Does anyone know of any good cafeteria style restaurants in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, or Freiburg? I know many Galeria department stores have cafeterias, but would like to find more options. I've got 2 hungry teenagers to feed and cafeterias are usually a good place for a filling and inexpensive lunch. Dept. store cafeterias really saved our financial bacon when we were in Switzerland last summer. Thanks.
We just spent a month in Germany and while I can’t think of any more than department store cafeteria options for buffets, you’ll find food a lot less expensive food in Germany to help your budget. For good cheap lunches do try the Döner/gyro and/or brat imbisses (street vendors) in Berlin especially. Biergartens like the Englishergarten in Munich and Kastaniergarten above Freiburg (look for the elevator near Martintor) have inexpensive menus and great atmosphere.
The Galeria Kaufhof cafeterias ("Dinea") are very good and everywhere - and they don't have many serious competitors.
Hamburg has its "Food Lovers Market am Überseeboulevard", a food-truck fest, on Tuesdays from 11:30 - 15:00:
Click on the box among the photos on the above page that says "Bildergalerie" to find more photos.
In Berlin I would suggest a few options: go to Alexanderplatz, good inexpensive eateries there, and I recommend a traditional restaurant within a ten min. walk or so, "Zum letzten Instanz", good prices, copious portions, and choices in Berlin and German cuisine. Besides, it is a famous Berlin restaurant among tons of places where good traditional German cuisine is available, all depends on where you want to go in Berlin.
Another place in Berlin: Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse has several choices of good eateries offering German cuisine as does Hamburg Hbf. with decent prices, much better than Berlin Hbf for your needs. In Hamburg Hbf is "Schweinske" ...a chain but it's all right. Not too far from Hamburg Hbf regarding eateries in dept. stores, is "Saturn" dept store...you can check that out, never was there.
I suggest also in Munich ( similar to Galeria ) the dept. store Karstadt, located as part of Munich Hbf. the top floor is the cafeteria. I like Karstadt's cafeteria, but get there no later than 6 pm. as it closes at 7 pm .
part 2 here: If you go to Potsdam as part of the trip in Berlin, Potsdam Hbf. offers good cheap eateries on both levels of the station, a very large station for a small town, one in particular on the upper level having eaten there a few times. It serves typical German food...you'll recognise it.
I'll add my vote in for the already mentioned "Galeria Kaufhof cafeterias ("Dinea")"
Fred, at Hamburg Hbf (and other stations in Germany as well) there's a "Schweinske" chain location. Is this the place you refer to (with similar spelling)..?
If so, it's probably much like the one at Cologne's Hbf station and probably a good choice for hungry teens... a limited variety of decent food in reasonable proportions - at a good price.
There are a few others in the Hamburg area as well... Cute logo...
I would not call the Galeria restaurants a bargain lunch at all. They changed from what they used to be a few years ago when Kaufhof and Karstadt merged and have a totally new concept and upgrade.
You can get better lunch specials at ethic places or small local restaurants where lunch will only cost you 10€ or less. Pizzas will run you about 8-9€. Turkish places are your biggest bargain and for teens, a favorite.
Do they have Autogrill or equivalent in Germany? The OP was pretty specific about cafeteria-style, not just cheap.
No, we really don’t have a Autogrill equivalent. Cafeterias are generally rare outside of workplaces and Unis: I cannot actually think of the last such a place other than the Uni Mensa that I ate at in Germany (Uni Mensen do usually allow guests, but that would be a lot to figure out for saving a few euros). Some cities have covered marketplaces with lots of vendors, but these are often rather more expensive rather than less. I tend to agree with the recommendation to look to Turkish, Afghan, Lebanese and both South and East Asian and so on places for good prices and large portions.
It's not a cafeteria, but the food court at the Mall of Berlin has plentiful cost effective options.
@ Russ...I am only familiar with the Schweinske Restaurant in Hamburg Hbf and that in Koeln Hbf, having eaten at both of them.
