Foodie Berlin

Getting Messy at Burgermeister

Burgermeister (a play on words on Bürgermeister, which means the ‘city mayor’ with the simple addition of an umlaut) is a burger joint located in a former public toilet. I always think I will run into my favourite city official here. Maybe he will give me a wink, and then pass me a french fry.

One would think it a bad idea to open a restaurant in such a location. No matter how much time has passed, there is something a little icky about eating grilled meat from a former latrine.

And yet, miraculously, Burgermeister has done well for itself, and become a thriving fixture of the Wranglerkiez’s night life, providing fodder for the clubsters, but doing much more than that. The excellent burgers on Oberbaumstraße 8 are worth travelling for. The journey is facilitated as Burgermeister is located right under the U-Bahn tracks.


The latrines were in fact part and parcel of the 1902 Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station––both architecturally and functionally (ahem). The tight curve the train takes from the Oberbaumbrücke, and accompanying squeal of wheels, is signature. The staff at Burgermeister, listening from below, are well aware of this acoustic environment and have recorded it for the website.


First, close your eyes, and hear the rumble of overhead trains, then the telltale wail of brakes, then laughter of Berliners in transit disembarking, the rush of a passing car, the sizzle of meat and the peal of an electronic bell indicating your order is ready, then doors closing, acceleration, and once more you are on your way.

Just be careful, with the jolt, not to spill ketchup on your shirt, or something else.

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Joseph Pearson

Joseph Pearson (1975) is writer and historian based in Berlin. Born in Canada, he was educated at Cambridge University, UK, where he received his doctorate in history in 2001. Since 2008, he has written The Needle, which has become one of Berlin's most popular blogs. His portrait of the German capital, Berlin, for Reaktion Press was published in 2017. His second book, My Grandfather's Knife, was published by HarperCollins and the History Press in 2022. He is also the essayist and blogger of the Schaubühne Theatre, one of Berlin's best known state-funded institutions. His writing has appeared widely in the press, literary and academic journals, and has been translated into Italian, German, French, and Arabic. Having taught at Columbia University in New York City, he lectures in Berlin at New York University Berlin (since 2012) and the Barenboim-Said Academy.