Walkabout: Friedrichshain, the good life
by Julia Cornelius / translation by Rachel Marks
You strike out along Sonntagsstraße, the Ringbahn at your back, and a culinary world for every taste and budget opens in front of you. Chic bars, pubs, cafes are interspersed with tiny convenience stores and fusion kiosks from Asian to Italian to African . If you manage to avoid temptation and reach Wühlischstraße, turn left and then right onto the tree-lined Knorrpromenade, a charming mix of romantic ruins and renovated turn-of-the-century beauties.
The promenade ends at Krossener Straße, which leads directly to the busy Boxhagener Platz: be it at the Sunday flea market , at brunch in one of the numerous cafes, at the weekday market , or simply on the park's playground, it is clear that "Boxi" is the hub of neighborhood life. A "Café Achteck" - a historic freestanding men's toilette - still stands on the square. A stroll down the bustling Grünberger Straße takes you to famous Simon-Dach-Straße, best known for its string of pubs and bars. Lemongrass  restaurant serves far and away the best Thai food in the area, while Cupcake , at the corner of Krossener Straße, serves up sweet (and vegan!) morsels of American culture. Turn right onto Niderbarnimstraße, one of the most appealing examples of a street combining both work and residence; here along the cobblestones and turn-of-the-century buildings, under the canopy of trees, you'll find an art house cinema , flower shops, coffee stops, clothing stores, and restaurants.
Revaler Straße lies at the opposite end of Simon-Dach-Straße. Turning left onto the street, you walk along a wall covered in urban stickers and graffiti, which shields an expansive club complex from prying passers-by's eyes. The alternative residential project Laster- und Hängerburg , which has been fighting to survive the impeding gentrification, stands at the corner of Modersohnstraße. Turning right onto the bridge Moderschonbrücke, you hear the slow boom of trains leaving and arriving at Ostkreuz. The panoramic view toward Alexanderplatz, with the tangle of tracks in the foreground and the silhouette of the nearby high-rises just beyond, shows the city at its urban best. Large groups of neighborhood residents and visitors often congregate here to enjoy sunset and that brief, special atmosphere that the location provides. Stroll back along Revalerstraße to Holteistraße. Helenenhof  on the corner was built between 1904 and 1906 as one of Berlin's first reform housing complexes; its social and hygienic standards stood in stark contrast to the dismal living conditions in the widespread tenement housing, so-called Mietskasernen. Restored true to the original, the park-like courtyard amidst the elaborately decorated building ensemble is particularly worth a visit, and from here the Ringbahn station Ostkreuz is easy to reach.
1. Schank- und Speisewirtschaft Kurhaus Korsakow | Neighborhood walkabouts guided by the house historian start here | Grünberger Straße 81 | www.kurhaus-korsakow.de
2. Burgeramt Frühstücksclub | The best burgers on the block | Krossener Straße 22 | www.burgeramt.com
3. Nil | Sudanese snacks - it may take time to be served, but it's well worth the wait | Grünberger Straße 52 | www.nil-imbiss.de
4. Lemongrass | Locals know this to be the area's best Thai food | Simon-Dach-Straße 2
5. Kino Intimes | Not, as the name might imply, a porno joint but rather art house cinema | Monday - Wednesday Movie Day | Niederbarnimstraße 15 | www.kinokompendium.de/intimes
6. Eismanufaktur Berlin | Enjoy the homemade organic ice cream on comfy sofas under the warm afternoon sun - what more could one want? | Simon-Dach-Straße 9 | www.eismanufaktur-berlin.de
7. Cupcake | Cheesecake, muffins, latte's, and more - and it's all vegan and organic to boot | Krossener Straße 12 | www.cupcakeberlin.de
8. Pelu Friseure | The friendliest hair salon around | Krossener Straße 18a
9. Kptn | A welcome break from the otherwise cookie-cutter bars along the pub mile | Simon-Dach-Straße 32 | www.kptn.de
10. Flohmarkt am Boxhagener Platz | One of Berlin's nicest neighborhood flea markets with laidback sellers, all under the leafy overhang of the square | Every Sunday 10 am - 6 pm | www.boxhagenerplatz.de
11. Wochenmarkt am Boxhagener Platz | All sorts of edible goodies with a focus on homemade wares and organic ingredients, which the prices reflect | closed in the winter | www.boxhagenerplatz.de
12. Laster- und Hängerburg | One of the last remaining alternative-lifestyle residential buildings in the neighborhood | Modersohnstraße 1a | www.lasterundhaengerburg.de
13. Helenenhof | Reform housing from 1906, today still a wonderful urban idyll | entrace at Holteistraße 28-33
14. Quanjary | A second Sudanese snack joint, just as tasty and friendly as the first | Neue Bahnhofstraße 3