Just climbed off the M10 at Husemannstraße and we’re walking up Dunckerstraße in search of Nalu Diner. We pass countless polished and sophisticated bars, restaurants and cafes with their outdoor seating full of young families, laughing kids and women with dogs (hey, it is Prenzlauer Berg), looking at the immaculate signs and menus to see if they’re Nalu Diner. Walking on, past the park, we almost past it before we realise we’re there.
For the area, Nalu’s understatement is striking. It’s an American diner and from its Americana décor, lovingly thrown together, to its friendly staff, whistling along to the classic rock coming from the speaker system, you know it has no pretensions to be anything else. Just as we’d sat down, before we’d even taken our jackets off, our server had come over to welcome us, racked us up some glasses of water, and handed us our menus.
Nalu Diner is more of a breakfast place than a burger joint and has an extensive menu of delicious-sounding calorific American breakfast specialities. If you’re interested in reading about their pancakes and breakfast rolls, here’s a good article from the guys at Berlin Food Stories. As this is a burger blog, on with the show.
The burger menu is what you’d expect from a diner – a standard burger/cheeseburger which you can pimp with a selection of goodies including bacon, fried onions and American cheese. There is also the Hawaiian house burger with pineapple slices. We went for the cheeseburger with Gouda and bacon and I added some fried onions, with fries on the side and a bottle of FlessaBräu beer (which is brewed five minutes from my house on Petersburger Straße, Friedrichshain).
We hardly had time to pop the caps on our FlessaBräus and remark “man, this beer’s tasty” before our burgers were placed in front of us. Served in their American diner red plastic baskets, I felt like an extra from an episode of Happy Days. As I looked at my burger, I noticed a large globule of molten cheese and burger grease drip down the side of the burger and onto the greaseproof wrapping. Happy days indeed.
A heavy burger, you take it in your hands and crush it down so you can fit it into your mouth. You hear a crackle as you do so and notice that the bun’s been toasted on the griddle, where it has fried in the burger fat, creating a deliciously sweet and crispy crust of flavour. You hear a dripping sound and look down to find a brown pool growing inside the basket as the juice from the perfectly caramelised beef rains down. These are the things that burger dreams are made of. Burger grease. It’s good grease. It’s grease lightning.
Beefy, juicy and well seasoned, Nalu Diner’s burger is as every a burger should be. Like the place, it’s no-frills and unpretentious but with heart. The fries are tasty too – thin, crispy and classic. There’s ketchup and mustard on the table but the homemade mayo. comes at a 50¢ surcharge.
The burger’s still got room for improvement though. The bun’s very thick and bready… meaning many mouthfuls tasted more like bread than burger. Also, the 75¢ fried onions weren’t the thick, soggy hotdog-style onions I was expecting and I hardly noticed them being in my burger. That being said, it was still a damn fine cheeseburger.
There’s something instantly likable about Nalu Diner. It’s casual, laid back and inviting with an underdog feel. You almost want it to be hidden away, your secret little place that you can go to on a dark, miserable winter’s day and eat something greasy and wholesome that makes you happy for a moment, without having to queue or wait for a table.
BLY’s top tips for eating at Nalu Diner
- As they do a lot of breakfasts, the morning/early afternoon is their busiest time. To try their burgers, the afternoon/evening is the perfect time to avoid the rush.
- Their ‘freefill’ policy means certain drinks come with free unlimited refills. We think these include water, coffee and iced tea.
- They serve FlessaBräu beer which is made in Friedrichshain. The Export variety is definitely worth a try!
Andy says: “A nice, honest diner selling good, honest food. I will definitely be back soon to try the pancakes and the pie.”
Phil says: “If you love that original American diner flair, Nalu Diner will be your new home! It feels and tastes like America.”
Berlin Loves You Rating: 7.25/10
This review is part of our series on Berlin’s best burger joints. Read our opinion on what makes a good burger.
Tram: M10 Husemannstraße
U2 Eberswalder Straße
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 09:00-22:00