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Berlin Observed: Ping Pong, Organics and Lebensmittel

by Wendy Dembo
on 26 June 2007

While Berlin's heyday as the avant-capitol of Europe has been in decline, I recently noticed a few Berliner habits that show the city still has an edge—even if it is a softer, more grown-up one.

Ping Pong tables are everywhere, in public parks, bars and even in the garden of my friend’s apartment. It's not uncommon for players to carry their own paddles and balls to places like Dr. Pong, a bar that hosts a nightly musical chair version of ping pong. The game starts with about 20 people with everyone hitting the ball. If you miss or hit the net, you're out. The fun starts when four people are running around the table hitting the ball—and of course drunkenness or smoking a cigarette while playing is the norm.

Dr. Pong
Eberswalderstr 21
Prenzlauer berg


In addition to recycling like mad, Berliners are into their bio (aka organic) foods and products. A mini-version of Whole Foods, BIO company opened in Mitte while I was there, complete with a bakery, a cheese counter, a meat counter, prepared food (that you could eat in a lovely outdoor area) and general organic provisions. The manager told me that it's the 10th store that they have opened in Berlin and they aren’t they only organic food suppliers in the city.

BIO company
Hackescher Markt GmbH & Co KG
Dirksenstr./Stadtbahnbögen 145-147
10178 Berlin


As more Southern Germans move to the North, there is a resurgence in Bavarian and Austrian food. A few new restaurants are serving up really good homemade Southern German food like knödel, wurst, Spätzle and sauerkraut. One of them, Lebensmittel, in Mitte is always packed and another, Leo Bettini, has delicious home made pasta and cakes. Don't worry, you can still get traditional food at the "edelweiss" inspired alpine restaurants, but now you can get some good food too.

Lebensmittel in Mitte
Rochstrasse 2
10178 Berlin
tel. +030 275 96 130 Leo Bettini
Mulakstrasse 33
10119 Berlin
tel. +030 6050 7449

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