Gourmet craze

Germany's Fling with the Burger

burgers 6
Not a Big Mac in sight: A selection of Berlin's finest.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Gourmet burgers are eating into the market of big fast-food chains and popular German snacks, such as kebabs and curried sausage.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The German frikadelle meat patty was brought to the U.S. by European emigrants departing from the port of Hamburg, hence hamburger.
    • Berlin’s first gourmet-burger outlet, The Bird, opened in 2006.
    • Annual sales at the city’s high-end burger joints now range from €200,000 ($224,000) to €500,000.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Having endured years of communist rule in the East and isolationism in the West, Berliners were more than happy to embrace fast-food mega-chains such as McDonald’s after German reunification.

But just like their city, tastes change, and the industrialized burger is now being given a serious run for its money.

Germans willing to spend more to get more have developed a penchant for a new rendition of an old favorite: A burger made of quality beef, often organic or free-range or both, creatively crafted and topped with exotic vegetables and sauces.

New gourmet-burger joints are popping up across the country but nowhere are they changing the culinary landscape more than in Berlin.

Walk around the capital today and you’ll find restaurant names such as Burgeramt, Burgermeister and Westburger – all plays on the German word Bürger, or citizen – as well as Glück to Go, To Beef or Not to Beef, and Heat & Beat.

Nearly every week, it seems, a trendy community website publishes its top-10 of Berlin gourmet burgers. Among the sites closely watched are Stil in Berlin, Mitvergnügen and Berlinfoodstories. What Berliners like the most, of course, is a matter of taste.

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