2011-11 Germany, Poland
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By RACHEL B. DOYLE Known primarily for its dreadlocked denizens and enormous warehouse nightclubs, Berlin ’s Friedrichshain district has lately developed a reputation as a retail destination. Chain stores are few and far between, but a growing number of offbeat independent shops sell their wares for prices much lower than those found in more polished city center neighborhoods. Most of the action happens around Boxhagener Platz, a park that hosts a popular farmers’ market on Saturdays and an excellent flea market on Sundays. And the area’s night-life scene is still thriving; stores often stay open until 8 p.m., catering to a crowd that may have stayed out late the night before.
Berlin VOO The owners of Voo (Oranienstrasse 24; vooberlin.com ) made a pioneering statement last year when they opened their 3,300-square-foot-concept store in a former locksmith’s shop in the heart of the Kreuzberg neighborhood, a lively patchwork of dive bars, organic cafes and Turkish restaurants, rather than in the more commercial Mitte. Like the neighborhood it occupies, Voo’s offerings are diverse, ranging from well-priced vintage to cutting edge Berlin-based labels like Don’t Shoot the Me senger. The store also sells contemporary artwork from Berlin-based artists. UNDER $100 Let the intoxicating Berlin late nights continue back home with Berliner Brandstifter, a premium new small-production schnapps sold at in-the-know nightclubs like Tausend Bar and Cookies Cream. A bottle is 35 euros (about $49).
Berlin Most shoppers in need of sustenance at the department store in Berlin — better known as KaDeWe — head straight to its huge gourmet hall: a cornucopia of food, glorious food on Floor 6. But what they may not know is that one story up, spanning the store’s top floor — the Wintergarten — is a self-serve restaurant aptly named LeBuffet. And what a buffet it is. With a name like that, you might expect a purgatory of steam tables filled with anemic stacks of vegetables. But I was pleasantly surprised by the bounty and quality of the buffet options.
Gordon Welters for The New York Times But as more and more Americans discover the affordable living and rollicking night life of the old East Berlin, they bring with them a fresh angle on the restaurant scene. Take Little Otik, which opened last year in the Kreuzberg district.