A very good point regarding the Uni Mensa...I tried one in 2009 in Berlin-Charlottenburg that of the Technische Uni located on Hardenbergstrasse, went there for lunch. I certainly was not the only non-student in the TU Mensa, so were international customers outside of the student crowd. Forgot about the Uni Mensa option...good places for copious portions and cheap eating.
If you're on Unter den Linden, the Humboldt Uni does not offer this option as does the Tech. Uni.
Yes: A Mensa could be an option, but it kind of depends how much of an immersive experience you want, I guess. Obviously lots of international students with limited German use these spaces, but they are really quite German in their orientation.
For fun, I looked up the rules for Freiburg: As a guest, you have to purchase a card from the card automats with a deposit of 7 € (returnable with return of the card—no idea whether that is easy to do, though), and then add money to that (also with the Automat), and then use that card to purchase your food. The Freiburg Mensen that I have been to have as normal then two separate sections: one with a few different set Menüs (which are cheapest), and one with a buffet that you select from.
My experience regarding eating in a Mensa in Germany is only limited to Kiel and Berlin, both only once. That TU Mensa is recommendable. In Vienna the Technische Uni Mensa near Karlsplatz I've been to more often, very convenient, no steps need to be taken prior, just walk in.
Yes, Mensen in DE are generally (almost always?) run by the relevant Studierendenwerk, which is like student affairs organisation. They are highly decentralised, so every region/Uni will have different practices.
Fabulous. Thanks everyone for the great information.
An example of a cafeteria style SB restaurant would be the "VaPiano" chain, which is present in all the above-mentioned places. Many bakeries and butchers also offer a lunch menu. An example for Munich would be the "Vinzenzmurr" chain. Specialized in fish is the "Nordsee" chain, in Munich for example at the Viktualienmarkt.
"Saturn" dept store
Saturn looks like a department store from the outside, but it is really an electronics store -- kind of like a multi-story Best Buy.
Oh yes, did not catch that. Saturn and Co. (ie MediaMarkt) sadly do not have in-store dining. (They would be more interesting if they were to have it).
Thanks for the info...oops. There used to be another dept .store chain, Horton in Hamburg near Hamburg Hbf. (I was there then), which no longer exists.
@ samc....The cities listed above have hostels belonging to the DJH part of Hosteling International.
If you happened to be in Hamburg and Berlin (I can only recommend those two) , another option for you: they serve lunch and dinner, a hot meals with the important food groups , veggies, meat, mostly chicken, the carbs (rice or potatoes), etc.
In 2009 I had lunch at the Munich, Berlin (on Kluckstrasse) and Hamburg (Landungsbrücken) hostels with the meals costing between 6-7 Euro, more than ample portions.
These hot meals are open to the public, and I saw numerous adults, almost all Germans, taking advantage of these inexpensive meals. You just get a meal ticket at the front desk, no need to be a guest at the hostel, I wasn't. Mostly likely, the prices may have increased but still a bargain as a way of reducing expenses.
The meal in the Munich hostel was disappointing, while Berlin and Hamburg were pretty good, esp. that in Hamburg
I'm surprised that the meal mentioned at the DJH was lunch.
I'm fairly old and my days of staying at many many DJH (favourite - Schaffhausen; most memorable Nuremberg (castle) and Munich (wake up routine)) facilities were in the 1970s. In those days we had to vacate from breakfast until mid or late afternoon.
Thanks for the tip.
@ Nigel...thanks for pointing that out. No, the meals at those hostels listed I had was NOT lunch but dinner, which was available starting at 5 pm. The dinner in the Munich hostel you probably stayed there too in the 1970s as did I was still the most disappointing compared to that in Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, and Düsseldorf. Common to all the DJH dinners was no soup, price in 2009 was between six and seven Euro, likewise with the hostel in Vienna. There soup was offered.
An example of a cafeteria style SB restaurant would be the "VaPiano" chain,
pizza / pinsa
Vapiano is expensive!
You can get pizza and pastas for way less than what they are charging, at any local Italian restaurant in Germany and I am sure they will taste better too.
It is easy to find lunch specials at restaurants for 6-9€.