’s, one of Berlin’s Michelin starred restaurants, there is something for everybody at Street Food Thursday. About the only things you’ll be hard pressed to find at this event are a table (unless you arrive early) and a dish with a price surpassing the €10 mark. Had we known what we were getting into, we would have arrived a lot hungrier and as soon as the market opened that evening. Although we only tried a fraction of the eclectic foods available at Street Food Thursday, we ate enough to know that what’s being sold there is of serious quality.
If you can’t make it to Markthalle Neun for Street Food Thursday, there is still plenty to see and eat during the rest of the week. The majority of the operations are dedicated to regional and sustainable products, organic farming practices and small scale businesses that sell directly to the customer. Permanent features at the market include Kantine Neun, the market’s bar and cafe, Big Stuff Barbecue, with an on-site, 80-kilo smoker that came all the way from Tennessee and Brauerei Heidenpeters, Markthalle Neun’s very own microbrewery. Along with Street Food Thursday, Markthalle Neun plays host to a variety of events, among them Wochenmarkt, a farmers market with products from Berlin-Brandenburg and nearby regions, Naschmarkt, specializing in desserts and sweets, the handmade supermaket, with everything from ceramics to fledgling fashion labels and the newest edition, the Frühstückmarkt, or Breakfast Market, selling practical equipment for cooking in addition to a variety of morning eats.
Despite not having the opportunity to check out everything Markthalle Neun is offering, we’re certain of one thing: this old institution is a goldmine of treats for Berlin’s local foodies.