Barchick, Berlin: “Last train to trendy town”
Berlin's newest cool 'berg is great fun, but get in quick before the hipster tourists arrive en masse, advises our secret bar columnistFeatured July 13 Words by Barchick
illustration Adam Howling
As any self-respecting local (by which we mean someone who has lived in Berlin for more than six months) knows, to be on trend in this city, you need to be ahead of the curve. Unless you're leading the bandwagon, you may as well pack up those two-tone brogues, go home and get a desk job.
That's why, after several years in which Kreuzberg has reigned as king of all things party, the cool kids are heading to Neukölln. Just don't shout it too loud, as this up-and-coming area is desperately trying to deflect its popularity. ‘Tourists, f**k off!' the graffiti warns.
Take a taxi there (or the tram, if you've got the public-transport thing down) and watch the driver roll his eyes as you try to say “Noi-coln”. He's seen it all before.
It's the same story here as in previous cool 'bergs: low rents bring arty types, and once their boho bars, underground restaurants and alternative art galleries spring up, everyone wants in. Including us. The former Tempelhof Airport (its closing was linked to Neukölln's gentrification) has been cleverly converted into a huge park, attracting the hot young start-up mafia, who network, relax and exchange handwritten cards here before hitting the area's unique bar scene.
Take Ä (ae-neukoelln.de), for example. This industrial, box-shaped room with barred windows, self-service bar and scattering of shabby, mismatched furniture is completely rammed, even on school nights, as boys with ponytails and ill-groomed facial hair kick back on any battered sofa to hand.
Cross the road to Tier (42 Weserstrasse) and observe students, artists and bourgeois bohemians embrace cheap drinks, patterned wallpaper and chain-smoking bartenders. The whole vibe is far from cosy, but somehow it's working, much to the disdain of those who live here.
If, like BarChick, you enjoy breaking the rules and being where you shouldn't be - preferably with a decent Manhattan in hand - then Neukölln is worth the taxi fare and unwelcoming graffiti for the seemingly endless drinking dens on Welchselstrasseand Hobrechtstrasse. But get here quick or risk being the last person on the train to trendy town.