Move over, Mitte. For years, the more central neighborhoods of Berlin have held onto their reputations as the hip, go-to areas of the city. The West is fighting back hard, though, and since March 2015, there’s another good reason to head out there. The NENI restaurant is a sky-high culinary gem atop the new 25hours Hotel, offering panoramic views of the next-door Tiergarten Zoo alongside fresh, fusion food incorporating influences from Mediterannean to Middle Eastern.
The restaurant, hotel, and the BIKINI-Berlin mall are all housed in the retro BIKINI HAUS building, a stone’s throw away from the hub of Zoologischer Garten station. The recent redevelopment of the landmark is a symbol of the West’s rebirth, and the unbeatable 10th-floor views from NENI – even bathroom stalls have floor-to-ceiling windows – are the perfect spot to take in the reborn district.
The restaurant and menu are the work of Israel-born chef and restaurateur Haya Molcho, whose casual, fusion culinary style is inspired by the idea of balagan, a Hebrew word that means "pleasant chaos." Diners are encouraged to order a variety of smaller dishes to share, many of which arrive at the table casually nestled in parchment paper or served directly in their cooking pots. Vegetarians will find a wealth of options from caramelized eggplant on a bed of couscous to crispy okra pods, while meat lovers will be equally satiated with dishes like fork-tender lamb shoulder, veal tartar paired with pickled lemons, or a flavorful Moroccan seafood ragout.
The sun-drenched space is trendy and hip while remaining unpretentious and welcoming, strewn with hanging plants and a mix of casual seating. Both local businesspeople as well as hungry tourists are drawn to NENI’s three-course weekday lunch special, and in the evenings, the other end of the penthouse story is home to Monkey Bar, pairing great cocktails with the spectacular views.
€€. Daily L&D.